Interview with Cian Ó Maidín, Founder and CEO at Global Software Company: NearForm

NearForm is a global software development and consultancy firm that builds better software, faster. We develop enterprise software to help large corporate and public sector companies scale their platforms for the digital economy.

Using open-source software, our digital products deliver secure mobile and web platforms that can scale to meet industry and consumer demands. Alongside our work in the enterprise environment, we are also a large member of the web open source ecosystem. We were the first professional services software company in Europe to go all-in on node.js and are the biggest contributor to the Node.js project used by companies such as Netflix, Microsoft, and AWS.

NearForm has taken a remote-first approach to business since its inception in 2011, growing international facing technology while headquartered in the small town of Tramore, Co. Waterford on the south east coast of Ireland.

We hire without borders, and 90% of our employees work remotely across 27 countries which means we have some of the most experienced highly talented architects, designers, engineers and developers.

When it comes to responding to market developments and the needs of our clients, this approach has allowed us to be more responsive and perceptive. As many businesses had to adapt this year, we were able to leverage our experience to continue delivering for our clients.

It also put us in the perfect position to develop COVID-19 contact tracing apps in a very short amount of time for New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Gibraltar, and Jersey, the largest of the UK channel islands, with more to come.
Enterprise Software Development & Capability Building

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

I was a classically trained computer scientist, working as a developer and writing backend pieces of software when it struck me that a lot of what I had been taught was what I now consider centrally controlled innovation, technologies created by large companies with a certain way of doing things.

For me, software is never done. It’s something that keeps moving all the time. It’s always in a state of flux and that’s where the name NearForm comes from. Our reputation is largely based on our expertise on Node.js and position as a large part of the open source community, a borderless and unbiased network where everyone contributes on a project from different perspectives.

Our first project was the rebuilding of an Irish national weekend newspaper with Node.js. This led us to working with some of the world’s leading media organisations including Condé Nast and the New York Times.


What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

One of the best things you can do as an entrepreneur is to build something others want to work with you on. The importance of having a great team around you is often overlooked on the road to success. NearForm is made up of an international group of vocational people, who want to be on a journey of discovery, working with like minded people, learning from their peers, and working on meaningful projects like the COVID-19 contact tracing apps.

This creates the perfect work environment and dynamic where people don’t need to be overseen and there’s no room for micromanagement. With this in mind entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid to hire people who are smarter than them as a product is only ever as good as the people behind it.

What can we hope to see from NearForm in the future?

We plan to rapidly expand and scale our operations across North America and Europe to meet growing demand from companies seeking digital solutions to keep pace with competitors and meet the changing digital demands of their consumers.

Recently we announced a strategic investment from Columbia Capital, to support market penetration and accelerate recruitment in sales, marketing, engineering and design, across these regions.

COVID-19 is a continuously evolving situation, and we continue to support those states and countries we have built contact tracing apps for, with new features specifically aimed at helping businesses to reopen and stay open safely.

Now that vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have been approved and are being rolled out, we are actively engaged in a number of conversations about how technology can support the management of the immunisation process.

On the Enterprise side of things, as companies look to innovate and grow post-pandemic. Dealing with the frontend sprawl of disparate web and mobile tools is a major issue for companies, largely due to quick-built, disjointed or half-replaced solutions, rather than a designed platform of touchpoints for user interaction. Digital transformation will remain a top priority for CIOs, and we have built an accelerator using a single tried and tested codebase built on maintained open source tools to fix this frontend engineering problem at scale and speed.