Archive for March, 2009

SIPTU living in la la land?

March 31, 2009

The SIPTU logo –

        Siptu logo

The Second Life logo


I rest my case!

[Please note this post was tongue-in-cheek, I don't mean to disparage Second Life, which I actually think is brilliant.]

Cowengate in a virtual gallery? €10,000 startup giveaway. Teleworking ideas.

March 26, 2009

– If I was Hadyn Shaughnessey I'd be all over this Cowengate (#picturegate) furore – what an excellent opportunity for some guerilla art in a virtual world art gallery! 😉

– The IQ Prize has launched. "We're giving €10,000 to help grow a good idea into a great business. No strings attached. Seriously". Well, what are you waiting for?

Bizcamp (Limerick) was excellent, great talks and terrific networking (photos). Well done to the team of organizers. Don't miss the next one.

– I was delighted to meet two Kerry based entrepreneurs in particular at Bizcamp. Aileen Hannan of Sort My Books who promises me they'll soon be offering the Form 11 course I was asking her for last year to help me do my own tax returns. And Vicky O'Connor of Cuile Virtual Administration services who gave me an insight into the kind of work which might be facilitated by a teleworking center. Speaking of which….

– Some really interesting suggestions are coming through on the Ideas Campaign website. Including one for state funded / subsdised Telecommute centers. On Nomadesk I argued that this idea shouldn't be limited to key transport and broadband hubs. Rather it should be brought to every parish in the country.

Walter Higgins of Pixenate is looking for work: "I'm a decent web/java/perl/php programmer looking for short term contract…. I can also create Facebook and twitter applications, wordpress and movabletype plugins." I used to work with Walter in Apple way back and he's a seriously nice guy, not to mention a brilliant programmer and innovator.

Mary Nally, the serial social entrepreneur

March 24, 2009

Two weeks ago, as part of the Vizitant project, I visited the Third Age Foundation in Co. Meath – an older people's organization run by older people for older people. The organization was founded by Mary Nally whom I've been priveleged to know since joining the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland network last summer.

The Third Age Foundation is a thriving hive of activity, which won some richly deserved recognition in last Sunday night's Would You Believe (video available) on RTE 1. As well as providing a large number of other services to people in the locality Third Age runs The Senior Helpline, a confidential listening and support service for lonely and depressed elders. The Senior Helpline was a great inspiration for Vizitant and continues to expand having recently opened an office (and helpline) in New York.

But never one to rest on her laurels Mary has also founded Fáilte Isteach. In late of 2006, she became conscious of the day-to-day problems experienced by non-Irish nationals in her village of Summerhill Co. Meath due to their inability to speak English. Her response to the problem was to set up Fáilte Isteach, where older volunteers provide conversational English classes to new migrants in response to the language barriers that they are experiencing in both their working and social lives.
The resources and materials used by Fáilte Isteach deal with real life, everyday situations which we take for granted, such as visiting the doctor, shopping and work related scenarios. Today Fáilte Isteach has 40 students on its roll, from 14 different countries, and 15 volunteer tutors.

Based on this success, Mary has been approached by a number of individuals and communities from different parts of the country expressing interest in starting a similar initiative in their own area. Her challenge now is to help others to replicate her successful Summerhill model. Which I've no doubt she will…. before she goes on to start another social venture!

Awakening Creative Entrepreneurship in N. Ireland

March 13, 2009

I'm very impressed with the Awakening Creative Entrepreneurship event being run by the Northern Ireland Business and Innovation Centre –Ace2

Ace – a.k.a "The Unconference for Creative Entrepreneurship" is an unconference-style iconic event that's dedicated to bringing together the creative community for a face-to-face collaborative meet-up where new relationships are formed, old relationships are nurtured, ideas are shared, skills are developed, creative entrepreneurs are promoted, and innovation happens in real-time. 

The technology world will converge in the North West from 25 to 27 March when Silicon Valley comes to Derry/Londonderry for the ACE UnConference, which has been funded through the Arts Council’s Innovation Fund and is managed by NORIBIC – The Northern Ireland Business & Innovation Centre. 

And it's great to hear that a 'creativity bus' from Dublin and Belfast to the Awaking Creative Entreprenuership UnConference will be provided (details to follow).

The evolution of Hotdesking, announcing Nomadesk

March 11, 2009

When Jason Roe (of Ryanair ruffling notoriety) invited me to co-author two years ago I eagerly accepted. Coworking, officially defined as a ‘cafe-like community/collaboration space for developers, writers and independents’
was a trend I’d been keeping an eye on for many months. The idea is
simply for freelancers to take a shared office, imbue it with cafe
culture and avail of the networking opportunities afforded.

But there are many definitions of and variations on coworking depending on who you ask. For instance, Jelly is ‘casual coworking’ where people are invited to work from a host home for a day. Jelly provides chairs and sofas, wireless internet, and interesting people to talk to, collaborate with, and bounce ideas off of.

So it’s clear that coworking is as much about collaboration as it is
about shared space among independents. Hotdesking by contrast has it’s
origins in the corporate environment where  a primary motivation was
cost reduction through space saving. Typically a a number of employees
operated a ‘timeshare’ on a single work station or desk space.

But hotdesking has evolved and broken free from the confines of the
company. Now it’s more about flexible temporary space for individuals.
And a number
of service providers in Ireland are experimenting with different
configuration ideas. The appeal to me is that coworking is overkill for
my purposes. I work fine out of my own home-office most of the time but
would really appreciate the opportunity to hot desk now and again,
especially when my work takes me on the road.

[ The above is an excerpt from a new blog by Keith Kennedy and myself called Nomadesk. Read the rest of the post here ]

Positive ideas, let’s pull together (and kudos to RTE)

March 9, 2009
– No doubt about it, the first ever Bizcamp was a massive success which, three days on, Twitter is still buzzing about. [Actually, that search shines a light on how huge Twitter has become lately with everyone from David McWilliams to Brian O'Kane (Starting a Business in Ireland) now microblogging their thoughts]. Great to see RTE also covering Bizcamp on their main evening Six One news.

– The Bizcamp blog reminds us that it's not just an 'event', it's a social network and we should keep the network open and expanding, for instance through the IGO People group. Don't forget Bizcamp Limerick is up next.

– More positive coverage from the national broadcaster came with last Thursday night's Prime Time on ways to fight back against the economic doom and gloom. Sean Coughlan, CEO of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, said the number of applicants to this year's awards program was up and we got a look at the success of one such entrepreneur when the camera crew visited Dara Hogan's Fledglings Childcare project.

– On the same show Aileen O'Toole spoke about her Ideas Campaign which even got the approval of the Taoiseach yesterday when he said – "It’s just the type of ‘new thinking’ that’s needed right now. Last weekend, I spoke of the current need for a ‘Meitheal Mentality’ – helping each other out when the job needs to be done. This is a perfect example of it."

Which is all well and good but I'd prefer if the Ideas Campaign was just a little more interactive. I can see how to submit an idea but not how to browse those already submitted (ok Aileen, you can put me in the whinge bin 😉 Paul O'Mahony has suggestions on how to improve the model by developing a tool for the rapid replication and roll-out of winning ideas.

– I have to give yet more credit to RTE for covering the inaugural Facebook Developer's Garage in Dublin. Congratulationst to Conor O'Neill and gang on another very successfull event.

– Last weeks Limerick OpenCoffee Club was one of the best yet with two great talks – one about company formation law and the other from a Dragon's Den contestant. Derry O'Donnell has a great post on why Dragon's Den contestants and entrepreneurs deserve to be laughed at and admired in equal measure.

– Speaking of OpenCoffee Club It's great to see OpenCoffee Galway is relaunching soon. And I was speaking with someone from the north west region last week who's getting OpenCoffee off the ground there. Following on from launches in Kilkenny and Tralee, there's no stopping this wonderful networking movement.

– See… there's so much positive stuff going on in Ireland right now that there's all the reason in the world to be optimistic for the future. Let's get to work.

Q&A session with Dragon’s Den contestant at Limerick OpenCoffee this week

March 3, 2009

Tony Frattaroli is the Limerick based entrepreneur behind Sals Pizza who appeared on Dragon's Den last week to pitch his pizza franchise idea. He has agreed to participate in a short Q&A session at next Thursday's (5th March) OpenCoffee Club Limerick about his experiences on the show. Begins at 11am in the Absolute Hotel and is free to attend. Everyone is welcome. From the Dragon's Den webpage –

Product: Sals Pizza started trading
on July 4th 2008. They currently have over 200 customers and they trade
Wednesday through to Sunday. They have dedicated all their time and
money so far to the business. They bake and deliver fresh pizza to an
area with over 20,000 of a population. Their product is made entirely
from fresh ingredients using an old family recipe. The opportunity here
is that no one is currently doing what they do in County Limerick. They
have a great area to tap into and having only touched the surface over
the past few months.

More here.