If not me, who? If not now, when?
Hillel the Elder
Recently, while attending the Get Started Conference in The Helix, the idea of entrepreneurship grew in my mind. The great variety of stories from a huge range of people from all walks of life was magnificent. Going into the conference I had closed my mind to the idea of starting a business – the risks, both personal and financial outweighed any possible benefits for me. Leaving I had a complete different outlook.
There’s often a stigma attached to entrepreneurs. It’s believed that they only want the money and power, however this is not always the case. While both of those are huge benefits – many entrepreneurs are hugely enthusiastic about their business and want it to succeed to feel proud and provide their customers with something beneficial.
Get started is a mini-conference run by the Ryan Academy. It’s aim is to provide students and others who may wish to become entrepreneurs with stories from varying people who have started business and how they fared. A brief introduction from the leader of the Ryan Academy – Eoghan Stack and Paddy Quinlan, who manages DCU’s UStart programme.
Philippe Brodeur – OvercastHQ
Kicking off the speakers was Founder and CEO of OvercastHQ Philippe Brodeur. A hugely experienced man, Philippe has worked with some of the leading media outlets across Ireland and the UK. Beginning with BBC in London, he moved to Ireland to help with the launch of TV3 in the 1990’s and founded TV3.ie. This led him to develop his own video collaboration platform and so OvercastHQ was born.
The underlying message throughout the talk was differentiation – what can separate your budding idea from the next persons? The world is dominated by video today with “93% of marketers and publishers now working with video.”. Video is complex and often hard to manage – this is where OvercastHQ comes in. A required resource in the market, Philippe understood that timing was the main reasons that Startups succeed. By providing a resource to manage your videos better, he believes you can save up to 90% of time on rudimentary tasks. OvercastHQ provides businesses with a cloud based management system, security, multi-format trans-code and so much more – all in one place. The business has been able to receive the traction that every start-up needs with great reviews from Google, The Daily Mail and Amazon.
The only way is up for Overcast HQ as Philippe looks to grow and extend his business which can “change the word for good” and solve “clients’ biggest pain points.”.
Brian O’Rourke and Alan Farrelly – CitySwifter
Secondly, we heard from Brian O’Rourke and Alan Farrelly of Cityswifter. Brian – co-founder and CEO of the company is a graduate of DCU, studying business from 2010-2014. He co-founded Cityswifter with his childhood friend Alan Farrelly, whose family owns a bus company in Longford. The Cityswifter team is finished by Sean Byrne.
The story of how Brian and Alan landed with Cityswifter is certainly an interesting one. While Alan’s family own a bus company – he was advised to stay away from that sector of business. After 2 unsuccessful attempts at similar companies with Busman.ie and concertbus.ie, they realized they had to stay positive. Cityswifter is a very new business – only starting during the recent bus strikes. These bus strikes were a blessing for Brian and Adam as, although they weren’t necessarily ready to launch, it get them an incentive to be ready and a perfect platform to build on. They received 15,000 journey requests and 1,000 passenger trips which boosted their name completely. As a result, Cityswifter is growing. With the addition of new routes and the release of a new app, they’ve been able to secure key partners and build their team.
Cityswifter can give everyone confidence as they were once rejected by the Ryan Academy in DCU. Instead of letting that get them down, they used it as motivation and gained success as a result.
Elva Carri – Girlcrew
The last speaker before the break. Out comes Elva Carri of aircrew whose enthusiasm for her brand was clear from the very start. Elva, who credits her success to boredom and loneliness began her story with a funny, interesting and mostly relatable story of the night it all began.
Tinder – usually an app used by many to find a love interest, was not used to its intended function by Elva. Instead, she would use it to begin a business… by accident. Looking for a few friends who were girls to go dancing with, she realised there was no real way for women to find friends with similar interests. Without too much effort and most importantly funding, the business grew. Gathering a small team, she was lucky enough to meet Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook – who ensured her that her idea was a fantastic one.
GirlCrew is growing constantly, with over 500,000 members, expanding out to more and more cities. With the help of companies such as Microsoft, Dell, PayPal and JustEat to keep the event costs down there are now events every day for women of the ages 25-40. Her slogan “How I built a tech business for free without being a techie” is one that could motivate anyone in the audience.
Gavan Walsh – iCabbi
After a short break it was time to hear from Gavan Walsh. A college dropout, he had first hand knowledge of entrepreneurship. His father founded the Irish Motor School at the time that the driving test was introduced. A finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year 2016, it was clear that we were listening to someone with great knowledge.
After dropping out of college, Gavan found himself selling Christmas trees. However, after a few years of this, it could tedious and boring. While on holidays, he noticed that there was a big gap between traditional taxi companies and the new modern taxis such as Uber and Hailo. With the huge number of traditional taxi companies, he decided that he would help them to develop and upgrade their systems to ensure they were up to date. After partnering with VIP taxis, iCabbi was able to grow. The cloud based system allowed the companies to run from anywhere and therefore hugely benefited them.
iCabbi is further able to grow as they look to work in dispatch technology. Already working with Subway, they are quickly able to deliver customers orders by identifying the closest available taxis to perform the job. This is helping them expand worldwide to the likes of the United Kingdom and the USA.
Iseult Ward – FoodCloud
Iseult Ward introduced to us a start-up different from each other we had seen previously – a non-profit organisation. A recent graduate from Trinity College Dublin – Iseult is passionate about the food wastage across the world.
With only 1 registered food bank in Dublin the problem was clear. The amount of food being wasted was astonishing – over 300 meals a week. Iseult wanted to prevent this however it was difficult. It was hard to find businesses willing to donate their food due to the difficulty in transporting the food. Luckily, with the help of Tesco Express and a local woman running a charity she could build her business. This was the beginning of FoodCloud Hub – an app-text system to notify charities of the available food from companies which could be used.
FoodCloud has grown dramatically. With the help of Tesco, there is a 3 year global plan to expand FoodCloud to over 3,000 Tesco stores by the end of 2017. The problem isn’t solved, but Iseult has definitely helped to ease it and is well on her way to much success.
“There were many terrible things in my life and most of the never happened.” – Michael de Montaigne
Andrew Keogh – Giving People Confidence
A fitting end to a fantastic afternoon – a lighthearted and fun speech from our MC for the nighr Andrew Keogh. A funny joke about a few slides set the tone. I learned a lot about larger businesses throughout this. The way YouTube started as founder Chad Hurley wanted to show his mother video of an award ceremony and has now grown into a massive company and Skype was founded due to the sheer expense of making international phone calls which instead of costing the founder Niklas Zennstrom huge amounts – made him millions.
Overall the Get Started conference was brilliant. With a wide range of speakers there was something there that everyone in the audience could relate to. This helped us to understand entrepreneurship more and how we don’t always need a huge idea to start our own business. The Ryan Academy is hugely beneficial for all the students at DCU. The valid point of don’t be scared of failure will remain in our heads for a long time.