Start your own business – DKIT – North East

Apologies for not gettting this posted by the closing date. But the ‘closing’ date on these things tend to be flexible, so if you’re interested if worth checking out the NEPP site. Mulley has already blogged about similar programmes at hothouse (docklands), sepp (south east) and m50 (Tallaght IT)  if you’re located outside of the North-East.

Our claim to fame is that FirstPartners.net went through this program in 2003. And failed. But failed quickly – we realised within months that the mad business idea (selling open source technology to accountants) wasn’t going anywhere. We were able to bring the lessons learned back into the main consulting business. Far better than a lingering , drawn out half-life.

More information is here (pdf format)

Enterprise Platform Programme
Enterprise Support for Innovative Knowledge based, High Tech and Information Technology Startups

Introduction
The Novation Enterprise Platform Programme (NEPP) is a programme of  support for graduate entrepreneurs with an innovative business idea in the Knowledge Based, High Tech or IT sectors.

The main objective of the programme is to develop the commercial and job creation potential of the participant businesses. The programme delivers comprehensive training in business and management to equip participants to successfully start up and manage a new business. The
programme assists participants in the achievement of personal and business development goals in relation to the project. It also assists participants in the completion of market or technical feasibility studies and/or the preparation of a business plan.

Past Participants
Since its conception in 2001, over 70 entrepreneurs have participated on the Programme. A survey conducted recently confirmed that over 54 businesses have been established by NEPP participants resulting in total employment of 311 people and sales of €27million per annum.
Participants have also raised over €39 million in VC funds.

 The programme will be managed by the Regional Development Centre, on the campus of Dundalk Institute of Technology. Participants may choose to be based in the professional, entrepreneurial environment of the Regional Development Centre, and will have access to the laboratories, equipment and resources of Dundalk Institute of Technology.

Eligible participants receive a consultancy / travel allowance of approximately €1150. Eligible participants may also apply for funding through Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation of Research and Development (CORD) grants, whereby they can receive up to 50% of their previous year’s verifiable income (the grant in total will be capped at a maximum of €38,000).

 

The Novation EPP is a comprehensive package of business development
support including:

  • Project management and on-going monitoring of progress
  • Travel / consultancy allowance
  • Structured business and enterprise training to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to start-up your own business.
  • Networking with entrepreneurs, industry practitioners, researchers and trainers. 
  • Access to office space and specialist facilities, equipment and resources.
  • Mentoring system which provides one-to-one advice and guidance
  • Business Coaching which aims to optimise participants’ business performance
  • The programme will commence in Sept. 2008 and there will be regular formal reviews of participants’ progress.
  • Prize Fund. The 2008/09 programme introduces a prize fund for participants. Eligible businesses will be judged on a variety of criteria including best improvement, degree of innovation, presentation before a panel and performance at end of year tradeshow.

And now for something completely different

I’ve been very lucky in the 9 years that I’ve been working for myself. Lucky in the opportunities to travel and the people that I’ve met. Lucky in I’m doing something I love – playing with and building the latest technologies.  Lucky on the financial side of things that it’s given me a wide range of choices.

So, it’s surprised the people I’ve told that I’m now going to be doing something completely different.

Why?
No it’s not the economy. I can see the effects of the slowdown but I’m one of the most ‘low maintenance’ people I know (anybody who lives in Drogheda and drives a ’98 Toyota isn’t exactly into bling!) I’d be ok. And the uptick (in 18months – 2 years time) is the most profitable bit of the economic cycle.

No , it’s not through lack of clients. One of the most painful parts of the decision have been the 3 prospective projects that I’ve had to turn down. The sort of ideal projects that I’d working to land for the previous 2 years.

No, it’s not through lack of choices. Two other ‘life changing’ choices I had to turn down were to scale inside a well known consultancy, or specialise in one tool and go international (you know who you are guys, thanks for making the final decision so hard 🙂

So why then?
The basic reason is that I’m enjoying this now (as in big smile on Monday mornings), but can see that I might not be enjoying it in 3 years time. And chances like this one don’t come along every day. That, and I’m fascinated by the new area and people that these guys are working with.

And what you’re doing is?
This is a big change for me, so a bit nervous about it and will blog about the new job (and it is very much a job, rather than being self-employed) in due course. It will either be the very best, or very worst thing that I’ve done.

Luckily it’s still dealing with People and Technology so no need to change the blog title … and I’m still a techie at heart (in that I’ll play with the stuff even if I’m not paid to) so expect more in that area!

Joel Spolsky is the reason I am a Java Techie. See him in Dublin IJTC Wednesday

Joel Spolsky is flying in to Dublin next Wednesday to give the keynote speech at the Irish Java Technologies Conference. Mark 7.45pm on Nov 7th in your Diaries folks – Jake has the offical announcement and ask him in person for the full story. In case you don’t know who he is, Joel was one of the early Microsoft employees, one of the first bloggers (since 2000) and is an expert on management and Java software development projects based in New York (possibly due to his stock of stories from Israeli Military Service).
Joel Spolsky Image

So how did Joel make me a Java Techie? You know Excel, that Spreadsheet thing you use everyday. Part of the reason it’s so flexible is because of Joel’s work back in the early days at Microsoft- he was program manager for the team at that created Excel Macros, which eventually morphed into Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). A long time ago when I was still a business person I got involved in automating manual tasks using these Microsoft Office tools. From there, every job got more and more techie until it reached the stage where I must blog about Java every day. It’s all Joel’s fault.

Tickets at the door cost €245.Booking here costs €189. Joining the DubJug (Dublin Java Users Group) for free before booking gets you a further discount.

Sugar CRM lands in Dublin (Irish Times Jobs)

We’re big fans of Sugar CRM, and have recommended it to clients in the past. It does Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – basically the numbers you have in your mobile, but at a corporate rather than an individual level. We proposed integrating it with a (Java Based) billing system – we didn’t want to have to build (yet another) contact management system, as the value add was integration. Getting PHP (the web scripting language that Sugar is written in) to work with Java is getting easier but not straightforward. But hey, that’s what we do.

Sugar CRM Logo

So it in Friday’s Irish Times Business section (main part), I was surprised to see Sugar advertising for people for their Dublin European HQ (I obviously missed this press release back in March announcing the opening). The ad in the main part says ‘look at page 19 of the jobs section’. Page 19 exists, but no Sugar CRM ad. Strange.

Michele (him of Blacknight) talks a lot about Sugar CRM, from the hosting point of view.

Update: Link to the Sugar CRM Careers page (includes CRM Jobs in Dublin)

What you do if you weren't doing your current job?

What you do if you weren’t doing your current job? While we all harbour dreams of running a magically profitable coffeeshop, working only 3 hours a day, what would you really do if you wanted a change of career?

If I wasn’t in IT , I’d be in Finance, on the basis of …

  • My original degree is in Business (with French). Somehow I got seduced into IT (you don’t hear that very often).
  • Both Finance and IT require their own set of knowledge and expertise. Once you’ve acquired that expertise, the work can be quite profitable, as not everybody can do it.
  • Both are quite strong employment areas within Ireland, with the IFSC being one of the easiest parts of Dublin to get to from Drogheda (think Trains).

Sadly (but very sanely), neither Finance nor IT is considered ‘sexy’. There again, you can’t have everything. They’re both quite hard to explain to your Mum – as far as she’s concerned , I work ‘in computers’. This is akin to lumping Salesmen , Mechanics, road sweepers and Michael Schumacher in a category ‘something to do with cars’.

However , this lead-in does explain the contents of the ‘what’s Paul Reading?’ list. All links are to Amazon. I’d recommend all the books with the exception of the last one – it was written by a newspaper journalist and the slightly jingoistic style reflects this.

  1. Economist : The City – a guide to London’s Global Financial Centre
  2. Freakonomics
  3. Java security
  4. How the City Really works

Enterprise Java Developer Wanted

A good friend of mine needs an Enterprise Java Developer, to be based in Dublin Ireland (sorry , no Teleworking). It’s a contract position and the project is high profile and sounds quite interesting. The main reason I’m passing on it as the exact location is the only place where I cannot get to easily from Drogheda! One man’s poison is another man’s meat (or something like that).

With that information (i.e. next to none at all) I’m going to ask you if you’re interested. Yes , I could put all the buzzwords (the usual Spring , Ajax, JSF, EJB , Hibernate), but to be honest I don’t know where the technology road will take this project.

One small catch. We need to weed out all the muppets that are out there. So, you need to have been blogging about Java for the last couple of months. If you’re interested , leave a comment and I’ll pass on your details.

Motorola, Logica and Irish Economy

RTE, The Idiot, Infactah, and Eirjobs are writing that Motorola all to cut it’s software jobs in Cork.

Motorola Logo

First of all, I’ve been in this sort of ‘waiting for the axe to fall‘ situation and it’s not nice. It’s not nice losing your job, and it’s not nice having to wait 6 months or so until the plant actually shuts down. It’s not nice wondering where the next mortgage payment is coming from.

In my case I was working for Dell in Dublin , when they decided to move their entire Public Sector Sales organisation to the UK (made commercial sense, couldn’t argue with the decision). The worst part was dragging yourself in to work to face your colleagues in an atmosphere of gloom – and this was when everyone was promised (and got) internal transfers.

The Irish Indo (Registration required) is reporting that this will send ‘shockwaves through the Irish software Industry‘. It’s big news , but we’ve been here before and we will be here again. Motorola axed most of it’s radio division in Swords in the late 90’s. Logica (also in the mobile Telecoms area) once employed close to 1000 in the IFSC in Dublin, but are now down to (barely) double digits.

Some anecdoes about the upside of both these major layoffs :

  • A large part of the Motorola management Team ended up working in Navan for Case (the big red tractors). While tractors may not be as sexy as phones (leave a comment if you disagree), they were a key part in getting a new Startup into the area.
  • Most of the Logica people found jobs , after a difficult interim period (this was the dot com crash after all). There now exists a ‘Logica Mafia’ that useful to tap into if want to connect to anybody in the Telecoms – Software development world.

The other interesting thing was the number of people who found jobs outside of the ‘traditional software industries. One team of ten people, had only 2 that were in software development 5 years later. The rest used their redundancy cheque to train as teachers, start their own business , travel to Australia and New Zealand …

Not a nice place to be lads. But it will get better.

Google Spreadsheets Mean the end of Java

Or to be more accurate ‘Google Spreadsheets mean the end of Java as we know it’.
Google Spreadsheets Logo
Think about this. Who pays your wages Mr Java-Developer-who-has-just-had-a-couple-of-years-at-the-top-of-the-pile? Clients, or if you’re in a larger organisation , the business folks (i.e.’internal’ clients). Do you think any of them care about Java? Do any of them know what Java is? All they want is to get things done, quickly , and with as few mistakes as possible.

These business people would be happy to run their organisations on Spreadsheets. Do you remember the cartoon where Dilbert convinced the pointy haired boss that he could fly the plane using Excel? There’s more than a element of truth to this. I know of at least one US Fortune 100 company that (until recently) conducted most of it’s operations on little more than Microsoft Office and duct-tape. It worked, not very well, but it worked.

Until now , the next line would be ‘Excel (or any other type of Spreadsheet) is not secure / scalable / sharable / not web friendly’. That was until Google launched their Docs and Speadsheets. It’s an online version of Office with some spreadsheet functionality. Play with it a bit and you’ll see that there’s plenty missing. But this being Google , I’m willing to put good money on

  • (a) new features rolled out (think steamroller) and
  • (b) These Spreadsheets being massivly scalable / secure / sharable.

This being Google, there is also an API (developer page here). It’s got massive holes in it (e.g. you can’t yet use it to create a new spreadsheet). But when Microsoft bring out their version of online spreadsheets (and they will) not only will they clone the Google API (to get market share), they’ll need to go one further and introduce new features / remove the usage restrictions in order to compete.

So, secure, scalable, sharble online spreadsheets are here to stay. So lets take a look at Mr. (or Ms.) Pointy haired boss thinking about their new project:

  1. Hmm, I think we need to be able to gather which health plans our employees are enrolled in.
  2. OK, I’ll throw together a spreadsheet to show people what I want
  3. Before I’ll give to our friendly Java developer and let him ‘do’ a website from it.
    Soon I’ll just share this on Google.
  4. Great , Loads of people are now using it, I’ll just the (Ruby / PHP / Insert other language here) guy to add one or two extra features.
  5. Most Excellent. Why don’t we spin this off as a Web 2 company and sell it to EBay??

There you have it, Massively scalable , Highly secure websites (see Google Authentication API), without needing to know anything about EJB, JMX , JBoss, JDBC or any of the hard won knowledge that us Enterprise Java Developers have built up over the last 7-8 years. I’m exaggerating, but not much.

What do you think? Is Enterprise Java dead, or is Web 2 just another boost and a slightly different way of doing things for us Java people?

Other Java Posts from Technology in Plain English

Some other notes:

This article was originally published on the O’Reilly books OnJava Website.