Monthly Archives: August 2016

Learning and networking in an informal setting

Hosted by Galway native Gráinne Seoige, the event kicked off with a panel discussion with some of the region’s leading entrepreneurs – Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh, former owner of Aer Arann, Aoibheann McNamara, proprietor of ArdBia and co-founder of The Tweed Project, David Cunningham, CEO of Lean Start-up Summit and PorterShed board member and Padraic Joyce, founder of PJ Personnel and former Galway footballer. The panel discussed a wide range of business issues, with exceptional honesty and passion.

Two up-and-coming entrepreneurs, Emer Cooney of Hydrasure and Ciara Garvan of Workjuggle both delivered pitches to a judging panel of Evin Cusack, Head of AIB Galway, Mary Rodgers from PorterShed Innovation Community Manager, David Murphy of the Irish Times and John Breslin, NUI Galway and PorterShed Director.

The judges were faced with a difficult decision as both Emer and Ciara delivered excellent pitches. However, Emer Cooney of Hydrasure was selected as the winner, meaning that she now goes on to take part in the AIB Start-up Academy programme. Hydrasure is an award-winning start-up based in Co. Wicklow that provides smart stabling solutions to the equine & agricultural industries.

The evening wrapped up with presentations from Harold Craston of Google and Hannah Braithwaite of BCSG, who kindly shared key business tips and tools with the audience with MyBusinessToolkit.

We now move on to Cork next week for the second AIB Start-up Academy Summit and if Galway is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat!

Business Advice

As coach to ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor, John Kavanagh is someone who knows a great deal about the dedication, effort and commitment that goes into achieving success. After starting off teaching martial arts in a small shed in Dublin, John now runs the globally-renowned Straight Blast Gym which has eleven locations around the country.

We caught up with John at the recent AIB Start-up Academy Dublin Summit and asked him about the importance of self-belief and mentorship.

How important is it to have belief in yourself when starting off in business?

It’s a bit scary and a bit daunting to do something from scratch on your own. There will be days where you doubt yourself, so you definitely need to have that self-belief. I also think that you need to surround yourself with people who are similar to you and who can pick you up when you’re having a down day. You’ll be able to do it vice-versa with them. I’m pretty selective about the people I hang out with. I want to be around high-energy people who can boost me along when I’m not quite there.

As a coach, you act as a mentor to your fighters. How do you approach this role?

When a fighter is starting off, they’re able to lean on me a little bit because they’ve seen the experience I’ve had and the success I’ve had with different fighters. One of my main roles with them is to make them accountable. If they tell me they want to be a champion, I measure the hours they’ve been training. If they’re not training like a champion, they’re not going to be a champion!

Is there any advice you’d give to someone who was considering starting their own business?

Number one for me, in whatever you’re doing, is to make sure you really really enjoy it, because you’ve got to be ready for long, long hours. An average week for me is 60-70 hours and anybody I know who works for themselves would have a similar story. Unless you really enjoy something, you won’t stick with it!

Starting Out in Business

Since retiring from rugby nearly five years ago, David has embarked on a career in business, opening a number of vintage style sweet shops in the Munster region. During the AIB Start-up Academy Summits, David stopped by to discuss his transition from the rugby pitch to the boardroom.

Moving from a career in rugby to a career in business must have been a culture shock. How did you adjust?

“I would say I’m still adjusting, four years on! I suppose I threw myself into everything that came my way, which was good and bad in equal measures! I think coming from a professional environment helped, because you’re used to working so hard and you have all that energy to put into something else. I was just eager to start my new career.

I threw myself into a few things after I retired from playing, which was a fantastic learning curve for me. Even simple things like getting out and meeting people was brilliant, because you are in a bit of a bubble when you’re playing professional rugby. It was a great experience at the time and very refreshing too.”

I was about 36 or 37 when I retired from rugby and by that stage a lot of my friends had been involved with various businesses, so I was able to get good advice from them. I also had the benefit of having a mentor assigned to me when I was in the Irish set-up. We were linked up with established businesses people who gave us guidance and advice.

I was lucky enough to be assigned to Jim Barry, Managing Director of the Barry Group here in Cork. I still meet up with him regularly and he’s always been a great sounding board for ideas. I probably didn’t always listen to his advice, even when I should have! That’s probably a big learning point for me!”

 

What key advice would you give to someone thinking about starting their own business?

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We’re very good as a nation at helping each other. You’ll often find that people will be more than happy to offer you advice, so it’s important not to be afraid of trying all avenues. Look at the contact list in your phone, you’d be surprised! Every contact you make can lead to two or three more.”

If you are seeking business advice, why not request a business customer appointment, or check out MyBusinessToolkit, to help get your business off the ground – available free to any new business customer opening an AIB Start-up Current Account between 1st October 2015 and 31st March 2017.