Monthly Archives: February 2017

More interactive and lists media

Claire didn’t follow a traditional path into Silicon Valley, having attended Ballyfermot Art College’s Rock School and studied communications at DIT, before eventually co-founding Axonista in 2010 with former colleague Daragh Ward.

“If you look back to when the iPhone came out, that was a pivotal moment for me, it was probably the founding vision of our company. I think Daragh showed me an episode of Family Guy on my mobile phone and I remember thinking this is the future – you can actually watch video on your mobile phone, what does this mean for the future of video? So, that’s what Axonista do. We help brands navigate that whole new era of television that is online and has leaped off the TV set in the living room and is now on all these different smart devices.”

“Previously, I worked in sports TV – in Setanta, which was also a really cool start-up. I knew back then that the market was shifting and going through phenomenal change. TV definitely isn’t dead but it’s evolving into a two-way interactive system with audiences. Our company name Axonista means ‘revolutionary thinking’ which comes from the word ‘axon’ which is the cell that processes and transmits information travelling through your brain.”

“Starting out, we got a Horizon 2020 grant for 2 million Euro. We also raised seed capital from Enterprise Ireland and from some angel investors, but we always reinvest back into the business and into research and development. We have about 20 people in the company now but there’s no school that teaches you how to be the CEO of company – you just have to do it. Being a female CEO in a tech industry I try to be approachable and visible so that young women can see me and say ‘ok she doesn’t have a strictly tech background but she’s making it and maybe that’s something I could do’, I try to put myself out there.”

This and much, much more on The Capital B below. Download and subscribe here.

The Capital B is available every Monday morning from 7am; listeners can tune in on Soundcloud and can also download and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and other podcast providers.

Pointy Helps You Find it Locally

Mark Cummins, the man behind Pointy, spoke on The Capital B this week. Not his first foray into the world of tech (he previously sold a company to Google), Pointy aims to help get local stores online as well as help consumers find the products they need fast.

So what exactly does it do? Pointy is a device that attaches to the barcode scanner in each shop and automatically lists the products to a website, Mark explained where the concept came from;

“It really simplifies making a website for a local shop, quite a lot of local retailers have websites but they’re not getting anything out of it. Consumers are looking for products and that product information is not available online so all the local shops are invisible. When people are doing these searches on Google they’re getting redirected, so local stores are not picking up the business that by rights they should be”

“It’s like a location service, most of the time people just want to go in and pick up the product in person, you’d be absolutely amazed by what people search for.”

Pointy also has some big name investors behind it, international rugby star Jamie Heaslip is involved, who Mark says has a huge interest in tech.

“He’s actually very tech savvy, it’s an interest of his, he likes that we have a local Irish angle”.

Also on The Capital B this week, we’re chatting to the Commercial Director of Lidl Ireland, the founder of Popertee delivers a lesson on how to find the perfect retail space for your store and Freshii’s Dave O’Donoghue on why talk is big but execution is everything.

The Health and Safety Authority

Unfortunately, between January and June this year we have already seen twelve farm fatalities. In the last ten years, excluding 2017 incidents, almost 200 families have suffered the loss of a loved one because of an accident on an Irish farm – that’s almost one every three weeks.

Farm Safety is About Real People

These aren’t just statistics – they are real people, real farming families – and the scary thing is that they don’t even account for the 2,500 plus farm families impacted by serious farm accidents each year. The fact that there are very few of us who don’t know of someone impacted by farm accidents shows us the scale of the challenge. It also shows that they occur all over the country, across all sectors, and that neither young nor old are immune to the potential dangers – over 45% of farm fatalities in the last ten years have involved children or older farmers.

 

“It Won’t Happen to Me”

The blurring of the farm as a giant playground and place of residence, the diverse workload (often completed alone and under time pressure) and the fact that few farmers ever really retire, explain in part why the rate of agricultural-related fatalities is far higher than any other economic sector. But does it really get to the heart of the issue? Does it justify why the level of farm accidents is so reluctant to decline or why similar accidents occur year after year on Irish farms?

The simple answer is no, and to improve requires collective effort and acceptance by us all that a farm accident can happen on any farm. All too often, myself included, we think it won’t happen to us: “I know every inch of the farm, I was born here and have worked here every day since. I know where the dangers are and can avoid them”.

 

Don’t Take Chances

Chances are often taken as a result. And whether it’s getting into the pen with a freshly calved cow, not turning off the PTO when dealing with a blockage or making sure the handbrake is on and all brakes/lights working, the outcome can be fatal. I’m not in any way trying to paint a picture of negligence on the part of the farmer. Instead, I’m hoping to point out that sometimes familiarity leads to complacency and because we are so familiar with our surroundings, and our activities, we fail to see the wood from the trees.

And it’s not just the obvious things that we need to be conscious of. It’s the smaller or more trivial things where in hindsight we’d say, ‘I should have fixed that weeks ago’ or ‘What was I thinking of going so fast on the quad?’. Speaking to anyone about farm accidents, very often the bull or the uncovered PTO shaft spring to mind. But combined, they account for less than 5% of farm fatalities in the last 10 years. Nearly three times more have died from falls on Irish farms and five times more after being crushed by farm machinery.

 

Small Changes Make a Huge Difference

Ultimately, managing safety on our farms is our own personal responsibility, and should be a constant in our daily farm plans and activities. Not just for our own safety, but that of our families, employees and visitors to our farm.

The good news is that small changes to farm facilities and practices can make huge differences and there are a range of supports available. For example, The Health and Safety Authority have a range of practical guides and safety tips on their website to help identify and control potential challenges across a range of farm activities.

Identifying your target market

Identifying your target market is one of the most crucial steps you need to take when you’re starting a business or launching new products and services. When you have a good handle on who your target customer is, you can not only create a product that suits their needs, you can also produce advertising and promotional copy to capture their interest and get them to buy. But how do you identify that target market?

Start with the problem

A good way to determine who is likely to become your customer is to clarify the problem that your product or service addresses. For example, you run a housecleaning service. The problem that you solve is doing cleaning for people who cannot or do not want to do these jobs themselves. Upper income families, families where both parents work, and older people who no longer have the ability to do their own housekeeping, are all potential customers for your services.

Define your customer’s characteristics

Listing out the characteristics of your typical customer is another good step towards identifying your target audience. These characteristics need not be personal ones; they can pertain to lifestyle, income, geographical location, hobbies, and many other things. For example, for a gardening service, one type of target customer are people who live in neighborhoods with well-manicured lawns, attractive plantings and colorful flowers around their homes.

The business could also target corporate clients who want their office surroundings landscaped. For a business that specialises in home security, the ideal customers may be in a residential area that has a high crime rate and in high-income residential areas. Women living alone who worry about safety may be another potential target for sales. Listing out these characteristics allows you to zero in on your target audience accurately.

What is your primary market?

Many products and services address the needs of a variety of people but they still have a primary audience. These are the people who:

  • Gain the most benefits
  • Have the greatest need for these services/products
  • Have the ability to pay for them
  • Buy the biggest quantity of them on a regular basis.

Knowing who makes up this primary audience should be your goal when you are trying to identify your target market. For example, for a bakery, the local consumer may be a recurring source of business, but the icing on the cake (forgive the pun) may be local restaurants who buy breads and desserts in quantity to serve to their customers.

If you’re starting out in business, be sure to check out our business start-up package for tips, tools and more.

Dress to Impress in the Workplace

“If you’re too casual in your dress sense, you’re going to be casual in your job.” That’s the advice of tailor Louis Copeland, and there’s no shortage of places to get fitted in Dublin these days either.

Copeland has described how Conor McGregor single-handedly breathed new life into his business, and that the UFC superstar’s influence has altered men’s fashion in Ireland.

The 28-year-old from Crumlin has built up an association with the Louis Copeland tailoring business since his earliest days in mixed martial arts, and the man behind the Dublin business told Nick Webb on The Capital B about working with one of the biggest names on the planet.

It all started with an appearance on The Late Late Show.

“The first suit we gave him, he went on The Late Late Show and Ryan Tubridy told him he was looking great. Conor said, “Louis Copelando!” revealed Copeland.

“He’s been great for us because he’s given us a younger image, and people now realise we cater for everybody. The everyman on the street is our regular customer.”

McGregor continues to visit Copeland in his flagship Capel Street store, one of six owned by the Copeland family as well as its online business.

“The Conor McGregor look has been the best thing that’s happened to us. It’s been brilliant because he’s brought style to younger people. When did you ever see 16 or 17-year-olds dressing up in suits, bow ties, pocket squares and nice shoes? It really has made a big difference in the fashion industry.

“You’ve got to go out there and hit them between the two eyes, but now he’s beginning to tone it down a bit but he still wears nice clothes. He’s made people aware of how to dress up.”

Copeland also spoke about the constant evolution in men’s fashion in this country, and the reason why Irish men prefer darker suits to those worn by people on the continent.

“Everyone’s wearing blue suits, light brown shoes, etc. Things are changing all the time. The light brown shoes are going darker, they look a bit more subtle,” he told Webb.

“The thing about Irish people is their complexion. Irish people haven’t got the complexion that Italian or French counterparts have. They look better in darker colours – if you put light colours on a fella who’s a bit pale, he looks like a milk bottle. It’s important you match the colours to the complexion.”

He’s also keen to see Irish men start to ‘dress up’ for work, as he believes a casual look in the workplace leads to a casual attitude.

“If you’re too casual in your dress sense, you’re going to be casual in your job. You don’t see a guard or an army officer wearing a t-shirt. If you put a good suit on you, it’s like a suit of armour. You feel good, your head goes back, your shoulders go back and you just feel better.”

The Capital B is available every Monday morning from 7am; listeners can tune in on Soundcloud and can also download and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and other podcast providers.

USP for your Start up Business with Lisa Hughes

As a business coach with over two decades of experience and a mentor with the AIB Start-up Academy, Lisa Hughes knows what it takes to make a successful start-up.

We spoke to her to find out how finding your Unique Selling Proposition or USP can make a serious difference to your business.

Get an Outside Perspective

As an entrepreneur herself, Lisa cautions that it’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of running your business and lose sight of what truly makes your product unique. “You can’t see a building in its entirety when you’re inside the building,” she explains. “And when you’re an entrepreneur, who’s living and breathing your business every day, you can easily lose perspective on it. What ends up happening is that the business owner is not looking at the product from their customers’ perspective. They’re looking at it from the inside out.”

“We are all here to serve our customers, to take people’s pain away or add value,” she continues. “Until we get that message baked into our thinking, then sometimes it’s going to feel like we’re pushing a rock up a hill because we’re selling something that perhaps we don’t necessarily want or need. Ultimately, your USP is what your customers value. Not what you value.”

Learn From Customer Behaviour

Know your customer is a familiar business mantra, but finding your USP can require a more wide-ranging approach than traditional market research. “Sometimes if you ask a customer what they like about your product, they will tell you things that they think you want to hear,” Lisa says. “But ultimately, it’s their buying behaviour that tells you what they really do value. Lynne Twist always says, “Look at your chequebook”. Where you send your money is what you really value.”

“If we take the example of Kiki Moon from this year’s Start-up Academy,” she explains. “Keelin had developed this beautiful baby blanket, but what happened is that people started asking if she had it in a bigger size. It completely changed her view from ‘this is a baby product’ into ‘this is a product that everyone can enjoy’. And all of a sudden she had all kinds of market segments opening up.”

While Lisa doesn’t discount the value of market research, she cautions that a holistic approach to examining customer behaviour can pay greater dividends. “Listening to your customers for unprompted things is probably going to give you greater insights,” she says. “If you’re asking your customers specific questions you already have an agenda. Whereas listening to the online conversation around your product can really help you to understand what people really want from it because they will discuss it more naturally.”

How PorterShed Backs Startups

It’s a balmy day in mid-May and PorterShed, a co-working space in Galway backed by AIB, is a hive of activity. John Clancy who is CEO of ChatSpace, one of the companies based in the thriving business hub, explains:

“Every week there’s something on here that helps connect start-ups to the wider support ecosystem and beyond. For example, last week, we had an exhibition for local artists here after hours. It’s that kind of social connection that really makes the difference.” And PorterShed is well equipped for socialising, with monthly meet ups complete with free beer from a Connemara-based brewing company.

Working Together

Oh, and the coffee is good too. This place is buzzing with passionate innovators. “People talk all the time about synergies, and since we’ve been here, we’ve been networking and reaching out to other companies that are in complementary spaces,” John says. “We’ve put business their way and they’ve put business our way. Everyone is in the same boat really. The companies here are by and large either at start-up stage or moving to scale stage. There’s a common goal and excitement amongst everyone and I have to say the dynamics work.”

Cutting Edge of Innovation

ChatSpace are certainly innovating, and their team of six have created an analytics tool which combines AI with natural language processing and deep learning to create a truly cutting edge piece of technology. “Unlike traditional analytics tools or chat analytics offerings, ChatSpace is built purely for chat from the bottom up,” John explains. “We deliver conversational analytics that enables brand owners to see how every customer is engaged, what the customer feels, and detect if their needs are being met. They can also seamlessly bring a human into the conversation when needed to listen to the true voice of their customers on chat channels.”

Game-Changing Analytics

ChatSpace’s groundbreaking analytics enables their clients to analyse the content, context and sentiment of conversations their customers are having with their brands at scale and as they are happening. “In this new transitioning world of social media, the goal is engagement through private, meaningful, conversational moments,” John explains. “Content will still be important, but the individual will be the focus of the experience. Brand communications will have to be more immediate, expressive, and intimate.” Where ChatSpace distinguishes itself is in its ability to understand the context and organic flow of a conversation, allowing brands to foster a meaningful connection based on an individual customer’s personality.

A Space to Grow

For John, moving to PorterShed made perfect sense for the business. “We decided to move to PorterShed because it’s a connected space and it’s much more involved in the startup community in Galway,” he says. “From a tech point of view, there’s another 20-30 tech startups here. They bring in support structures through AIB, KPMG and Enterprise Ireland. Noreen from AIB comes in here once every week. She sits here for a couple of hours and it’s great for us as I don’t always have time to go to the bank. So, for example, if we have any questions regarding international transfers, she can deal with the query here and I don’t have to leave the facility.”

Pitch Perfect

And why would you leave, with facilities like hot desks and top class meeting rooms at your disposal? But John’s favourite facility is the mini auditorium. “What I love to do is to go there late in the evening. I can stand up on the stage and practice my pitch just to the guys,” he says.

And it’s a pitch that’s clearly been resonating – as Chatspace’s disruptive tech has caught the attention of several top brands. As John puts it: “I would say if you’re a technology startup, PorterShed is the place to go.”