Speed Networking comes to Kilkenny

business card stack
Creative Commons License photo credit: petter palander

SPEED NETWORKING, by definition, can be described as

A method of making a potential business contact by briefly talking to people at an organized event and exchanging contact details.

We’ve all been there, we’ve all done it. Networking opportunities are available every day of the week and we’ve had and seen some great successes out of contacts made on Open Coffee mornings, BarCamps, PodCamps, BusinessCamps, CreativeCamps and more. While the bigger events usually mean a day trip away to Dublin / Cork / Galway or elsewhere, a new dedicated speed networking event has been announced a little closer to home.

Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce intend holding it’s first of four speed networking events in the Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel on the 9th February 2010 from 6-8pm. There is no charge for Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce members or Kilkenny County Enterprise Board clients.

Those interested in attending the first of the speed networking nights should contact Billy O’ Neill at (056) 7752767 or email billy.oneill@kilkennychamber.ie or visit www.kilkennychamber.ie.

Of course, if you don’t want to wait until next Monday, why not join the table at Kilkenny Open Coffee this Wednesday morning at 11am in the Kilkenny Cafe at Market Cross Shopping Centre. Admittedly I’ve always preferred the informal networking opportunities presented by the likes of Open Coffees and BarCamps to those of organised networking events but with more and more people starting to go out on their own, it can pay to get out and get talking, whether formally or informally.

The Doors Are Open For BizCamp This March

The doors (read registration) are now open for BizCamp taking place after FOWA in Dublin this March. With FOWA taking place on Friday March 6th, BizCamp will make for a great followup as it takes place in Dublin on Saturday March 7th.

Feck the recession? That’s what they’re saying…

It’s based on the fact that each of us as entrepreneurs have loads to learn from our peers. And we have a lot to share with them as well. There are a lot of great things happening in the Irish Economy – especially in small and medium businesses and this day will be a celebration of those. And a great place to come for people who have lost their jobs and are actively looking at starting up

A nice addition to the signup form (which I think should be used for all BarCamp type events) is the ‘You can talk to me about…’ field, which maps over to the attendees list. If you’re going in the hope of meeting someone who can you can ask about content management systems, email marketing, gardening, the use of technology to help emergency services save more lives by making better decisions (Robin), now you’ll know in advance who you might be able to turn to or introduce yourself to.

While it’s likely that I won’t make FOWA, I’m hoping to make the trip to Dublin for the 7th. Registration can be found here.

Update: Registration link updated – thanks Dave

Search Engines, Guitars, Food All Get Investment

When someone emails you with some good news on the investment front for startups, and is happy to answer your questions via email, I’m happy to talk about it. (edit: as Keith was).

RevaHealth, headed by Caelen King, have announced the securing of a €1.25m investment through Mianach Venture Capital and supported by Enterprise Ireland, EI backing RevaHealth.com as a High Performance Start Up in 2008 (though judging the EI terminology, should HPSU not be High Potential Start Up).

On the site itself, it “currently stores information on over 60,000 clinics in the UK, Ireland and 50 other countries worldwide. RevaHealth.com helps people take control of their healthcare choices and find the most suitable clinic and treatment for their needs”.

I asked Caelen what we could expect on RevaHealth.com as a result of the new investment in the business, specifically in what new features users could look forward to.

“New features that we are investing in include advanced map and geo-coding, semantic search functionality (it is very difficult to match consumer health terminology with professional health terminology) and integration with 3rd party content (mash-ups).”

Would users like an iPhone app as part of the development? Considering there’s information to be had on over 60,000 clinics

You can also follow RevaHealth on Twitter here.

db Twang

While congratulations have been passed on in person and on Twitter, if you didn’t hear about it, db Twang also managed to secure €110,000 angel round funding in December. I’ve been following the development of the project since close to day one having worked on early elements of it, but to get this funding and signal the intent of raising up to another €500,000 between Q2 and Q3 is fantastic.

db Twang, based here in Kilkenny, also achieved High Potential Start Up status from Enterprise Ireland back in December.

This is a startup to watch. If you haven’t already signed up for notice of the launch, get thee to dbTwang.com now. With 400+ registered interest users and talk of a closed beta taking place in March you’d do well to get in quick.

iFoods.tv

Bringing more good news to the table this week was Niall Harbison who announced that iFoods have secured (or did before Christmas but have now made it public) a €400,000 investment, with the possibility of adding a further €200,000 in the coming months.

Having watched the guys on Dragons Den and the request for £100,000 at the time, the investment of up to €600,000 in the business is yet another golden moment for Irish startups.

Ireland’s own Dragons Den should be starting soon on RTE.

Working For Myself, By Myself

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Creative Commons License photo credit: houseoftext

The corner has well and truly turned on 2009 and as I park myself at my desk and gulp down a mug of green tea in between thoughts, I’m reminded of the year ahead for 2009.

I’ve been working for myself pretty much since I left college. I did take up work in the family business for about six weeks to keep myself going. It started as two and within six months we were three. In 2007 we returned to two and as I look into 2009 I’m reminded that two, has become one as the ways of ones business changes.

Of course, I’ve been getting used to the idea, having resided in the office on my own for the past few months but I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead in 2009.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much a team player. Kilkenny Music has operated for over three years with a strong team, the Devious Theatre Company has operated for over two years with a strong team and in my work life there’s always been people around. So for something that started as a team effort, it will be interesting, challenging and I think quite enjoyable to take it to the next step as a solo effort.

A lot of the change I talked to myself about (in a professional and personal capacity) in 2008 is going to start surfacing in 2009. Business is broadening and opportunities actually do exist for those who actively go out and look for them. New clients open to new ideas, old clients with new plans for a changing future – they do exist.

While I’m stopping short on any official announcements work-wise, I will say that I’m going into 2009 in an optimistic mood.

Working for myself is something I always wanted to do. Sure enough, there are bumpy patches along the road. You open yourself up to the world of business, tax, accounts, chasing people for invoices, pitching for contracts, winning those contracts, missing out on those contracts, the good, the bad and the ugly.

As I head into my fourth year of working for myself I can’t say that I’ve any regrets. You learn a lot of valuable lessons, no doubt about that. But at the end of the day, it can be so rewarding knowing that everything you achieve is as a result of the work that YOU did.

Here’s to achieving new things in 2009, and a belated Happy New Year to all.

Poll: Working With Clients Via SMS

There are plenty of ways to communicate with your clients these days – phone calls, Skype calls, email, fax, face time, letter, text message and more.

I’ve recently had a select number of clients looking to maintain contact via text message. Some clients it works for, others it doesn’t and I simply wouldn’t go for it. If they’re away from their desk and need notification of something, I’m happy to ping them with a text.

Of course, some people look for full conversations via text and if I see it coming I pick up the phone or arrange to meet them in person.

So I ask, are you happy to deal with clients via SMS? Cast a vote, leave your thoughts as a comment. Is texting too personal a connection to a client, or have you enjoyed a greater client relationship because you utilise text messages?

If you can’t see the poll above (using the new Polldaddy wordpress plugin), click here to access the poll via Polldaddy.com.

Tuesday Push For DownloadMusic.ie

DownloadMusic.ie

It’s about time I offered up a post for the Tuesday Push and I’m happy to see my first one being for DownloadMusic.ie.

With almost 900 artists on the books and close on 45,000 legal music downloads – which, by the way, contribute to standings in the Irish music charts – DownloadMusic.ie has become the place to be seen for independent Irish acts looking to make any kind of a name for themselves.

I’ll admit, I’ve never purchased music from the site. However, I use the site from the other side, as an artist and promoter helping other acts to get online and start selling their music.

While anyone can go online and purchase music via credit card or online payment, it’s nice to see DownloadMusic.ie give bands the chance to sell their music via text message. In a mobile-hungry country where mobile handset saturation exceeds 100% (I know myself I’ve got three active handsets on three different numbers with two spare handsets just in case), the service seems ideal. We are a texting nation. We’re possibly there-or-there abouts for phone calls, but we’re certainly there for texting.

Texting is where it’s at for DownloadMusic.ie. Fans of the bands can send a short code to 57501 e.g. ‘music XYZ’. They’ll be charged just a Euro for the text with the revenue split between the operator, DownloadMusic.ie (DownloadMusic.ie don’t actually take any money, leaving more to the artist again), the bulk going to the band (yes, IMRO are in there too looking for their percentage if you’re IMRO registered). The result is a text link and password for a secure download area to grab your new track and in the process of doing so you’re helping a band move one step closer to inclusion in the national music charts.

There’s no doubt that the majority of acts I work with through KilkennyMusic.com and under the One Take Sessions gig series have a presence on DownloadMusic.ie. Vesta Varro (were due in Kilkenny on Saturday), currently touring in support of new single ‘Believe’ are the featured artist on the DownloadMusic.ie homepage.

Local favourites Saving J, Myp Et Jeep and The Fundamentals are there too. At the last One Take Sessions in Kilkenny, Carlow performer Joe Cleere made a great point of asking people to text his shortcode to the DownloadMusic.ie number (57501) to buy his new single ‘Queue’.

CDs at gigs will shortly become a thing of the past. Further proof to this is the relase of DownloadMusic.ie’s first USB album (I was on the panel of judges asked to select the acts for inclusion), which is also registered for the Irish music charts and features the likes of Dirty Epics, Vesta Varro, Ro Tierney, Codes and more – €12.99 for a 1gb USB key with 15 tracks included isn’t a bad deal at all.

But you can get so much more – browse artists, get gig listings, check out the DownloadMusic.ie blog and there’s also the future possibility of bands selling tickets for gigs, band merch and more.

DownloadMusic.ie is an absolute credit to the independent Irish music scene and long may the service continue.

Kilkenny Business Award Winners

Back in 2006 I shared a table with some of the McDonalds, Pack Publishing and Kilkenny Active gang, myself and John (Aidan was away on holiday) tucking into a sizeable steak as we’d been nominated for and were attending the Kilkenny Business Awards (nominated in the best service provider category). Nominees had a 20 euro (I think) discount on ticket prices, bringing the cost to 100 a head for the night).

The awards were held in Kilkenny on Saturday night in the Lyrath Estate Hotel and Keith has the lowdown on the results. You’ll be able to catch Keith in conversation with some of the winners on The Bottom Line, KCLR96FM’s business show which airs later tonight.

Overall, there were six categories with 39 finalists, I’ve highlighted the winners below in bold.

Kilkenny Retailer of the Year Award (Sponsored by FBD Insurance)

  • Lamber de Bie Flowers*
  • Pat McDonnell Paint Sales
  • Flowers by Lucy
  • Superior Tiles
  • Kilkenny Book Centre
  • Field’s Jewellers

Kilkenny Service Provider of the Year Award (Sponsored by Electro City)

  • Kilkenny Borough Council Garden Crew
  • Premier Recruitment Group,
  • Blue Wall Technologies
  • Springhill Court Hotel Leisure Club
  • C&C Security
  • Creative Catering
  • Taxback.com*
  • Gibbins Removals & Storage
  • James Phelan Demonstration Farm

Best Small Business Award 2008 (Sponsored by Kilkenny Chamber)

  • Vendemia Organic Wines
  • Surf Box/Ormonde Technologies*
  • Smart Placements
  • Rothe House Trust Ltd
  • Blueberry Larder
  • Kilkenny Print & Graphic
  • Hullaballoons
  • Kompass Records
  • The Reptile Village

Kilkenny Tourism Provider of the Year Award (Sponsored by Kilkenny Local Authority)

  • Team Dynamics
  • Tullahought Community Group
  • A Rural Experience
  • Woodstock Gardens & Arboretum
  • Springhill Court Hotel
  • Kilkenny Rivercourt Hotel*

Education & Training Provider of the Year Award (Sponsored by FÁS)

  • Empower Training
  • Sharon Roynane Kelly
  • Kumon Kilkenny
  • Busy Bees Early Learning Centres*

Manufacturing/Product of the Year (Sponsored by SEBIC)

  • QEF Ltd
  • Kelsey Horseboxes*
  • Chesneau Leather
  • Fineline Furniture
  • Enviroclad Systems
  • Moth to a Flame Ltd.

Taxback.com were also presented with the “overall winner” award on the night while Kilkenny’s Kieran Crotty was given a lifetime achievement award. For more background on the awards themselves, check out this article in the current edition (dated April 10th) of the Kilkenny Advertiser.

Relaunching The Business Blog

2007 brings new changes and new developments and we’ve got plenty of those planned for the business, one of those includes the relaunching of the blog, now called ‘The eventIreland Blog‘ (you’ll find the feed link in the Grazr window on this blog’s sidebar) which will cover business offers from ourselves along with domain and internet news, marketing tips and helpful information from Aidan coupled with some extra design and other posts – related to the business – from myself and John.

We’ve removed our main site for a few days, that itself launching with a complete redesign based on our horizonCMS solution. Those of you with a keen eye might notice that we’ve also made a very subtle change to our logo. While all these are quite small changes and additions to us, they’re the first a long line for 2007 as we pass 18 months in business.

MyHome.ie Sold For €50m

Turn to the business section of the Irish Times today or take a listen to the radio and you’ll be hearing that MyHome.ie, originally set up by some of the majory players in the Irish Property market and usually the first port of call for auctioneers and home buyers online, has been sold to the owners of that same business section, The Irish Times.

The Competition Authority has yet to weigh in on the deal but if MyHome.ie has just been flogged for €50m, I would wonder about Daft.ie, originally valued back around the time of the Six Nations (February?) between €10m and €15m.

From the MyHome.ie newsletter this morning…

The deal strengthens MyHome.ie as the leading web advertiser for property in Ireland through our association with the Irish Times, one of Ireland’s leading media organisations covering both print and online.

In practical terms, it’s business as usual for MyHome.ie. We will continue to provide our estate agent clients with the facility to advertise their properties on behalf of vendors and house hunters with the facility to search for property and home related services.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank both our clients and site users for their continued support over the past five and half years. We will continue our commitment to providing you with a quality property search and home services facility.

The sale of MyHome.ie, according to the article (which can be found here via RTE Business) will pocket €40m up front with an additional €10m over time and once business targets are met.

MyHome.ie itself will carry on as a standalone site. Interesting stuff!