This is the first of our mini conferences and what a way to begin! I didn’t know what to expect of the event before attending but it did not disappoint. It was truly brilliant, enjoyable and informative. The topic of entrepreneurship was discussed in detail in the various talks from our guest speakers. They portrayed it as an exhilarating, rewarding career option but it does have its risks and not all ideas are a success. The speakers certainly left us with something to think about.
The first guest speaker of the day was Philippe Brodeur, who is the co-founder of OvercastHQ. This is a company that is designed to manage video files easily almost like managing word documents without having to struggle with technology. Philippe told us their story and talked about the market for this product at the moment. He explained that “93% of marketers and publishers now work with video”. He argued that some of these companies are not using suitable tools. I thought it was a brilliant idea as technology is so big nowadays.
After talking briefly about his company, he began to explore the topic of entrepreneurship in more depth. He talked about what makes a successful business and suggested that the five reasons start-ups succeed is team, idea, plan, timing and funding and I must say that I agree with these. Although things like funding and timing are very important, I should add that the personality of the entrepreneur and their skills and characteristics are also what makes a successful business.
What I liked most about Philippe is that he has full belief and commitment to his business and is motivated to do everything he can to see it succeed. He spoke in a philosophical tone where he posed one main question to the audience and left the future entrepreneur with something to consider, “How am I going to differentiate myself from everyone else in the marketplace?” It was a great talk and start to the event!
You can find out more about Philippe’s company on his website.
Next up was Brian O’Rourke and Alan Farrelly who are involved in the company Cityswifter. These guys were very inspirational. When starting up a business, they focused on the problem, what needed fixing and came up with a solution.
First they discussed their journey and how they got to where they are. I found this very interesting as they had a few different companies before Cityswifter. In 2013, concertbus.ie was set up by Alan Farrelly to provide transport to concerts and festivals around Ireland. They had over €130,000 in revenue with 20+ events. But they ran into difficulty as it wasn’t scalable. Next up, they set up another website busman.ie, where you just log in and book your bus. But this website was hacked weekly.
I really admired their perseverance, as they never gave up and eventually came up with the idea of Cityswifter. Steve Jobs, the founder and CEO of apple, once said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” And I wholeheartedly agree with this. Building this business wasn’t easy. They worked long and hard days leading up to the bus strikes, from 12-16 hours and they had very little money. But their efforts paid off and they were the talk of the country overnight. “Be prepared to do what others won’t”, was one of the messages they were sending across and it really stood out to me.
I found an interesting newspaper article about Cityswifter HERE on The Irish Times. it is worth the read!
The boys plan on expanding their company with the release of a mobile app, more bus routes, and building out their team. I hope all goes well for them in their journey which I’m sure it will.
After the first two speeches I realized something. These people aren’t solely interested in money and fame, but in personal rewards and satisfaction. “Many persons choose to become entrepreneurs not primarily to become rich or famous(!), but because they want to improve the quality of their own lives, and perhaps those of others too. In short, they want to attain greater life satisfaction and increased personal happiness.” (Baron, 2014)
Elva Carri was the third speaker of the day, with her company, Girlcrew. I found her story the most interesting so far and very entertaining. She was feeling a bit lonely and was tired of her friends cancelling plans or not being able to go out, so she wanted to find a way to meet new friends that have some similar interests to her. The way she went about this is very funny. She went on tinder and changed her status to a male. Here is her profile and what she posted:
You might think it is a silly idea but the response Elva got was huge. Within a few hours, she got over 100 messages from other girls. She then made a Facebook group chat with everyone in it and they organised different nights out. Elva was doing all the work, so she thought why not make a business out of it. She used it as a user aswel as a business. She expressed that it appeared scalable and there was a market for it. I thought it was genius! Elva had great aspirations for this company, that she wanted to make it worldwide, but she wasn’t sure it would work out, so she kept it to herself. She wanted to be able to test it without any pressure. Currently, they have 50,000+ members and there are events happening everyday throughout the world which are organised through Girlcrew. I was amazed that in Dublin alone, there are 20,000 members. There are three full time staff working with this business. The co-founder is Aine Molloy. She met Pamala Newhiman, who worked for the New York times for 7 years, and she asked to get involved.
In her talk, Elva also acknowledged their weaknesses, along with their strengths. One being that they have no tech person but that she would like to have her own app someday. Her target market is women from 25-40 years in urban areas and developed regions. This equates to 79 million people. The market is massive. There are continuous requests for Girlcrew to come to more cities. Elva has a really positive attitude towards life and left us with the quote “Don’t just share experiences, create them!” Meaning that the world is our oyster. I really enjoyed this talk by Elva and it gave me a lot to consider.
Gavin Walshe was next on the stage with his company iCabbi. This man has always been a creative and innovative entrepreneur. He set up many businesses and was nominated for an award with entrepreneur of the year. He was very young when he set up his first company, where he bought Christmas trees in bulk and travelled from door-to-door selling them. It was a very successful business at the time but he soon got sick of it. The second of his businesses to set up was myfashionfair.ie. He recognised that women were complaining about weddings and how expensive they are like buying a dress that will only be worn once. This website was a way of buying and selling your dresses. It seemed like a great idea but Gavin explained that it was a phenomenal failure. He was always on the lookout for business opportunities which is a very successful trait to have as an entrepreneur in my opinion. The idea of iCabbi was sparked when he was in Portugal with his wife and they got lost. He thought it would be a great thing to get a live taxi with a push of a button that could detect your location. And so, with his idea, he launched iCabbi in 2010. The way it worked was he charged taxis per job, but he soon realised that some cannot be trusted. It worked well in Cork and he re-launched it in Dublin in 2011 and this time it operated well. The only problem was demand exceeded supply and there weren’t enough taxis.
iCabbi was then launched in the U.K. This was very different to Ireland as they had no meters in the taxis. It took Walshe a long time to catch up, he ran out of money but the service was finally ready in Jan 2014. It seen a high growth rate. He wanted to keep on expanding, so he brought it to the U.S last year. I really admire how, initially, he spotted a fault in the market and created something to solve it and appeal to a mass audience, showing that he had a great entrepreneurial capacity, something which I would like to develop myself. He left us with a quote “You can only grow as big as your vision” and to be an entrepreneur you must have big ambition , which is something that appeals to me greatly.
I thought the next speaker was a bit different to the others. We were introduced to Iseult Ward and her company FoodCloud. This is a charitable organisation collecting food for the homeless. As she said in her PowerPoint presentation, they are “connecting those who have too much food with those who have too little”. Iseult presented us with some remarkable figures. I was astonished that over 30% of food produced around the world is wasted. In Ireland that is about one million tonnes wasted annually. If that sounds bad, there are 795 million people that have no food around the world and one in eight people in Ireland suffer from poverty. I couldn’t believe it!
Iseult thought these figures were shocking and wanted to do something about it. She studied in Trinity College Dublin, and when she completed her course she set up a food bank. Evan O’Brien is the co-founder. They discovered that supermarkets waste 300 meals equivalent per week. After hearing this figure, they set up a meeting with Tesco. They got on board with the idea. It works by uploading details of surplus food on foodcloud. Then a text is sent out to charities and they will collect the food. It has such a big impact on the homeless shelter. They got a huge donation of steaks from Aldi, and some of the people in shelter said that they have never even seen a steak before. I was touched by this. Iseult attains a national contract with Aldi and Tesco and she launched in the U.K with Tesco two years ago. FoodCloud is also partnered in the U.K with Fairshare. Her company is expanding everyday and I think it is great to see a young inspiring entrepreneur, like Iseult, doing such amazing work.
After some inspirational and heart felt speeches by our guest speakers, the event concluded with a short talk from the presenter, Andrew Keogh and he showed us a few slides:
Overall, it was a fantastic day, with some encouraging speeches. Some of them have inspired me to become an entrepreneur. I learned a lot of information that I will use myself during the duration of my studies and take with me in the future!
Looking forward to the next conference #GetSocial in February! Thank you all for reading!
See you soon!
Baron, R. (2014), Essentials of entrepreneurship: evidence and practice, Edward Elgar: Cheltenham UK
Pictures from this blog are a mixture of my own, google images and the slides provied by each speaker.