Young entrepreneurs in Ireland

Having struggled though all the bad news about Greece, the Euro, the economy was great to get to ‘You Don;t have to be well-heeled’ on Page 9 of the business section of today’s Sunday Times.  Great report from Sandra O’Connell. If you are a young entrepreneur then Ireland is a great place.

Tara Haughton was an early starter at 15 – but why not?  Seems to me that the web waits for no one – but the corollary is anyone can start any time.  Have a look at the Rosso Solini Shop on line.

The interview with John Egan of Archipelago is great – with references to Sandbox and  The whole idea of ‘Archie Talks’ is great.  I think a lot of this points to the gaps that are there because of our traditional, slow to change, educational systems.  But rather than complain, these initiatives get entrepreneurs and smart people talking and working together.  The World is Flat and these people know it.

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Entrepreneurs – born, fostered or made?

I have worked with a number of different enterpreneurs over the years – in very different sectors (High tech, Catering, Engineering, Pharma).  What distinguished them from others?

The majority had worked for someone else, had seen something they thought they could do better and had the self belief and energy to get out and try to do it for themselves.  Some succeeded, some failed in their venture but most of them are back doing the next one.  They may have had to regroup, take a job, find some time to catch up with the family, but they are looking to get back in the game.

Read David Rowan’s piece about the Paddy Cosgrave F.ounders events.  Have attended a number of Paddy’s events and rubbed shoulders with, chatted with, listened to various entrepreneurs.  Interesting the Rowan references some ideas around the fostering of enterpreneurs – families encouraging kids down certain paths. I suppose this is not really that surprising – when I see the number of excellent sports people who have been started early by their parents.  Why would this not apply in business/ development of entrepreneurs.

Attended a seminar last night about preventing injury in sport – by identifying imbalances/ weaknesses in sports people early on and looking to rebalance these.  I wonder does this potentially have application in business?

At the end of the day I do believe  it has to be in your heart, in your makeup.  So many people see things they could do better but for any number of reasons choose to focus on something else.  However education and development systems which encourage people to think through alternatives, think about how they might develop/ implement the alternatives, will help foster entrepreneurs.

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Thoughts on Web Summit 6

Go maith gan bheith go hiontach.

Web Summit 6 was weak but had its brighter moments – courtesy of Emi Gal, Tariq Krim and Marcus Segal.

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I attended today’s 6th Web Summit at the RDS in Dublin.  Paddy Cograve continued his run of sell out conferences – this time with almost 1,000 attendees, on a Friday afternoon in Dublin.  I have now attended 3 of Paddy’s 6 web summits.

I think today was the weakest yet.

Sam Barnett was a weak kick off act – did not provide much insight until he explained how he avoided paying rent in his startup (his landlord was a criminal).  Eamon Leonard offered a fairly laboured comparison between rockbands and startup companies (not sure how Paddy found this so interesting). However Eamon’s delivery style and sense of humour kept people amused. Strange that Jennifer O’Connell should pitch and then announce she is moving on (hardly the greatest pitch for any business).  Emi Gal (Brainient) was exellent – speaking of personalisation and relevance in video).

The coffee break appeared to be sans coffee – a bit Irish for the price people paid.

Tariq Krim (Jolicloud) and Marcus Segal (Zynga) were excellent.  Microsoft and Techcrunch presenters were not particularly inspiring.

And on the networking front – yes probably had the opportunity to catch up with 6 or 7 people and make one or two new contacts.  The pre and post gatherings offered ample opportunity to meet with various people.

So – will I attend future web summits?  I’m left a little cold after today’s – but to be fair there were a couple of thought provoking presentations and the general atmosphere was decidedly upbeat in comparison to much of what we see in Dublin these days.





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Startups – what does it take to get funded?

Many different options in funding startups

Attended ‘KPMG’s Financing for Innovative Companies’ seminar this morning. Excellent panel of speakers. David Brabazon (CFO Azur Pharma) spoke from the real experience of building something with his two partners in five years. My real take there was their practical approach and their openness to different methods of financing business – through self investment, private equity, VC, wealthy individuals – whatever works in the context of requirements, vision and practical availability. Interesting model – generate commercial revenues before initiating R&D spend.

Niall Olden (Managing Partner Kernel Capital) spoke about many of the investments they have made in the last year in particular. Reminded us that the vast majorities of exits will be trade sales.

Anna Scally (partner KPMG) referenced the work of the Innovation Task force and empathised with some of the frustrations of the entrepreneur community in Ireland.

Barry Maloney (partner Balderton Capital) provided the international VC perspective. Reminded the audience of what they are seeking – and set the expectation for entrepreneurs of being in for a relatively long haul e.g. 7-8 years before any significant exit. Seeking those who want to be ‘rich, not famous’. More seriously, addressed (as did David Brabazon) the requirement for fit between the VC and the entrepreneur.

All in all excellent seminar hosted by KPMG – good contrast between perspective of the entrepreneur and the VCs (local and international).

…and no one pulled their punches – successful exits are the result of many things, but hard work (long hours, commitment to travel and drive) is the sine qua non.


What do we learn from successful web entrepreneurs?

Web Summit 2010 well worth attending.

Attended Paddy Cosgrave’s Web Summit last night in Dublin. Great turnout – about 500 people attended the event – held in the excellent new premises of the Chartered Accountants in Ireland.

Of course it was interesting to hear from those who founded Hostelworld, Bebo and Xing – amongst others. And there were a number of other interesting presentations – including the VC presenters. Even Mark Little reflecting on his first 6 months as an entrepreneur.

Ray Nolan was frank and to the point, a little irreverend and generally quite entertaining.

But did the audience learn much from the evening?

In some respects am left comparing the event with some of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce events – in which a bell rings and you are expected to talk to someone for 5 minutes about your business. I think this format could be used very effectively in the breakout sessions – in the sense that it would require each person to chat with 4/5 other entrepreneurs. In many respects I think these exchanges are more valuable than listening to presentations by those who have done it.

None of this is to knock the events. As Mark Mortell observed it is a very positive place to spend a number of hours – in the company of fellow entrepreneurs. Paddy has succeeded in attracting a number of interesting presenters from Ireland and overseas. WordPress, Craigslist and Realex at summit No. 1; Hostelworld, Bebo and Xing at summit No. 2.

Would recommend Summit No. 3 to anyone who has not attended to date.