Archive for the ‘Business Start Ups’ Category

I want to be my own boss, take risks and prosper from them!

February 18, 2014


As a young female entrepreneur fresh out of college the question everyone asks me is:

Sarah why didn’t you get a graduate job?

The answer always is: I want to be my own boss, take risks and prosper from them!

I count myself very lucky that I learned early on in life that my journey is my journey and I didn’t need to follow the ‘norm’ in getting a graduate job, but follow my dream in becoming a female ‘high flyer’ and strive to hopefully provide jobs for other graduates like myself in the near future.

I love every aspect of business, especially management and leadership. I want to empower and lead a team of ‘A’ players, as Steve Jobs did say.

There have been a few challenges I encountered in starting up UniWink, but the main challenge for me is filling in the gaps that exist within the UniWink management team.

My co-founder/brother, Mark and I both have Marketing and Management backgrounds, which means we clearly lack the IT skills needed to develop the online platform. The solution is still underway; we are continuing to secure funding to allow us to outsource the IT work following from the prototype development this March.

Since starting the UCC IGNITE Graduate Business Start-up Programme in October 2013, UniWink is continuing to grow from strength to strength. I have learned so much about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur: hard work, patience, passion, self-discipline and most importantly having fun along the way.

The programme has thought me the concept of devising a business model and continuing to test my assumptions by going out into the market directly, asking the customers what they want, instead of telling them what they want and thereby creating value (wise words from Eamon the programme co-ordinator).

So what gives me a real buzz?

Interacting with the target market, bouncing ideas off them and the feeling that UniWink can really help the student community ‘Collaborate to Graduate’! We are by students for students, and strive to build a virtual learning community that fosters peer to peer assistant social collaboration. And this really gives me a buzz!

So there you are!

I’m Sarah Dineen, co-founder of “Let’s collaborate to Graduate” coming soon to a campus near you..

The IGNITE Programme is funded by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Cork County & City Enterprise Boards and UCC/Bank of Ireland.

Looking for Money? – Ask for Advice

February 13, 2014

searching for money - UCC IGNITE Programme

Among the very many words of wisdom shared with IGNITE in recent months was the idea that if you want money, you should ask for advice. I can’t quite remember who said this* but whoever it was added an important rider: if you want advice, you should ask for money.

With a number of the IGNITE businesses actively seeking finance, with some success I should say, it’s been interesting to see just how true this has turned out to be!

If you want money, you should ask for advice.

I guess it makes sense when you think about it. If you speak with a prospective investor, explain that you are starting a business, make it clear that you value their advice and ask for a chance to meet, it sets the scene for ongoing dialogue.

Asking for advice shows that you value the opinion of others. Asking for an opportunity to meet again suggests that you are prepared to act on advice. Together they provide the basis for a relationship to develop. Then, if the idea is compelling enough, the offer of advice may turn into an offer of investment. So you end up with money having started out looking for advice.

If you want advice, you should ask for money.

On the other hand, while there are two possible answers if you ask for money – either a qualified YES or a certain NO – it is far more likely that the prospective investor offers advice. After making the pitch, how many times have you heard: “That’s very interesting but what I would do if I was you is ….” or “the really interesting opportunity for you is ….”! Leaving you with what might turn out to be great advice when you really needed money.

(* Among the entrepreneurs that have spoken with IGNITE are Fred Karlsson – Founder Donedeal, DC Cahalane – CMO Trustev, Frank Hannigan – Chair Razor Communications amongst other roles, Jim Breen – CEO/Founder PulseLearning, Johnny Walker – Founder Global Diagnostics and Healthfounders, Pat Lynch – Founder Microtech Cleanroom Services, Anne O’Leary – Founder CADCO, Declan Fox – Founder Comnitel, William Fitzgerald – CEO Inhance Technology, Fergus Hurley – Founder Focal Labs,  Owen Loughrey – Founder mystoreanaltics, Natasha Lynch – Founder Essential French, Raomal Perera – Founder Network365 and ISOCOR).

Eamon Curtin

Eamon Curtin is the programme director of the the IGNITE Programme, which is an incubation initiative at University College Cork to aid graduates with start up businesses, products and ideas.

The UCC IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme is funded by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Cork County & City Enterprise Boards and Bank of Ireland.

Why Awards and Competitions are Good for Business

February 3, 2014

Cate Blanchett - Awards

People often ask me if there is any point in going forward for Business Awards and Competitions. My answer is usually a resounding YES, but the entry requirement for the Award must be relevant to the needs of your business or it’ll be a complete waste of your time.

While the most obvious benefit is that you might win a cash prize, and more than one business was jump started with a €5,000 or €10,000 prize, the real benefits can often be a little less obvious, and you don’t have to win to take advantage.

One big benefit of entering a competition is that it can help raise the profile of your business through the PR that surrounds the competition. The bigger the competition, the further you advance, the greater the press coverage. But this is only of use if your business can take advantage of the exposure. Do you have a product to sell? Or are you trying to raise investment? Businesses that attract public attention before they are ready often find that they have to work much harder to get that attention back when they are actually ready.

Your start-up can gain significant credibility as a result of winning or being placed in a competition. But it must be an established competition. The more established the competition, the better the reputation, the greater the credibility.

Awards events and competitions are also excellent opportunities to make great contacts.

Just think how hard it is to get in front of just one leading investor or entrepreneur. Imagine how difficult it is to get in front of four or five!  Getting short-listed for a competition gets you the opportunity to pitch to the judges, usually a panel of industry leaders, with a lot less effort. But it must be the right panel.

Many business owners use competition deadlines as artificial milestones to help focus attention and effort. There is nothing like a looming application deadline to get the first draft of the business plan over the line, with or without a little midnight oil.

And finally, there is no better way to crystallise your business proposition, to fine tune your pitch or to hone your presentation skills than the practice, practice, practice that comes with preparing for an award or competition.

There are many awards and competitions open to early stage and start-up businesses. Those well worth taking a look at include:

And more than one business has made up it’s own Award and subsequently gone on to win! Not that I’m recommending this approach.

Eamon Curtin

Eamon Curtin is Director of the the IGNITE Programme, an incubation initiative at University College Cork designed to support graduates turn innovative product and service ideas into sustainable businesses.

The UCC IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme is funded by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Cork County & City Enterprise Boards and Bank of Ireland.

The Benefits of Food Branding

January 20, 2014

Why exactly is branding so important in the food game?

What precisely is a brand? And what benefits does it deliver to its owner?

Firstly it is important to understand that a food brand only exists in the mind of your target consumer or not at all!

This may seem confusing but it highlights the fact that your food ‘brand’ lives or dies in the way your consumer perceives your food brand. ( i.e. The reputation of your brand )

I often hear food start-ups say…..‘Sure, I make good food products and my food business has a name – that surely means that I have a brand?

To answer this question, think about the following:

  • A product is made in a factory
  • A brand is bought by a customer
  • A product can be copied
  • A brand is unique
  • A product can become outdated
  • A successful brand is timeless

So you can see that whilst a food product has physical attributes, crucially, a brand has both Rational and Emotional qualities that create a brand perception in the mindset of the target consumer – Conveying much more than what the mere food product is, what it is called, and how it performs physically.

Brand Positioning quad - Bullseye, Ignite Programme

We often hear customers say to us in market research studies..…‘I’ll only buy that food brand because I don’t like any other ones’.

But in reality, how great are the physical differences between many food products. In reality are the differences created in the mind of the customer through the brands overall perception?

I once worked in a large food factory where the only difference in the product on shelf was the packaging and the price pint – Everything else inside was the exact same product physically! So consumers were paying 20% more for the exact same product based purely on the brand perception – The BRAND perception!

I think that this famous quote from Revlon explains brand perception very well ‘In the factory we make cosmetics but in the stores we sell hope’.

This explains nicely how Revlon sees the qualities of their brand extending far beyond the mere rational and physical capabilities of their products – creating a strong emotional brand in the mindset of their loyal customers.

This can also be demonstrated by looking at the properties of a strong food brand from two different points of view:

The Customers View

  • Saves me time when I’m choosing what food to buy
  • Dependable, Consistent
  • Easier to mentally choose when shopping
  • Gives me Reassurance and a Quality Guarantee

The Owners View

  • More resistant to price competition
  • Commands a higher price and better margin
  • Enjoys higher loyalty levels
  • Can have an indefinitely longer life with innovative new product development (NPD)

So the success of a food brand lies in the mindset of your target consumer and on both the Rational and Emotional responses of consumers to your food brand.

Without the appropriate customer reaction, and perception, a brand is valueless!

Brand Positioning Chart - BullsEye, Ignite Programme

So how is a strong food brand created?

Brands feed off the environment in which they live. How they are placed in relation to their competitors is crucial. This is called ‘brand positioning’ and is based on what a food brand does and who it does it for.

But simply getting the brand positioning correct is not enough.

Today, too many food brands are positioned too close together and competing for the same markets and shelf space.

There are over 50,000 individual food product lines ( or SKU’s ) in an average multiple supermarket like Tesco or Dunnes Stores. There is only so much space in store. The mantra today from retail buyers is ‘less is more’ – They want less duplication of food products and less product lines to keep in stock.

After all a standard Aldi or Lidl ‘discounter’ store has only 1,500 individual food product lines and with that they have now 14% market share between them. SO maybe less is more!

These days, true differentiation which will lead to the creation of a strong food brand relies on the establishment of both a unique Emotional ‘brand personality’ backed up by very strong and innovative Rational unique selling points.

Brand Positioning & Personality Versus your competitors……..

Brand Positioning:

What does your food brand do ( Rationally and Emotionally ) for your consumers? What problem does it solve? More Natural? More convenient? Healthier? Free from? More Premium?…etc.

Who exactly does your food brand do these things for? Which target market exactly? ( Can you describe the needs, attitudes, behaviours and demographics that identifies the mindset of your target consumers )

Brand Personality:

To explain ‘brand personality’ I often use the analogy of a person’s personality. Brands are a bit like people that way. If your brand came to life what sort of person would it be? What sort of personality would it have? How would it dress and act? What characteristics would it have?

After all, food brands are often judged in the same way as people judge their friends.

What is the personality of your brand? Can you describe the characteristics of your brand in terms similar to those used about a person. The result should be a clearly, defined food brand personality! )

Brand Essence - Bullsyeye, Ignite Programme

The 3 P’s

Your 3 P’s, as they are known, should be the foundation stones of your food brand creation in order to create a unique and powerful food brand proposition.

Presentation – Brand & Packaging design.

Price – Price Positioning relative to competitors on shelf

Performance – Unique Selling Points

And finally – 6 Key points to remember when creating your food brand…………..

1. Branding should affect everything that you do with the management of your food brand and its marketing mix: Product functionality / USP’s, Packaging, quality, Pricing, Promotion, Point of sale, & Distribution – Everything that interfaces with your customer! Every touch point!

2. Branding is the business of meaning. When a customer sees your food brand, the key question is what does it mean to them? What problem does it solve? What reputation does it have in the mindset of your target consumer?

3. Branding is not who you believe you are or indeed whether you are, but rather who your target consumer believes you are! ( Perception is reality! )

4. Make sure you distinguish between RATIONAL product attributes and EMOTIONAL brand benefits. ( Sell the Sizzle as well as the Sausage! )

5. Your food brand should be a combination of Rational product benefits ( or unique selling points ) and Emotional added values. With today’s food technology, food product advantages and recipes can be easily and quickly copied by a competitor so when you have them, use them to reinforce YOUR brand before your competitors do. ( The first brand to gain market share and get the listings takes the ‘High Ground’ ).

6. The principles of building a strong food brand:

  • Insightful consumer understanding
  • Clearly defined Target audience
  • Clarity of communication
  • Clearly defined Unique Selling Points / Benefits
  • Clearly Defined market focus
  • Creation of a clear and relevant ‘brand personality’
  • Consistency of brand positioning
  • Progressive brand evolution and New Product Development

Conor Hyde - Bullseye Food Marketing - IGNITE ProgrammeConor Hyde is the CEO of Bullseye Food Marketing and is a Mentor of the IGNITE Programme, which is an incubation initiative at University College Cork to aid graduates with start up businesses, products and ideas.

The UCC IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme is funded by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Cork County & City Enterprise Boards and Bank of Ireland.

Slicing Pie: A Guide to Dividing Up Early-Stage Startup Equity

September 6, 2012

Author:   Mike Moyer:

Not long ago, I was approached by one of my students at Northwestern, who was distraught over a situation in a fledging company that she had started in my entrepreneurship class. Her group had decided to split the equity in her company equally – 25 percent each. Now that the class was over, the other three partners weren’t pulling their weight. Two of them were pretty much out of the picture, and the third was only doing a little. However, all of them wanted to keep their share of the equity or sell it at an unreasonable price. The student was on the edge of tears. She didn’t know what to do. She found herself a minority shareholder in a company that she had dreamed about starting for several years. Now it seemed that the idea was going to die on the vine.

I wish this was the only time I’d heard this story, but it’s not. It happens all the time.

In spite of an overwhelming number of books offering advice to entrepreneurs, there are surprisingly few about how to properly divide up the startup equity pie to avoid situations like my students’. The last time I counted, the number was zero. So I wrote one, called Slicing Pie, which as far as I know is the only book on the subject that exists.

Because there have been no good resources, many entrepreneurs make the mistake of calling a lawyer or an accountant to help them solve the problem. These people aren’t free, and the money spent is money that could have otherwise been used for marketing, product development, or anything else that helps a company grow. Lawyers and accountants (as much as I love them) don’t really help young companies grow.

The problem with equity in early-stage companies is that it is worthless. So folks spend a lot of money legally protecting a worthless asset. The time to hire the lawyers and accountants is when you actually have built something of value. In the early stages, we don’t need legal protection; we need moral protection. We need a basic understanding of what’s right and wrong when it comes to treating people fairly for their contributions to a startup company. In my example above, the deadbeat partners may have a legal right to the equity they were granted, but something doesn’t seem quite fair.

Fairness starts with laying out the rules and agreeing to follow them. This means that we need to allocate equity based on a set of rules.

There are two mistakes made when allocating equity. The first is to divide the pie before you build the company. This is quite common, and founders often wind up where my hapless student did. The other mistake is dividing up the pie after you build the company, which often leads to internal battles that can cripple a startup team.

In reality, startup companies change rapidly. Founders, employees, and partners come and go. The right rules, therefore, should lay the groundwork for allocating equity on a rolling basis based on the relative value of the contributions of the participants. The model, called a Grunt Fund, allocates equity based on a participant’s percentage of the total value (which, by the way, is completely theoretical; the company is still worthless at this point).

There are different types of contributions people can make to the company. Time, of course, is the most common. Others include money, intellectual property, supplies, equipment, professional services, relationships, and other resources. All of these things are important ingredients to baking your pie, and they all have a value relative to one another. Your time, for instance, has a value that may be worth more or less than the time of someone else working for your company. Likewise, $1,000 cash has a value that may be worth more or less than the $1,000 worth of Twinkies provided by one of the founders for your snack room. Each input, large and small, has a value.

To make your equity program work, all you need to do is agree how to calculate the values and keep track of where they came from. Easy as pie.

But what if someone leaves? Investors generally don’t like a bunch of absentee owners, so you will have to have a set of rules that govern the allocation of equity when someone leaves the company. However, the circumstances under which someone leaves are relevant to the discussion. For example, if you asked someone to leave, they should have a different expectation regarding their equity than if they decided to leave themselves. In the first example, they were pushed out or fired; in the second example, they left you in the lurch. You need rules for this, too.

In the Grunt Fund, how someone leaves a company will determine what they get to keep and what they have to give up. Treatment of a departing team member sends a powerful message to the other team members. If you mistreat someone on the way out the door, you can lose the respect of those who stay behind.

Slicing Pie is a moral contract between you and your fellow entrepreneurs. It’s not a legal contract. Just because you can do something legally doesn’t make it right. Startups are about trust and doing the right thing for those who help you succeed. If you have to start your relationship with a legal contract, you probably picked the wrong partners.

Guest author Mike Moyer is an entrepreneur who has started a number of companies, including Bananagraphics, a product development and merchandising company; Moondog, an outdoor clothing manufacturing company; Vicarious Communication, Inc., a marketing technology company for the medical industry;, a site that helps students find the right college; College Peas, LLC, which provides publications and consulting on college admissions; and Trade Show Samurai, LLC, a company that teaches trade show exhibitors how to capture lots and lots of leads. In addition to his experience as an entrepreneur, he has held a number of senior-level marketing positions with companies that sell everything from vacuum cleaners to financial data services to motor home chassis to luxury wine. He has taught entrepreneurship at both Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. Moyer is the author of How to Make Colleges Want You, College Peas, Trade Show Samurai and Slicing Pie, a book about dividing up equity in early-stage companies.

About the author: Mike Moyer is an entrepreneur who has started a number of companies including Bananagraphics, a product development and merchandising company, Moondog, an outdoor clothing manufacturing company; Vicarious Communication, Inc, a marketing technology company for the medical industry;, a site that helps students find the right college; and College Peas, LLC which provides publications and consulting on a variety of topics including, college admissions, trade shows and job search. In addition to his experience as an entrepreneur he has held a number of senior-level marketing positions with companies that sell everything from vacuum cleaners to financial data services to motor home chassis to luxury wine.

Mike is an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University, he has been a teaching assistant at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in Chicago and London. He is a frequent a guest lecturer in entrepreneurship at Northwestern University.

He is the author of How to Make Colleges Want You, College Peas, and Trade Show Samurai.

He has an MS in integrated marketing from Northwestern University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He lives in Highland Park, Illinois with his wife and two kids.

New Credit Fund for Start-Ups

June 7, 2012

Dell Announces a New $100M Credit Fund for Entrepreneurs to Spark Startup Growth & Innovation

Today at 11:49 am by Posted in #FixYoungAmerica, Dell, Dell Innovators Credit Fund, Young Entrepreneur Council

Entrepreneurs are constantly grappling with money — how to raise it, how to make it and how to, potentially, survive without it. Yet, Dell has taken one big step toward solving every startup’s qualms today. The company’s just announced the Dell Innovators Credit Fund, a first-of-its-kind Dell financing initiative that provides entrepreneurs up to $100M in the technology resources they need to maximize potential for innovation, speed to market and job creation.

Through the Credit Fund, qualified angel and venture-backed companies can access up to 10 percent of their funded amount, or up to $150,000 with accelerated, limited credit terms. Credit Fund customers also receive benefits including a dedicated Dell sales team and ProSupport Services, giving them access to trained experts and 24/7 support on top of their technology needs.

“Behind most great company growth stories are pioneering uses of technology,” said Steve Felice, Dell president and chief commercial officer, in a press release. “In talking with business owners and listening to their needs, they tell us what they need most is access to capital and technology that enables them to grow.”

The Credit Fund was created by Ingrid Vandervelt, Dell’s first entrepreneur in residence, with the support of Dell executives and team members, as well as a 13-member Dell EIR Advisory Board.

“Access to capital and technology remain barriers to success,” Vanderveldt said in an email to BostInno. “Starting as a small business just 28 years ago, Dell knows that technology is key to fueling growth, but so is access to capital, networks and markets – and now, as a Fortune 50 company, we can connect our customers with those resources, too.”

The new Credit Fund is just one of the ways Dell plans on supporting entrepreneurs. Also launching today is the expanded Dell Entrepreneur in Residence community that features specialized advice for entrepreneurs who are self-funded, seeking funding or are already funded.

In addition to funding, Dell will also be providing all of its customers with the Young Entrepreneur Council’s #FixYoungAmerica book, which includes essays from top entrepreneurs, nonprofit founders, business leaders, politicians and educators, including an excerpt from Vanderveldt herself.

“Dell was one of the first supporters of the #FixYoungAmerica campaign,” said Scott Gerber, founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council. “And we’re behind organizations that want to help entrepreneurs win.”

To Gerber, it’s the small- and medium-sized businesses that will turn our U.S. economy around. “We want to do everything we can to enable their success,” Gerber admits. And this collaboration with Dell is just one way they can do that.

May 29, 2012

Startup of the day:

ImageMike McGrath, founder,

Company:   Founder: Mike McGrath

What it does: the company provides a tendering service where small companies bid for jobs, services and contracts that other small companies need fulfilled

Funding: Enterprise Ireland grant, currently seeking private funding

For big companies, sourcing goods and services that are needed is no problem. They have departments to handle that. Need a printing contract? An IT cabling service? New staples for the office staplers? Enterprises are built to make sure such pedestrian sourcing issues aren’t time-consuming challenges.

But it’s a very different story for small businesses. When you’re bootstrapping, building your company’s core until 11pm every night, the last thing you want to have to do is to trawl through the Golden Pages looking for someone who offers the best deals on batches of business cards or padded envelopes.

This is what is all about.

“It’s a bit like what the government does with eTenders,” said Mike McGrath, the company’s founder.

“When they have something they need to source, they put their requirement up online and let other companies come to tender for it. We want to do the same for the private sector.

One problem that eTenders has, though, is its bureaucracy and form-filling.

“We try to make it a bit easier than the way eTenders does it,” said McGrath.

“eTenders is quite cumbersome and there’s a lot of paperwork.”

And profitability? How does make money from this service?

“We make the introduction and the buyer transacts with the supplier after that,” said McGrath. “We get a small introduction referral fee from the supplier.”

For McGrath, this is a first foray into running a business. Having worked for HP and Microsoft, he then went to work for GXP Systems, a Cork-based engineering and project management company.

“They didn’t have a supply sourcing system like big multinationals do,” he said. “Having worked in multinationals where there were systems in place to do this, I remember thinking that there must be a better solution to supply sourcing problems for small companies.”

The resulting website is commendably transparent, openly displaying many buyers, sellers and transactions have occurred. (Yesterday, there were 470 buyers and 1,770 suppliers listed on the site, with a monthly total of just under €2,000 in transactions.)

“It’s important to show people how many buyers are there,” said McGrath. “It gives a sense of trust in the site. We actually have a database of 15,000 suppliers we’re working on. So whatever a company is looking for, we have companies to supply quotes for them.

The most recently updated version of the site went live just five weeks ago, as McGrath prepares a strategy to licence the technology for the British market.

McGrath said that he is “already in discussions with number of large companies” in Britain about licensing the software.

Having been backed with a grant from Enterprise Ireland, he is also looking to private funding now.

“We’ve started to talk to a number of investors,” he said. “Primarily private and angel investment. You learn more from them than from anyone else. They really critique the business.”

Contact journalist: Contact desk:

Brian Crumplin, IGNITE Mentor shares his insights

May 23, 2012
Brian Crumplin

Brian Crumplin – IGNITE Mentor

Here, IGNITE Mentor, Brian Crumplin shares his insights into the programme:

Brian, External Nominee Director, European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (ERBD), is an engineer and marketing graduate, with 53 years industry experience, including 19 years in multinational organisations and 21 years at CEO level.

As a mentor in Ireland, Brian has worked with more than 100 company projects, of which 53 were new company start-ups. The fastest growing Irish start-up company achieved an annual turnover of US$10 million within two years. Industries represented include professional services; engineering; metals manufacturing; IT; plastics moulding; automation machinery; software development and life sciences. 

He also mentored 12 corporations in Russia and Eastern Europe on behalf of the European Bank (EBRD), the largest of which employed 2,700.

What I teach the applicants:

I teach the applicants to know and understand their unique offering, be it a product, a skill or their specific knowledge. I also teach them to strategically structure the project and or company in relation to legal compliance; route to market; pricing; IP protection etc.

Once we’ve done that I can mentor them in building a business development plan (BDP).  Then in how to use the BDP as a management tool to control and motivate themselves and the business.

Another important aspect I’ll teach is understanding the importance of cash flow management and control.

Why I got involved in the IGNITE Programme:

SME business is the backbone of industry and the economy typically. SME’s employ over 70% of a workforce in western cultures. There were 667,000 new business start-ups in the USA in 2006-7, and they added 7 million employees to the workforce.
Ireland needs to generate more start-up businesses and Ignite can play a strong role in this by encouraging enthusiastic, young, well educated graduates to start their own business without the rigorous constraints and bureaucracy that is applied by the state support agencies.

How to get the best out of the IGNITE Programme:

Graduates must understand that the programme cannot help very much with their individual product offering, but can and will help turn their idea into a viable business.

For more information on the IGNITE Programme CLICK HERE

Three Circles and the path you choose

May 8, 2012
Greg and Brendan Canty

Parental advice!

My son Brendan Canty qualified CIT last year, having completed a multi media course. He wants to work in film in some way and he is also really passionate about music.

How unusual – a 23 year old being passionate about music!

Like every other parent you worry about what your children will do – you want them to find a job, earn a living and in this climate it has never been quite so tough.

You need to find a god solid job” I hear myself saying..

Well – he has set up his own website operating under the name Feel Good Lost and he has been busy producing videos for bands from all over the world – with the web and modern technology this is all quite easy, apparently!

He produced a music video recently which was for a “secret” American solo artist who goes under the name Slow Magic and the track he produced was for a song called Corvette Cassette. There is a video producers peer website called Vimeo (this is like a worldwide YouTube for video and film producers), which has just featured this song as a staff pic – at the time of writing the video has been viewed 137,000 times across the world.

While Brendan does some excellent corporate video work for Fuzion and his own clients he excels when he combines his love of music and his film profession. On Friday nights he DJ’s in The Pavilion in Cork combining music and visuals as part of his unique set operating under the Feel Good Lost name. This month he is celebrating one year in business and he is off to a Greek music festival next month working with some bands.

Slow Magic // Corvette Cassette from Feel Good Lost on Vimeo.

He is following his dream and his passion and it had me thinking about career choices and Three Circles..

In Jim Collins fabulous business book Good to Great (for me this book is a business bible) he talks about companies using a Three Circle criteria as a guide to the activities they should get involved in:

A company should only engage in activities that:

  1. It is passionate about
  2. It can excel at
  3. It can make money from

The basic principle is that if companies concentrate their efforts on activities that meet all three of these criteria then they will inevitably be very successful – this is one of the factors that Jim Collins attributes to the success of what he calls “Great” companies.

If you are looking for a new job. a new challenge how about using the Three Circle Criteria for deciding which path you choose and maybe the IGNITE programme could help you on the way!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

New body sees value of research

May 2, 2012

New body sees value of research.


THE IRISH RESEARCH COUNCIL was launched on March 29th by the Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock. This is a merger of the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET).

The Irish Research Council will focus on human-capital development at postgraduate and early-stage postdoctoral researcher levels. It will encourage independent exploratory research and skills development. Its remit will cover the sciences, engineering, technology, humanities, social sciences, business and law.

The new council will continue the schemes supported by IRCSET and IRCHSS. The new board has 12 members, many drawn from the two previous councils, including Prof Anita Maguire and Prof Caroline Fennell, who chaired IRCSET and IRCHSS respectively. Prof David Lloyd of TCD has been appointed as chairperson and Dr Eucharia Meehan of the HEA is the interim director.

It is important to consider this new development in the light of the recent report on research prioritisation. One of the recommendations in that report was that a consistent quality framework should be developed for postgraduate education and training. This includes the development of indicators of the quality of postgraduate education. I have no doubt that the new council will maintain the high standards of support for PhD education established by IRCSET and IRCHSS.

Any research-policy development in Ireland cannot be considered in isolation. One of the major future sources of funding will be through the EU Horizon 2020 programme that will commence in 2014. Last September the European Commission published its agenda on the Modernisation of Higher Education. Embedded in this are the seven principles of innovative doctoral training: research excellence and creativity; attractive institutional environment with critical mass; interdisciplinary research options; exposure to industry and other relevant work sectors; international networking and mobility; transferable skills training; and quality assurance.

These principles were developed based on current practice in a number of countries considered leaders in PhD education and training, including Ireland. The approach of IRCSET and IRCHSS, through the individual scholarship schemes and their graduate-education programmes, was instrumental in Ireland taking this leading position in doctoral education and training.

The report on research prioritisation identifies a total of 14 areas where national funding should be concentrated. The new council complements this approach by also ensuring that there is the necessary breadth of trained researchers across all disciplines based on excellence.

Another recommendation of the report is for funding to support the development and rollout of the industrial PhD model in Ireland. Through the Enterprise Partnership scheme, IRCSET has worked with more than 140 companies – both multinationals and SMEs, including Airbus, Boston Scientific, Henkel Loctite, Pfizer, Sera Scientific and Dairymaster – in co-funding postgraduate awards and postdoctoral fellowships. IRCHSS has worked with a number of organisations including the Family Support Agency, Crisis Pregnancy Agency and National Disability Authority to fund research projects of direct relevance to Irish society.

Both IRCSET and IRCHSS have been highly innovative in leveraging European funding through the FP7 Marie Curie COFUND scheme. This has enabled them to develop new fellowship schemes to help ensure the long-term retention of our best and brightest. Both the agencies’ programmes support a three-year fellowship, with the first two years spent abroad and the third back in Ireland. These recognise and support the fact that researchers emigrate as part of their career development. Critically, they provide a means to bring back their expertise to Ireland.

It’s a sign of confidence in the achievements of both IRCSET and IRCHSS that they have now been brought together as the Irish Research Council. The IRC will play a vital role in the education and training of new generations of researchers who will be equipped to take up employment in a wide range of organisations to support national social and economic development.