"We bred Subzero who won the Melbourne Cup in ’92."
Niall hails from a small fishing village in Ireland called Dunmore East, in County Waterford, home of Waterford Crystal. The area had a significant impact on Niall’s life, providing him with a beautiful childhood, growing up in the family hotel environment. From the age of three, he could be seen riding ponies on his uncle’s farm, and he grew up – almost before he could walk – riding ponies and show-jumping horses in gymkhanas.
“For me, show jumping was all about competing and trying to win. There was no issue with fear, as kids you tend to be a bit fearless. My uncle took us to the shows; my brother and myself and his son. The three of us would head off every Sunday to compete and he was also a judge. On his way home he’d often stop at the pub with all the other judges to have a couple of whiskeys. Years later, we wondered how we ever got home!”
After finishing school, Niall went to work for Coolmore Stud, now the largest stud operation in the world. “I spent ten years with Coolmore and thought it made sense to have a bit of career change outside of Ireland. I had previously been to Australia when I was 19 for a working holiday. I travelled on a horse plane with 60 horses. In those days it took two and a half days to get here.”
Australia had always appealed to Niall. “I was fortunate to get a job before I came here with Wakefield Stud in Scone, owned at the time by Brian Agnew of Moray & Agnew, the Sydney legal firm. I spent five years in Scone and we were very successful in terms of breeding results in those years. We bred Subzero who won the Melbourne Cup in ’92, and we also reared and sold a number of good horses like Angst and Bullwinkle, Malibu Magic. We won the Magic Millions, the SA Derby and the Princess Series. At the time, the farm prepared over 90 yearlings every year to sell at the sales, between Magic Millions, Inglis in Randwick, Dalgetys in Melbourne and ABCOS in Adelaide.
“I met and married my wife in Ireland, and our son was one year old when we moved to Australia. Our daughter was born six weeks after we arrived, and we spent the first five years in the Hunter Valley. Living here was quite different to Ireland. We didn’t have any family here but we had a tremendous bunch of friends. You miss having the closeness of family when something goes wrong, or kids are sick. You don’t have the benefit of simply ringing up your grandparents, or brothers and sisters, to have them look after the kids, when you need to take a break.”
When their children were six and five, the decision was made “to move back to Ireland to give them an Irish upbringing, because children have a memory from the age of five onwards.” The family moved back in 1992, and in one of those ironies of life, “I got out of the horse business at that stage because Ireland was in recession and bought into an Australian franchise called Snap Printing in Dublin.”
Niall decided to branch out into a new technology business after the family relocated to Sydney in 1997. “I’d started to look at the internet as being a major force in business going forward and I wondered how I could use that knowledge within the horse industry.”
Niall started to develop websites “for some of the key studs in Australia, and my company was the first ever to broadcast a live horse auction outside of America when we did Magic Millions in 2000. Through that, I linked with a company in Canada called Liveblock Auctions. They had developed software for auction houses to run auctions in real-time, with visual real-time bidding, and I was the first to bring that into Australia.”
At that time, “We also formed a partnership with Yahoo where we sold equine embryos online, which was a world first in thoroughbred history. We were aiming to give breeders an opportunity to sell what the mare was carrying without actually having to sell the mare herself. By doing that, we hoped to create new revenue streams for the thoroughbred industry.”
Niall is now the Australian representative for XCIRA the Global leader in live and timed auction software for all industries. A customer‐driven technology company, Xcira produces custom technology applications and auction software solutions that meet the unique needs of auction clients in various auction segments such as construction, industrial, automotive, fine art, wine and jewelry, livestock, real estate and salvage sectors. Xcira’s services include live auction simulcasts, timed online auctions, equipment and automotive condition evaluation tools, and apps that provide mobile phone participation at auctions. Operating since 1996, the Company has over 50 employees and provides auction support and technologies to companies around the world, including Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Christie’s, Insurance Auto Auctions and Auction Edge.
It wasn’t a great leap for Niall to move on from his successful equine businesses to now promoting mobile internet sites. “When I came back from Ireland, I morphed into working with technology and building websites for various firms. I just love what technology can do for people. We were the first company to develop software for the horse auction industry, and along the way I just got more involved with new technology, and what it could do.”
Niall’s most recent venture is “MobiliseNow, which converts desktop websites to make them mobile-friendly. You may ask ‘why would I want a mobile-friendly website’? The statistics vary, but around 60 to 70 percent of all online viewing is done on a mobile device now, which is massive. When you’re travelling on the train or bus to work, it’s amazing the number of people who are on their mobile devices. Whether they’re searching for a doctor’s surgery, making an appointment, booking a reservation in a restaurant, researching a holiday; it’s all done on a mobile phone.”
The Australian Mobile Market (May 2015)
DID YOU KNOW?
- Australia is one of the most advanced smartphone markets in the world
- It has the 9th highest number of smartphone subscriptions in the world (19 m)
- 89% of Australians own a smart phone
- 61% of Australians would choose their mobile over their TV
It’s very apparent when talking to Niall that this is a major passion for him. “Some companies don’t seem to understand that when people come to their website, if it’s not mobile-friendly and the customers have to click and drag to actually see what the company does, or need to look for something as simple as a phone number, it can be very time consuming. If it’s difficult for customers, they’ll simply move on to another website that is mobile-friendly.”
These days, Niall believes “People are choosing on which device they want to view the internet and how they want to work and operate online so mobile devices are the future. For businesses going forward, it’s really important to think of it from a customer’s perspective. When they come to your website, how do they view your business? Are you customer-focussed, and what are you trying to say to your clients when they visit you online?
Niall is also a director of the not-for-profit Lansdowne Club, the premier Irish business networking club in Australia, and he’s keen to foster the Irish business community here.
Niall is still involved in the thoroughbred industry, sitting on the Board of Sire Custodians Ltd, the leading provider of syndicate management and consultancy services to the Australian thoroughbred industry. Niall is also a director of the Australian arm of the UK’s very successful Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, Europe’s Leading Racehorse Ownership Company. For followers of Downtown Abbey you might recognize Highclere Castle as the home
When asked who he respects in business, Niall is quick to mention his close friend Jack Ronan, a very successful Irish businessman, with a tremendous work ethic. “He’s very astute, extremely loyal and gives a lot back to the community,” says Niall.
- “We bred Subzero who won the Melbourne Cup in ’92.
- “It’s really important to think of it from a customer’s perspective.”
- “The statistics vary, but around 60 to 70 percent of all online viewing is done on a mobile device now.”
Niall Power mixes his passions for new technology and thoroughbred racehorses to develop businesses which really get his pulse racing. Moving from Ireland to Australia, he’s found his new homeland to be a great outlet for both his interests.