dbTwang Is (Was) On Your TV

KILKENNY BASED startup dbTwang, which I’ve had the pleasure of working on in the past and am keeping a keen eye on, made the TV earlier today. An interview recorded with co-founder Fintan Blake Kelly (co-founder alongside Keith Bohanna) a few weeks back got it’s airing on Ireland AM today with Fintan filmed in Gerry Crowe’s store (Perfect Pitch) on Exchequer Street in Dublin speaking about the ins and outs of dbTwang.

Dubbed by Fintan as a “facebook for guitarists”, the site opened to full public usage late last year and if the RSS feed is anything to go by, there’s been a great uptake in registrations and submissions of guitars of late. For my own sins I’ve now got five guitars from my own collection listed up there (you might need to be logged in to see that link). While the site is gearing itself around the guitarist community with functionality now and in the pipeline to encourage conversation around the guitars, I’ve shied away from the community element but have used the site in its early stages to encourage me to learn more about my own instruments and document them for future reference / insurance purposes.

In a family full of musicians and growing up surrounded by all kinds of instruments, I’ve found myself wanting to learn more about the guitars themselves, the technologies behind them, the woods, the factories used, the whole nine yards – a learning process I’m using dbTwang and it’s records to navigate through.

There’s great things planned for dbTwang and if you’re a guitarist of any calibre it’s worth your while signing up for free and exploring not only the features of the site itself but the impressive and growing collection of guitars from users on board to date.

Check out the video above or here on YouTube.

Compare Healthcare Options With WhatClinic.com


Pic via

It’s Tuesday Push time again, this week seeing WhatClinic.com get a nudge – and well worth it too. I first heard of WhatClinic when it was announced they had secured a €1.25m round of funding through Mianach Venture Captial, supported by Enterprise Ireland as a HPSU. That was back in January, when at the time the site currently had information on over 60,000 clincs in the UK, Ireland and 50 other countries worldwide.

The site helps people take control of their healthcare choices and find the moist suitable clinic and treatment for their needs.

At BizCamp Dublin back in March I sat in on the talk shared by Johnny Beirne and Caelen King where those of us in attendance were treated to an insight of the development of WhatClinic.com, the ups and downs of changing the design and function of your company’s website, where the site aims to generate revenue and what it can do for those seeking healthcare options. Caelen also recently presented at BarCamp Belfast (where I still haven’t managed to shift my thoughts from the notepad to the screen) on monitising your web applications, which you can see below.

If you’re looking for a dentist in dublin, a cosmetic clinic in Galway, or plastic surgery clinics in Ireland, you’ll find them on WhatClinic.com.

Clinics and providers can also sign up for free and setup a WhatClinic brochure. For additional services to boost your profile online there is also a premium-level €50p/m option to help you get even more patients, access a patient management system and brand your brochure in your own style (removing third-party branding).

You can also follow WhatClinic on Twitter here.

Tis The Season For BarCamps

Tis the season for BarCamps, surely. Tomorrow I’m off to BizCamp in Dublin where I’ll join in the region of 200 other entrepreneurs, freelancers and free thinkers in the first business-focused BarCamp to be held here (nice to see another “themed” BarCamp running). Registration starts from 9am tomorrow and with the early train leaving Kilkenny pre-7am I’ll be hoping to make breakfast in Dublin. Talks are scheduled for between 10am and 5:30pm ish and there’s a draft schedule here.

BizCamp Limerick follows on March 21st for those who can’t make Dublin tomorrow (it being “sold out”) or are looking for another helping of talks from more business people. The Limerick session is being held in UL and at time of writing there are currently 71 attendees and 19 speakers registered.

Two events that I’m going to miss (will be out of the country) are the ACE (Awakening Creative Entrepreneurship) in Derry running March 25th – 27th and OSS BarCamp in Dublin on March 28th which runs in DIT’s Kevin Street Campus. While all the speaker slots have been filled, if you’re interested in going to OSS BarCamp, leave a comment on the attendees list.

Finally, in April we’ve got BarCamp Belfast coming up. I haven’t been to Belfast since August 2006, catching Steel Pulse in the Andersontowns Leisure Centre (what a gig!) and it will be good to get across the border and meet some more web heads for the weekend. It’s going to be held in The Black Box on Saturday April 25th and already there’s over 110 signups, the makings of another great day.

The best thing about all of these events is that they are free.

If you’re looking to get out and meet some likeminded people – business types, designers, web heads, geeks, startups, entrepreneurs and more – then get yourself to one of these events because that’s where you’ll find them hanging out.

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.

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.

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.

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.