The 8th of November 2016. As a first-year business student I was given the opportunity to attend DCU’s ‘get started’ conference. It was centred around entrepreneurship and how to create your own business. Prior to the seminar I had little to no interest in sitting in a four hour long seminar on a topic which had little interest to me. To my surprise the event was eye opening and gave me a fresh perspective to entrepreneurship. I expected to be listening to high end business men who always had a keen interest in setting up their own business but was taken back when I realised that some of the most successful people in business are no different to you or me.
As part of my studies in DCU I am taking take part in a module called ‘DICE’ (Digital Innovation Creativity and Enterprise). It is a first-year enterprise module in DCU Business School. The module allows students to participate in multiple modes of learning including online e-learning, mini-conferences, applied projects, blogging and research posters. Students are taught through lectures, team work, online learning, webinars, project work and mini-conferences with speakers and attendees from the wider business community.
The conference involved six different speakers all sharing their stories on entrepreneurship. The first guest was Philippe Brodeur, the founder and CEO of OverCast HQ. He was followed by the co-founders of Cityswifter Brian O’Rourke (CEO) and Alan Farrelly (COO). Elva Carri then shared her unique and rather strange story of how she stumbled upon her business Girlcrew. Gavan Walsh was next to the stage. He gave us an insight into his challenging but enjoyable journey to becoming the man at the origin of iCabby (still CEO). The last person to share her entrepreneurial tale was the founder of FoodCloud, Iseult Ward. The conference was concluded with a talk from our MP for the night, Andrew Keogh, sharing his “Giving People Confidence” speech.
Phillipe Brodeur, OverCast HQ:
Phillipe Brodeur of OverCast HQ was the first speaker of the afternoon. OverCast is a company which started in the summer of 2016 and they aim to make implementing and storing videos easier.
Phillipe’s talk was centred around differentiation and standing out from the crowd. He questions us as to how we could transform ourselves into stand out candidates for any job. He urged us to do what other’s do not to give yourself that edge.
To be an entrepreneur you must have that edge over your competition, stand out from the crowd and go where others simply would not. Brodeur felt that differentiation was a major key to his success and that it would go a long way to helping any young entrepreneur.
Brian O’Rourke & Alan Farrelly, Cityswifter:
Next to the stage were Cityswifter duo Brian O’Rourke and Alan Farrelly. They’re the co-founders of Cityswifter, an app which aims to reduce congestion and provide alternate travel for people in cities.
They discussed their approach to business and what worked for them. They advised us to get a strong diverse team, to stay away from advice from family and friends and to simply focus on your problems. Their business has hit the ground running in recent months due to the Dublin Bus strikes. They were able to spot the opportunity to get themselves out there in the market and pounced on the opportunity.
Ciyswifter is now a widely recognisable brand thanks to their good timing. To my surprise, the pair had previously been turned down by the Ryan Academy for start-ups. However, they admitted that this was a learning process for them and since then have made changes which continue to improve their business. Recently Cityswifter has been awarded the IBYE best business idea and a Dublin climathon.
Gavan Walsh, iCabbi:
Gavan Walsh is the CEO and founder of iCabbi. His idea for iCabbi came along when he was stranded in Portugal and was unable to get a taxi. He came up with the idea for a taxi dispatch system which allowed you to track nearby taxis.
To grow his business, he began to get in contact with taxi companies throughout Dublin. He made mutual agreements with taxi men as ultimately the app benefitted them both. As an entrepreneur he had the desire to expand and has since moved into different markets. He brought his idea to the British market. Walsh found it challenging yet enjoyable as the British market differentiated greatly to the Irish market.
He currently has over 35,000 taxi’s in the US, Canada, UK and Europe. He encouraged young entrepreneurs to take the chance and follow their ideas beyond the point of no return.
Iseult Ward, FoodCloud:
Iseult Ward, founder and CEO of FoodCloud. A charity based company which reaches out to supermarkets for donations to help feed those who need it most.
She explained how numerous people in Ireland go hungry every day and that over 30% of food is wasted. She reached out to numerous large supermarket chains and were kindly accepted by Tesco. She continues to expand her business throughout Ireland and the UK and is aiming to have donations from over 3000 stores for local communities by 2017.
Elva Carri, Girlcrew:
My favourite talk of the afternoon came from Girlcrew founder, Elva Carri. As a young, rather lonely woman she told us of her unique and rather strange approach to starting a business. She had no friends to go dancing with so decided to take to tinder in search of other girls with similar interests. To her surprise there were many girls just like her and her group grew and grew, inspiring her to set up what is now Girlcrew.
Elva’s business basically fell into her hands unexpectedly and it made me realise that a business can come from anywhere. The app is continually growing and has worldwide potential, despite Elva insisting that she is far from a ‘techie’. I admired her fresh approach to business as it highlights that regardless of your ability, hard work and the desire to succeed can get you a long way.
Overall I thought the conference was interesting and a valuable learning experience to compliment my DICE module. It gave me a greater insight to the world of entrepreneurship and it gave me the impression that its less complicated than it may seem. Each guest speaker came from a very different line of business but reiterated several important rules to follow as an entrepreneur.
- Take chances
- Trust your instinct
- Stand out from the crowd
If you’ve enjoyed my blog feel free to leave a like or even a follow as there is more to come. I expect to post again February and April following more conferences so be sure to check back for more!