Meet Pat Carroll, a native of Limerick, prolific connector, advocate and tireless promoter of Irish businesses both at home and abroad.
David Scanlon (Venture Investment Leader at NDRC) & Pat Caroll at a recent Startup Weekend event in Limerick
Pat worked for many years in sales, then built a Global Irish Social/Business Network, and later ran his own digital marketing company. He now works with Bank of Ireland as Startup Community Manager for Limerick. He works as part of their Innovation team, who are focused on the companies of the future and how they can support entrepreneurs and startups to succeed and grow.
What is your background? how did you get your start and what brought you to a life in and supporting startups?
I grew up in Limerick, the 4th generation of Limerick Pat Carrolls (the eldest boys were all called Pat), my Mom is a Dubliner. I worked in sales and marketing positions for many years, including 10 years in London.
Street art on the streets of Limerick
What brought you to a life supporting other startups?
6 years ago, like many others,due to the economic situation, I found myself needing to reinvent myself career wise. I became actively involved in networking with groups of entrepreneurs, techies and startups in Limerick.
What does your role as Startup Community Manager at Bank of Ireland entail, how are you supporting startups?
As BOI have already done in Dublin and Galway, I am working on setting up city-center hot-desking spaces or ‘Workbenches,’ in Limerick and Cork. I run regular startup events in Limerick, including Startup Grind, Startup Weekend and Founder Fridays.
How is Ireland doing at fostering startups and supporting the community?
We are experiencing an exciting time when people are realising that startups offer an alternative route to career success. Irish society has been slow to recognise this but this is changing as people realise that we can’t continue to rely solely on the FDI model for economic success. Supporting startups in Ireland can for many offer an alternative to emigration.
What kind of supports are the government offering startups in Ireland and are they working?
Enterprise Ireland offers good financial support to early-stage startups, through New Frontiers, CSF and HPSU initiatives. Many startups, however are somewhat frustrated that the qualification criteria places too much emphasis on numbers employed, which doesn’t align with the lean startup model. While government support for initiatives like the Startup Gathering last year are positive, many believe that the government could be going further towards offering tax incentives similar to those in the UK, to create a supportive funding environment for scaling companies.
You’re known as a prolific connector both online and off, both within and outside of Ireland. Why do you do it, what do you get out of it?
I like ‘joining the dots’ by spotting potential synergies between people and connecting them. I don’t do this to get anything in return, as I’ve been helped by others in this way and appreciate the value of unselfish networking. Sometimes, I’ve found we Irish are more helpful to each other outside of Ireland than we are here on the island.
One of Pat’s Netflix favourites of House of Cards fame Kevin Spacey, says it well
Where have you seen this working at its best outside of Ireland?
I’ve seen how the Irish in London and New York help each other out. One example of this is the Irish International Business Network, which I have had the good fortune to have been involved in for the past five years. They are a superb organisation for supporting Irish business people and I would highly recommend them for any Irish startups or business folk wishing to connect with UK or US markets to utilise this network.
What about the government’s role in supporting and promoting Irish interests abroad?
While organisations like the IIBN often work closely with our Embassies and Consulates globally, in my own experience, the Dept of Foreign Affairs are in many ways Ireland’s ‘unsung heroe’ around the world. I have found them to be extremely practical, accessible and most helpful. Enterprise Ireland’s global network, which covers over 60 countries is also a super resource for Irish companies seeking to enter foreign markets.
What are your tips for anyone starting out to doing it effectively?
I believe the most effective way of making positive connections is when we combine the online with the face-to-face networking ( Some more tips in my blog, ‘10 Habits of Highly Effective Networking’ )
Have you ever tasted failure? How? And what did you learn from it?Sure, I’ve experienced redundancy and while it certainly rocks one’s foundations, it ultimately makes us stronger. It makes us dig deep and draw on our resourcefulness.
What gets you up in the morning and what keeps you up at night?
I guess, it’s ‘lust for life’, that feeling that there’s ‘so much to do and so little time’. The injustice we see in the world affects us all to different degrees, but it also drives us to use our talents to help others less fortunate.
What are your best and worst character traits?
I’m often described as a good connector so I’ll say this role as a catalyst for bringing people together to achieve positive results is probably my best trait. The worst part of my character is that I have a busy mind and I sometimes falter in my attention to detail.
“I’ve come to know Pat through his prolific social media presence. Pat has a remarkable capacity to identify opportunities for his associates to connect with each other for business. He has introduced me to several relevant contacts. His enthusiasm to help others is matched only by his understanding of the potential for social media” – Margaret Molloy, Global CMO + Head of Business Development Siegel+Gale
Are you striking a work / life balance? If so, what’s your secret?
I believe the secret may be enjoying ourwork, so that work and life become intertwined. I believe I’m striking this balance, as I feel passionate about the work I do in my role as Startup Community Manager with Bank of Ireland in Limerick. The Innovation team that I’m part of have a great work ethic not unlike the working culture expounded by Netflix’s founder Reed Hastings.
When things are going crazy, how do you unwind?
What works for me is watching Munster Rugby, bingeing on Netflix series and recently singing with Killaloe’s Male Choir.
If you could talk to yourself at the age of 25 what would you say?
Enjoy the next 25 years – it will fly!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and from whom?
‘You can never be overdressed or overeducated’ – Oscar Wilde
What’s your favourite gadget and why?
My new MacBook Air, because it links in so well with all the other apple gadgets I use. Sorry Microsoft but Macs really are the business !
What’s the most played song in your iTunes / Spotify playlist?
‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ by The National
So what’s next for Pat Carroll?
Startup Workbenches are the main focus now, working on getting our spaces in up and running in Limerick and Cork city centres. Also continuing to work with the community running events for startups in Limerick, including Startup Grind, Startup Weekend and Founder Fridays.
#FounderStories simply a series of conversations with founders that I meet on my travels, have worked with in the past or simply find what they do interesting. These posts do not represent the views of any employer or any business that I am affiliated with.
I hope you enjoy them! Want to be featured?
Other interviews in the series:
- Meet Kevin McCaffrey founder of Tr3dent
- Meet Daniel Evans & Ed Kniep of GarbShare
- Meet Marco, Sandro & Dominic, co-founders of Bring! Labs
- Meet Ed Fidgeon-Kavanagh, Founder of Clearpreso
- Meet Luca Boschin and Alessandro Prest of LogoGrab
- Meet Mark Cummins, Co-Founder at Pointy
- Meet Rory O’Connor Founder & CEO of @Scurri