Friday, October 9, 2015

Startup Ireland: Day 4 - Limerick

Limerick was day 4 of our 5 city journey across Ireland. Like every other city the morning began with an organized forum of speakers and panelists. I enjoyed learning from all kinds of organizations that have resources for startups. Hearing the trials and triumphs of experienced entrepreneurs was very interesting.

Photo credit: Rachel Kelly
There were lots of quotes throughout the morning that made me think, but this one especially stuck with me. "It takes a community to raise a child. Equally it takes a community to raise a successful startup and a country to raise a successful scaleup."

Part of the morning session included a breakout exercise where attendees divided into 6 groups. These teams brainstormed ideas related to networking, state, education, environment, skills and culture that would help improve the "startup ecosystem" in their region. It was fascinating to float around and hear their innovative solutions.

Breakout sessions in Limerick.
Each city had a city coordinator that handled a lot of the event planning in the region and leveraged their local network to make their big day a success. Gillian Barry was the city coordinator in Limerick, and one of my personal favorites. She was energetic, very engaging and communicated her passion for the startup movement well. Many of the speakers throughout the week were men, so it was fun to see a woman in such an important leadership position.

City coordinator, Gillian Barry and Startup Gathering CEO, Eoin Costello on stage in Limerick. Photo credit: Paul Condron
Just like all the other cities, several experienced entrepreneurs shared the lessons they learned the hard way. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from them:

"My advice, hire slowly, fire quickly." - Adrian Fleming
"I quickly learned, 'If you want it. Do it."
"If you're out there doing everything for your customers, more opportunities will come." - Shane McCarthy
"It is all about teams. It is about picking someone different than you that has complementary skills." - Kevin Sherry
"Every company starts with the first employee. You can't export from day 1. Establish and prove a customer wants it." - Kevin Sherry

Entrepreneur panel in Limerick. Photo credit: Paul Condron 
In every city, there was also an evening reception where the mayor, city coordinator, the Startup Gathering CEO, and a keynote entrepreneur spoke. In Limerick, the keynote speech from Jimmy Martin, CEO of AMCS Resource Technology really grabbed my attention. My phone was dead by that point in the day, but here are a few of his key points I scribbled in a notebook as he spoke.

"I learned the importance of sales at a very young age. My father was a farmer and a big part of farming is business."
"You have to understand your product and market quite quickly."
"Focus. Focus. Focus. I couldn't tell you focus enough."
"Understand your customer. That's key."
"A lot of companies make the mistake of not knowing how to sell."
"Don't waste your time. It's valuable."
"One advantage startups have over the big companies is they are nimble."
"Don't be afraid to fail."
"If you're not the sales person, find one fast."

I hope you're as inspired by the knowledge and advice the speakers shared in Limerick as I have been. Thanks for reading!

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