Getting your business started, a reality!

Getting Started – Business start ups

Going into this conference I was looking forward to hearing some tips and success stories of business start ups  as this is something I would like to achieve in the near future. After hearing 3 speakers: Micheal Kelly, George Boyle and Lucy Masterson I could tell that although most entrepreneurs achieve the same things the routes can be quite different. For example Micheal founded GIY (grow it yourself) from the simple realization that 3 billion out of the 5 billion euro Ireland spends on imports can be grown yourself in Ireland. After telling his story he gave us a few key questions to answer before you decide to start a company. Will you still be able to pay your bills? Do you have the skills required? Is there a support network behind you? But most importantly and what I connected with the most was: Don’t die with your music still in you!

Another Irish success story came from Lucy who along with a few students tackled unemployment in Ireland one job at a time with She highlighted the importance of marketing and getting your message heard. About trying to tell a story because people are more likely to connect with something that relates to them and therefore pass on your message. Her best tip came at the end as she said “all they can say is no” Something true but often forgotten about due to societies view on certain things.

On the other hand George wasn’t as lucky, she was in many ways forced to become an entrepreneur after the firm she worked in went bust. She spoke about the steps you go through as an entrepreneur. Impulse: the idea, plan and identity. Freedom: the space, time and continuum. However all this lovely planning and wishful thinking comes to an abrupt end with Guilt: when you face reality, the financing, competition and the personal responsibilities. After all this comes the light at the end of the tunnel you forgive yourself and you start to consider your dreams. From her experience I can tell that setting up my own business will be a challenging process but one I’m looking forward to and as George said once you’re going just keep going.

The following two speakers brought up one of my key concerns, make a profit or change the world? I have always wondered about this myself, whether I have to pick one or if there is some halfway between the two. Thanks to Seán Coughlan from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and John Fitzsimons from Camara Education I soon realized this half way thing is possible. Like in Camara they help bring technology and teach technological literacy to those who don’t have access but at the end of the day they make a profit as well. This put me to ease knowing you can have the best of both worlds.

There were two panel discussions during the conference. The first regarding Social Entrepreneurship and the SOLOMO (Social, Local and Mobile) trend that is going to be a major player for the foreseeable future. However it was in the second one I had my ears perked up as they talked about how to finance a start up  I was delighted to hear the amount of funding that is actually provided in Ireland. Something I think is necessary to keeping people in the country after college and a way to rebuild the economy. What I found most exciting was that DCU students were being offered a chance to start your own business risk free; at first it sounded too good to be true however UStart is a reality. All you have to do is make a group come up with an idea and if you get through the various stages they will fund the initial costs of the business as well as provide you with office space and accommodation. This is definitely an opportunity I’ll be taking up!

Towards the end the whole idea of stating up your own business was looking pretty good as we got to hear from DCU alumni who had succeeded. The one that connected with me the most was Conor Winders the CEO for Redwindsoftware. He was sure not the stereotypical CEO with jeans, a t-shirt and a mohawk. This just went to prove how things are changing for the better, away from the days where CEO where the hated people in suits who only had money on their mind. Conor told the story of his company, a process he said takes about 2 to 3 years. If you make it past this then you’re well on your way according to him. He also mentioned that if you are going to succeed your company can’t just be based on an exit strategy of getting it up and running only to then sell it on. From this also came the make or break factor of having a great team because under everything these are the people who make the company. When someone loves what they are doing this passion shines through their work and into the business itself. This emphasis on passion in business was echoed all throughout the conference by every speaker.

Especially from our last speaker Gerry Duffy, a 47 year old who has gone beyond all expectations and boundaries before him. He ran 32 marathons in 32 days as well as winning the UK decathlon ironman challenge. A truly inspiring person who believes that everyone has the ability to achieve super goals; simply by raising your standards to always be passionate and perform to the best of your abilities. His steps are to think about it, find your motivation, surround yourself with great people and have the correct mind set. In order to win a battle your mind must tell your body what to do. In my opinion developing yourself as a person would be the first step to be able to achieve the end goal of starting your company. He really gave me a lot to think about and a lot to aspire to with a moving video. He then left us with some final words of wisdom: You can’t fail if you learn from it!

From this conference I gathered you need to realistically look at your situation, be willing to dedicate yourself 100% as well as having the passion, ability and the right people to support you. I really will take a lot away from this conference and just below I’ll be putting the links to the various speakers and their companies also to the video shown by Gerry Duffy that truly shows nothing is impossible which left me in tears!


the video :

If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Canexican5 “When the going gets tough the though get going”


21st Century Phenomena – The Social Monster

This post is all about getting social. Something that has been born and has taken control over the world around us. I personally feel that you have to get on the train and not be left behind. Starting off our conference, Dr Theo Lynne played a dance video. A new viral video called “gagnam style” by North Korean singer Pys. It was a bit of an unusual opening however it helped highlight the astonishing impact social media has on today’s world. How did one seemly odd video spread all over the world in such a short time span? The power of the internet is truly amazing, once famous people started to talk, blog, Facebook and tweet about this video there was no stopping It.! All this online social interaction is what I call the Social Monster.

Next speaker was Mark Cahalane the Managing Director for Edelman Europe. They have developed a unique instrument called the Trustbarometer. Unlike a barometer measuring atmospheric pressure this measure peoples trust in different organisations. I was quite shocked when I found out that Ireland’s trust in most things like government, NGO’s, Business, etc. is very low. The one thing I could understand was the trustbarometer’s lowest every level of trust in banks 6% came from Ireland. Focusing back on social media I learned that despite our thinking we perceive things very well and can retain information with ease, we actually don’t. He explains that on average 64% of people have to hear a bit of information 3 to 4 times for it to actually stick. Then I began to realize the challenge for businesses and why we are constantly being bombarded by commercials. To end his short speech he said for a business to be trusted and be successful they must effectively combine business competence, public engagement and social purpose, a tip I’ll keep in mind for the future.

The following speaker rose to two key issues with the Social Monster. Her name is Claire Wardle the Director of News Services at Storyful. She firstly spoke about your identity on the internet. It’s so easy to be anyone, to be anonymous, you create your persona. Is the person behind the screen real? In my opinion this is the main danger of social media, you can pretend, lie and deceive. On the other side you also have to protect your online reputation. Something I will not forget is that once you upload it’s on the internet forever. A pretty scary concept if you ask me. None the less I have to admit I don’t think I could live without Facebook.

To talk a little more about Facebook was Catherine Flynn. First her presentation was not working properly, showing that no matter how good you are with technology it sometimes just doesn’t work. The main topic she touched was how to use Facebook from a business point of view to access a worldwide market. With 1 billon active monthly users worldwide it’s a pretty huge opportunity. She explained the do’s and don’ts of using Facebook to promote your business. Yet again it was all about striking a balance. Not posting too often or not often enough. I personally feel from what Philip Kelly the Digital Marketing Executive of Electric Ireland said his company has struck the balance. He explained how Electric Ireland used various social outlets like Facebook Twitter, etc. to effectively engage their customers. I can see how even the most boring of businesses (electricity suppliers) can effectively use the Social Monster to promote their business.

Following this Don O’Leary the Senior Sales Manager for Twitter the present king of social media gave his take on the Social Monster. For him Twitter was an unbeatable business asset to have it creates direct interactions with your clients, something that was very expensive before. He made the point that before marketing was an interruption, something silly on between your favourite soap that you didn’t really pay attention to. Now when you tweet, retweet or like, it’s the customer who is doing it and thus not an interruption. He also cleared up my question: Why are all the social media headquarters in Ireland? There are better countries, faster broadband, equally skilled staff, etc. He made the point that Ireland is in the top 5 in the world rankings of active social media users per capita. So despite being a small country we have made a huge part of the 21st Century’s Social Monster.

Finally my personal favourite speaker of the evening was Brian Herron a Community Manager for Google+. A former DCU graduate he was someone I could relate to; whose job seemed fascinating. I think I got the most valuable information from his talk. He put forward different methods to use in order to succeed in this “dog eat dog” industry. His main tips get real life experience, know your stuff on whatever area you want to specialise in and do not fear the Social Monster connect with it and make it benefit you. Also prove that you know how to do the job before your hired and show you are self-motivated and have personal drive. All and all I picked up some very practical tips on how to face this new phenomena and succeed in the future. (Sorry for the lack of picture too busy taking down notes)


Favourite quote of the afternoon was: “It’s ok to fail but learn something from it”


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