Thinking business with Maeve Liston

Maeve Liston is a director of enterprise and community engagement and a senior lecturer in STEM education at Mary Immaculate College, making her one of Limerick’s most influential people.
What are you most interested in?
I’m most interested in making a difference, developing a positive role in the socio-economic and cultural development of the city and region in which we all live, work, learn and play. I am passionate about promoting and inspiring creativity and innovation and empowering young people, teachers, parents and the general public, through a wide range of outreach activities in the area of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), entrepreneurship, culture and the arts, in collaboration with all education institutions, industries and fora across the region.
“The people that I admire the most are those inspirational people that give back and care about the place they grew up in and are from.”
What are your ambitions?
To engage and inspire people of all ages from all socio-economic backgrounds to embrace innovation and develop transferable skills needed across all life-situations and career paths. I will continue in this goal through continuously broadening our engagement with as many organisations, enterprise and industry in the region, inspiring and fostering a culture of engagement, creativity, innovation, adaptive leadership and enterprise among people with a diverse range of life-experiences.
What drives you?
I only commit to projects and initiatives I truly believe in and that align with our mission at MIC focusing on ‘Community Belonging’ i.e. ensuring inclusion, access and equity. If I set my mind on something and I am truly committed to the cause, this drives me to ensure we make an impact on the lives of people in Limerick and the region.  
“We are encouraging people to explore and connect with Limerick, physically, mentally and emotionally.”
Who do you admire in business? 
There are so many

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/thinking-business-maeve-liston/ on thinkbusiness

The Foods of Athenry – what a story

Galway-based bakery Foods of Athenry was started in a converted shed on a farm when the dairy farming became unsustainable. Despite some serious ‘teething’ problems, the business is now one of the leading gluten-free food producers in the West.

Starting
It was a mix of necessity and opportunity. Paul was a dairy farmer and farming was difficult at the time so something had to be done to supplement the farm income, and so a small bakery business was born. Very quickly the opportunity for the bakery business outweighed the potential for the future of dairying for us. After a few years, the cows were sold and the bakery then moved into the empty milking parlour – where it remains today.
Any big breaks? 
There was no ‘big break’ for Foods of Athenry – more a series of smaller opportunities that were presented, and then combined with hard work and tenacity led to steady and sustained growth. 
“I regret not knowing more at the initial stages and having better knowledge to allow us to progress less painfully and without so many mistakes.”

Regrets? 
I regret not knowing more at the initial stages and having better knowledge to allow us to progress less painfully and without so many mistakes. We branded and grew the brand organically, reinventing a few times as we learned more, but it was an exhausting process. But I am thankful for the mistakes as they made us better people. I regret the bakery burning down in 2011, that was a difficult and painful time, both personally and from a business point of view. But even that has made us more thankful for what we have achieved since.
“Do a gap analysis – check what is out there in your chosen category; do cost comparisons and formulate a rock solid USP.”

Any tips for food business starters? 
Learn as much as you can

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/the-foods-of-athenry/ on thinkbusiness

Thinking business with Dylan Commons

Dylan Commons is an entrepreneur who believes Galway is the best place to start a business in Ireland. He also thinks startups need to focus on sales, not just raising funds.
What’s your current role?
I founded Happi Digital with my business partner Rob, in June 2017. Since then it’s been hands-on, learning the different processes and making the business operate in a seamless and efficient manner. We are involved in all elements of business, from business development to video marketing, website design and helping clients reach and communicate better with their customers online.
What are you most interested in?
I am most interested in growing businesses, self-learning and meeting like-minded people. I have been obsessed with the business since I was in my teens, starting my first business in the first-year of college, which was a gym clothing company called Gym-Cross where I imported clothing from Pakistan with our brand and sold it through a website. Happi Digital is my third business.
“Being in a 9–5 job, working towards somebody else’s goal just isn’t for me.”
What are your ambitions?
On a micro level, my business partner and I are focused on providing a superior business to business service within the digital marketing space.
On a macro level, my ambition is to build multinational businesses, with the aim of accruing a significant amount of wealth. The objective is to give the majority of my wealth to charities focused on providing opportunities to people in the developing world. The times I have felt the most fulfilment is when I am giving back.
“If I am feeling down in the dumps, I just remind myself of how lucky I am to have been born in the developed world.”
What drives you?
The love for what I am doing and the fact that I take responsibility for the daily decisions that have to

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/dylan-commons-starting-business-galway/ on thinkbusiness

‘I wanted to test myself in a startup’

Having worked for the likes of Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank, Hewlett Packard, and Accenture, Kevin Deasy struck out on his own. Here he talks about self-belief, delegating, and inspirations.
Why I started
If I am honest, I felt I had developed a static mindset and thought I had achieved what I could accomplish in the corporate sphere. I wanted to break out and test myself in a startup and see how it went. It was difficult to do, but I went for it and helped a tech startup from 2015-2016 to develop, launch and commercialise an app for mobile compliance. This led to my startup, Accounting Pro, a service aimed at contractors, startups and SMEs.
Finding the gap
There is a gap in the market for a service like this aimed directly at contract workers and startups.
The best thing so far?
We have built steadily and put together a great team. We have grown steadily throughout 2017 and are on track to meet our targets. However, I think the best thing about the whole experience (so far) is satisfying the needs of our client base and receiving great reviews.
“There are a lot of people who will be cynical. I call them dream squashers.”
The toughest part?
You need to realise that not everything is within your control and if you grow (and grow relatively quickly) you will need to delegate. This can be difficult. Also, when you have a business, you strive for perfection. However, mistakes and problems happen, but you need to fix them quickly. Don’t dwell, take action.
Five years from now?
I would like to grow internationally.

If you started all over again is there anything you would do differently?
I wouldn’t do anything differently. I don’t look back. I am about the here and now and planning for the future.
Regarding advice for anyone starting out, I would

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/accounting-pro-for-startups/ on thinkbusiness

James Cluskey on pursuing a new career

James Cluskey is a former professional tennis player. Now he’s a recruitment specialist helping other athletes find jobs after sport. Here are his top tips for life in a new work environment.
Whether you’re a professional sportsperson retiring at the age of 30 and changing career, or an accountant looking to get into sales, the transition can be a daunting experience.
Here at Mason Alexander, I head up the sports desk. One component of my job is helping place elite athletes into thriving companies.
Mason Alexander is a leading Irish recruitment firm, delivering permanent, temporary and contract appointments across a range of dedicated functions and industries.
Apart from sport, Mason Alexander works across multiple areas including financials services, accounting, legal and sales and marketing. We have compiled an eight point plan for you on embarking on a career change:

Understand your motivations – We all go through ups and downs during our careers. Why do you want to change careers? Think about your motivations and if this is the right decision for you going forward.
Use your network – People love to give advice. Look at your own network and make contact with people currently working in the desired area. Arrange a call or coffee to understand the sector and day to day work involved, and gain a greater insight into the field you want to work in.
Online Research – The internet can be a useful tool for research. Review company websites and LinkedIn; see who works there, their backgrounds, how they got there and understand more about the business.
Go to events in that sector – Look for events relevant to the industry your looking to get into. Go to these events and talk to people from the sector and understand is this the career you want to move into.
Approach a market expert – Approach a

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/james-cluskey-on-pursuing-a-new-career/ on thinkbusiness

WorkJuggle offers flexibility to the workforce

WorkJuggle was founded by Ciara Garvan in 2016, and the company offers workers more flexibility in their life by working less days, short term contracts, or work from home options. She spoke with ThinkBusiness.
What did you do before you became an entrepreneur?
I have always worked for large organisations in very corporate environments. I started out in Symantec as a business analyst and studied for my MSc. in Applied Computing part-time at night. I joined Meteor on a contract basis but loved the place and ended up staying years. I took voluntary redundancy while I was on maternity leave with my third child.              
Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneur is a very big word. I would say that I always wanted to work for myself. I love managing my own schedule. So even though it is hectic, I am very happy getting up early in the morning and starting work while the kids are then sleeping.
When did you have the idea for WorkJuggle?
I have always been interested in the culture of work; why we do what we do. When I went back to work after a few years at home it really struck me how technology has moved on and the way people live their lives had really changed yet there was still the expectation of 9-5 in the workplace. I toyed around with the idea for a while and did lots of research. I started New Frontiers last summer and launched in September so it has definitely taken me a while. In my defense I like to mention I was still at home full time for all of this so it has been busy!

“For the employer the benefits are clear. A small-medium business can punch above their weight talent wise.”

 
What is WorkJuggle’s biggest achievement to date?
I think our

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/workjuggle-offers-flexibility-to-the-workforce/ on thinkbusiness

WorkJuggle – a flexible work specialist

WorkJuggle was founded by Ciara Garvan in 2016. The company specialises in flexible work placements, serving both employees and employers. 
What did you do before you became an entrepreneur?
I have always worked for large organisations in very corporate environments. I started out in Symantec as a business analyst and studied for my MSc. in Applied Computing part-time at night. I joined Meteor on a contract basis but loved the place and ended up staying years. I took voluntary redundancy while I was on maternity leave with my third child.    
“For the employer the benefits are clear. A small-medium business can punch above their weight talent wise.”
Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
‘Entrepreneur’ is a very big word. I would say that I always wanted to work for myself. I love managing my own schedule. So even though it is hectic, I am very happy getting up early in the morning and starting work while the kids are then sleeping.
When did you have the idea for WorkJuggle?
I have always been interested in the culture of work; why we do what we do. When I went back to work after a few years at home it really struck me how technology has moved on and the way people live their lives had really changed yet there was still the expectation of nine to five in the workplace. I toyed around with the idea for a while and did lots of research. I started New Frontiers last summer and launched in September so it has definitely taken me a while. In my defense, I like to mention I was still at home full time for all of this so it has been busy.
“For the employer the benefits are clear. A small-medium business can punch above their weight talent wise.”
What is WorkJuggle’s biggest achievement to

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/workjuggle-flexible-work-specialist/ on thinkbusiness

Startlab Galway goes deep in the west

Startlab Galway, one of Bank of Ireland’s exclusive startup incubators is looking to extend its’ reach deeper into the west and north-west of Ireland with the newly formed ‘startlab remote’.
Originally based in Galway, the programme runs over a six month period and helps fledgling tech startups to scale by providing complimentary facilities including desk space, high-speed Wi-Fi, conference rooms as well as one to one sessions with key coaches and mentors, introductions to investors and support from startlab staff.
Startlab remote will see the bank partner with the growing number of coworking spaces opening in the region such as the Spool Factor in Boyle, Roscommon, The Leeson Enterprise Centre in Mayo and The CoLab in Letterkenny, Donegal.
Successful applicants will benefit from the suite of supports the programme has to offer as well as desk space in their locality.
Graham Clarke, Startlab programme lead in Galway explains, “Our startlab remote programme came about from listening to our candidates. A move to Galway simply wasn’t on the cards for some of them so we needed to explore how we could still support them. For successful applicants startlab remote will run alongside the programme in Galway. They will have their desk space funded and will have access to everything the programme has to offer such as mentoring and our network. I would encourage any tech startup with global ambitions to apply”.
Startlab Galway and its remote initiative is one of a number of incubators run by BOI with a Fintech focused programme in Dublin and a startlab space in New York to help companies tackle the U.S market.
Applications are open until the 30th of November on www.startlabhq.com.
 
By Graham Clarke.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/startlab-galway-goes-deep-in-the-west/ on thinkbusiness

Thinking Business with Darren Kearney

Darren Kearney is a self-taught freelance web developer, who is also a leading figure in the gaming scene in Galway. 
Last year, while working as a web developer, Darren organised and ran several game jams under the Galway Game Jam name. 
This year he has been involved in running a monthly game development meet up called 1GAM Galway and recently ran the first 1GAM game jam. He’s currently experimenting with game development technologies and plans to start his own small business next year.
What would your typical day involve?
Make a plan. I immediately don’t follow it but get at least one thing done. Generally, a healthy breakfast, get stuck into some programming, then emails and social media and later something else, either music or drawing. The highlight of my week is counselling.
“I believe that there is a shift away from victimising and shutting down victims towards calling out bad behaviour in leadership and HR departments.”
What are you passionate about?
Technology, music and art.
What are your aims?
To make a small game development studio that’s a fun and inclusive place to work. To continue making events that are as open and inclusive as I can. I guess the ambition is to contribute as much as I can to make the games industry and tech industry less sexist and horrible.
What trends do you see emerging?
Women empowering other women, and louder voices calling for change. It’s been there a long time without change, unfortunately. But I believe that there is a shift away from victimising and shutting down victims towards calling out bad behaviour in leadership and HR departments. It can only be a good thing.
What would you like to see more of?
Games featuring difficult topics, and more writers taking advantage of the medium.
What are you driven by?
I’m not sure, maybe the challenge and sort of proving

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/thinking-business-darren-kearney/ on thinkbusiness

A craft and design conference not to be missed

 ThinkBusiness.ie spoke with Jeff Powers, head of making digital technology at London’s renowned Heatherwick Studio, who will be giving the keynote speech at the inaugural Make:Shift Ireland.
 
Make:Shift Ireland is a one-day conference exploring the future of making and the nature of disruptive innovation in the craft and design industry.
What are you most looking forward to at the conference?
I’m really interested in augmented reality and virtual reality. Fi Scott from Make Works will be there and I really love her work and it’s very important. I also look forward to seeing the other Irish designers. Click here to see the full schedule.
What impact do you perceive Brexit will have in the craft and design industry?
Working internationally will be more difficult (with Brexit) and therefore it makes it harder for the collaboration to happen. I think collaboration is the key element to the design industry. We have already seen some effects to our own small suppliers. You’re seeing costs rise, working with rapid processing fabricators and currency fluctuations for raw material supplies, etc.
Aside from Brexit what do you see as the biggest issues facing businesses in craft and design?
Technology is moving so quickly. Rapid growth fabrication is something we’re using all the time. I think we can become too enamoured by them, and forget some of the traditional methods and those traditional ways of making. There’s pressure on the design education in the UK, making sure there’s more young people entering the design field, more diversity.

“I think collaboration is the key element to the design industry.”

 
For those just starting out in the industry what is the most important thing to be aware of?
Everyone says do what you love, and that’s really important, but have a good understanding of the business model that you want to pursue, research areas of technology

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/a-craft-and-design-conference-not-to-be-missed/ on thinkbusiness