‘I built my business around something I love’

Brian Waring left the corporate world to create Craft Editions, a platform that sells ‘beautiful things made by hand’. This is his journey so far. 
What was your journey – how and why did you set up Craft Editions?
After 25 years working at a senior level for companies including Virgin and Starbucks I was looking for a new challenge. I have always had a passion for crafts and beautiful things made by hand. On a trip to South Africa in 2015, I decided to launch Craft Editions and build a business around something that I love. 
You have a section called ‘Featured Makers’. This is a nice blend of content and commerce, is this the way you see the development of the platform?
Yes absolutely. A fundamental part of Craft Editions is to tell the story behind the makers of the pieces that we will sell. I think in an era of mass production people increasingly want to find and acquire beautiful things that are individual and to understand the story behind the person who made it and how it is made. 

How do you ‘source’ the craftspeople and their wares?
Over the last year, I have travelled throughout Ireland, the UK and South Africa meeting talented makers and visiting craft exhibitions. I have immersed myself in the world of craft. I have met many wonderful people and have shared many of these stories via the Craft Editions website. For our Curated Editions, I choose a selection of craftspeople whom I have met and whose work I love, and I collaborate with them to create beautiful works for people to collect.
What’s your ambition for the platform?
My ambition is to grow Craft Editions organically to a size that feels manageable. I want a business that stays true to the personal connection with each of the makers.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/brian-warring-craft-editions/ on
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After graduation do you want a job or to start a business?

The exams are finished, assignments are handed in, you’ve completed your degree, but what next? Hannah Kelly, from gradireland.com, looks at your career options.
A degree in most disciplines leaves a lot of doors open to you in a variety of different sectors. No matter what area of employment you’re interested in, there is a lot of scope on your horizon, but, deciding what to do once you can be overwhelming. Knowing what your options are and what will suit you best is vital, including the advantages and disadvantages of each choice. 

Starting your own business
Entrepreneurship is a very rewarding, if challenging, road for any graduate. If you have a well thought out idea for a business, and a great business plan, you can draw on skills you have from your business and marketing degree to build a presence online with potential customers. 
Networking is also essential when you’re planning to get your idea off the ground. Think back to any people you have met during your time in university that may be able to help you. 
“Successful home-grown startups are crucial for Ireland’s sustained economic growth, and increasingly they are seen as a viable career path for business and marketing graduates, many of whom have gone on to successfully create and manage their companies,” says Dr Michael Gannon, senior lecturer in marketing at DCU.
Positives
●    You’ll learn a lot fast, and you will likely be doing something you like.
●    You can draw on resources and supports and use your network to help you grow the business.
Negatives
•    Long hours, lots of pressure and inconsistent pay are regular challenges for anyone starting a business. 
•    Financing is the biggest challenge for businesses at the start-up stage in particular. Do you have what it takes?
TAKE THE TEST: Do you have what it takes to

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/graduate-jobs-startups-ireland/ on thinkbusiness

Sprucing up an old business sector

Conor Wilson and Pat McKenna aim to transform the laundry business. Sproose connects dry cleaning and laundry businesses to new customers and takes a cut of each transaction. It’s laundry on-demand. 
There is an assumption that when starting a new business or coming up with a fresh idea, it must be unique to the market, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.
Sometimes, taking on a traditional sector and adding a modern twist can be a solution. It’s what Conor Wilson (above) and Pat McKenna did when they came up with the idea for Sproose.
Launched in May 2015, Sproose is an on-demand laundry and dry cleaning service. “We were solving the pain of laundry-day, a nightmare experienced by almost every human on Earth,” says Wilson. 
“Sproose is funded by Enterprise Ireland and is currently in the High Potential Startup Program.”
Conor and Pat originally pitched the idea for their laundry app on RTÉ’s Dragons Den. When the show aired, Sproose received enormous attention from both the public and businesses within the dry cleaning and laundry industry.
“We had so many hits on the site that it crashed and we spent the next two days getting it back up and running. Interestingly, in that time we were contacted by some traditional laundry and dry cleaners. These local businesses faced a problem – they were unable to adapt to the changing consumer demands,” says Wilson. “This changed our thinking about what we could offer.”
Sproose connects dry cleaning and laundry businesses to new customers and takes a cut of each transaction. It’s laundry on-demand. 
Sproose is funded by Enterprise Ireland and is currently in the High Potential Startup Program (HPSU). “This makes us eligible for match funding on our planned investment round later this year and [with this funding] we plan to expand our reach across Ireland, the

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/sproose-laundry-app/ on thinkbusiness

Translating your website to other languages

If your product or service is export focused, it will help if your site ‘translates’ into the languages of the countries you are targeting. Damian Scattergood, MD of STAR Translation Services, gives his advice on proper translation practices. 

If you’re new to translation, it can be a bit daunting the first time around. Where do you start in finding translators and what are the pitfalls?
TIP ONE: Include translation plans at design stage
You should think about translation from day one. Whether it’s a service, software product or website you are creating – include translation as part of the design discussion. 
Before you engage your English web design agency; think about questions to ask them. Here are a couple of design questions to get you started. 
•    Will the new site enable for translation? 
•    What process do you use?
•    If they use plugins – can this plugin work in Japanese?
•    Will we have a single website in five languages or five sites in different languages? What strategy will you take?
•    Did you know German can be 30% longer than English text? So will we have plenty of whitespace in our design, brochures, layouts? How will our brochure or website look when the text gets longer.
Remember, it’s expensive to make changes after the design phase and when the site is live. A good translation company will ask questions about your products and translation during translation. 
TIP TWO: Protect your brand
When you choose a translation agency to work with you are placing your brand in their hands.
Pick the right company for you – one that fits your culture, style and quality. Remember this is a partnership – so you will need to invest time with them.
Cost is not the only factor in translation. You’re effectively giving the translation agency your brand to manage

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/translate-website/ on
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Supper Club – a new network for female entrepreneurs

Dell EMC and GirlCrew have joined forces to launch a new network for female entrepreneurs called ‘Supper Club’.

The Supper Club idea is simple –  to build a network of female entrepreneurs.

At Supper Club, female entrepreneurs can meet to exchange advice and share ideas and strategies for success. 

Dell EMC also runs the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN), an annual gathering of entrepreneurs to address the challenges faced by women when starting and growing a business. 

“We have received feedback from women entrepreneurs around the world – consistently they highlight the value of fostering a network of female entrepreneurs,” says Aisling Keegan, vice president and general manager for Dell EMC Ireland.

Supper Club’s first meeting will take in Dublin on June 21, and more information about the initiative can be found via Dell EMC’s social media channels as well as through GirlCrew. 

Founded by Elva Carri, Pamela Newenham and Aine Mulloy, GirlCrew has more than 80,000 members across 46 cities worldwide.
Pictured above are: Aisling Keegan, vice president and general manager for Dell EMC Ireland; Louisamay Hanrahan, co-founder of dating app Luvguru; Louise Dunne, co-founder of beauty app Glissed; and Pamela Newenham, co-founder of GirlCrew.

MORE INFO: Inspirational Irish business women.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/dell-girlcrew-supper-club/ on
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The gift of foresight

Sophia McHugh is the co-founder of oodlique.com, an online personalised gifts marketplace. This is her experience of setting up a fast growing eCommerce platform. 

Our background is in eCommerce and web design. However, the idea for oodlique.com came from our previous business which was an online marketplace for independent retailers.  
Running the last business for two years, Brendan and I discovered that the majority of our sales and web search queries were for one particular area – personalised gifts. We saw an opportunity. 
After months of research, we discovered two major pain points for gift makers and gift buyers. 
The gift makers couldn’t afford to launch eCommerce platforms, and the gift buyers couldn’t find what they wanted. 
70% of the people we interviewed said they found it extremely time-consuming and frustrating to find a really “unique personalised gift” online. 
We launched oodlique.com in October 2016 to meet these needs. 
“Building a full-fledged platform from scratch without knowing your customer can be a real waste of money and time.”
If someone is interested in eCommerce, is there any advice you’d give? 
Our advice to anyone considering building an eCommerce platform would be to get an MVP (minimal viable product) up and running as soon as possible.
Even if you don’t have all the bells and whistles, it’s important to see if there is an appetite for your business model and see how users interact with the platform. 
Once you have gathered data over a few months, you will then have a much better view of your customers and improve the website to meet their needs. 
“We are excited to be receiving such traction with a month-on-month growth rate of 100%.”
Your growth rate is impressive, what marketing do you employ?
The key to our growth rate is by focusing on a niche area such as “unique personalised gifts”. 
If you have to market everything for everyone,

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/oodlique-gifts-online/ on
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Nine of Ireland’s best-kept tourism ‘secrets’

The Guinness Storehouse and the Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s top two tourist destinations. However, our island has many hidden gems. What’s your favourite? Here are nine of ours. 

The tourism and hospitality industry employs an estimated 220,000 people and generates an estimated €5.7 billion in revenue a year. 

Following the release of Fáilte Ireland’s annual list of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland, ThinkBusiness looks briefly at some of the lesser-known, but magical tourist spots the Emerald Isle has to offer. What’s your favourite? Let us know on our Facebook page.

torc waterfall

Torc Waterfall, Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry

Located five miles from the centre of Killarney, this 60 ft. tall waterfall is a must-see for anyone touring the south-east coast of Ireland. The water falls from the Torc Mountains via a river known as the Devil’s Punch Bowl. The site also offers a two-hour walk for visitors, which includes a 220 step climb looping around the waterfall and back towards the car park.

The Rock of Dunamase, Co. Laois (main image)

Standing at over 45 metres in height, this ancient bedrock overshadows the surrounding countryside. Part of the reason why this site goes unmentioned in the official high-profile tourism reports is that there is no visitor’s centre. Nor does it offer any tours. The area is also a popular place for film crews when shooting in Ireland. The age of the rock remains disputed, but it’s believed to date back to 845 AD.

Ardgillan castle

Ardgillan Castle, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin

Situated along North Dublin’s elevated coastline, Ardgillan Castle is one of the most breathtaking landmarks on this island. The park consists of almost 200 acres of woodland and gardens which overlook the Mourne Mountains to the north, and Lambay Island to the south. The castle grounds are a sanctuary for many species of animals, mammals and birds.

St Michan’s Church, Co. Dublin

Located in the heart of Dublin city centre, this church holds claims to nearly 1,000 years of Christian history. The church is known for its famous vaults which contain many mummified remains. The walls in the vaults contain limestone, which has kept the air dry, creating ideal conditions for preservation. It’s a very spooky place, and one of the hidden gems of Dublin. 

blacksod lighthouse

Blacksod Lighthouse, Belmullet, Co. Mayo

This historic lighthouse played a key role at the end of World War II when in 1944, a weather forecast from the lighthouse keeper was received by General Dwight Eisenhower. It led to one of the biggest military operations in world history. D-Day was scheduled to take place, but when Eisenhower heard about the bad weather forecast from Blacksod lighthouse, he decided to delay the invasion by one day and saved it from ultimate failure. Blacksod is one of the most western points along the Wild Atlantic Way. 

marble arch caves fermanagh

The Marble Arch Caves, Co. Fermanagh

The Marble Arch Caves are a series of natural limestone caves, formed thousands of years ago by a cave river, eroding and dissolving millions of tonnes of limestone, to carve and shape the majestic passages. Visitors can experience a fascinating natural underworld of rivers, waterfalls, winding passages and lofty chambers.

Valentia Island, Co. Kerry

There is a campaign to make Valentia Island – and the station where, in 1866, the first trans-Atlantic communications took place – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can read more here. 

corlea bog road longford

The Corlea Trackway, Co. Longford

The Corlea Trackway is an Iron Age bog road dated to the year 148 BC which crosses the bog lands close to the Shannon, near the village of Kenagh in Co. Longford. According to the experts who excavated the ancient road, it would have been built to allow the movement of wheeled vehicles. An exhibition centre exploring the unique nature of the Corlea Bog area was opened in 1994. It’s a must visit when exploring the midlands. Read more – there’s also a fascinating mythology behind the road.

martello tower

The James Joyce Martello Tower, Sandycove, Co. Dublin

Located eight miles from Dublin city centre, The James Joyce Tower – like many other Martello Towers – was built to withstand an invasion by Napoleon. It now holds a museum dedicated to the life and works of James Joyce, who made the tower the setting for the first chapter of his classic, Ulysses. Sandycove is also home to the famous 40-foot swimming area and close to the beautiful tourism hotspots of Dalkey and Vico Road. 

The ‘official’ top 20s

Here’s the list of the top attractions in Ireland for 2016, as compiled by data from Fáilte Ireland.  

TOP 20 FEE-PAYING VISITOR ATTRACTIONS

  •    Guinness Storehouse; Dublin; 1,647,408
  •    Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, Clare; 1,427,166
  •    Dublin Zoo; 1,143,908
  •    National Aquatic Centre, Dublin; 1,037,992
  •    Book of Kells, Dublin; 890,781
  •    Tayto Park, Meath; 762,000
  •    St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin; 563,000
  •    Castletown House & Parklands, Kildare; 547,324
  •    Powerscourt House & Gardens, Wicklow; 467,507
  •    Fota Wildlife Park, Cork; 465,281
  •    Kylemore Abbey & Garden, Galway; 458,000
  •    Blarney Castle, Cork; 420,000
  •    Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin; 390,970
  •    Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny; 384,918
  •    Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, Clare; 352,286
  •    Rock of Cashel, Tipperary; 338,830
  •    Emo Court  House & Gardens, Laois; 293,056
  •    Old Jameson Distillery, Dublin; 269,000
  •    Dublin Castle, Dublin; 253,786
  •    Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin; 229,085

TOP 20 ‘FREE’ VISITOR ATTRACTIONS

  •    The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin; 755,577
  •    Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; 584,856
  •    National Botanic Gardens, Dublin; 583,539
  •    Doneraile Wildlife Park, Cork; 480,000
  •    National Museum of Ireland, Kildare St, Dublin; 479,261
  •    Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin; 413,900
  •    National Museum, Collins’ Barracks, Dublin; 411,391
  •    Farmleigh, Dublin; 383,335
  •    Newbridge Silverware Museum, Kildare; 350,000
  •    National Museum – Natural History, Dublin; 317,269
  •    Galway City Museum; Galway; 213,390
  •    Connemara National Park, Galway; 210,812
  •    The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin; 193,229
  •    Crawford Art Gallery, Cork; 178,302
  •    Sliabh Liag Cliffs, Donegal; 177,333
  •    Malin Head Viewing Point, Donegal; 162,468
  •    Kilmacurragh Gardens, Wicklow; 156,045
  •    National Museum of Country Life, Mayo; 107,855
  •    Grianan of Aileach, Donegal; 104,398
  •    Gallery of Photography, Dublin; 80,000

READ MORE: Here’s how to export your products and services to the world.

Article by Stephen Larkin.

Images from ShutterStock and Ancient Ireland.
This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/irish-tourism-secrets/ on
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Plynk raises €25 million to make it easier to share money

ThinkBusiness talks to Charles Dowd, co-founder of Plynk about bootstrapping and belief.

Plynk co-founders

Speaking to ThinkBusiness, Charles Dowd (left), a former product manager at Facebook, and now co-founder of Plynk is in a good mood.

His new business Plynk has just announced a €25m Series A investment led by private investment trust, Swiss Privée Ltd.

Headquartered in Dublin, Plynk, the money-messaging app was co-founded by Dowd and Clive Foley (right). The solution was clear – to remove the complexities of money transfers, making it simple, fast and free for young people to send money phone-to-phone. 

“The idea was simple, and our ambition was evident from the start,” says Dowd. “We wanted to be a pan-European money messaging app, but more than that we want to be a social network based on money. We make money more shareable, just like content is shared between friends across mobile. We had belief in our idea and we needed to validate it in Dublin, so we launched it in Trinity (TCD).”

Having spent over four years working on the product side of things at Facebook, Dowd says the idea for Plynk came from observations he made while working for the world’s largest social network.

“People tend to take money very seriously. Recent research suggests that 42% of people in Europe have lost a friend over a small personal debt. The problem is mainly felt by millennials,” says Dowd.

“Young people want immediate solutions. They are not going to invoice someone if they are owed money.”

Linked to users’ social networks, Plynk users can send money as a message to a single contact or in-group chats instantly and with no fees. Once an account is created, users receive a payment account with a dedicated IBAN and virtual Mastercard for online payments.

Dublin is where it’s at

Plynk started in Dublin in 2015.

“We bootstrapped this from the get go,” says Dowd. “We just walked into the Bank of Ireland Workbench in Grand Canal Square and got to work. When the Innovation team at the bank saw what we were doing, they rolled in behind us and supported us. I think they could see we were serious and had a product that had significant potential.”

The next markets for Plynk are Spain and Portugal. 

“I worked in Portugal, and we know Spain and both are very mobile and social markets with large, young populations that are quick to adapt to new, useful technologies. Our target market is 18-24-year-olds, and our strategy is to launch Plynk in University campuses.”

Will Plynk stay headquartered in Dublin? 

“Yes, no doubt,” says Dowd. “Dublin is where it’s at regarding finding the right talent to expand. The people are here. The business culture is real. It’s the perfect launchpad to Europe. We will open up other offices in Europe but our HQ will stay in Ireland.”

Plynk is available on Android and iOS

READ MORE: What’s it like to start a business in Ireland?

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/plynk-25-million-reasons-why/ on
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Balancing work and parenting during the holidays

Top tips for working parents. How to get the work-life balance right during the summer break. 
The days are getting longer, and the schools will soon be closing for the summer holidays. Your kids are getting excited about the long, lazy days ahead. But you find yourself getting increasingly anxious. How will you keep your kids busy all summer while running a business? Where will you find extra childcare? How much will it all cost? 
School holidays can present business owners with a headache. But with a little planning and focus, you can stay productive. With some creativity, you can find solutions to fit your schedule and your budget. Here are some tips to help you get organised. 

Plan your child care 
Now is the time to start planning the summer months. Probably your biggest challenge is finding a minder for your kids during the regular school hours. Your existing minder may be able to increase their hours, or a family member may step in. But if not you will need to find some new solutions. 
You can start by talking to other working parents. What arrangements have they made? What child-minding solutions are available locally that you may not be aware of?
Think creatively about other solutions. Do you know any teenagers who would cover a few hours a day for a small fee?  Do you have a niece or nephew living abroad who would like to visit and look after their cousins? Is there a local language school? Investigate if you can host students in exchange for some child minding. If you have an extra room in your house, maybe a short-term au pair would solve the problem?
Find activities
Start booking camps and other activities early to avail of discounts. To find options suitable for your kids’ ages, ask parents with children a year or

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/balancing-work-and-parenting-during-the-holidays/ on
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Dr. Naomi Mackle on building Adare Clinic

A one minute interview with Dr. Naomi Mackle, MD of the Adare Clinic. 
How did the company get its name?
Our first clinic is based in Adare, Co. Limerick, hence the name ‘The Adare Clinic’. 
How long have you been in business?
For just over six years.
Did you receive any supports when starting your business?
None, we got no support from any state agency. A small bank overdraft saw us through our first year in business.
What factors helped you grow?
The company grew organically over the last five years. With the opening of a clinic in Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin, we were able to find a niche market for dermatology in the Dublin region. Waiting lists in hospitals have helped us a lot as our SLA for appointments at the clinic is three weeks.  
What are your expansion plans? 
We are planning to relocate to a 4,000 sq. ft. premises in Dublin with the introduction of a further two treatment rooms. We are also hiring Dermatologists.
“There are little or no reliefs for the self-employed, and it is very tough for people to navigate through the first few years in business.”
What are your unique selling points? 
Personal service. We are good at this, and we have the highest of standards when dealing with people at out clinics. Even the basics like offering a tea or coffee or having the latest magazines and newspapers, make a huge difference.  
We have made significant investments in technology and provide the most recent laser treatments and mole mapping. 
Our people are very personable, making clients feel at ease when visiting our clinics.  
Are there any magazines, blogs, newsletters or brands on social media you read religiously?
Not really, social media is a bit alien to me. I leave this to others in the office. While I have Facebook accounts, I never access them and to be honest;

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/dr-naomi-mackle/ on
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