For Leadarise Dublin’s first panel discussion we invited three young women in online startups to share their experiences with us:
- Catríona Barry is the co-founding CEO of Trakax.com, which provides consumers with the tools to create original videos. They currently operate products on PC and Android, which are tailored for beginners, allowing them to take raw footage and turn them into compelling videos for personal or business use.
- Iseult Ward is co-founder of Foodcloud.ie a non-for-profit social enterprise that connects businesses that have too much food to charities in their community that have too little. Iseult explained that if you are a supermarket manager with surplus food at the end of any given day, you can use the Foodcloud app to upload details of food available, and a time for collection; Foodcloud then chooses, based on certain criteria, the charity to send the food to and sends an automated text back accepting the offer and collecting the food from the business.
- Kritika Ashok is Director of Artnouv.com, which makes handmade oil and canvass paintings, and makes them affordable to the general public. Consumers email Artnouv copies of their photographs and are provided with hand-painted, hand-crafted impressions of these images, painted by artists across the globe. (You can see more on Kritika next month when she will feature as one of our Young Women to Watch!)
Young Women in Online Startups (L-R): Iseult Ward, Kritika Ashok and Catriona Barry
On Courage: Passion is the key!
All three panellists agreed that passion is fundamental. Without it, you cannot keep going down the entrepreneurial road. It is not all plain sailing and as there are ups and downs that come with starting your own business, you have to be passionate about the product and service you are providing. Since you will ultimately have bad days as well as good, passion helps to sustain you!
For one entrepreneur, she had seen the entrepreneurial spirit in her family surrounds. For another, however, she was afforded the opportunity starting in university: she met her future business partner at an event she attended, and they talked about a shared idea out of which a vision for their future business was born – theirs was a shared passion.
On how to manage risk:
The support of good family and friends make it easier to stay strong, but again, passion makes its mark: for one entrepreneur she felt it better to work on a business that she was passionate about, rather than one that carried no risk but that ultimately she had no attachment to.
The risk itself is good motivation to succeed – because stakes are high – but this is admittedly one of the more stressful elements of being in a startup. There are many stakeholders: one might have investors, or friends and family members who have invested in the company, relying on you. You must go into it the start-up world with your eyes open as it presents an awesome responsibility that must be taken seriously.
All agreed that everyone was going to make mistakes along the way, but you could minimise their impact and learn from them. Some mistakes come from inexperience. Others come from bad judgment: getting swayed by what you think you should do rather than what you feel you should do. In the end, failure is part of the package: the trick is to minimise the risk/fallout and learn from mistakes.
On Business Partners:
To get a good business partner, Iseult had striking advice: talk to everyone about your idea, until you meet the first person who cares about it as much as you do, and then ask if they want to join you. She acknowledged that she did not know her business partner Aoibhinn at all beforehand but they knew that they had the same vision and that they both wanted to undertake the project and it worked. She also noted that she had worked with many people along the way through meetings, groups, various fora etc, but that the two of them had stuck with the idea throughout, had the same vision and cared about making the idea work. A good business partner will be on your wavelength.
To Hub or not to Hub:
This event took place in the Trinity Enterprise Centre, which is a hub for new business. If in a hub environment – and doing so was highly recommended – it was advised to leverage opportunities and not getting caught up in just work. It is key to broaden your horizons, talk to other people and get advice as you can learn as much through this process as when you are locked away developing your business.
Catriona noted that you have to use the opportunities made available to you and a hub is a great space. She admitted it was sometimes difficult to put yourself out there, to find the time. If you think you are too busy, you take the risk of missing out on opportunities of bouncing ideas off people outside your office with people who might not be in the same sector but are in the same environment as you.
If you are going to be the face of your company, then going to events such as the Leadarise discussion helps to get you into practice. It was noted that you never know who you are going to meet, and if you don’t put yourself out there then how are you ever going to meet the right partner or right investor?
Kritika noted that when she moved to Ireland she knew no one and so she had to put herself out there: she found both online and offline networking interesting, and has even met contacts via Twitter. Technology is changing networking! “Networking” often has a negative connotation but Kritika stressed that the importance of networking is to know what you could do for someone else, not simply what you could take away for yourself. Often when you are doing something for somebody else you can learn a lot along the way. Networking also has the advantage of helping you build a good set of friends and like-minded contacts that you can talk to for support.
Iseult noted that she was surprised at the really nice community here in Dublin for businesses and start-ups and that everyone wanted to help you. She noted the advice she gave to a friend who wanted to get involved in a particular business to contact a leading entrepreneur in the field and ask him if he wanted to go for a coffee. Iseult said she wouldn’t be where she is if she hadn’t found people willing sit down and share their experiences and noted that often people like to them give back when they have experienced such kindness themselves. She observed that once you started to see the benefits of networking it becomes easier as everyone who is networking either wants to help or give help.
The panel agreed that Ireland has a fantastic community especially in the start-up world – the key is to reach out or offer help.
On being a woman in the online startup world:
The panel noted that in any walk of life a person could chose to labelled as women or just recognised as a person. You choose what label you are.
Sometimes at tech conferences, women are few and far between – being different makes you memorable!
Overall the panel agreed that it was only an issue if you wanted it to be one!
FInally, if you could give one piece of advice…
- Iseult advised listening to what people had to say, talking to everyone, and being willing to take advice.
- Kritika warned not to wait for a product to be perfect – just do it.
- Catriona advised to believe in yourself not get distracted by people around you and what they are doing. Just have belief in what you are doing. Success will follow.
*Artnouv and Trakax are both currently offering a 10% discount to all Leadarise customers using the code LEADARISE
** Special thanks go to Rachel Corr and all at the Trinity Enterprise Centre for providing a venue for this event, especially Bridget Noone, and our volunteers on the evening
Leadarise Dublin team and friends
Article by Anne Fitzpatrick