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.

You know the Irish Economy is hurting when …

You know the Irish Economy is hurting when Sainsbury’s Supermarket in Newry (in Northern Ireland) has to close it’s doors at 7.30pm on a Saturday due to too many shoppers from the south trying to get in.

For those of you that don’t understand the above line: It’s unusual for an island as small as Ireland to be blessed / cursed with an international border running through the middle. Bad for politics , good for shoppers as it’s much cheaper to travel from the southern part (in the Euro zone) to the northern bit (where they use Sterling) to save up to half on your weekly grocery bill.

Travel to Sainsbury’s supermarket in Newry on the last Saturday before Christmas and you’ll see something just short of a riot as southern punters fight over the last bottle of (cheap) beer. But they’ve never closed the door due to too many people before – which is what happened last Saturday evening. Even more unusual in that June / July are normally very quiet months for shopping in the North.

Now discuss (in less than 100 words): Did this happen because …

  1. Irish people are fed up with rip off prices in Dublin and are finally voting with their feet?
  2. There’s a lot of hidden pain out there – people with no money but desperate to ‘keep up appearances’?
  3. Both of the above

Business Blogging in Ireland – Who What When Where and Why

At yesterday’s Plato marketing training event, the topic of business blogging came up. Seems like our 100,000+ unique visitors is nothing in the blogging world, but most Small to Medium Irish Business (SME’s) would kill for that kind of traffic. So since I’m an ‘expert’ (and when exactly did that happen ?!) here’s the 10 minute guide to get your business on it’s way.

Plato rules presume that member companies remain confidential (until they choose to break cover!). So, if you want to leave a comment below (feel free to link back to your website) I’ll be happy to apply the advice below to your business. I don’t sell blogging advice (although there is a business idea!) – more Irish Business Bloggers there are the better (all, hopefully, linking from their websites back to here!)

What is blogging?

  • A Blog is a new way of doing that same old things. You already network, talk (and listen!) to your customers and are passionate about publicising the thing you love (your business idea). A Blog just helps you do the same things online.
  • A Blog is the easiest way to update a website. If you can email (remember how scary that used to be?) you can blog. And yes, I can give examples to back that one up. And that’s you updating it, not paying some web design company to do it.
  • A Blog is the quickest way to get a good website. If you haven’t a website, a blog is the quickest way to get one. It does most of the Vodoo Search Engine stuff out of the box. Likewise, a blog can easily added to your existing website.
  • A Blog is an online Diary. Think one of those reality TV shows. But about your business. And without Jade Goody in it. There is a reason that ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Blogs’ score highest in the ratings – they’re all about people. Remember ; People don’t buy your business, they buy you.
  • A Blog lets you have conversations with your customers. It allows customers to say what they think about you on your website.Scary? Yes. But not as scary as not hearing what they are saying about you.Yes you can delete offensive comments, but I’ve only had to remove 2 out of 700 comments in the last 3 years.

The Who, What, When , Where and Why of Irish Business Blogging

Who should blog

  • You, as the owner of your business. If you have people who are equally passionate, then (a) you’re very lucky and (b) you should let them write as well. But chances are, it’s going to be you.
  • Blogging works very well for people in the professional services area. There are hundreds of people in IT, but blogging lets me stand out and gives me credibility.
  • I’m confident (and can give examples) of ways of how Hotels and Tourism, Shops and Engineering Companies can blog successfully), but it’s a little be fuzzier (i.e. not direcly linked to my personal experience)

What should they talk about

  • Talk about what you love – your business. But remember who you’re talking to; your customers, and people who will either link to you online, or recommend you to new customers.
  • I find a personal style works best. We’ve all seen the bland corporate website and we don’t believe them. Speak personally of your experience.
  • Set your own red lines, and respect them. I don’t blog about my personal life (or lack of it!). I don’t reveal customer details. But outside of that, if it’s interesting, I’ll talk about anything it.

When (or how much time is involved)

  • Like all marketing , you’re in this for the long haul. It’s important that you measure using Google Analytics (free). You’ll be surprised at what works and what doesn’t.
  • Blogging is cheap in money but expensive in your time. I reckon about 1hr per week for a post like this one, sometimes more, sometimes less.
  • Don’t forget the extra time involved in publicising your blog; leaving useful comments / links on other sites back to yours. But you’d be doing this anyway as you surf the web.

Where do people find out about your business /blog

  • Those comments on other (relevent) sites and more popular blogs link back to yours. If somebody likes your comment, then they will often come back to your blog.Remember, useful comments not spam! – your comment /link should always add to the site you are leaving them on.
  • Google loves blogs, because of all those incoming links.
  • The links on the top left of the page allow you to subscribe to this blog as if it were an email newsletter. Some people like this. Most people prefer RSS; Like an email newsletter RSS notifies you of new content but, RSS gives you a summary of all the blogs you are interested in. And it doesn’t clog up your inbox. I use Google Reader, but there is plenty of choice out there.

Why

  • Because you’d like more business. You do want more business, right? The only question: ‘is blogging the best use of my time?’

How
Two main choices, the second one being better as it gives you more choice.

  • Sign up for a free blogging account at Blogger.com (backed by Google)
  • Ask your (existing / new) web host for the following. It should cost a lot less then Eur500 , including the first year’s hosting.

I’d like WordPress (free) setup on my website at www.mywebsitename/blog. Use one of the standard templates. Please add Google Analytics (free) to the this template. Please explain where I can get the number (from Google) that you will need for the analytics. When finished let me know the address, username and password to log into my blog.

Remember, blogging is cheap to try out (in money , if not in your time) . It’s still new enough to forgive people who make mistakes. Dive in , give it a go, and when (not if) you learn something new, tell me about it.

And after all that, you couldn’t be bothered blogging?
Try LinkedIn.com. As a business networking tool , it’s excellent, with more Irish business contacts than anywhere else.

Business Blogging in Ireland – Who, What , When, Where and Why

At yesterday’s Plato marketing training event, the topic of business blogging came up. Seems like our 100,000+ unique visitors is nothing in the blogging world, but most Small to Medium Irish Business (SME’s) would kill for that kind of traffic. So since I’m an ‘expert’ (and when exactly did that happen ?!) here’s the 10 minute guide to get your business on it’s way.

Plato rules presume that member companies remain confidential (until they choose to break cover!). So, if you want to leave a comment below (feel free to link back to your website) I’ll be happy to apply the advice below to your business. I don’t sell blogging advice (although there is a business idea!) – more Irish Business Bloggers there are the better (all, hopefully, linking from their websites back to here!)

What is blogging?

  • A Blog is a new way of doing that same old things. You already network, talk (and listen!) to your customers and are passionate about publicising the thing you love (your business idea). A Blog just helps you do the same things online.
  • A Blog is the easiest way to update a website. If you can email (remember how scary that used to be?) you can blog. And yes, I can give examples to back that one up. And that’s you updating it, not paying some web design company to do it.
  • A Blog is the quickest way to get a good website. If you haven’t a website, a blog is the quickest way to get one. It does most of the Vodoo Search Engine stuff out of the box. Likewise, a blog can easily added to your existing website.
  • A Blog is an online Diary. Think one of those reality TV shows. But about your business. And without Jade Goody in it. There is a reason that ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Blogs’ score highest in the ratings – they’re all about people. Remember ; People don’t buy your business, they buy you.
  • A Blog lets you have conversations with your customers. It allows customers to say what they think about you on your website.Scary? Yes. But not as scary as not hearing what they are saying about you.Yes you can delete offensive comments, but I’ve only had to remove 2 out of 700 comments in the last 3 years.

The Who, What, When , Where and Why of Irish Business Blogging

Who should blog

  • You, as the owner of your business. If you have people who are equally passionate, then (a) you’re very lucky and (b) you should let them write as well. But chances are, it’s going to be you.
  • Blogging works very well for people in the professional services area. There are hundreds of people in IT, but blogging lets me stand out and gives me credibility.
  • I’m confident (and can give examples) of ways of how Hotels and Tourism, Shops and Engineering Companies can blog successfully), but it’s a little be fuzzier (i.e. not direcly linked to my personal experience)
What should they talk about

  • Talk about what you love – your business. But remember who you’re talking to; your customers, and people who will either link to you online, or recommend you to new customers.
  • I find a personal style works best. We’ve all seen the bland corporate website and we don’t believe them. Speak personally of your experience.
  • Set your own red lines, and respect them. I don’t blog about my personal life (or lack of it!). I don’t reveal customer details. But outside of that, if it’s interesting, I’ll talk about anything it.
When (or how much time is involved)

  • Like all marketing , you’re in this for the long haul. It’s important that you measure using Google Analytics (free). You’ll be surprised at what works and what doesn’t.
  • Blogging is cheap in money but expensive in your time. I reckon about 1hr per week for a post like this one, sometimes more, sometimes less.
  • Don’t forget the extra time involved in publicising your blog; leaving useful comments / links on other sites back to yours. But you’d be doing this anyway as you surf the web.
Where do people find out about your business /blog

  • Those comments on other (relevent) sites and more popular blogs link back to yours. If somebody likes your comment, then they will often come back to your blog.Remember, useful comments not spam! – your comment /link should always add to the site you are leaving them on.
  • Google loves blogs, because of all those incoming links.
  • The links on the top left of the page allow you to subscribe to this blog as if it were an email newsletter. Some people like this. Most people prefer RSS; Like an email newsletter RSS notifies you of new content but, RSS gives you a summary of all the blogs you are interested in. And it doesn’t clog up your inbox. I use Google Reader, but there is plenty of choice out there.
Why

  • Because you’d like more business. You do want more business, right? The only question: ‘is blogging the best use of my time?’
How
Two main choices, the second one being better as it gives you more choice.

  • Sign up for a free blogging account at Blogger.com (backed by Google)
  • Ask your (existing / new) web host for the following. It should cost a lot less then Eur500 , including the first year’s hosting.

‘I’d like WordPress (free) setup on my website at www.mywebsitename/blog. Use one of the standard templates. Please add Google Analytics (free) to the this template. Please explain where I can get the number (from Google) that you will need for the analytics. When finished let me know the address, username and password to log into my blog.

Remember, blogging is cheap to try out (in money , if not in your time) . It’s still new enough to forgive people who make mistakes. Dive in , give it a go, and when (not if) you learn something new, tell me about it.

And after all that, you couldn’t be bothered blogging?
Try LinkedIn.com. As a business networking tool , it’s excellent, with more Irish business contacts than anywhere else.

Danish Vikings Invade IFSC Dublin

No , nothing to do with recent financial turmoil in the IFSC , but the Vikings have arrived back in Dublin.

Viking Moored

More info on the route they took is here.

Viking Arrival

It’s strange having (by accident) seen the same ship before it left Denmark – that’s a 2 hour Direct flight, can’t imagine how long it took to sail it across the North Sea and around Scotland down to Dublin. I’m just glad we took the plane. This is the original – good condition considering it’s almost a thousand years old.

Viking Boat Original

Anybody up for Seedcamp Ireland (Dublin | Belfast | Newry | Dundalk)?

At a recent OpenCoffee Dublin event Brian Cleland of InterTrade Ireland mooted the idea of a Seedcamp Ireland. He’d love to see it be held in Newry or Dundalk (as cross-border networking is really his thing), but is realistic enough to consider other locations.

Seedcamp logo

To quote the main Seedcamp website:

Seedcamp is where Europe’s top young founders can come together in one place.

From securing funding to developing the right network, young entrepreneurs in Europe face challenges in building globally competitive technology businesses. Through the provision of seed capital and a world class network of mentors, we want to provide a catalyst for Europe’s next generation of entrepreneurs.

We might need to use a different name, but would you be interested in an informal meetup of startups and investors? Given the turn in the property market, would investors be ooking to put their money into the startup technology sector? Where would you like to see it held?

Irish Government looking for Podcasters

The Irish Government are looking for Podcasters. More information is on the E-Tenders site (registration may be required). I wonder if any of the poster boys of the Irish Podcasting movement will take up on this?I’ll take back what I said in my earlier (slightly cynical post): Web 2.0 meets the government.E-Tenders Logo

Summary of invitation for bids:

Crossborder Visitor Podcasting Pilot for East Border Region

Abstract:

The BCDEN project has set up a series of thematic working groups in each of the three Crossborder sub regions and has conducted a consultation and needs analysis exercise with each of those groups. The objective of this process was to ascertain, based on the region’s current ICT needs, what pilots would help the participant local authority areas to adapt to, innovate and compete within the Information Society.

Resulting from the aforementioned consultation exercise, the Tourism working group in the East Border Region (EBR) have selected Visitor Podcasting as one of the pilots they want to see implemented.

The aim of this pilot is to explore the use of new media opportunities, namely Podcasting, to reach a wider and more mobile target audience to sell EBR as an exciting and vibrant destination.

The objectives of the pilot will be to:

  • To deliver quality content to tourists through many different channels to increase the reach of communications
  • To promote the use of ICT in tourism within the wider Crossborder economy by using podcasting to attract more visitors to the EBR.
  • To increase the usage of ICT services by tourists
  • To enable cross advertising of other tourist attractions within EBR
  • To promote and facilitate Crossborder tourism

Requirements
ERNACT is now inviting tenders from suitably qualified application providers to successfully deliver this pilot by:

1. Supplying audio, picture and where required video, to enable EBR to run a Crossborder Visitor Podcasting pilot to help them achieve the aim and objectives described in section 3.1
2. Guaranteeing integration with mobile devices.
3. Ensuring involvement in the pilot of at least 1 tourist attraction in each of the eight EBR council areas.
4. Ensuring the crossborder theme is echoed throughout the pilot.
5. Liaising with the necessary project stakeholders in order to ensure smooth delivery of the project.
6. Imparting the necessary training to the relevant staff.
7. Facilitating ongoing support to tourism staff over the lifetime of the pilot
8. Project managing the entire roll out of the pilot

Links to Irish Podcasters:

Update (1) Tom Raftery is now looking for a partner to handle the paperwork. Best bet for Tom is to go for a medium sized IT company that’s already winning Government Business in other areas (as that is something the Government buyers look for). What you bring to the table is the podcasting expertise. I can give you the contact details of one if you’re interested – drop me a line here.

Another non-post about the Irish Blog Awards

Well, apart from 30 Seconds early on in my life on RTE’s Wanderly Wagon, I’ve not had national media exposure before. Given what I write about (how to use technology in business), I doubt if I’m going to be on celebrity big-brother any time soon. So here’s the photo from the Irish Times. If you click on it, you’ll be able to buy it.

The story is that we (as in FirstPartners.net) were sponsoring an award (couple of quid back when Damien was trying to get the blog awards off the ground). On the night , I had to catch the last train for Belfast at about 8.30 , so the Irish Times photographer got a couple of us together earlier on to take the shot.

So , apologies to Roger Galligan of IrishBlogs.ie who I didn’t get to hand the award to on the night, and any of the blog award winners, all of whom deserve to be in the pic!

Irish Blog Awards , Alexender Hotel Dublin, Paul Browne

Not a post about the Irish Blog Awards

If you haven’t already read a post about the Irish Blog Awards, you’ve either been a coma for the last month, or lost your internet connection for a very long time. Either way , you missed a very good evening in the Alexender Hotel in Dublin. We (FirstPartners.net) were sponsoring one of the awards (Best Contribution to the Irish Bloggersphere). At least I can say ‘I was there’ , which will either seem very far sighted or as strange as sponsoring ‘The Irish email awards’ as blogging goes mainstream. Either way , I doubt if blogging will fall into the ‘no-one will care’ category.

Despite the lead-in , this is not a post about blogging. In fact despite the evidence in front of your very eyes, I (Paul Browne) am not really a blogger in the real, hip and trendy sense of the medium. Compared to some of the characters I met there, I’m just somebody how likes getting things done , and happy to talk about one of things that interests me (Technology). Blogging is (currently) the best way I find to do it.

Talking of the people that I met there , here are some (and I’m still playing the game of ‘connect the people to the blogs’). Apologies if I’ve missed you (leave a comment)

  • Gavin’s Blog. Gavin’s been blogging 6 years. Put me and my ’15 months Blogging’ in my place. 🙂
  • Letter From America – Jeff. One of the real (good) characters of the evening , but not somebody that I’d recommend to my (single) sister in law , despite both of them living in Belfast 🙂
  • Red Mum. A real star – Have been following her blog for a while and had almost ‘can I have your autograph’ moment when meeting her.
  • That Girl – also in the Irish Times picture. A very welcoming presence at the pre-awards drinks when I was wandering the cellar bar wandering where all the bloggers where (Duh! in the corner drinking cocktails of course!)
  • Bonhom.ie (Dermot) – very interesting guy, moving back to Ireland from Italy , although to hear his current location , you’d have to question his sanity!
  • irelanddigital.blogspot.com and culturesluts.podcast.com. Both by Stephen and Jesse. Encouraged me to dip a toe into podcasting, even if I’ll never reach the dizzy heights of those guys.
  • Brian Greene – wxtc.net / BrianGreene.com – another podcaster who I wished I had got talking to in more depth.
  • Technolotics – Trinity Students , podcasting on technology and politics. If you met them, keep their autograph. I expect they will do big things in a ‘Zig and Zag meets Google’ kind of way. (That’s a compliment 🙂
  • John – faxYourTD.ie . Sometimes it takes a new faceto shake things up. John’s work to bring ‘faxyourMP.com’ to our shores is a lot of hard work and is one of the first ways that Web 2.0 will begin to affect our sceloritic polical system.
  • Bernie Goldbach. Back in Techcamp , Bernie had encouraged me to to take this blogging thing seriously. Good thing that he did.
  • Tom Raftery- TomRaftery.net / Podleaders / IT@Cork. Didn’t get talking to Tom this time around as he had to hurry to a podcast interview. Along with Bernie, his presentation on Blogging at Techcamp last year pushed me to take the potential of blogs seriously.
  • James Corbett – Eireprenuer , also speaking about about OPML. Anybody who
  • Colin O’Munieachan – an T-imeall. His hosting and technical setup of the pre awards podcasting event would put commercial radio to shame.
  • Piaras – PR Supremo , who took the endless questions of ‘when are we doing the next techcamp’ with good grace.
  • Ed Byrne – who confessed to not having blogged for a full 2 months. Security!
    Update – Ed Byrne is now back blogging due to unprecedented public demand!
  • Michele – penseiri / Blacknight hosting , who has (finally) convinced me to try out Ubantu, as well as getting a few digs in about my current hosting issues.
  • Rick O’Shea. Didn’t actually get to meet the guy person, but is that what he really looks like? How much longer before RTE are actively recruiting bloggers the way ZDnet magazines and O’Reilly books are?
  • Fergal Breen – IrishDev.com. Co host of the IIA Web 2.0 presentation and good to see that he is finally coming out of his shell (that’s a joke, for anybody who doesn’t know him)
  • Damien Mulley – major kudos to the man for organising the whole thing. Nerves of steel as he actually looked like he was enjoying all the pressure on the night!
  • Alison? – Will go now and search for your blog again! A real ‘fit the blog to the person’ moment as I realised we’d both worked toghether in a previous life!

Just found out that I’ve also managed to get my picture in the Irish Times. Surreal – I’m writing this on the Train and have seen it by looking over a fellow passengers shoulder .. I’m the one standing in front of Bernie Goldbach on the right. What are the rules for linking to this picture online?

On my todo list after the events are 1) Get a Podcast out 2) Check out Odeo.com for hosting the content 3) Check out Tredia 4)Do a google for people writing about ‘The Irish Blog Awards’ 5) Check out Jeff’s Podcast for the people that I’ve missed.

UK Telephone Number

If you look at our company website you see that we now have a UK telephone number listed. No, we haven’t splurged on a Penthouse London office, but instead are using the wonders of modern technology (Voice over IP- VOIP) to provide the service.

It’s a good example of how the internet lets Small and Medium Irish Business play with the big boys. Previously, we’d either have to use either serviced Offices (like we had at the Regional Development Centre in Dundalk), or take on somebody full time for the job.