DICE Event 3 – Get Started!

Get Started

“Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

The third D.I.C.E conference, ‘Get Started’ took place once again in the Helix, DCU, on Tuesday 17th February. This conference was focused predominantly on entrepreneurship, with many of the day’s speakers focusing in particular on how to go about starting up your own business, as well as the skills and techniques needed to become a successful entrepreneur.

This conference was probably my favourite of all of the D.I.C.E events that have been held so far, as I myself aim to one day run my own business and so I found this conference particularly interesting and relevant and I gained an insight into what the life of an entrepreneur is really like. I also found a lot of advice that the speakers gave to be extremely helpful!


The Event Speakers

The first speaker of the day was Niamh Bushnell, the Dublin Commissioner for Start Up Companies. I found Niamh to be one of the most interesting speakers at the event, as she really gave us an insight into her life as not only a successful business owner, but also as someone who helps others start up their own business. As well as starting up and running her own company, Niamh also worked for Enterprise Ireland for 16 years, a job that she relocated to New York City for.

What surprised me most about this speaker though, was the fact that she left her job in order to begin working as a mentor for other Start-Ups, instead of focusing on growing her own business and furthering her own successes. Niamh “caught the Start-Up bug” and now works in Dublin to help others set up and run their own companies. As part of this role, Niamh also works to promote Ireland, in particular Dublin, internationally as a place abundant with many great Start Ups and established companies alike. Another reason why I enjoyed listening to this speaker was because not only was she motivational and insightful, but she was also very encouraging of student Start-Ups!

Java Republic Headquarters – Only 20 minutes from DCU! imgres               Java Rep

The second speaker at the event, David McKernan, also proved to be extremely interesting and insightful, as he spoke about his own journey to success with a complete no-nonsense approach, which was refreshing and allowed us a very realistic insight into what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur today. David McKernan, the founder and CEO of the renowned Irish coffee producing company, Java Republic, spoke largely about his own personal struggles and successes in growing his business, as well as giving advice on how to accomplish such. I personally found his advice on the best method of funding a Start-Up very useful as he explained the many funding options available; banks, crowd funding, angel investors, family, venture capital, and advised us on which to use – advice which will definitely be useful for the many students at the conference, including myself, who one day hope to start their own businesses.

However, the most interesting idea which David McKernan proposed during his speech, was the idea of “born or made” – “Is someone born an entrepreneur, or can you be nurtured to become one?”

This question was addressed by the next few speakers, each with their own opinion on the idea. I myself agreed with David McKernan when he said that an entrepreneur should have certain traits, for example; be trustworthy, be humble, be a hard-worker, be resilient. But must we be born with these traits or can we acquire them in order to become a successful entrepreneur? That is the question!


The next three speakers at the ‘Get Mobile’ event were each connected to DCU and were all involved in helping Start-Up companies in some way. Richard Stokes, Director of Innovation at DCU, works with Invent DCU ltd, an organisation that assists mainly ‘high tech’ Start-Ups. Ronan Furlong, DCU Innovation Campus Exec. Director works at the DCU Innovation Campus, a location that facilitates not just Start-Ups but also multi-national companies like Fujitsu and Siemens. I had never heard of the Innovation Campus before the event, even though it is located close to DCU and available for use to students. The fact that it caters for such large and successful companies as well really surprised and interested me, so I carried out some extra research on the Innovation Campus and hope to visit it one day soon!

Dcu innovation     DCU

Eoghan Stack, the third speaker connected to DCU, works at the Ryan Academy, another organisation that aims to support Start-Up companies. From these three speakers, I learned a lot about the many facilities and services that are available for student Start-Ups not just in DCU, but also in wider Dublin. It’s great to have learned about these facilities, as the fact that there is help and support out there for us students, will be a comforting thought if I ever want to venture out with my own Start-Up in the future.

Programmes offered for student Start-Ups in Dublin by The DCU Ryan Academy;

U start  +   DCU Propellor   +   imgres   =   DCU RAYN

The sixth speaker at the event was Kealan Lennon, CEO and Founder of ‘Cleverbug‘, a company that sells ‘Clevercards‘ or ‘e-cards’ all over the world. The company has been extremely successful so far, (it’s database already having a massive 5 billion photos!) and is currently aiming to be the biggest seller of occasion cards in the world, despite the company only being established 18 months ago. Again, I found this speaker to be interesting and the fact that such a successful company could be established in such a short period of time was really inspiring! I also did some research on ‘Clevercards’ and discovered that it is in fact a very well run business and as a potential customer their services were easy to use and their cards were of great quality, and I think it’s absolutely brilliant that an Irish company is so high up in the global market.

The success of ‘Clevercards’, led them to be featured on the popular American TV Show, ‘The Today Show’

CC             screen568x568

The second last speaker at the event was Sean Ahern, founder and CEO of ‘ThankFrank’, an online service that rewards people each time they use it. Unfortunately, I didn’t grasp the whole concept of ‘ThankFrank’ at the event, as I found it to be quite a complex idea, however after conducting further research on the website, I think that it will be a very successful addition to social media in the future.

Paul Kerley was the final and keynote speaker at the event. He is a very successful entrepreneur who has succeeded in setting up and running many different businesses over the past few years. Paul Kerley spoke mainly about these businesses during his speech, however most of his businesses were technology orientated and so I did not get as much value from this speaker as I did from the previous speakers. Despite this, I learned a lot about the many aspects of entrepreneurship during this event and so I found it to be a very valuable and worthwhile experience!

Lastly this conference has confirmed that I had made the right choice in coming to DCU, as this university encourages entrepreneurship and has an endless amount of possibilities available to students looking to get involved with Start-Ups.


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DICE Event 2 – Get Mobile!


On Tuesday 11th November 2014, the second D.I.C.E event, ‘Get Mobile’ took place in the Helix in DCU.

Unlike the previous event which was focused mainly on social media and data, ‘Get Mobile’ focused on all mobile device related things such as; phones, Apps,’Lifelogging‘, mobile analytical software and ‘way-of-the-future’ products like ‘Google Glass’ and ‘Smart Watches’.

There were six speakers in total at the event in the Helix, each discussing the way in which they see the importance of mobile devices today but also in particular, how mobile usage relates to them.

Dr Theo Lynn, Business Innovation Platform Director at DCU started off the conference. He spoke about the usage of mobile phones among young people in Ireland. He provided facts and statistics that I found very interesting, for example; “96% of 18-33 year olds own a smartphone, with 60% of this number owning an iPhone.” Dr Lynn provided lots of similar and sometimes unbelievable, yet realistic facts in his speech relating to mobile phone usage. Shocking statistics such as; “18% of people use their mobile phone while in the cinema, 18% use it on a date, 56% use it on the toilet and that in less than five years, children as young as 7 years old will have mobile phones!” made his speech very interesting.

Theo Lynn also spoke about the new developments in mobile devices such as ‘Google Glass’, a ‘Smart Watch’ and a ‘Connected Car’, which he predicts could have a possible future market worth of $150 billion. Lastly he made a point which stuck with me personally; “Money follows eyeballs (which follow a mobile device)”. If this statement is true, then Dr Theo Lynn would be correct in his predictions that the amount of people ‘getting mobile’ is only going to increase in the future.

IMG_9019 (1)      Digifeye

The second speaker was Mark Hughes, Chief Technical Officer of ‘Digifeye‘, an online image analysis company. Mark discussed the function of Digifeye – the way in which it uses algorithms to identify, recognise and analyse the different elements of an image. He also spoke about ‘Style-eyes‘, another App-based company that he works with. I found the concept of ‘Style-eyes’ particularly interesting and I thought it was a great and useful idea for an App. ‘Style-eyes’, similar to Digifeye, analyses parts of an image in order to identify products such as articles of clothing in the image and match them with similar products that can be found online. After the conference I downloaded ‘Style-eyes’ and I was really impressed by the App!

google glass    imgres

After Mark Huges, Dr Cathal Gurrin gave a very interesting talk. I found this speaker to be the most interesting of all of those who spoke at the event, as some of the topics he spoke about, such as ‘Lifelogging‘ and ‘The Internet of Me‘ were very intriguing. I had never heard of ‘Lifelogging’ before and so I researched more on it after the conference was over in order to find out more about it. ‘Lifelogging’ is when you use a mobile device to capture almost every aspect of your life as you live it, including what you see, hear, where you go and how you feel, with ‘The Internet of Me’ following a similar idea. ‘Lifelogging’ can be described as a surrogate memory and can create a private digital archive of everything; from your productivity to your heart rate. Much like Dr Theo Lynn, Dr Cathal Gurrin predicted that this mobile device will be the way of the future. In fact, as he gave his talk in the Helix, he wore a mobile device around his neck as part of his own ‘Lifelog’.

The fourth speaker was Eoin Cruise, Marketing Lead for Microsoft Mobile Devices in Ireland. Eoin Cruise was different in comparison to other speakers as while he did speak about the company he works for – Microsoft and the company he formerly worked for – Nokia, he spoke about the previous failings of the company, and not just what the company does. I was surprised by Eoin Cruise’s honesty when it came to talking about the slip-ups and defeats of Nokia before it was bought by Microsoft and I respected him for admitting that both he and the company had made mistakes and poor choices in the past. I also admired him for being determined and motivated when he began speaking about the future of Microsoft mobile devices, his focus and clear thinking on what the company needed to do in order to gain back the ‘trust of the people’ which Nokia had had a few years ago was very impressive.


Paul Davey was the fifth person to speak at the event. Paul Davey is the Mobile Leader for IBM and he spoke specifically about IBM’s work with mobile Apps. While IBM don’t in fact make smartphones, they do create Apps for other companies. IBM is also currently collaborating with other big names such as Apple and Twitter in order to further the technology of many mobile devices in the future. One such project that IBM has started working on is ‘Watson‘, a super-computer that can identify any illness or medical condition in a person by comparing and analysing millions of pieces of data. Again, this speaker gave us a glimpse into what the future of mobile devices may look like.


The final speaker of the day was Alex Meisl, the co-founder of ‘Sponge‘ an extremely successful mobile agency. Sponge supplies advice on mobile solutions to companies such as; ‘Birds Eye’, ‘Coca Cola’ and ‘Vodafone’ and encourages them to utilise mobile devices and mobile technology in order to further their productivity, popularity and overall business, as Sponge realises that ‘getting mobile’ is certainly the way of the future.

DICE Event 1 – Get Social!

The D.I.C.E event ‘Get Social’ took place at The Helix, DCU, on Tuesday 14th October 2014.

The event, which ran for 4 hours in total, was attended by DCU D.I.C.E students and their mentors.

Seven speakers from a variety of different companies and businesses spoke at the event, with their speeches covering topics ranging from “Data Statistics” to “Video Genres” to “Online Advertising”. However, one key element that linked all of the seven speakers together was their interest and excitement about “getting social”, the way in which important aspects of life work online.

Helix 'Get Social' Oct 14 1

Speakers 1 & 2, Dr. Theo Lynn, a Business Innovation Platform Director and Deirdre Hogan a Senior Research Fellow, both at DCU, each spoke about “data” and it’s importance in relation to online social media.

Dr. Lynn’s speech was extremely informative. He gave examples of different ‘data’ types such as; ‘magnetic’, ‘agile’ and ‘deep’ data. He also presented data examples on Powerpoint when he proposed the question “Who is more influential on Twitter?”. Here Dr. Lynn rated Enda Kenny alongside an animated Meerkat, an advertising personality. In using an example like this, it meant that Dr. Lynn’s speech was both easily relatable and interesting for the students listening in the audience.


Deirdre Hogan’s speech, which also focused on “data”, revolved more around how her own company, Gajo, works in gathering and analysing everyday data, specifically on social networking sites. Her presentation was also full of engaging and relevant examples of data usage, such as ‘Tweets’, which kept student’s interested. Deirdre Hogan also included in her speech, the opportunities available for students interested in working for a company like ‘Gajo’, which I personally thought was very helpful and selfless, as she even gave her own personal email address for students to use.

The third speaker at the ‘Get Social’ event was Jane McDaid, the Managing Director of the Dublin based PR agency, Thinkhouse. Jane was my favourite of all of the speakers, as she was the person who most engaged with the student audience, showing us lots of interesting and animating videos. In order to demonstrate how certain brands best fit  into different promotion categories, Jane showed us a variety of video advertisements which fell under the labels; ‘Epic’, ‘Emotive’, ‘WTF’, ‘Zeitgeist’, ‘NSFW’ and ‘Informative’. All of the videos which were shown, were aimed at an under 30 audience, therefore Jane’s entire speech was successful in capturing the attention of the full audience. Like the previous speaker, Jane McDaid was also very helpful as she too advised students of prospective jobs available with ‘Thinkhouse’.

photo                  images

Speaker 4 was Lucy Campbell, Marketing Director for RTE. Lucy mainly spoke about the digital advances of RTE over the past 10 years. Throughout her speech, Lucy included lots of useful and interesting statistics such as how; “55.6% of the Irish population tuned in to watch the first episode of Love/Hate series five” and how “53% of Irish 16-30 year olds, would rather lose their sense of smell than give up technology”. These statistics were again focused to the age group of the audience, in turn making this speech more enjoyable for myself and my fellow students who were also in attendance.

Alan Coleman, the CEO and founder of ‘Wolfgang Digital‘, a digital marketing company, was Speaker number 5. Unlike the other speakers at the event, Alan spoke about his own personal experiences, such as how he first became interested in marketing through ‘Google AdWords’ and how he eventually set up his own company. The main aim of Alan’s company, ‘Wolfgang Digital’, is to promote brands to specified target audiences sought out by the company itself. Some of ‘Wolfgang Digital’s’ clients include; ‘Redbull’, ‘RTE’ and ‘Littlewoods’.

Alan was also very encouraging to the students in the audience, which I personally liked. He gave us key marketing advice and tips on how to “use social media to create brand advocacy”, all of which was very relevant as the majority of the students there were studying business in some form.


The sixth speaker was, in my opinion, the least interesting out of all of those who spoke at the event. Despite being the EMEA Sales Director for the incredibly successful professional social networking site, ‘LinkedIn’, the speaker, Nicholas Cappiello failed to capture my full attention as well as the other speakers had done. This was probably due to his lack of using media, such as videos or photos that a young audience could relate to. Nicholas spoke about the importance of social networking sites, such as ‘LinkedIn’ and the ways in which people use these sites for both personal and professional use.

The last speaker was Eric Weaver,a digital marketer and social strategist, based in the US and whose clients include BMW, Ford, Apple, HTC, Starbucks and Microsoft. Eric was a very engaging speaker and again presented only examples that the student audience could relate to and find enjoyable and interesting. While Eric spoke about marketing projects such as ‘the Oreo 100th Anniversary project”, he also gave us helpful marketing tips and advice rather than just solely speaking about himself and his marketing business, which I personally liked.