Start-Ups and Space Flights

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I’ve just read Chris Hadfield’s excellent book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.

You may remember Chris as the guy who sang David Bowie’s A Space Oddity on board the International Space Station in 2013.

In An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth Chris talks about how as a young boy his ambition was to be an astronaut, as he grew older he realised this was highly unlikely, but he resolved that he would do everything he could to prepare himself so he’d be able to take any slight opportunity to further his ambition should it arise. So he became a glider pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, he took an engineering degree at Royal Military College with the Caradian Armed Forces, he became a test pilot and flew several experimental planes and obtained a master’s degree in aviation systems at the University of Tennessee Space Institute.

And, sure enough, the opportunity to join the space programme arose and he was prepared to take it. He flew three missions between 1995 and 2013 culminating in a 6 month stay on the International Space Station, 3 month as commander.

Chris tells a great story of grit and determination, doggedness and perseverance, hard work and focus and some good luck. And he shares the many lessons he has learned during his space career.

His ideas on “’attitude” resonated with me and the work we do with the founders and start-ups on the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme:

‘In space flight, “attitude” refers to orientation: which direction your vehicle is pointing relative to the Sun, Earth and other spacecraft. If you lose control of your attitude, two things happen: the vehicle starts to tumble and spin, disorienting everyone on board, and it also strays from its course, which, if you’re short on time or fuel, could mean the difference between life and death.’

Just like in a start-up.

You need to keep your objective in sight. It helps the team stay focused and reduces the risk of running out of time and cash doing things that just don’t matter.

Chris draws a broader lesson for life, equally relevant for anyone starting a business.

‘In my experience, something similar is true on earth. Ultimately, I don’t determine whether I arrive at the desired professional destination. Too many variables are out of my control. There’s really just one thing I can control: my attitude during the journey, which is what keeps me feeling steady and stable, and what keeps me headed in the right direction. So I consciously monitor and correct, if necessary, because losing attitude would be far worse than not achieving my goal.’

And for any of you who have not seen Chris’s Space Oddity video, you’ll find it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaOC9danxNo

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Innovation and Entrepreneurship At UCC In March

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There is so much happening in the area of innovation and entrepreneurship on campus over the next month or so, I thought it would be worth pulling it all together.

This week kicks off with UCC Entrepreneurial & Social Society’s Enterprise Conference.

24th Feb
On Weds 24th Feb at 1.00pm, How to Get Paid to Travel the World features Stephanie Lynch, founder of OnTheQT. A former IGNITE participant, Stephanie will share her story of how she has combined her love for digital media production and travel and turned them into a successful business.

The E&S Society & the Hope Society team up on Weds 24th Feb for the UCC Apprentice Challenge. A first prize of €500 awaits the team that is adjudged to perform the best at selling Butler’s Chocolate bars, generating an online buzz for the Hope Foundation and checking off various bucket list goals along the way. The winners will be announced at 1.30pm on Thurs 25th Feb in the Creative Zone.

25th Feb
And on Thurs 25th Feb at 2.00pm – 3.00pm in the Creative Zone, E&S have organised a short panel discussion – Entrepreneurship is for Everyone – featuring:

– BComm Graduate Ernest Cantillon (founder/owner Sober Lane, Electric, BTS, Wotbox)
– BSc (Food Science) Graduate Breffney O’Dowling-Keane (founder FoodCubed and IGNITE participant)
– BSc (Biotechnology) Graduate Blaine Doyle (co-founder GlowDx)
– BSc (Applied Psychology) Graduate Conor Nolan (co-founder WattSpot)

To be chaired by Eamon Curtin Director of IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme.

Details on all the E&S Events are available at E&S Facebook Events at https://www.facebook.com/events/190736804618570/

3rd March
The following week, UCC hosts the finals of the Student Enterprise Awards for the South region on 3rd March. Over 40 teams, drawn from secondary schools around the county will present their business ideas to a panel of judges with the objective of going forward to representing the region at the National Student Enterprise Awards later in the year. DeVere Hall is the place to be for kick-off at 9.00am with award winners announced at 1.00pm. A number of IGNITE participants and alumni will be involved on the day.

Later that afternoon will be the official opening of Blackstone Launchpad on campus. Blackstone LaunchPad at UCC is a campus-based experiential entrepreneurship program open to students, alumni, and staff offering coaching, ideation and venture creation support. It kicks off at 4.00pm in the Blackstone LaunchPad at UCC/Creative Zone, Q Floor of Boole Library.

https://www.ucc.ie/en/blackstonelaunchpad/

8/9th March
University College Cork is hosting the first Bank of Ireland Enterprise Campus on 8th and 9th March. Among the events planned are guest speakers and a business idea pitching competition.

10th March
The Business Information Systems Final Year Project Showcase is scheduled for Thurs 10th March. Last year there were almost 120 projects on display and a similar turnout is expected this year. While the aim of these projects is to showcase technical ability, many will have commercial applications. IGNITE alumnus, Brendan Finucane, founder of VConnecta, developed his first product ecanvasser from a BIS FYP.

11th March
The School of Engineering Industry & Open Day is set for 11th March and will feature a showcase of projects and guest speakers from industry. http://www.ucc.ie/eventslist/t4.do?pid=p1&dt=d.en.615798

16th March
The Computer Science Final Year Project Showcase is scheduled for Weds 16th March in the Western Gateway Building. Last year there were 80 projects showcased.

31st March
And the closing date for UCC Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 submissions is 31st March 2016 at 12.00 noon. The winners will be announced on 7th April at 6.00pm in the Library Creativity Zone.

Meanwhile, watch out for the UCC Food Innovation Prize towards end May. Students from UCC’s BSc Food Science and BSc Food Marketing and Entrepreneurship degree programmes will pitch new products developed in groups as part of their final year research projects.

I suspect that this list isn’t exhaustive. Feel free to let me know if there is anything to be added.

Eamon Curtin – Director IGNITE

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The Art Of The Customer Interview

Some great advice on getting to the core of the customers’ problems from Raomal Perera of LeanDisruptor.

Customer interviewing is undoubtedly a skill, and there are many benefits derived from good questioning and framing techniques. Yet, so many of us find it difficult to ask the right questions when it comes to customer interviews, and to gathering meaningful insights.

Question the questioning, question the questions and question the answers.
Anette Sandberg

It is important to remember that customer development is about understanding the customers’ problems and needs. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to customer interviews is actively listening to the interviewee. It is not an opportunity to pitch your solution, or refer back to your innovation. It is an opportunity to ask open questions, and allow the customer to do the talking. You should account for only 10% of the conversation in an interview.

So what is the difference between an open and a closed question? In short, a closed question is one which can be answered with a simple one word answer, such as the dreaded ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. An example would be “Do you like this product?” There is little scope for an interviewee to say little more than ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to such a question, and it can often feel like the Spanish Inquisition when such an approach is employed.

Knowledge is having the right answer. Intelligence is asking the right questions

Open questions encourage dialogue and necessitate longer answers. They prompt the customer to think, reflect and give opinions. ‘What’, ‘how’ and ‘describe’ questions are often the most valuable ones to have in our arsenal, as they help us to probe without being intrusive, and to understand the problem from the customer’s perspective. For example, “What are the primary challenges and difficulties that you face?”, and “Describe the first time you became aware of this problem”.


Questions which involve ‘telling’ the customer, such as, “Have you tried…?”, should be avoided at all costs– they are not looking for a solution at this point, and this question is unlikely to yield meaningful insights for you. An alternative might be, “What have you tried to solve this problem?”, and this should bring about some insight into their current solution.

If you do not know how to ask the right questions, you discover nothingW. Edward Deming

Around 5 questions is sufficient for an interview of 30-40 minutes duration. It is imperative that you understand the purpose of the interview before you start i.e. is it a problem assessing interview or a solution interview? This depends on what stage of product development that you are at.

Finally, to conclude, here are a few tips on the art of customer interviewing:

  • Reframe your questions. If a question is a little on the closed side, simply reframe it in such a way that it becomes an open question. Rather than asking “How do you find our service”, try “Can you think of an example of when our service exceeded your expectations?”
  • Make questions specific. General questions often lack context and are met with a pat answer of “it’s fine” or “I don’t know”. Specificity encourages engagement and usually causes more detailed and thought-out responses, which in turn leads to insight
  • Information and Knowledge will develop into insights. Information is just many bits of data. Knowledge is putting all the data together. Wisdom is transcending this information and knowledge to gain insights – the ‘aha’ moments
  • Find patterns, as this will bring some of your assumptions closer to facts. Use an affinity diagram to help you organise your findings and focus on the larger opportunity
  • Use discussion forums (an Internet forum, or message board). Here you will find people holding conversations in the form of posted messages
  • Clayton Christensen’s article on Milkshake Marketing talks about the importance of observation. The jobs-to-be-done point of view causes you to get into the skin of your customer and go with her as she goes about her day, observing her and always asking the question as she does something: why did she do it that way?”

Raomal has a useful resource on the art of customer interviewing, and the skill of asking and framing questions here.

Raomal Perera is a veteran of multiple entrepreneurial ventures and an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at INSEAD where he currently teaches and studies entrepreneurship, innovation and the management of rapidly growing companies.

He is a regular contributor to the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme at University College Cork.

Find out lots more about Raomal at www.leandisruptor.com.

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Men Wanted …. for Hazardous Journey

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I thought that would grab your attention? But probably for the wrong reason.

‘Men wanted for hazardous journey’ is the open phrase of the newspaper advertisement that was reputedly placed by Ernest Shackleton to recruit for his ill-fated South Pole expedition.

‘Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.’

But it strikes me that this is also a pretty good description of a start-up.

Is a start-up Hazardous? Certainly. There are pitfalls, things will go wrong. Some pitfalls can be foreseen, others are unforeseen. So planning is important but so too is the ability to adapt to circumstances as they arise.

Is it a Journey? Absolutely. A start-up takes you from your current position to a future desired position and like any journey, there may be distractions, detours and delays along the way. Whether you get to your destination or not depends on how you manage the distractions, the detours, the delays.

As for Small Wages? I’m afraid that goes without saying. And sometimes there are no wages at all, so it’s essential a have a good plan to cover your essential costs of living while building your start-up.

Bitter cold? Maybe not literally bitter cold but start-ups can be lonely. Unless your friends and family are involved in start-ups, they won’t understand what you are going through, and it can be difficult to find someone understanding to talk with when times are tough.

Long months and, depending on the nature of the start-up, maybe even long years!

Complete darkness? Maybe not complete darkness but there will definitely be times when it’s hard to see how to proceed and it’s difficult to be positive. Perseverance and resilience are important.

Constant danger? Not only is the journey hazardous but it is always hazardous. It’s important to be vigilant at all times. It’s necessary to stay focused on the destination but keep an eye open for pitfalls every step of the way.

Safe Return Doubtful? I’m not so sure about this one. You can always back-up from starting a business and what you have learned along the way will stand you in good stead whatever you decide to do next.

But all the downside is made up for by the upside, honor and recognition in case of success, and maybe even a significant financial reward also.

But the big difference between Shackleton’s South Pole Expedition and a Start-Up? Both men and women are wanted!

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Want to build a start-up business network?

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‘Wasn’t he very lucky that he met that investor.’ or ‘Wasn’t she lucky, the way that customer contacted her out of the blue.’  How often have you heard comments like that about successful business owners? But all too often it’s down to hard work, not luck. Successful business owners work very hard to build robust business networks, networks that provide access to customers, investors, advisors and others who are in a position to support the development of the business.

So what should you do to build your start-up business network?

Sowing the Seeds

First off, set targets. Just three new contacts every week adds up to 150 by the end of the year, that’s 150 people who can support and guide the development of your business. And if every one of those contacts is connected to 150 others, that’s a network of 22,500 that you have access to within just 12 months. That’s powerful.

Start with people you already know. Make a list of school friends, college friends, former work colleagues and members of your extended family. Let them know about your start-up. Tell them what you are doing and that you’d welcome their support.

Networking 2

Take a fresh look at those that you meet in your day-to-day start-up activities. If you are on an incubation programme, you’ll meet fellow entrepreneurs, trainers, mentors, guest speakers, enterprise agency executives, investors and more. We have over 100 contributors to every IGNITE programme. That’s a network in itself!

And get out more. There are a wide range of business events, many with a focus on start-ups, happening every week. From breakfast briefings to daytime conferences to evening talks, there is no excuse not to get to one event every week and no reason not to add at least one new contact to your network from every event.

Cultivating the Crop

It’s really important to follow up immediately. A personal email or text, a request to connect on social media or even an old fashioned hand written note, received shortly after the meeting, makes a big impression.

Maintain a database that records name and contact details with maybe a note on the context of the meeting. There are lots of good Customer Relationship Management packages out there but an excel spreadsheet does the trick just as well, at least at the start.

ContactUs

Look for ways to follow up. The reality is that people help people they know and like, so they must get to know you (and they must like you)! In some cases it might be a follow up meeting over coffee or lunch, in other cases it might be a short chat at the next event. In all cases make a point of putting out regular updates by email or on social media. It’s very important to bring people with you on your start-up journey. Just three or four updates a year is all it takes.

And most important of all, remember that it is not a one way street. Keep an eye out for opportunities to help others. An introduction to a prospective customer, a link to a relevant website, the name of a useful book, a recommendation of a pertinent article are all great ways to develop relationships.

Reaping the Harvest

And when it comes to the request, it’s important to be as specific as possible. ‘Can you introduce me to Joe Bloggs at Acme Venture Capital?’ is a far better ask than ‘Can you introduce me to any VCs that you know?’

Make it as easy as possible for them to act. Providing a business profile and with a short cover note to be forwarded is far more likely to produce a result than if you leave it to your contact to write it.

And it’s always worth asking if they know anybody else who can help.

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Finally, don’t forget to thank them for their help and to let them know the outcome. There is nothing that motivates a good business contact more than knowing that you took full advantage of the help they offered.  And the more feedback they get, the more likely they are to respond to future requests for help.

And a last word of advice. The Irish start-up community is well connected. Never underestimate how far a reputation, either good or bad, will travel.

Eamon Curtin is Director of the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme, UCC. http://ignite.ucc.ie

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Startups! Forget Your Business Plan For Now!

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People are often surprised when they hear that we don’t require a business plan as part of the IGNITE application process.

We subscribe to the view that unless someone has actually developed a product concept: a prototype, a demo, a wireframe, a simulation, something that they can put in the hands of customers AND has interviewed lots of potential customers AND has sold or is on the point of selling something to someone, a comprehensive business plan is based on nothing more than assumptions, guesses, hopes and, worse, dreams.

As such, while a comprehensive business plan does stand testimony to the hard work and commitment of the promoter, it is pretty much useless as a reliable roadmap for how the business will develop.

This approach is based on the ideas of four guys: Steve Blank (http://steveblank.com/), Ash Maurya (http://spark59.com/), Eric Ries (http://theleanstartup.com/) and Alex Osterwalder (http://alexosterwalder.com/). All four collaborate in various ways and their ideas overlap.

In essence, Steve Blank’s key idea is that the most successful start-ups are the ones that concentrate on customer development rather than product development. In his book, The Four Steps to the Epiphany, Steve describes the first two steps as Customer Discovery, making assumptions about who the customer is and why they’d buy from you, and Customer Validation, finding ways to test those assumptions and prove them to be true. This is often an iterative process, discarding old assumptions and forming new ones until you arrive at a set of established facts about your customers. Step Three is
Customer Creation, identifying customers, engaging them and signing them up while Step Four is Company Building, putting the resources and processes in place to grow the business.

Ash Maurya takes a slightly different approach which he describes in his book Running Lean. He advises first identifying a problem and then defining the solution to the problem. This is Problem-Solution fit. The next step is to identify the customer that has the problem – Product-Market fit. Once you have a well-defined customer, a clear problem and an effective solution, you are ready to start to build the business.

A key idea of Eric Ries is that start-ups should move as quickly as possible to a point where they have something to engage the customer: a prototype, a demo, a wireframe, a simulation, something that allows you to assess how the customer actually uses the product rather than how they say they would. (And there can often be a big difference!) Eric describes this and much more in his book The Lean Start Up.

Meanwhile, Alex Osterwalder developed a framework using 9 building blocks that can be used to develop a business model. The first two of these blocks are Customer Segments and Value Proposition, in other words, who are your customers and what are they buying from you. See the overlap with the ideas of Eric and Steve? The other building blocks work their way through Customer Relationships, Channels, Revenue Streams, Key Activities, Resources, Partnerships and Costs. Alex has described this model in his book, Business Model Generation.

Needless to say there is a lot more involved, but that’s the essence of it right there.

Steve Blank posted a blog earlier this year: Blowing up the Business Plan at U.C. Berkeley Haas Business School http://steveblank.com/2015/03/03/u-c-berkeley-haas-business-school-blowing-up-the-business-plan-the-lean-launchpad-i-corps/.

I was particularly taken by his description of what it’s like in the early stages of starting a business:

“Being an entrepreneur is about starting out with no idea whether you are working on the next big thing or something no one wants and certainly no one will pay for. It’s struggling to find the right path forward through chaos and uncertainty. Killing bad ideas quickly and moving on. Staring at the phone while mentally wrestling to pick it up to make that next cold call. It’s having investors tell you that you’re dead wrong and, perhaps with enough customer traction, showing them the path to a new future neither of you could see at the time.”

This is the starting point for IGNITE and we adapt the ideas put forward by Steve, Ash, Eric and Alex to help entrepreneurs through this early phase and on to running a successful start-up.

For more, I highly recommend taking a look at Alex Osterwalder’s Tools for Business Model Generation on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=105&v=8GIbCg8NpBw.

And Steve Blank has a great How to Build a Start Up course on www.udacity.com. Just sign up to udacity and search for ‘How to Build a Start Up’.

Finally, if you are a Harvard Business Review subscriber, there is a comprehensive summary Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything at https://hbr.org/2013/05/why-the-lean-start-up-changes-everything/ar/1.

PS: Not to be outdone, I have put together my own 5 Questions Every Start Up Should Answer: Who is your customer? What is their problem? How does what you are offering solve their problem? What is the solution worth to them? How many customers are there? More on this at https://igniteucc.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/5-questions-every-start-up-should-answer/

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Profit without Passion?

Great insights from Greg

Originally posted on Greg Canty Fuzion Blog:

Passion

These two guys came into us, full of confidence about their new project.

They were introducing a new range of ready made meals to the Irish market, which they reckoned were going to be a huge success.

The market in Ireland was huge and growing and according to them poorly serviced with inferior products. They were going to bring restaurant quality meals with recipes designed by a high profile chef using the best of Irish ingredients.

These meals were going to be well packaged and would be ‘on shelf‘ at competitive products – this was their recipe for success!

By their reckoning they would conservatively capture a share of the market and even with moderate success they would make a fortune, it was guaranteed.

They had the listings with some of the multiples and our job was to launch the new range of products. They also had a…

View original 303 more words

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5 Questions Every Start-up Should Answer

Questions

One of the highlights of my job as Director of the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme at University College Cork is that almost every day I meet young people with wonderful ideas for new products and services. Often they have a thorough understanding of a particular technology or area of research and have spotted an opportunity to develop a great new offering.
But, as all too many people have discovered, great product ideas do not necessarily make great businesses.

I often ask these young innovators to tell me about their business idea without referring to the product or service. Many struggle to come up with more than three or four sentences before saying something like: ‘our product is a.…’ or ‘the platform will…’.

But this is a really valuable exercise. It forces the aspiring entrepreneur to consider the business idea from the point of view of the customer and helps develop an understanding of the product-market fit, the relationship between the product or service and the customer. After all, it’s great product-market fit that makes for great businesses.

More often than not, I encourage these future business owners to consider five questions:
– Who is your customer?
– What is their problem?
– How does what you are offering solve their problem?
– What is the solution worth to them?
– How many customers are there?

Who is your customer?
The lazy answer is that everybody is a potential customer. But the wider the range of customers to please, the less relevant the product becomes to any one of them. It’s important to be able to describe one or more narrow groups of target customers.

Business customers can be described in terms of industry sector, size of company (turnover or employment level), age or phase of development of the business, location and more.

For consumer products, customers can be described in terms of demographics (age, gender, income levels), geographics (where they live or work) and psychographics (beliefs and values).

It is always worth remembering that business decisions are made by people, so who are they?

What is their problem?
A great question to consider is ‘what is it that keeps your customers awake at night?, literally! What are your customers so concerned about that it affects everything they do?

Business owners are concerned with getting new customers, keeping existing ones, managing costs, keeping cash flow under control or complying with regulations and legislation.

Parents are striving to provide the best for their children.

Teenagers want to fit in.

Every ideal target customer group shares a critical problem that needs a compelling solution.

How does what you are offering solve their problem?
The trick here is to adapt the original product or service idea so that it solves the customer’s problem. So a social media marketing company is really about helping a business increase sales while a cloud based health & safety training programme supports business owners comply with legislation. A nutrition advice website helps parents provide better for their children, and a social media application allows teenagers to interact, share with their friends and be part of the gang.

What is the solution worth to them?
The key factor here is how big a problem is it. If the problem is really keeping your customer awake at night, it’s a big problem. Sometimes the value of the solution can be quantified, especially if it can be shown to directly result in increased sales and higher profits. In other cases it’s more subjective, and often emotional- what would a parent pay to avoid the regret of not giving their child the best start they can? In general, the bigger the problem and the more compelling the solution, the more the customer will pay.

How many customers are there?
It’s really useful to define the market in terms of Total Available Market, Serviceable Available Market, and Serviceable Obtainable Market: TAM, SAM and SOM. TAM is the total number of customers anywhere in the world; for example, the total number of owner managed businesses or the total number of parents with young children worldwide. SAM is the proportion of these that you can reach given your specific product offering and distribution channels – the total number of owner managed businesses in Ireland, for example. While SOM is the percentage of these that can realistically be captured given the competitive nature of the market. What is the Serviceable Obtainable Market for your business?

This is an iterative process. It’s necessary to work through this sequence of five questions a number of times, fine tuning the answers as you go in order to develop a sustainable business model. Of course, this is just a first step towards starting a successful business, but what a great start it is.
Eamon Curtin is Director of the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme, UCC. http://ignite.ucc.ie

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Why I left my career as an Alumni Director and joined KonnectAgain

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Another big step forward for KonnectAgain when they announced that they hired Liza Bennigson, Alumni Director at Menlo School, as Business Development Director in USA.

This should allow KonnectAgain access an exciting export market.

There’s a great piece here that tells the story of how they met and why Liza joined KonnectAgain.

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IGNITE is now open for Expressions of Interest

It’s that time of year again when we invite Expressions of Interest from anyone considering applying for IGNITE 2016.

The EOI doesn’t require much information but it is a great way to clarify your idea and how you think the programme will help.IMG_0460

Apart from contact details, qualification details and where you first heard about us (asking this question is the cardinal rule of marketing!), we just want a brief description of your product or service (150 words or less) and an explanation of how you expect to benefit from the programme (again 150 words or less). Email the lot to ignite@ucc.ie.

Those with Expressions of Interest registered will be invited to a series of workshops and seminars in early 2015 that are designed to help you develop your business idea so that you can submit a more comprehensive application and be better prepared to make the most of the programme, if successful.

We’re now recruiting for our 6th programme. And it’s interesting to see where past participants came from and how they are doing.

IGNITE founders come from a variety of backgrounds and qualifications and their ideas are inspired by research, academic studies, work experience and personal interests.

  • Teagasc/UCC PhD postgraduate, Sinead Bleiel (formerly Doherty), founded AnaBio Technologies Ltd, anabio.ie, in 2012. AnaBio provides encapsulation expertise, IP generation, commercial manufacture and licensing for food, pharma, animal and human health nutrition markets. The company now employs 5, mainly research staff based in Teagasc, Moorepark and UCD. Sinead was recipient of Cork Chamber of Commerce Cork Emerging Company of the Year Award in 2014.
  • Brendan Finucane, BSc (Business Information Systems), is founder of VConnecta Ltd, vconnecta.com. Vconnecta combines political experience with cloud & mobile technology to deliver an innovative voter relationship management tool. The company employs a team of 5 based in Cork City Centre.
  • Richard Barrett, BEd (Sports Studies and Physical Education) and Ross O’Dwyer (BComm) are founders of Pundit Arena, punditarena.com, an online social sports platform that enables sport enthusiasts to share news and views on all matters sport. The company employs five staff and is based in Cork.
  • Eoin O’Carroll and Kevin Bambury met while completing an MBS (E-Business) in UCC. They founded Portable Medical Technology, www.portablemedicaltechnology.com, to develop mobile decision support tools for medical professionals.
  • With a BA in TV, Radio and New Media Broadcasting from the Institute of Technology Tralee, Stephanie Lynch, founded OnTheQT.ie, ontheqt.ie, in 2013. OnTheQT showcases throughout Ireland and worldwide that locals fall in love with and return to again and again. Promoting the gems through video and blog content. OnTheQT is a travel hub by the locals for the explorer.
  • UCC BSc in Government graduate Jayne Ronayne co-founded UrYearBook with David Murray in 2011. The insights she gained speaking with educational institutions helped identify a new opportunity that led to KonnectAgain, konnectagain.com, co-founded with Helen Flynn. KonnectAgain helps institutions to unlock the true potential of their alumni network and create real, meaningful benefits for institutions and alumni. The company currently employs a team of 8.

Our goal is that every business is revenue generating and/or has raised investment over the duration of the programme. It’s an ambitious goal, one we work hard to achieve.

Every year, the 10 successful applicant businesses benefit from:

  • A comprehensive Start Your Own Business Programme that involves:
    • About 30 days of workshops
    • Seminars
    • Guest speaker events
  • Business advice and guidance from on-site business mentor
  • Start-up funding and advice and guidance on accessing further funding
  • Office accommodation in the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Centre in UCC’s Western Gateway Building
  • One to one business mentoring from leading entrepreneurs
  • Guidance from UCC’s ‘Coaches on Campus’
  • Information and advice from IGNITE’s Industry Partners
  • Access to key entrepreneur networks and regular networking events
  • Support of UCC’s academic, research and commercialisation expertise

For more information and to keep up to date:

E: ignite@ucc.ie

W: http://ignite.ucc.ie

F: www.facebook.com/uccignite

T: @IGNITEUCC

L: IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme

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