Creative Entrepreneurship UnConference for Derry

ACE Awakening Creative EntrepreneurshipI like creative things. I like creative people. I like people who get up off their arse and start something, creative or otherwise. So it’s great to see word of the Awakening Creative Entrepreneurship UnConference hitting Derry at the end of March. With recent BarCamps, CreativeCamps and Unconventions hitting Belfast, it’s great to see another UnConference heading North, this one taking in the full weekend of March 25th to 27th.

What is it?

“Awakening Creative Entrepreneurship [ACE] is a collaborative unconference, a showcase, and a multi-track Creative BootCamp for creatives, business leaders, support agencies, students, developers, technology providers, and VCs looking to develop and/or discover the next big thing. ACE revolves around a multi-track creative business development programme which offers the opportunity to win on several levels – for traditional businesses, support agencies, and creatives alike! ”

Speakers over the weekend include Edward T Colligan (CEO at Palm), Andrew Shorten (Platform Evangelist at Adobe), Sean Melly (Chairman of PowersCourt), Brian Kelley (Senior Advisor for Deutsche Bank), Greg Rewis (Creative Suite Evangelist Worldwide at Adobe), BarCamp favourite Martha Rotter (Microsoft Ireland).

The Official Blurb

“The technology world will converge in the North West from 25 to 27 March when Silicon Valley comes to Derry/Londonderry for the ACE UnConference, which has been funded through the Arts Council’s Innovation Fund. The not to be missed three day UnConference for Creative Entrepreneurship will see senior figures from the world’s leading creative technology and communications companies visit the region including Palm, Adobe, Powerscourt, Deutsche Bank, Nokia, Microsoft and DemonWare among others. The delegate driven industry event provides an opportunity to showcase the talent of local creative industries and will act as a platform for local entrepreneurs to access global expertise within an open innovation environment. Tickets for ACE are free, and with demand expected to be high, it is essential you register your interest to avoid disappointment.”

I found more on it here or check the official site for details .

Booking & BizCamp

Tickets are FREE so if you’re thinking on heading along, book now before it winds up like BizCamp – sold out. There’s no way I’ll make it to Derry on the weekend (giving a course in Kilkenny on the 26th before heading out of the country) but I will be at BizCamp for the most of the day on March 7th. Registration for that is closed but if you’re in Dublin for breakfast on the day, let me know. Rumour has there’s breakfast nibbles on offer.

Registration, however, is open for BizCamp Limerick. If you’re around on March 21st, get booking for that too!

Tuesday Push: Tuesday Push

Pushing
Creative Commons License photo credit: Valerie Everett

Some say you should crawl before you can walk, walk before you can run, look before you leap. On a Tuesday, it’s nice to push before you’re pushed. The Tuesday Push is a chance to shed the light on a company or service in Ireland, introducing those getting the push to the Irish blogosphere, tech readers, blog readers, tech journalists and the public at large. As the site itself says, it is “a way for the small but growing tech community in Ireland to make some noise about ourselves by picking a good example of an Irish Tech Company and highlighting their product(s) every second Tuesday”.

While it’s nice to see companies getting “the push”, it’s nicer still when they push back. It’s all about the community involvement. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Or in this case, it’s technology startups in Ireland helping each other out. Since it’s launch last year I’ve managed to push a few of the names including Twitter Mosaic (Sxoop), DownloadMusic.ie, IGOpeople to name a few.

One of the great things about the growing tech community in Ireland is just that, the community. The spirit is seen in blogs, comments, through Twitter, LinkedIn, referrals, BarCamps, PodCamps, BizCamps, CreativeCamps and the likes. We’re great at helping each other out, which is why Tuesday Push is a great initiative for having the community highlight the rising stars within.

Of course, not everybody can get featured. The service in question has to be unique, has to be new, has to be different. Not sure what I mean? Check here for details.

I’ll keep on pushing where and when I can. Maybe some day I’ll need a push with something. But I’ll keep pushing because it puts another mark on the map for Irish tech companies. And it’s not only me that’s doing it. Dozens of great posts have been written about the ten companies featured since last July, across dozens of blogs, who have hundreds of readers each… do the maths.

Request a Tuesday Push here.

A New Music Conference for the New Music Economy – This Weekend

I made a note to myself that for 2009 (not a resolution now) I would get on the road more – get to Dublin more, grab a coffee in the Absolute Hotel in Limerick at some stage, and hit more events and evenings. One event I’m sorry to be missing though (it’s a five hour drive up and I’m swamped for the weekend) is UnConvention, taking place in Belfast today and tomorrow.

What is UnConvention?

Unconvention is an unconference aimed at the grass roots of the music industry – bringing together musicians and industry professionals for conversation, inspiration and collaboration.

or as About.com have it listed…

“a music industry convention that really isn’t like a music industry convention at all. The event is aimed at the independent music industry. Entrance fees are in keeping with indie music budgets (free!) and the discussions all surround making it in music outside of the mainstream machine. At night, indie musicians get to show off their chops on local stages”

Bands, labels, entrepreneurs, music industry insiders and outsiders – it’s an event that I should really be at and I know I should be at so I’m happy to be following the activity for the weekend here on Twitter and here at UnConventionBelfast.com.

The Official Blurb

The 2-day conference has attracted strong interest from all over the UK and Ireland; organisations who have signed up for involvement include BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio Ulster, Music Managers Forum, Island Records, Sony Music Publishing, NIMIC, Oh Yeah Music Centre, Birmingham University, Fat Northerner Records, Smalltown America Records, Richter Collective and First Music Contact, among many others. Radio 1’s Huw Stephens was one of the first to sign up to the event, and had this to say: “I’m looking forward to finding out more about the scene in Belfast, which seems to be thriving at the moment. Rory McConnell’s Radio 1 show features so many quality artists from Northern Ireland so to get to Belfast and meet the bands and managers is an exciting prospect. In the music world, doing it yourself is essential at the moment, and so I’m looking forward to seeing what will be discussed.”

Friday night’s showcase line-up includes Ed Zealous, A Plastic Rose, Colenso Parade and Strait Laces on the live stage, and Vertigo Smith, Escape Act, Junior Johnson, Cat Molojian, Seven Summits and The Monts; spanning a highly diverse range of styles and genres.

From a music industry perspective, the potential of UnConvention to boost the industry locally and further afield was recognised by key sponsor, Belfast City Council. Councillor Michael Browne, Chairman of BCC’s Development Committee comments “Belfast City Council is committed to helping support the development of the creative industries in our city which, if nurtured and supported in the right way, have the ability to make Belfast truly competitive on the global stage. UnConvention provides an exciting opportunity to showcase Belfast’s eclectic music scene and musicians and provide useful networking and business development opportunities for those working in this sector.”

Attendees can that Rich Dale, Tracy Dempsey, Nick Fitzsimons, Jennie McCullough and Andy McMillan for organising the event.

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

Pushing for IGOpeople

IGOpeople launched late last year in beta, billed as the “network for the real world”. So far, it’s living up to it’s name.

Real individuals, real groups, real people – and they all tie together in one very neat, clean and easy to use environment. The clock tells me it was December 17th when I registered (about when IGOpeople launched) and since then I’ve been using it to keep track of Kilkenny Open Coffee – that’s where the conversations grew out of Tweets. Being able to group the threaded conversation in the one public place, accessible by those participating in the first Kilkenny Open Coffee made the planning a breeze, but also attracted the attention of the IGOpeople team (of Campbell and David) who also joined us earlier this month to talk about the launch of IGOpeople.com and plans for where things may be going.

They’re on top of things too. Watching the conversations online, watching feedback, and more importantly actioning something based on the feedback. For a real network to evolve, the input of the end users is vital. Listening to those users is key and from the outside (and based on conversations at Kilkenny Open Coffee), that’s what’s happening at IGOpeople.

While you can group the conversations nicely – Dell Limerick, Working From Home, Web Designers, Kilkenny Open Coffee – and openly contribute to these groups, it’s nice to see actual organisations taking an interest in the space, not only on an Irish front, but on a global front. Vodafone are there (and were running a competition this week where I bagged some free mobile credit), Blacknight, Tibus, dbTwang, Flexitimers, FBD Insurance – all offering their customers and userbase another opportunity for online customer support and contact.

While there are plenty of big name companies listed – MTV, Ryanair, Canon, Google, Dell, FedEx etc. – it will be nice to see what happens when representative of these companies get on board and start sharing that bit more with what’s quickly becoming a very active community.

If you’ve not yet signed up for IGOpeople.com, take a minute or two out of your day or evening and take a look for yourself. Best of luck to Campbell, http://www.igopeople.com/o/2-IGOpeople/people/10-David-Cotter and all at IGOpeople with their growth in 2009.

(They must be working overtime this evening as an application to get The Devious Theatre Company on board as an organisation was approved real quick – never mind a few hours or days, I think this was more like minutes – good stuff!)

Lending A Hand, It’s What We’re Good At


Pic via

Job losses.

Everyone’s talking about them.

You can sit around all day and talk, but until you do action the talking, that’s all it will be – talk. The chains are closing down. Zavvi. Land of Leather. Woolworths. I heard M&S was in trouble recently. Retail is taking a hit.

Crafts and technology are taking a hit too. Dell are on the way out. 1,900 job losses announced to be phased up to January 2010 then it’s off to Poland with them. Waterford Wedgewood are going, going, gone.

For some people, it’s the end of a working life. Maybe redundancy is an option, early retirement. Some people simply have to work. Mortgages to pay off, pension funds to keep up, children to put through school, families to feed.

We’re great at coming up with ideas. We’re an entrepreneurial nation. We’re also great at lending a hand when times get tough. Through Open Coffee Club Limerick, Evert Bopp has followed a lead from Chris Byrne and is offering free startup advice to those impacted by the recent job losses at Dell. While a redundancy payment might help with the bills, when the money runs out, what does one do? More specifically, what does one do with the skills, knowledge and training they now have? One option, is to look towards going into business for yourself and indeed, turning a bad thing around.

BarCamps, CreativeCamps, PodCamps, Open Coffee Club mornings, meetups, tweetups and more. All of these free-to-attend events boast an incredible number of people who are giving up their time, their knowledge, their expertise for the benefit of others. We’ve recently set about getting Kilkenny Open Coffee off the ground as well, something that we hope will grow over time and again increase the knowledge sharing. The offer from Evert to those who have recently lost their jobs from Dell (or are about to) to attend Open Coffee Limerick and connected with those who can provide you with startup advice and support is one that should strongly be considered.

But, as I said, we’re good at lending a hand when it counts and so conversation on Wednesday morning turned to what each of us would or could do for people in that position.

Krishna announced recently that she’s going to give over six hours of her time between now and the end of February, three to the US and three to Irish people (one hour for each person). That time can be used for career coaching and job search support. You can look at your resumé, your online profile, your networking strategy – anything you want – on a one hour call via Skype or landline.

Bernie, in conjunction with Tipperary Institute will look at LinkedIn.com enhancements for your online profile and networking opportunities.

When quizzed on what I would consider doing myself I also looked to the web. For those considering starting their own business I’m happy to discuss options and provide assistance in getting you up and running online. Let’s get your logo in place, lets get you up and running with a website or blog (or both) and lets get you seen and heard. I’ve gone through the startup process myself for a number of different ventures over the past 3-4 years, all of which are currently active and currently generating income. All of which rely on the web and the visibility it can provide in order to succeed.

I’m sure too that these aren’t the only offers on the table to people. Everyone is feeling a pinch at the moment but that doesn’t mean you sit down and do nothing. You stand up, work your way through it and if you can, you lend a hand to those around you at the same time.

If you want to get connected, you can also join me at LinkedIn here. Come meet me and the network of people I’m connected to. Maybe they can help as well.

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.

Two Jobs Of Interest

I thought I’d mention these two as they’re both quite interesting jobs working with two startup companies in Ireland.

Joe Drumgoole is hiring – that is to say that PutPlace.com is hiring and they’re looking for a Mac developer to create a Mac version of the existing PutPlace Windows client. PutPlace provide a means for organising your digital life – photos, video, audio, documents and more. You don’t need a lifetime of experience (though you must be good at what you do and have a few years under your belt working in Panther, Tiger and Leopard environments) and you don’t even have to live in Dublin (though you will be paid for relocation if you choose to move closer to the company.

As the job post says

PutPlace is looking for a developer to build a Mac version of its existing Windows client software. The ideal candidate will have demonstrable experience of building whole applications on Panther, Tiger and Leopard. Ideally with Objective-C using the Cocoa framework. Knowledge of Python, Django, SQLite and PostGres will get you bonus points. We pay market rates and above for the right people. We offer stock options and a health plan. We also give you the ability to build someting from scratch that will make real world users happy.

It’s a great opportunity to get in on the ground of a really interesting Irish startup. If you want to find out more, check out the job listing here or visit PutPlace.com.

If I spoke Irish and wasn’t working for myself, one position I would seriously consider is that of a trainee podcaster. Are Edgecast advertising for the first professional podcast job? They’ve got to be close to it anyway!

Edgecast Media, an innovative social media company, is the brainchild of Conn Ó Muíneacháin. While also producing award winning podcasts, Edgecast are behind the Irish version of Intruders.tv which launched last September. The Edgecast presence at numerous tech events in Ireland over the last year or so has provided some valuable and much needed audio and video exposure of startup companies in Ireland as well as extended coverage of new media events such as PodCamp Ireland, the Irish Blog Awards and more.

But – they’re also hiring and have been advertising for almost a month now a position for a trainee podcaster.

The position involves a good deal of radio production work for traditional broadcast channels, in addition to production and publishing of blogs, podcasts and other forms of internet media. The position would suit a recent graduate in radio production or multimedia. Applications will also be considered from students seeking temporary work-placement as part of a third-level course.

To find out more on the trainee podcaster position, click here to read the job post.

Positions like these with companies like these did not exist when I was leaving college – and that was only three years ago.

If you’re a Mac developer or an Irish-speaking soul with a strong interest in podcasting and new media then these are two positions which should not be overlooked.