An interview with Pat Carroll, Startup Community Manager for Limerick @BOIstartups

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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 the last book or movie you’ve read/seen?
Transatlantic’ by Colum McCann
Once Upon A Time In America’ – Dir, Sergio Leone

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 Mark Cummins, Co-Founder at Pointy

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The Pointy POS barcode scanning device in action

 #FounderStories simply a series of conversations with founders 

Co-Founders Mark Cummins and Charles Bibby of Pointy.com

I recently caught up again with Mark Cummins, Co-Founder at Pointy, an Irish hardware startup that he co-founded with Charles Bibby in 2014, which is helping retailers to win back the high street. 

Previously I’d visited the team back in August 2015 at their Dublin office find out more about what they were up to and discuss an innovation project I was working on at the time.

Founded in 2014 and already over 500 retailers around Ireland like Donnybrook Bikes below are using the Pointy device to auto generate search engine friendly web pages for over 500,000 unique products with a view to ultimately driving more in store sales for them. In effect Pointy is helping to take back the high street for retail.

NOG: What is the name of your startup, what year was it founded? do you have any co-founders? how did you get the idea?
MC: Pointy, founded 2014. Co-founder Charles Bibby. The idea came from a very ordinary experience – I was drinking some craft beer at a party. I really liked it, but after the party I had trouble finding it in shops. It was definitely available somewhere locally, but I never found it. It seemed so strange that I could search the entire internet in half a second, but it was a struggle to find something in my local shops. The process hadn’t really changed that much from fifty or a hundred years ago.

NOG: This isn’t your first foray into entrepreneurship, what was your previous startup and what happened to it?
MC: That’s correct Niall, the previous startup that I was involved in was Plink. Plink became Google’s first UK acquisition in April 2010. Our visual search engine technology allowed users to simply take a picture of something in order to find out more about it. Our first product, PlinkArt, recognized famous paintings and was a winner of the ADC2 and a featured app on the Android market.

Video: Oxford Entrepreneurs Google Success – Plink Art Interview

NOG: Where is your startup located and how many people work there?MC: We’re based in Dublin, Ireland. We’re 7 people full-time, plus a few additional part time.

NOG: How was your startup originally funded, how are you funded now and how does your startup make money?
MC: We initially worked on the idea unpaid until we had a working demo. We then raised a seed round of $1.2M from some well know angel investors and VC funds. Our revenue comes from a small monthly fee we charge to shops on the system. There are some additional things in pipeline.

NOG: Were you ever close to failure? how close? how did you recover?
MC: I failed my driving test quite a few times :-). But in professional life there’s never been anything really close to failure so far. Perhaps after Pointy I’ll have some stories of hair-raising moments to tell.

NOG: What’s the biggest challenge your startup/business faces today?
MC: Reaching small retailers. Our product has proven very popular with retailers once they learn about it, but reaching small retailers at scale is a hard thing to do. There’s no real shortcuts, just a lot of different channels and lots of hard work.

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Looking for Cocoa Brown 1 Hour Tanning Mouse in Kill? No problem Allcare Pharmacy has you covered. (Allegedly the lads at Pointy buy it by the case)

NOG: What is your background? how did you get your start and what brought you to a life in business/startups?
MC: I studied Engineering and Computer Science at Oxford, and then went on to do a PhD in robotics and computer vision (as did my co-founder Charles). After Oxford I started a previous company (Plink) which Google acquired in 2010. I then spent three years at Google before leaving to start Pointy. I’m actually a little surprised to find myself founding start-ups, it’s not something I ever thought about growing up.

NOG: What gets you up in the morning? and what keeps you up at night?
MC: Honestly, the thing that actually gets me up in the morning is curiosity about what’s happened in the world overnight – normally in the form of checking our dashboards, emails, etc. At night, I often lie awake for an hour or more thinking about what to do next – it’s something I’ve done all my life. So, I guess the answer is: everything.

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NOG: What is your best character trait? what is your worst character trait?
MC: I like playing with ideas and questioning things – if you question enough things sometimes you have an idea for something new and interesting. On the other side, I sometimes over-research and read a lot of background material on things, when a bit of direct trial-and-error or even just focused thought might get me there quicker.

NOG: Are you striking a work / life balance? If so, what’s your secret?
MC: It can be long hours during the week, but I always take the weekends off. That works for me.

NOG: When things are going crazy, how do you unwind?
MC: Cycling in the Wicklow mountains.

Picture taken by Mark while out cycling in Co. Wicklow, Ireland

NOG: You reference Donnybrook bikes on your site, have you ever used Pointy yourself to find and buy parts there yourself?
MC:
Yes, have got plenty of small bits and pieces off Donnybrook Bikes, the guys are great and have a great selection – last thing I think was a new Bontrager bottle cage.
NOG: Ok I just checked on Pointy and they are showing in stock, thats cool!

Bontrager RL Cage (Black) available at Donnybrook Bikes

NOG: 
What’s the last book or movie that you’ve read or seen?
MC: Last movie was Star Wars, in common with half the world! Last book was The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi.

NOG: What’s the most played song in your itunes or spotify playlist?
MC: Bonxie by Stornoway

NOG: What’s your favourite gadget and why?
MC: 
I use a projector at home instead of a screen. I love it.

NOG: What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you created your business/startup?
MC: One of the trickiest things was where to draw the line between business and non-business life. e.g. Friends and family who wanted to invest and/or work in the business, etc. I think we mostly got it right, but more by luck than judgement.

Pointy being interviewed by the folks over at IrishStartup.TV back in July 2015

NOG: So what’s next for Pointy?
MC: We’re just about to launch in a new country, which is very exciting!

NOG: What question would you like me to ask the next founder?
MC: I’d be interested to know how much of their time people spend the different aspects of the job – e.g. working on product, hiring, raising money, sales, media, etc.

NOG: How would you answer your own question? 🙂
MC: Nicely done! The majority of my time is on product – quite a lot of actual coding. There’s also a lot of time on high level decision making – which features should we prioritise, which city should we launch in next, etc. The other major part of it is establishing and maintaining relationships with investors, keys partners, etc. There are periods of a month or more when fund raising is 100% of my time. Hiring is also a big one which happens in short bursts.

NOG: Well Mark, that’s it. Congratulations on the recent funding announcement, continued success in helping retail to take back the high street. by helping them gain traction online in order to drive sales offline in store.
MC: Thanks Niall, really enjoyed the chat.

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Are you an Irish retailer wanting to learn more about Pointy and the opportunity to join them on their mission to help win back the high street for retail? then click here

#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 Rory O’Connor Founder & CEO of Scurri

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Rory O’Connor Founder of Scurri

 #FounderStories simply a series of conversations with founders

I recently caught up with Rory O’Connor, Founder and CEO of Scurri, an Irish startup founded in 2010 which specialises in delivery management for  online merchants. 

HQ’d in Wexford town in Ireland they have 23 people employed. Their platform is used by multi-channel merchants, such as Zara, ASOS, MissGuided to improve their customer delivery propositions via delivery partners like Royal Mail, UPS, Hermes, TNT, DHL, Yodel, DPD and more.

Rory is an entrepreneur who likes to create and build things that make a difference. With @Scurri he’s using technology to make eCommerce delivery awesome for everyone! Loves the outdoors, surfing, triathlon and hillwalking. Lives in Wexford, Ireland.

NOG: What is the name of your business/startup, what year was it founded? do you have any co-founders? how did you get the idea?
ROC: The business name is Scurri, it was founded at the end of 2010, I am a lone founder and the business idea emerged from a slightly different business model that wast the original idea for the company.

NOG: What does your business/startup do? who is your typical customer?
ROC: Scurri removes the friction from managing deliveries for eCommerce Merchants, our typical customers are eCommerce merchants selling physical goods online who want to give their customers the best delivery experience possible.

NOG: Where is your startup located and how many people work there?
ROC: We are HQ’d in Wexford town in Ireland where we have 23 people employed today but entering an expansion phase now which is great.

Better together: start-ups and sponsorship by Adam Pescod @elitebizmag

NOG: How was your startup/business originally funded, how are you funded now and how does your startup/business make money?
ROC: I put up the initial capital to get us going, an ex-colleague soon joined me on the adventure and then we raised investment from a number of angels and a small amount of funding from enterprise Ireland. We then raised funds from VC’s as we got more traction.

NOG: Were you ever close to failure? how close? how did you recover?
ROC: Yes many times, on a couple of occasions we had a few days cash in the bank. Persistence and flexibility with a bit of luck thrown in is key.

NOG: What’s the biggest challenge your startup/business faces today?
ROC: One of the key challenges is finding talent, particularly engineering talent.

Image: Ireland’s entrepreneurial counties and the key challenges for Irish entrepreneurs

NOG: What is your background? how did you get your start and what brought you to a life in business/startups?
ROC: I originally worked in Waterford Crystal when I got a great grounding in business, marketing and sales. I also broadened my education there. I didn’t realise it for a while but I think I always destined to run my own business. I worked as a freelance consultant for a while but I really wanted to create something too.

NOG: What gets you up in the morning? and what keeps you up at night?
ROC: The excitement of what the day will bring gets me up and by the time the day is done (late at night) I sleep soundly.

Image: For the last sixteen years, Rory has been inshore helm for the local RNLI lifeboat (Fethard-on-Sea), ready to save lives at sea at any time in any weather condition.

NOG: What is your best character trait? what is your worst character trait?ROC: My best trait is I am persistent and willing to put the miles in, my worst trait is I can be impatient and unreasonable (don’t take no for an answer)

NOG: 
Are you striking a work / life balance? If so, what’s your secret?
ROC: I don’t see the difference between work and life, I don’t see what I do as a job and I think that is the secret.

NOG: The latest Scurri marketing features Lego, so what’s your figure look like?
ROC: 
Why simple it’s ‘President Business’ of course!

NOG: When things are going crazy, how do you unwind?
ROC: Do a bit more, nothing like the feeling of completing something.

Image: Rory competing in challenge Barcelona 2010

NOG: What’s the last book or movie you’ve read/seen?
ROC: The last book was Venture Deals and the last movie was the new Star wars.

Image: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

NOG: What’s the most played song in your itunes / spotify playlist?
ROC: AC/DC Thunderstruck – my kids love it too!
NOG: We must be of a similar vintage, that’s one of my favourites also!

NOG: What’s your favourite gadget and why?
ROC: My iPhone, what can it not do?

NOG: What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you created your business/startup?
ROC: A lot more about finance, it’s so important.

NOG: So what’s next for Scurri?
ROC: International expansion

NOG: Thank you for taking the time today Rory, congratulations on the progress and best of luck with the expansion plans in 2016 and beyond
ROC: Thank you Niall, it’s been my pleasure.

#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!

Originally published at www.linkedin.com.

Buy Now button technology firm ChannelSight raises €3.3 million to scale in Europe and US

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Nauta Capital leads investment in Irish firm which provides ‘Buy Now’ button technology to optimise online sales for the world’s largest brands.

ChannelSight staff numbers to increase to 74 with 40 new jobs to be created growing international team.

15th October 2015 – originally posted on channelsight.com blog

Ireland’s ChannelSight, an ecommerce enablement and analytics company has today announced a €3.3 million investment in the company led by Nauta Capital, with ACT Venture Capital participating in the round and support from Enterprise Ireland.

ChannelSight was founded in 2013 by CEO John Beckett, CTO Kieran Dundon and Niall O’Gorman. The company is experiencing rapid growth, with impressive 7-figure annual revenues being achieved since its foundation two years ago. ChannelSight currently operates in 37 countries globally and is working with brands such as Cadbury, Oreo, Philips, Veet and many others.

Speaking on the investment John Beckett said the purpose of this raise is to allow ChannelSight to scale at a faster pace in terms of sales and marketing efforts and to invest in further building the company’s partner network in Europe and the United States, “We have developed highly sophisticated technology that is already being used by some of the most respected global brands such as Philips, Mondelez International, RB, and Bosch. This investment will help us to scale at a faster pace and enable us to ultimately help brands and partners to capture a bigger slice of an online shopping market that is estimated to be €477 Billion in Europe this year alone and growing at 15% annually.“

Speaking on their innovative technology cofounder and CTO Kieran Dundon said “The rise of shoppable content is changing the face of advertising making it easier than ever for consumers to make a purchase online while giving brands greater visibility into media effectiveness. ChannelSight facilitates a frictionless path to purchase across all owned, earned and paid media and this end-to-end visibility from shoppable content is the next frontier for brands.”

Dundon went on to say that multichannel view and data analysis sets ChannelSight apart, “By simplifying the customer-buying journey across all channels including online video, brand websites and uniquely at scale on multiple social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, we ensure that when a consumer is motivated to make a purchase, they can do so easily without competitive distraction. The data is what is really valuable though – by helping brands to optimise their advertising and other content we can not only increase direct and indirect conversions, but close the loop to improve the return on investment from their entire marketing spend across all digital channels.”

ChannelSight seamlessly connects users who are engaging with a brand’s digital content by providing a cross-platform, omni-channel ‘Buy Now’ button service that allows online shoppers to quickly locate a partner retailer where they can easily purchase a given product from any device. This significantly increases engagement with the media and likelihood of conversion to a sale for the brands – in effect bridging the gap between online media and commerce.

Speaking on their investment Carles Ferrer, London-based General Partner of Nauta Capital said, “We are delighted to add Channelsight to our portfolio of leading B2B Software players making massive inroads into another huge market. Already the team has done an impressive job in no time and their customer successes and the market opportunity ahead clearly positions the company as thought leaders in the space. We are looking forward to working with John and the team to build a global winner.”

About ChannelSight

ChannelSight enables brands to grow e-commerce sales and profit margins by providing a digital Buy Now service that allows internet shoppers to quickly and easily locate a partner retailer where they can buy the product they are interested in. This simplified online purchasing process allows brands to build better customer relationships, increase conversion rates and improve marketing effectiveness by showing which advertisements are working and which are not across all digital platforms.

See http://www.channelsight.com for more.

About Nauta Capital

Nauta Capital is a Venture Capital firm investing in early stage technology companies. Main areas of interest include B2B Software propositions, disruptive Digital Media companies, and enabling technologies for Mobile and the Internet. Nauta has $260 million under management and invests in Western Europe and the USA. Nauta has presence in London (UK), Boston, MA (USA), and Barcelona (Spain). Nauta has led investments in 30+ companies including Scytl, Brandwatch, Fizzback, GreatCall, Eyeview Digital, Basekit, Rifiniti, ForceManager, Marfeel, Getapp, Incrowd, Privalia and Social Point.

See http://nautacapital.com for more

For interview requests and further information:

Mark O’Toole

Beachhut PR

mark@beachhutpr.com

+353877782513

By Niall O’Gorman Impulse Innovation & Startups at @MDLZ. Co-Founder @ChannelSight between Zurich and Dublin
#Disruptive #Digital #Innovation #Enterprise #Startups #Lego

Also by Niall O’Gorman