“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!
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!
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;
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’
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.