“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison.
The idea behind this quote became very clear to me after attending the “Get Started 2016” Conference on the 8th of November in the Mahony Hall, the Helix as part of my DICE Module this Semester.
This was a mini-conference where several speakers told us about their startups as Andrew Keogh held the position of MC for the event. There was a hive of activity as over 500 students plus invited guests attended the event. Yet, leading up to this conference I had many questions on my mind… What is enterprise? What is an entrepreneur? More importantly, what does it take to be an entrepreneur? As you read on be sure to keep those same questions in mind, as we explore the rapidly advancing world of entrepreneurship and startups!
Luckily enough my questions had been heard. I discovered the answers when attending a DICE lecture dedicated to entrepreneurship.
An aspect covered in this lecture was not just what are entrepreneurs but WHO are entrepreneurs? Entrepreneurs fall into certain types and further on you will discover some of these through the speakers at the conference. However, William B. Gartner (1988) challenged the concept of ‘types of entrepreneurs’ in his writings titled “Who is an entrepreneur? Is the wrong question”. He looked at behavioural approaches to researching entrepreneurship against trait approaches.
“The traits and personality characteristics of entrepreneurs, will neither lead us to a definition of the entrepreneur nor help us to understand the phenomenon of entrepreneurship” (Gartner 1988).
In conclusion Gartner expressed that it is not just who the entrepreneur is but what their behaviours are that ultimately leads to creating a successful organization. For me, I thought this study was unusual but interesting as it shows the wide spectrum of which an entrepreneur can be defined.
See for yourself if you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur by clicking here.
Andrew introduced Philippe as being named by Google as 1 of 40 Irish startups that can change the world. This immediately made a good impression as Philippe, the chief CEO of his company Overcast, walked on stage. Overcast is a platform businesses can use to store, collaborate and distribute video in their browsers.
Differentiation. This was the key theme to Philippe’s presentation. He explained that in business you need to differentiate your startup in order to succeed. Coupled with differentiation Philippe mentioned how traction is an essential element to securing your startup. What really caught my attention was how he found his niche market. He discovered that 93% of marketers and publishers use video but do not know how to manage video files, so Overcast was born… allowing businesses to easily manage video through Overcast’s cloud platform. Philippe’s easy confidence and engagement with the audience showed all the right reasons why his startup is and will continue to be very successful. After hearing his talk, it is true that #videohappens.
“Stay Positive: celebrate the ups, learn from the downs”
Brian O’Rourke & Alan Farrelly – Cityswifter
Wise words in that title spoken by the two young entrepreneurs, Brian and Alan who created their startup, Cityswifter, straight from college. This presentation made a strong impact as the boys were a little closer to home being students of DCU and setting up their business through the incredible DCU Ryan Academy.
The pair described Cityswifter as a crowd-sourced commuter shuttle bus that picks you up near your home and drops you off at work i.e. like a Hailo or Uber except for buses! This clever idea came from a simple question: “What is the problem with transport?”. They came to find the answer by listening to the public, friends and family sparking the idea for their startup.
On stage the boys showed a great partner relationship, as they told us their shared vision is what has gotten them to where they are today, which wasn’t an easy journey. After a succession of market branding fails, they found the one that worked. Today Cityswifter is moving onto the release of their mobile app, building out their team and adding additional routes. Big things may lie ahead for the two DCU graduates but Alan ended on a piece of advice that has stuck with me since. “You have to do it wrong to know how to fix it.”
A group of the girls, for the girls, by the girls
Elva Carri – Girlcrew
Andrew Keogh welcomed Elva to the stage expressing that he thinks this is one of the best startup ideas that he’s heard of in a long time, to which I would agree with. Girlcrew is a platform through which girls can organize events with each other to meet and make new friends. This startup is a prime example of the rise in female entrepreneurship as seen in a report (GEM 2015 p.7):
“Among 61 economies out of 83 featured in the report, overall TEA (Total Early-Stage Entrepreneurial Activity) rates have increased by 7% since 2012, and the gender gap (ratio of women to men participating in entrepreneurship) has narrowed by 6%.”
Elva’s talk was quite humourous giving us an insight into her bubbly, positive personality. Her feel-good attitude attracted thousands of women to sign up and organize events and in Dublin alone there is over 10,000 members. Today Girlcrew stretches all across the globe with a large traction of 50,000+ members. But, Elva didn’t leave us short of valuable advice when it comes to business. Her 4 magical ingredients which she believes made her startup so successful are:
- There was a need for it
- It was scalable
- It created itself
- It was free to scale
Alongside her 4 magical ingredients Elva told us how she built a tech business for free, without being a ‘techie’, giving great inspiration to the audience. Ending her talk Elva left us on words of wisdom: “Don’t just share experiences, create them”.
The taxi dispatch specialists
Gavan Walsh – iCabbi
As an Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist 2016, Gavan Walsh took to the stage, introducing his startup iCabbi, which is a taxi cloud-based dispatch system. Opening on the line of “If not me, who? If not now, when?” left a strong impact on me as it made me realise when it comes to business and to startups, seizing the moment is key. Gavan was inspired to become an entrepreneur after his father set up the Irish School of Motoring and the entrepreneurial gene (Clarkson 2016) definitely runs in the family as you could see Gavan was determined, focused and confident in his business.
Setting big goals for the future of his business Gavan wishes to be the “global leader in taxi dispatch” breaking into the UK and American markets, showing great persistence of his vision. However, like the other startups I saw his success didn’t come instantly. With many failed attempts, even trying to set up a fashion website… Gavan finally disrupted the taxi market with iCabbi. There were many problems with the system but he learned and improved for the next time saying “You’ve got to be ambitious”. Seeing how Gavan trialled and tested his business until he amended it allowed me to appreciate the effort it takes running your own startup!
A tech recruitment filter that works!
Adrian Mihai – Opening
Opening is a very smart software designed to filter CVs so a business can see who the best candidates are for the proposed job. Adrian is the co-founder of Opening with an extensive background and interest in software and hardware architecture. With winning the Romanian Programming Olympiad under his belt, Adrian surely knows his tech, a reason why his startup has shown to be such a success.
Adrian’s honesty in the number of mistakes he made in his company was reassuring, showing no business is perfect first time around. Following up on his story his presentation ended – “You won’t get it perfect- work on prototypes”.
“Connecting those who have too much food with those who have too little”
One could say they saved the best till last, as Iseult Ward (not only a female entrepreneur but also a social entrepreneur) ended the series of speakers exhibiting her startup, FoodClooud.
Click https://player.vimeo.com/video/188539918” target=”_blank”>here to watch video
“Globally 30% of all food produced is lost or wasted,” a shocking but true figure. Iseult’s presentation really moved me as her sheer passion for her business was evident, bringing a spirited happiness to the Mahony Hall. The goal is simple – redistribute surplus food from businesses to local charities and they achieved this through their FoodCloud hubs platform.
With Iseult winning ‘Business Student of the Year 2013’ by Bank of Ireland and Trinity Business Alumni it was clear she had the skills required to pull off this startup. Although lacking enough funding to set up a food bank, Iseult turned to technology but their first launched platform failed. “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”– Samuel Beckett. This quote Iseult mentioned was a fitting one, as it showed where the business had started and where it is today, a successful startup which is working alongside many Tesco stores in Ireland and hoping to launch FoodCloud in 3,000 UK Tesco stores by 2017!
Not only did Iseult show the success of her startup but the change it’s made to people’s lives. Ending on a number of touching stories, Iseult emotionally told the impact that FoodCloud has had on people who have little or no food. This emotion translated across the whole audience as Iseult brought her presentation to a heart-warming close.
The Final Curtain
As the conference drew to a close, Andrew Keogh stepped up on stage to give a final few words of encouragement. He described how the nature of business goes in circles, that all entrepreneurs go through ups and downs, reiterating the words of all the speakers. He then explained that great businesses start from simple ideas. Anyone can create a startup, you simply need to JUST DO IT.
His ending speech was quite fitting as it summed up nicely the theme throughout the conference, “Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of it” – Arianna Huffington.
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“Get Started 2016” was sponsored by the following:
Gartner, W. B., 1988. ‘Who is an entrepreneur?’ is the wrong question. American Journal of Small Business. 12(4), p.12.
Global Entrepreneur Monitor 2015. GEM 2014 Women’s Report [Online]. Available from: file:///C:/Users/Emer/Downloads/gem-2014-womens-report-1447757361%20(2).pdf. [Accessed 23 November 2016].
Clarkson 2016. Is entrepreneurship in your genes? [Online]. Available from: https://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/entrepreneurship-your-genes [Accessed 23 November 2016].