The third part of the four mini conferences that i attend was Get Started on Tuesday the 17th of February,2015. The conference was based on helping entrepreneur’s start their own businesses and offering people advice on how to succeed in their own start ups. As per usual the conference was held in the Helix’s, Mahoney Hall, Dublin City University.
The first speaker of the conference was Niamh Bushnell, the Dublin commissioner for start ups. Niamh’s job as commissioner is to develop an image and voice for Dublin as a perfect start up city both nationally and internationally. Before all of this Niamh spent six years working for enterprise Ireland in New York helping to promote start ups.Niamh has helped oversee the development and acquisition of many start ups including a company she worked for, Orbiscon, which was bought by Mastercard. Niamh herself is a former start up entrepreneur creating Pan research in Dublin in 1996. She then setup another company in tech resources but it failed.
Niamh was the Entrepreneur in Residence at Talent Tech Labs in New York City. She is also an investor
and mentor at Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator in New York meaning she has both helped with start ups but overseen that they run smoothly.Having decided to give up on setting up her own start ups Niamh now helps attract start ups to Dublin and offering them any advice and services that she can to ensure their success, As of the moment the program is slow to start but is making real progress.
Overall, i thought that Niamh was very motivational and inspiring to any of the people starting up or hoping to start their own company.
The second speaker was David McKernan, who set up coffee company Java Republic in 1998 in Dublin. i found him the most interesting speaker. He brought us through the history of his company starting from the origin of his idea originating from a coffee shop he loved in San Francisco to how he used his previous experience in Bewleys to help start up his own company. David talked to us about the current financial situation and how difficult it is for current entrepreneurs to raise capital for their companies. He recommended not to go certain people for money especially family and friends because if the business fails then you’ll own them money. He recommended looking for angel investors which are people who have money to invest but aren’t too interested in the running of the company.
David was one of the few speakers who talked about the harshness and tough work that it takes to start up a company and how its not for everyone. He discussed some of the qualities needed to start up and stick with a company such as trust, hard work, personality and how these qualities can help a business succeed. He told us of the story of the risk he took in the expansion of his company and the risk he took and how risk is a key element in the success of any start up. As a result his company has continued to grow and increase its profits. In 2015, they’re branded their products to look more professional and as a result it has helped the company increase its appeal internationally.David mentioned how necessary it is for a company to adapt to change otherwise your company could be destroyed by it.Overall I really enjoyed David as he gave a real insight in to starting up a company.
The next part of the conference was about DCU’s involvement in the helping of start ups.Richard Stokes, the director of innovation in DCU gave an insight into the Business school,Invent and Fiontar.He talked to us about Invent and how it operates. He mentioned at the moment how there are 18 resident companies and 35 spin out companies and how Invent helps these spin out companies in all aspects that are needed to help them succeed at competitive market rates. He mentioned how DCU holds more licences than any other University in Ireland. Richard told us how New Frontiers helps people build better businesses by improving their business plans and helping them succeed.
Along with Richard Stokes, we heard from Ronan Furlong who works for the DCU Innovation campus which is only 800 metres from DCU’s main campus. He explained how over at the innovation campus they have a cluster of companies working together feeding off each other and help each other grow. Currently companies such as Fujitsu, Siemens and Veolia all hold a position on the campus. He described it as a techshop gymnasium for prototypes containing all necessary equipment needed to make a prototype and help get a company starting.
After a short intermission, the conference continued on with Kealan Lennon from electronic card seller Clever Bug. Mr Lennon, founder of one the most innovative companies in regards to the greeting card world. Kealan has designed a website where with the integration of a users Facebook or personal photo’s allows users to instantly create and personalize any card for any occasions with the use of your own photos of that person who the card is for. Not only this you can then choose to either email the card directly to the intended person or you can get the card delivered for the of $2.99 or €3.45 which includes post and delivery.
Kealan informed us how his company has expanded greatly expanded and as of 2015 has received over 5 billion photos on its database and operates in over 200 countries with the most common users in the USA. The most useful part of the Clever Bug website is that the website reminds you of any upcoming birthdays or occasions using your own personal media information and address book a week in advance and allows you to send the card well in advance. This is very useful especially for people who are extremely forgetful and unorganized. Mr lennon showed us how even existing products and ideas can be improved on and how there’s money to be from them.
The second last speaker of the conference was Sean Ahern the creator of the app ThankFrank. Basically he explained how companies spend over a billion dollars every year trying to get the trust of customers and yet don’t get very far.The idea behind his technology is that every time a user likes or suggests a page or product to a possible customer who then buys the product is rewarded with a form of currency which they can use to buy other product or services.
The last speaker was Paul kerley, an entrepreneur and investor who currently serves on a number of technology companies. Previous to this Paul set up a company called Norkom technologies in 1998 which was a global financial crime and compliance systems provider. He talked about how his company was hit during the financial crash of the dot com bubble back in the early 2000’s. His company was further hit during the 2008 economic collapse but fortunately Paul kept cash reserves which helped keep his company afloat. His company managed to avoid total collapse and as a result it survived and it was later bought over in 2011 by BAE systems for €217 million. I was very interested listening to Paul because he told us of not only his success story but how he managed to rebuild after multiple financial crashes.