THE long and winding road took him from Sligo to Dublin and from there to New Zealand where he spent six and half happy years. But for Noel Dykes, the pull of Ireland’s West and the lifestyle opportunities it offered ultimately pointed to a return home.
As a former employee of tech giant IBM, Noel was keenly aware of the power of technology to shape how and where we all work.
As an experienced manager of teams of up to 100 people, Noel was also aware of the need to engage in a more personal way with employees and to better reward peoples’ performance. A decade ago, he couldn’t have dreamed of starting his own tech business in the West of Ireland but now it’s a reality. Noel returned to Sligo in 2015 with his dreams and entrepreneurial ambitions and two years later, in 2017, Frankli was launched.
Frankli is a platform of smart tech tools that help companies implement continuous real-time performance management of employees.
The performance platform makes it easier for companies to engage with workers and gives employees more input into the workplace process including development, goal-setting and performance reviews.
Noel completed the Enterprise Ireland programme New Frontiers and also received support and assistance in developing the business from the Western Development Commission, Sligo Local Enterprise Office and IT Sligo. Frankli now has seven-full-time employees and it hopes to double that number next year.
Noel’s No 1 ambition is to grow Frankli into a global business based in the West. “But doing that at my pace is very important,” he adds.“The location is a big help,” he says. “What I really find valuable is the headspace in the West which you don’t get in other places.” With a young family that includes a 16-month-old daughter, Noel enjoys walking and treasures Sligo’s abundance of natural outdoor spaces.
“It’s so very beautiful. Growing up, this was on my doorstep but I have a new appreciation of the landscape and having that space to think.”
Sligo and the West is now buzzing with tech firms and a vibrant startup culture. Noel has tapped into that to find talent and build out his team.
“There are more tech and online businesses and remote working is now taking-off, partly because of the Covid 19 crisis. People definitely want to be more flexible and it’s giving more people a taste of living in the West.”
Noel says that ‘being the boss’ has been his biggest growth opportunity, and it’s one that he is embedding into Frankli’s day-to-day operations. He adds: “As founder, you are the culture. You see people looking to you and you have to lead. It’s been a tremendous journey so far and very satisfying to create jobs for other people.”
Noel is confident that Frankli can continue to prosper and will accelerate out of the Covid crisis. Firms need to engage with their employees as part of the ‘the new normal’ and he says that Frankli can help to keep them connected.
He adds: “I’m very excited about the future and pushing forward. I think there are many great opportunities out there.”