SpotLight on Brian Shanahan

Brian Shanahan

Brian Shanahan

Founder INFORMITA & PLESONA

Ribeira Alta, Faro, Portugal
www.plesona.com
For Brian contact details, please contact arnold.delville@ireland-portugal.com
Brian LinkedIn Profile

Brian Shanahan

1. Describe your business in two paragraphs. 

Our business is comprised of 4 brands. Informita is a working capital and procurement consultancy, TermsCheck.com is a payment term database and Bonavido.com is a service to help corporates improve their short-term cash forecasts. These three brands are all focused on major corporate clients. The fourth brand is called Plésona. This is a business advisory service focused on small and medium sized enterprises. 

2. What are your company's Unique Selling Points (USPs) in Portugal or in Ireland or in both markets if present in both?

Most consultancies are hooked on day rates. We are not. We charge flat fees that are commensurate with the work that actually needs to be done. We are very data focused. We are very good at making sense of difficult problems of businesses both large and small. This is particularly important to smaller businesses that have very limited budgets. They don’t need their advisor charging them more because they had to spend more time to understand the problem. That is a risk for us, but it creates certainty for the customer.

3. What achievement/success story(ies) are you most proud of?

After nearly 20 years with a major international consultancy, I decided to go it alone in 2012 and start Informita. That was a scary step to take, but it has been more than worth it. The biggest benefit has been able to continually implement new methodologies that benefit our clients. In larger consultancies, implementing change is extremely difficult so having that freedom has been a lot of fun.

4. What are your business current challenges and in the 2/3 years to come?

The perennial problem for a small company up against very large competitors is brand recognition. We do not have millions to splurge on conferences and billboards at the airport, so we have to continually innovate on how to get our brand(s) out there. Over time we have become quite good at this “guerrilla” marketing, but you can never take you foot off the gas.

The other big issue is the virus. While many have suffered severe downturns in recent months, that is not our problem. We have seen from previous recessions that client needs and spending behaviours change as a result of a crisis. We don’t yet know what the new behaviours are that will come out of this crisis, but it is likely that there is more adaptation to come.

5. What do you think makes Portugal and/or Ireland an attractive destination to conduct your business?

There are numerous attractions. Ireland is my place of birth, so understanding the business culture is easier. But having worked in many countries around the globe, it has given me a better appreciation of the luxury that understanding. Portugal is not better than Ireland, but it is different. On one level, there is a certain level of bureaucracy to get through. After that Portuguese are much more social creatures. While business is always business, I have come across numerous instances of personal generosity that is uncommon in other parts of the world.

6. What sectors do you think will thrive in Portugal and Ireland in the coming years and why?

The one thing we must keep in mind is that the future is unlikely to be the same as the past. Recession favours the innovators. Some of the worlds greatest companies started and thrived in the middle of deep recessions. And this recession will be no different. Ireland has a world class tech sector that has been dominated by US multinationals. More and more we are seeing successful Irish fintechs that have used the experience of the Irish tech sector and the US venture capital market to bring new innovations to the market. This is also happening in Portugal, but in a different way. There are lots of smart Portuguese tech folks. Traditionally they have gone abroad for both experience and funding. But that is changing. Even some of Portugal’s largest and oldest companies (like Semapa) have venture capital arms that are actively seeking out these new ventures. They can see the future and want to invest in that success.

7. What is the best business advice you have ever received?

The man with cash will always have choices. This was told to me by a former German colleague while on the way to Frankfurt airport. He asked if it was okay to take a detour so he could collect the keys to his plane. I asked how he could afford such an expensive hobby. His answer was that he bought 4 hectares of scrub land in Ibiza in 1967 and sold it ten years later to a developer to build holiday apartments. With that cash, he never had to do anything he didn’t want to ever again.

8. How do you think the IPBN can help you achieve your objectives and what do you expect from your IPBN membership?

The IPBN has many SME members who could avail of our services, both in Ireland and Portugal. The IPBN offers an opportunity to network with these businesses so that they are aware of what we can offer and begin to establish the relationships of trust that required for any successful business partnership.

9. Favourite destinations in Portugal and why?

Henrique do Infante’s fort in Sagres. Just knowing that you are standing on the same ground as all the great Portuguese navigators who opened up the whole world that we know today.

The O Batareo restaurant in Setúbal. The best fish I have ever tasted in my life.

Paia da Galé. A beautiful beach with a view all the way west past Armação de Pera.

10. Favourite destinations in Ireland and why?

Watching Tipperary play hurling at Croke Park. First in the old stadium in 1984 in the Cusack stand when Tipp lost against Galway and in 2016 in the new Hogan stand to see them win against Kilkenny. Just a magical place to see the world’s greatest sport.

Castlegregory, County Kerry. Beautiful village next to the most amazing beach.

Cornamona, County Galway. Lovely little village that was a great base to explore both Galway and Mayo.