Archive for June, 2009

Boxing above your weight – Chris Horn

admin 10th of June 2009 by admin

Chris Horn

One of the founders of IONA, Chris Horn and a leading light in the Irish technology sector has an excellent post on his blog – titled “Boxing above your weight

Some extracts

I strongly advise that you should consider having a close business partner with whom you can share your concerns and excitement, and who will share theirs with you. Between you both, or all, balance will be established and the company kept on an even keel. But equally, I strongly advise not to mix your business partners and social partners: the stress of building a business should not destroy your social life, and you have to somehow keep a balance. Your business is a long term challenge, and if you cannot manage your emotional commitments for the long term, your social life will become damaged.

So, funding was not going to happen fast, if at all. Thus, based on our own initial personal investments of 1,000pounds each, we started our company. Our initial focus was consulting and contract work, doing anything profitable and manageable. We pushed the profits back into building our first innovative product, which we eventually launched over two years later in San Francisco, having grown by then to just under a dozen people based in Westland Row in central Dublin. We never had angel capital, nor venture capital.


A paradox resulting from the small and open Irish economy is that Irish technology driven start-ups have to think globally first, not later; paradoxically this is an advantage, rather than weakness, since your offering must be sufficiently competitive “when war is declared”. If it is not, you will quickly find out so and not waste further time, energy and investment, but instead revise your approach.

As I implied at the outset, the most fundamental challenge you face in building your company is finding and retaining the right people. Your business partners and your staff are the foundation for punching way above your weight, and executing the strategy which you devise.

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You can also follow Chris on twitter

FineTuna is the Tuesday Push

conor 10th of June 2009 by conor

It’s not just Dolphin-friendly, it’s the perfect app for a specific problem. FineTuna lets you upload pics, annotate them with comments etc and then forward on to someone.

finetuna

I’ve attempted to do similar using paint packages like Paint.net but all their features just get in the way.

FineTuna is ideal when you are either going through design revisions for a site or trying to highlight bugs or things you don’t like on a live site.

The lack of any requirement to sign-up is another bonus and the Firefox Extension makes it a no-brainer to use.

This isn’t just a tool for desingers and web-devs and their customers, it is also a superb customer-support tool. I know I’ll be using it a lot from now on.

If you like FineTuna, why not do your own (Wednesday) Push of it?

The Grand Plan – Joe Drumgoole

admin 9th of June 2009 by admin

Following on from our piece on Patrick Collison’s IrishTimes piece, we had some great activity in the comments

Joe Drumgoole

Joe Drumgoole outlines his “Grand Plan” in the comments and its very worthwhile to get them published here.

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I’ve answered my own questions below.

1. A dire lack of capital at every level

For startups entry to a incubator with a business plan focused on exports and employment automatically entitles you to a CORD grant, no questions asked.

Once you leave the incubator you get a 50k grant straight away which is focused on completion a delivery of the first production version of your software. No production version, no more money.

Once you have a production version you start into the matching money game. But instead of 50/50 its 2/3 EI cash, 1/3 matching. This grant is capped at 250k from EI. You can raise more from externals but EI will still cap its contribution.

Force VCs that have capital from EI to focus on the year 1-3 startups. Use a reduced carry model to get this kind of deal over the line with the VCs.

Get UK VCs over here en mass to show cases of Irish companies. Never saw a UK VC yet at an EI event here in Dublin.

This should be enough to get all but the most capital intensive enterprises off the ground.

2. A tiny indigenous market which means you have to run (export) before you can walk (sell locally)

EI has a raft of export focused training programs but the dissemination of the the information is abysmal. They need a better website a more structured training plan and a better mentoring network. They are also focused on person to person selling whereas what Irish web companies need is a crash course in global online selling including email campaign management, web analytics, user experience, usability etc. etc.

3. A shrinking skillbase (this is the first year we have seen intake in the sciences rise)

Lots of people working on this, and science graduates are up for the first time . Finally people don’t want to be solicitors or lawyers anymore – hurray!!. We need computer programming and abstract problem solving into the primary and secondary curriculum. DeBono covers these requirements well in his writing. See “Teaching your Child to Think”.

4. Uncompetitive costs at every level

Recession is fixing this, but we need to stamp out “percentage of” pricing in the professional sector (that’s you solicitors).

5. A failure to invest in grass roots startups

Web 2.0 Seed Fund would help here. Better social network integration between the incubators. Proper metrics for success and failure that cover a 10 year period.

Refocusing EI efforts on year 1 to 3 rather than year 3-10.

Teaching startups to focus on customer growth rather than capital growth.

The Azure Services Platform Developer Challenge

admin 9th of June 2009 by admin

Azure Challenge

Ronan Geraghty who works for the BizSpark team in Ireland tweeted about the new CloudApp() developer challenge for both U.S. and International .NET & PHP developers creating cloud applications or services (hereafter “application”) on the Azureâ„¢ Services Platform.

Both U.S. and International winners will be featured on azure.com.

Signup here

The grand plan by Patrick Collison

admin 8th of June 2009 by admin

Patrick Collison (c) Irish Times

Patrick Collison, founder of Auctomatic, which was acquired last year [and alumni from Y Combinator] has a piece in today’s Irish Times – titled “The Grand Plan”

Patrick hits the nail on the head in his observations about seed funding in Ireland

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Some extracts from article

“Ireland has an abysmal record of encouraging technology companies, especially start-ups. This is masked by our stellar ability to attract companies for financial reasons. Though we have a few truly great companies, we have mostly failed to create a start-up community worthy of the name. (Quick – try to think of an Irish technology company with revenues of more than, say, €50 million.)

And we might wonder: How could we possibly create a multitude of companies on the scale of Google, Yahoo, Sun, Facebook, Twitter and Cisco?

Paul Graham, a well-known Valley investor, suggested a would-be start-up hub should give $1 million to each of 50 start-ups, just to get them to relocate. $50 million is a tiny amount of money when weighed against the benefits it would bring (it’s less than a quarter of the cost of the regeneration of Croke Park). And yet, such a move would, overnight, turn Ireland into one of the biggest start-up hubs in the world.

Assuming we got start-ups to relocate, many would need funding. Silicon Valley has a huge number of angel and venture capital investors. Though Ireland could probably eventually grow something comparable given enough time, some sort of bootstrapping is likely to be required.

Two final ideas. Though full of good people, Enterprise Ireland still take several months to make most investment decisions. This is crazy – it encourages good companies to get their money elsewhere.

Irish YCombinator for Academic research

admin 5th of June 2009 by admin

Well sort off…

ODCSSS is 12 week undergraduate summer research internship program between the University College Dublin (UCD) and Dublin City University (DCU) Ireland starts on June 2nd 2009. The theme for 2009 is Technologies for bridging the digital-physical divide: sensing the environment.

The name ODCSSS or (Odysseus) stands for the Online Dublin Computer Science Summer School.

In 2009 18 projects, where each student receives a weekly stipend of € 300 which is paid as a tax-free scholarship. [€3600 for 12 weeks]

Projects include

Biometric response and personal recall in sensed social contexts
Development of novel protocol for inter-vehicular video transmission
Distribution of video services in two-hop wireless networks
Efficient video content distribution in a heterogeneous network environment
Environmental monitoring using mobile sensor movement in cities
Learn to play like Minnesota Fats – augmented reality in the pool-hall
Long-term sensing in aquatic environments using autonomous yachts
Sensetile in the city: road-wær
Sensing and modelling radio channel conditions for mobile users
Sensing handshakes for social network development
Sensing learner interest through eye tracking
Sensing the molecular world of our environment using chemo/bio-sensors
The social life of search
Using evolutionary methods to play a sound synthesizer via camera and microphone
Using your mobile phone to control large screen public displays
Utilising context to provide adaptive, personalised and interactive spatial services
Visualisation of blog sentiment information
Visualising environmental sensor data on the interactive wall

Good initiative and would be interesting to see if any startup activity/commercial relationships build from this mini-research projects.

Interview with Dylan Collins – Jolt Online Gaming

admin 4th of June 2009 by admin

SiliconRepublic have an interview with Dylan Collins from Jolt Online Gaming

Dylan talks about the Jolt deal with Playboy, the funding for his company and the startup scene in Ireland – and early stage seed funding in Ireland

“At 29, Collins is a consummate entrepreneur who began his first business, a mobile software company, while at Trinity College Dublin. His success with DemonWare and the growing reputation of Jolt shows Ireland can develop its own digital industries.

“There’s no excuse for this country not to be a successful technology start-up hub. Gaming is just one segment and it is becoming cheaper to get a business off the ground.

“With Jolt, for example, virtually everything we do is done through the internet cloud using hosting services. All business processes, including analytics, project management and customer support, are in the cloud. You can scale up pretty quickly for very little money if you know what you are doing.”

Collins argues passionately about why Ireland needs to be providing greater support for its young technology entrepreneurs. “If Ireland wants to achieve this knowledge economy it should be prepared to invest at low seed levels.

“If Enterprise Ireland was to make 200 or 300 grants available every year at €50,000 a pop for entrepreneurs to build an online product and go to market. For €50,000 you can get three or four guys in a room for three or four months and they will build a product and go to market. If we had 300 of these groups every year, you would create a digital ecosystem.

“In the US, groups like Y Combinator are funding businesses at low levels and, in Europe, The Founders Fund is doing this.

“There are venture capitalists in the US waiting to bet on young businesses. It’s remarkable this hasn’t happened in Ireland yet.

“We should be supporting our young right now, instead of scaring them to death.

“For €10m a year, you could have 200 companies a year and 5pc of them could emerge Ireland’s answer to Microsoft or Nokia,” says Collins.”

Mix 2009 in Ireland

admin 4th of June 2009 by admin

mix ie

Microsoft is hosting its reMix event again in 2009 – follow Mix_ie on twitter for all the latest updates

Mark your calendar for Wed June 24th at the Hilton