The New Year

It’s funny what a new year can do for people.

I didn’t pay much attention to it before but recently (in last 3 or 4 years) I’ve become more aware of the beginning of a new year. It’s definitely a time to reflect on the past 12 months but you can’t live in the past – you live in the present and wonder about the future. 2009 is going to be a very interesting year for me – that’s for sure. I’m going to be way outside my comfort area for most of it, I’m going to stop writing (thesis/papers/journals/books chapters etc.) for the first time in 8 years, I’m going to start thinking about things that are bigger than work, soccer, Internet etc., I’m also going to do things I’ve put on the long finger for way too long.

stay tuned.

One year on

This time last year I was in Hospital with a cast around my foot and a screw in my leg after a wee tackle on the astro turf while playing soccer. One year on and the ankle is fine, ligaments are strong again and the only thing that reminds me something was broken is the odd twinge. The break on the fibula can be felt physically – most of the bone is smooth but where the break occurred a bumpy callous bit can be felt. The ankle itself is fine and has been for the past couple of months. I’ve been ramping up the number of games since July and I’m now back playing 3 or 4 times a week. Mentally I don’t think about it anymore and I’m almost back to the same level of rash and slightly late tackles I dished out before the break!

EnterpriseStart program (week 5)

Well week 5 of EnterpriseSTART was about money. We had an accountant, Brian Meehan, in to talk to us about cash and the importance of it. This may seem like a no-brainer but it seems people overlook it. I’m a stickler when it comes to money and I generally always keep track of it to the last cent –  be it my own or  project budget I’ve been in charge of.  I didn’t intentionally set out this way it’s just something I’ve become aware of, so it wasn’t alien to me when Brian insisted we keep on top of the books and cash flow.

Cash flow –  the balance of the amounts of cash being received and paid by a business during a defined period of time

The second presenter of the night, Eoin Kierse from www.youbookin.com came in to share his story on how they got their software company up and running (2006). What was key for them starting out was EI’s feasibility grant. During the feasibility they realised their business idea would struggle in their target market,  but their feasibility uncovered one aspect of their initial ideal to be their way forward as a business. So at the end of the feasibility they changed direction and focussed on a different market – appointment booking. In 2007 they developed youbookonline.com, released it in beta form, got invaluable feedback and are currently incorporating the feedback into the product. I like the idea and I think there is a market – I do feel the barrier to entry is low so it would be important to gain a good customer base and grow from there.  I wish them all the best.

The money theme continued Saturday morning with Pat Clune from Enterprise Ireland coming in and talking about funding and support – needless to say EI have a lot of support for potential companies and even more for those that are trying to achieve HPSU status. Hopefully we’ll be seeing Pat again sometime soon…

Week #6 is the last week (the 6 weeks have flown by!) and we get to present our ideas.. should be fun.

EnterpriseStart program (week 2)

Eamon Ryan from Practical Business Solutions (PBS) came in to talk to us on Friday Night. His presentation was really good and highlighted some of the key things that makes a successful business plan (and ultimately a successful business) . What’s been hammered home is the number 1 asset in the company is YOU! What I took away from his presentation were 

Distinguish your product, do the market research, see what’s out there and identify their strengths and weaknesses.

Understand your Value Proposition – What do you offer, what is the real benefit and what pain does it address for your customer. What is your competitive advantage?

When trying to sell something to a customer  – do your homework, research the company, understand their product and try understand where their pain comes from. You’ll probably have to look beyond their technology/services to find their real pain. Understand and the customer is Key.

The second half of his presentation was on the business plan.  The business plan is not just for the bank manager/EI/VC it’s for you.. A business plan that will help you get to where you end up (not necessarily where you intend to go).  It should be based around your Value proposition.

Austin Ryan from AMCS came in at 9ish to talk about his company – wow – what a story.  Established in 2003, now employees 45 and with a turnover of 5.1M euros. I liked his presentation on a couple of levels. 

  • Technology. They use loads of different technology, RFID, GPS, GSM, GIS, SQL etc etc. I understood exactly what they used, how it works and how it connects together. The technologist side of my brain was satisfied however I was here for business so my business (small but growing) part of the brain was curious.
  • Business. They looked past all the technology and placed themselves as the one-stop-shop solution provider. Whatever the customer wanted – they got. AMCS heal pain for their customers and their customers make more money in a monitored efficient way. Win-Win. 

Saturday – Alan Carey from Carey and Associates (business consultants) came in and talked to us on the legal aspects of setting up a business. Basically there are 100 and 1 legal aspects to consider when running a business, if you handled them all at the one time your brain will fry and you’ll lose the will to get out of bed in the morning. But different legal things kick in at different times: pre-startup, startup and when your up and running (contracts, t&c’s payments etc.) If you prioritise, but yet keep the other 100 things in mind, and systematically go through them they won’t seem so daunting. 

Shane McAllister from Mobanode came to talk about his experience for the past year of being a business. The presentation was slick and he communicated his product/idea very clearly.  He knows what Mobanode is able to offer and to whom. I think the presentation wrapped up the weekends other set of presentations (even though it was a last minute thing for him). Shane has done tremendously in the past year – he is generating revenue, he had some of the sales with events last year and is looking to get more. It’s something to aspire to. 

Unfortunately I won’t be able to make next weeks presentation – as I am attending the Irish Software Association Awards where there will loads of companies to meet. So the next round up will be from sides.

Showcase Season

Wow – two showcases in one week. The first one, the Enterprise Ireland ICT showcase kicks off at 9am in Dublin next Monday ( more details in a previous post). Having had a sneak preview of the projects there are some really cool and interesting but more importantly investable projects being presented : )

The second showcase is Mid-West Entrepreneur Showcase 2008 on Thursday 9th of October in LIT

Some details on the showcase:

The Enterprise Acceleration Centre (EAC) at Limerick Institute of Technology is delighted to host the 2nd Annual Mid-West Entrepreneur Showcase at the Millennium Theatre on Thursday, the 9th of October as part of Limerick City Business Week.

Entrepreneurs, emerging entrepreneurs along with sales and business professionals are invited to attend the event which will consist of a half day Seminar entitled Winning Sales – the key to Start-Up Success and a Showcase featuring clients of the EAC, including the eleven 2008 Limerick Enterprise Acceleration Platform (LEAP) participants.

Sounds good so I’ll be attending. If you want to go register here

Intrepid Ibex

I like Ubuntu and Canonical. They are heading in the right direction in terms of getting Linux working out of the box. So every April and October a new version is released – but for those who can’t wait (like me) you can get the alpha and beta versions prior to the release date.  I normally come in at alpha 6 (usually the one before beta) and with 8.10 – Intrepid Ibex alpha 6 release last week I pressed Alt+F2 and typed  “update-manager -d”. So far so good. It’s stable, the wireless card for my ancient Dell Latitude 600 worked first go (first time ever), compiz worked and it looks good with the new ‘Dust’ theme. The only downside is the contsant updates but I can live with this for a couple of weeks until the final release (October 30th).

black at heart..

A big shout out to fluffy for her kindness! I went home this weekend only to find the coolest black football shirt ever. It’s the new shirt for AIK Fotboll (a Sweden team). Their motto is ‘black at heart’ which I’m not too sure about but hey it’s not the worst I’ve come across – Prestwick Airport: “Pure Dead Brilliant

Thanks O!

Add that little extra something to your website

With a lot of things in life it takes time to get the perfect finish. Personally I spend a bit of time hunting (editing/photoshopping) images to enhance a blog entry or spend a bit of time linking to other sites just to make the post a little bit better for the reader. 

Over on the other blog I started testing apture – and I have to say I like it! I first saw it on the bbc.co.uk site and thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if I could have it on my site!?’ . Great news – you can – and for free! 

So what does it do? Once you upload your new post apture adds super rich media content with a single click to a selected word(s). Here is an example of what it can do:

Tom went to the Ting Tings concert in the RDS and took this video on his phone.

neat eh?