Archive for the ‘business’ Category

Ones to watch in 2012

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Here’s the ones to watch in 2011 list. Not bad a list, right?

The usual excuse I’m using in recent years gets another outing. i just don’t have the time to meet as many people and read and keep up with what people are doing. So this list is, like others before it, one done with a very blinkered take as only what I see, can I view.

Des Traynor
Des of Contrast and has over the space of the past few years gone from the amazing user interface expert everyone was advised to talk to, to the guy that shares so much about building amazing web products. Des has a quiet confidence when sharing knowledge that’s sustained through the years and has now turned into wisdom, something that only time can do. Given the rapid appreciation of by people, it’s only a matter of time before investing in Des will give you a nice return on that investment.

Martha Rotter and Stewart Curry
Martha and Stewart are working on Idea magazine at the moment and I expect 2012 to see them fleshing their work on this out to more places. The idea of write only once, publishing to lots of places is ancient in terms of the web but the actualisation of this idea isn’t properly happening yet. Hopefully their collaborations on this will bring this more to life in 2012. Martha also featured before.

Dylan Collins
I know Dylan Collins a few years at this stage and he’s someone I respect and admire. Actually, a line like that is normally an excuse to initiate a personal attack on someone. When you talk to Dylan or just listen to him talk you realise that he has a way of viewing things that allows him to see patterns and movements in things that if he gets involved he can change and accentuate. A fascinating quality and one that has allowed him to have an obscenely successful track record. Dylan has been working with other companies in 2011 but for someone with his personality structure he’ll need to be working on his own projects in 2012.

Enda Crowley
I know Enda since he was a kid. So that’s like 3 months or something. 🙂 Enda has wanted to be in a start-up for a long while like so many others but changing colleges, working with some gifted people and persistance might see 2012 being a good year for him and his very bright co-workers. There are plenty of people circling around young programmers hoping they can feed off them but if they keep their heads down, don’t resort to doing press to talk about how awesome they are and release a product, there’s great potential. Then they can do the celebrity young tech startup media circuit…

Willie White
I know Willie White via Project Arts. You need to sit down and have a cigarette after talking to Willie. Multi-layered, full deep conversations are the norm. A whole history of art and creativity in each sentence. With Alexia and Willie, we worked on the Dublin Tweasure Hunt which was a nice bit of fun. Willie is now the big kahuna burger for the Dublin Threatre Festival so I expect he’ll have even more people to reply to my emails with “As per the court order Mr. Mulley”. If the work he and his crew did to help new artists is anything to go by then the 2012 Theatre festival will be great. More tech involvement Willie!

Adrian Weckler
Adrian is now Digital Editor/Assistant Editor in the Sunday Business Post and piloted the new website, paywall and lots of digital conversion work in the past few months for the Business Post. The Sunday Business Post may well be the first Sunday to go digital-only if the rumours are to be believed. Adrian is going to be the head man for this change given he’s Mr. Internet in there. Maybe this is why he’s rocking a rockstar haircut these days? 🙂

Gina Bowes
I first met Gina via her work in eircom in the social media team there. In a world of corporate bullshit it was refreshing to hear someone directly call something bullshit and lots of other reality based words. Gina is already a star, a clever and hard worker who has moved on now to help other brands in the area of social media. 2012 should definitely be her year and let’s see what she can blow up/change.

David Scanlon
I could link to all the posts that show I’m not a fan of Enterprise Ireland but I’m sure we’re all sick of that bleating. EI has changed quite a bit in the past few years from the way they communicate to the way they are changing to what marketplaces want. The change from middleware or bust to cloud and games was in fact a screeching lurch more than a glacial pace but changes finally happened and lots of changes are still to come. EI are now actually a model for semi-state usage of social media and even they can whack their client companies on the head as they are walking the walk. One of the people in there doing this is David Scanlon and David and his colleagues are bringing people together, external and internal people and showing the positive outcomes of using online media. 2011 has been a year where EI got deserved attention for their work and i would think the efforts in 2011 will pay off even more in 2012.

Fund It – Self funding for the arts, lessons learned (Part 3)

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

This is the third interview with people who have run Fund It campaigns. Fiona Kearney ran the Mixtapes Fund It. Previous interviews: Philly McMahon, Ebby Brett.

Mixtapes Fundit

You’ve used Fund It for Mixtapes, why use the Fund It route?

1. Curiosity about trying a new way of fundraising (was aware of Kickstarter in US)
2. opportunity to reach new audiences
3. Create ownership of project among a large set of investors

What would Fund It allow you to do that you couldn’t do previously?

Good to be part of bigger cultural fundraising framework. Enabled migration of investors across artforms Greater impact possible as part of wider online and print media conversation

Is there much work involved in running a Fund It drive?

Treated it as part of our social media conversation so kept it informal and hopefully informative. Didn’t overload the updates as I got a bit frustrated with overly keen fundraisers constantly in my inbox.

Had fantastic advice from FundIt administrators on how to pitch campaign – they helped us to make it more punchy and appealing to general audience.

Had investors lined up from family and friends at start of campaign to ensure initial investment. Sought support from board throughout. That was pretty much the plan.

What were the main lessons learned from using Fund It, would you have advice for those thinking of using Fund It themselves for the first time?

Our project was a genuine make or break. No funding, no book. Not sure if that is case for all the FundIt projects – some seem to seek funding for things that would happen anyway. I think the new creative projects are more compelling.

Any other thoughts on Fund It you’d like to share?

I’ve been really pleased to see projects I’ve funded succeed and particularly appreciate those that follow up with rewards well. I think it is a great way to give people a taste of the delights of philanthropic giving and the possibility of creating an impact with quite modest sums.

I think I could see myself giving people gifts from Fund It – that’s perhaps something that could be developed by the admins of the site

Fund It – Self funding for the arts, lessons learned (Part 2)

Monday, November 21st, 2011

This is the second interview with people who have run Fund It campaigns. Ebby Brett is working on his Wires project right now. Previous interview: Philly McMahon.

Ebby Brett Wires - Fund It

You’ve used Fund It for Wires, why use the Fund It route? What would you have done previous to using Fund It?

Previously, I’d been involved in the recording of an independently released EP, and a lot of home studio recording, but when it came to starting to decide to record my own record I knew I would need to use a studio. Honestly, I’m pretty crap at recording myself, and I wanted to be sure that if I was going to sell something that it was going to be a decent quality recording. Any of the home recording I had done just wasn’t giving me something I was happy with. Over the years I’ve spent a fair bit of money putting together a decent home studio set up, and in the end I just had to admit that the problem wasn’t the gear, but rather that I just didn’t have that talent for recording myself. I can’t split my brain in two and think like an engineer as I’m trying to also be a musician recording a track.

The costs of recording a full record in the studio are pretty high for a self employed music teacher, so I’d already been looking at sites such as Kickstarter, who were facilitating some very successful crowdfunding campaigns. I knew that roughly half the projects on that site manage to cross their target, so I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy one.

My plan from the outset was to try and cover half the costs myself, and half the costs some other way. I’d already been investigating various crowdfunding options when I heard Fund:it was being launched, which grabbed my interest immediately as it is aimed at projects based in Ireland. I had a few days of studio time behind me and a good sense of how quickly I worked, so I was able to work out a pretty accurate budget.

The appeal of a crowdfunding project to me, was the fact that you weren’t simply just pre-selling the album for a set fee, or going into debt hoping sales will pull you back out, but more that you were giving people a way to feel that they were involved in the creation of the album in some way, as opposed to just being customers or fans. I’ll have to look up the link, but one soundbite that stuck in my head from someone at Kickstarter was about how people were getting more out of feeling involved in the creation of the project than just the outcome itself.

I waited a while before submitting a proposal to Fund:it, and I took the time to look at other projects from all sections of the site. I played things rather cautiously, and reworked my proposal a few times, and ran it by other people before submitting.

Is there much work involved in running a Fund It drive? Setting up seems ok. There seems to be a lot of work in doing frequent updates/reminders about a campaign, did you have a plan of action for this?

Setting up is ok, that’s true, and in many ways, that is the easy part. But you also can’t change the wording of anything after it is submitted, so you really need to be sure that what you’re submitting will read well, look well, and represent your project well. I had some great feedback from some friends, and then after submitting the project, it was sent back to me twice with further suggestions and helpfully pointing out some things I had overlooked. That was brilliant feedback to get. It was straight to the point, completely focused, and spot on.

But, you are right, after then, there is the constant promotion of the project, and trying to get people to hear about it. The folk at Fund:it were very keen to make note when the project was submitted and going to finally be live on the site, that you really had to work to get it across the line. You couldn’t just throw a project up there and expect it to succeed. I had another level of that myself already, as I knew I was an unknown newbie Irish singer-songwriter trying to get money to record an album. It’s not an easy sell.

I had a very rough plan of action for how to promote it: daily status updates on Twitter & Facebook at different times. Blog posts in more depth, cross-posted to LiveJournal. Forums and other online communities I’m already a member of. However, I was constantly looking at how I could be promoting it better, how I could word things better, how to reach specific groups of people and so on. In short, I was trying to make sure everyone I interacted with online over the last decade and a half had an opportunity to find out about the project.

I was posting a link at least once a day on my twitter, personal facebook account, and music page on facebook. I was also keen to vary up what I was posting in these links, alternating linking to the project directly with a link to the list of people who had already pledged to the campaign. I varied what times of day I was posting the links, as everyone has different online reading habits. As it happens, my funders stretch from Alaska to Sydney. I didn’t want to just post a link at lunchtime Irish time every day, for example, and just piss off the same people who check their twitter at lunchtime every day. It was the driving influence in how I updated those sites, and when – I took stock of what annoyed me the most as a reader, and avoided it.

I made missteps early on, and changed my mind about a few things – for example, I took inspiration from thisispopbaby who endeavoured to thank as many funders either on twitter or facebook as possible, which I thought was a wonderful personal touch. But I just didn’t handle it as well as they did, and ended up tagging people in thank you status updates on facebook which felt a bit spammy to me. But I just reworked what I was doing, and turned every update into a thank you of some kind instead. I was keen to not go down the “give me your money” route, or come across as begging in any way. So instead, I made the conscious choice to use any updates to thank people who had already become involved in the project, give an update on the positive amount pledged so far, and stay away from saying things from a negative or needy point of view as much as possible.

On top of those social networking updates, I was also running a few small facebook ad campaigns for the facebook music page, targeting specific groups of people based on music artists similar to my own style of music. I ran a few that were Ireland specific, and a few that were targeting other countries. I kept the budget really low, and was surprised by the reach of some of the campaigns. These were a bigger success than I imagined, and I saw a significant impact over the fortnight that I had them run. It also translated into pledges more than expected. Some facebook friends hadn’t known of my music page, and it was a way for them to find out about it, and that I was trying to record an album. Others were complete strangers who discovered my music, and saw the link to the fund:it campaign and ended up pledging almost right away.

What I think was key at that point was that I’d already done 5 days in the studio, I’d tracked the piano and vocals for about three quarters of the record, and I was able to edit together two lots of clips giving 30secs or so of the work on each track to date. People could hear the music, and hear how it was sounding in the studio, read that I needed funding to help finish off what they were listening to, and make the decision based on something more tangible than a project description or a short video.

From watching some of the other fund:it projects, and even afterwards again now, you can see that people are more likely to back a winning horse, as such. If they see a lot of people getting involved, or that a project is getting close to its target, they’re much more likely to throw a bit of cash at it too.

I also had my website, which cross-posts to my old livejournal account, and to my facebook page too, so I was trying to post updates on the fund:it campaign as well as other posts about the days in the studio prior to the campaign kicking off. (I should probably point out that I wasn’t in studio at all for the duration of the fund:it project, as I couldn’t allow myself to take full days off from promoting it.) I knew I had still a small audience of readers on livejournal, and people I’d interacted with back in the heyday of my posting on that site did get involved with the campaign and did pledge, much to my delight, to be honest. My aim with the blog posts was to give more of an insight into the work in the studio, and a more detailed update on the fund:it campaign.

The final places that I was targeting were forums that I was a member of. I didn’t use that much, as I’ve never really used those forums much, and I figured if I read posts from a member with under 30 posts in 5 years, who was looking for people to go give them money, I’d probably ignore it too. So, I just posted a thread in the musicians promo forum about my music, linking to the site and social links. But, I’ve been a member of a vibrant forum community for over a decade. There’s a thread there devoted to the musicians and musicmakers on the site, so I was updating that with what was going on with me, as well as simply linking in my sig to the fundit campaign. And the support from members on that forum was far more than I had anticipated, with members of that forum actively sharing the fund:it link on their facebook and twitter accounts, multiple times a week. That kind of support is unreal, as I’d see one of them would have already posted the link on facebook by the time I’d logged in to go and post it myself, for example, and that was really heartening.

On top of all that, I contacted a few people aiming to run a competition to randomly reward pledgers to the campaign at certain points. I was thrilled when the Galway Film Fleadh got back in touch and offered me tickets to give away, and wishing me luck with the campaign. That was wonderful – I had to sets of tickets to give away, and I was keen to reward the people who’d gotten involved early in the campaign, so gave away one set after two weeks, and the other set a week later – a whole week before the project was due to finish. I figured that way, even if I didn’t reach my target and the project failed, I was able to say thank you in a small way to some of the people who were pledging money in the very early stages.

I did also email music bloggers, and all of that stuff, but I knew I was an unknown running a similar project to a few much bigger names, and the chances of getting any coverage were going to be slim. I also sent messages directly to some friends who I knew were quite influential in their friend circles, to ask them in person if they wouldn’t mind helping me out with spreading the project around.

What were the main lessons learned from using Fund It, would you have advice for those thinking of using Fund It themselves for the first time?

You will always be surprised by where support comes from.

Reassess everything you’re doing to promote it. Every few days I was looking at what I was already doing, and what else I could do. Getting advice from friends, looking at what other projects were doing, reading up about musicians who were successfully promoting themselves online, and following their twitter feeds to see how they worked, and adapting that for my own personality.

Don’t just expect your fans, friends, family, or followers to just give you money because the fund:it project is running. One of my favourite twitter followers, who I’ve met IRL a few times, and interacted with a lot, didn’t even know about my fund:it campaign until the last few days. You can be promoting the hell out of something, but it can slip some people by, or get lost in the surge of updates on twitter or not be included in the “top news” feed on facebook. Just because you’ve posted it doesn’t mean anyone has read it. I emailed a friend about the project, but he was heading away on holidays, and even after he came back it took him two weeks to get through his email inbox and discover the project a day too late.

Have some other ideas to fall back on if your project doesn’t reach the target. Try to have something that gives a good idea of what the project is. I noticed a bigger interest after I had sample clips available that gave an idea of what the album was going to sound like.

Fund It – Self funding for the arts, lessons learned (Part 1)

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

When Fund It was announced ages back along with other grant announcements like 180k on a hologram about Irish Coffee, I was slightly cynical. Sure it was just a clone of Kickstarter. And it was and is.

Fund It though is localised and with it, it has a vibrant community of people in the arts, trying to build creative or crazy projects with the help of the general public. I’ve been impressed with the way people are taking to it both as those soliciting funds and those contributing 5 euros, 10 euros or 500 euros. I’ve asked three people who have used Fund It for projects to share their thoughts on using Fund It. To note: I started writing this post in August and have finally had time to put it all together now.

I interviewed Philly McMahon from ThisIsPopBaby about Year of Magical Wanking, Eamonn Brett for his Wires project and Fiona Kearney from Lewis Glucksman Gallery about Mixtapes. I got very detailed answers back from everyone so I’m splitting this into three parts. First up is Philly, tomorrow will be Ebby and the next day will be Fiona.

Year of Magical Wanking and Fundit

You’ve used Fund It for Year of Magical Wanking, anything else?

I lead the Year Of Magical Wanking campaign, and have advised the Late Fragments as well as some smaller advice to Paper Dolls.

Why use the Fund It route? What would you have done previous to this?

For theatre, some other options are:

  • Apply to the Arts Council for a grant.
  • Don’t do the show.
  • Do the show with everyone working for free as well as beg borrowing and stealing equipment, props etc.

Fund It allows a project to reward people who wish to pledge money to their campaign. If the rewards are good enough, then it becomes less about charity and more of an exchange. For emerging companies or for projects that are unlikely to be eligible for public funding, Fund It offers an opportunity to raise all or part of the money needed to get a project off the ground. I guess it’s the modern equivalent of a Pub Quiz fundraiser – only now you don’t have to go to a boring quiz, and you might actually ‘win’ something you want.

Is there much work involved in running a Fund It drive? Setting up seems ok. There seems to be a lot of work in doing frequent updates/reminders about a campaign, did you have a plan of action for this?

There is a lot of work involved in creating your project. It’s good to make a video specific to your campaign – writing clear copy for your homepage and working on rewards that are worth pledging cash for but are also achievable (while not burning a giant hole in the total you’ve raised – there’s no point in raising 3k and spending half of it issuing rewards). Once the campaign is created, I would advise making a plan of how to roll out your campaign – how to keep it fresh and afloat for the time period you’ve chosen. We had a full plan of how, who and when we were updating social media sites, direct mails, mailshots etc etc. You have to constantly drive the campaign.

What were the main lessons learned from using Fund It, would you have advice for those thinking of using Fund It themselves for the first time?

I’m not entirely sure about lessons learned. there’s very little that I wouldn’t do again. my main advice is to choose a realistic target – ask yourself who is going to pledge money to your campaign and why. I’d advise people to have a really good campaign video – really clear copy (be economic with words – no waffle). Identify who is rolling out your project – there may be ten people involved but only four might be web savvy, so who is gonna drive the thing? I would advise people to question their social media networks – do they have enough friends, fans and followers to warrant sufficient interest in the project? And also to use Fund It as a way of giving friends and family an outlet to support their work. After that – my advice is to sit on the project until the very last day. it can be hard work – but no-one gets thousands of euros easily. Thank people, acknowledge people and be grateful. People are parting with hard earned cash – it’s incredible.

Any other thoughts you’d like to add?

I think Fund It has some other plusses. For theatre, I believe it’s a way of cultivating an audience. Before a show opens you already have X amount of ambassadors who will not only buy a ticket, but they’ll bring friends. They’ll tell people about this project they’ve invested in and they’ll talk about it. I also think it’s interesting to invite people to take a closer look at the artistic process – let them know how much things cost and how things are made. It can make the art form seem far less elite, and certainly for me that’s important.

Service – Lessons from Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

I was lucky enough to have lunch in Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud a few weeks back. €48 a pop for a three course lunch with the usual teas and coffees and Petits Fours included too. Speaking of which:

Patrick Guilbaud Petits fours

The food was stunning, as it would be from a two star Michelin restaurant. What really marks it out for me is the service. The service in restaurants that know they’re special is non-intrusive, warm and not at all pretentious. I’ve been to restaurants where the staff think they and their workplace are special and have a snotty attitude towards everyone. Normally this gives them validation to have sloppy service, serving up variations of chicken currys. They’re the “it” place for a blip in time and love the attention of the fickle public. Guilbaud’s, Chapter One, Thornton’s, Cliffhouse Hotel and other Michelin-like restaurants almost seem timeless inside their doors. They’ll keep doing what they do to an amazing standard no matter the weather or economic climate outside their doors.

All the staff in Guilbaud’s appear to be French and it seems obvious they are drilled as if they were in the military. With their black tux like uniforms you sometimes see the room flowing with black and white as they go about their work. Dishes are served with panache, on silver trays, covered with silver covers that are removed at the exact same time for everyone. Nice flair. No clapping allowed! Well, we didn’t. In between courses someone with a silver crumber in the shape of a razor fish comes along to wipe the crumbs off the table. If you leave the table, someone is over to reposition your chair and refold your napkin. Tempting to do a Homer Simpson “lights go on, lights go off” type situation with getting up every few minutes.

I think any business that works in the service industry (and I think anyone that works with the public is such a company) would learn a lot about providing good customer care from dining at this restaurant. Everything seems to flow easily but you know tradition, training and thought have gone into everything. Every detail has been considered and whether you think this makes everything artificial or not, it still makes you appreciative. I was reminded of the Steve Jobs biography and how obsessive he was about everything. Not that I have read it but every second paragraph from it appears to have been quoted online already.

So yes, food, here’s a surprise starter and the main course of veal. Surprise starter, starter, main course, desert, petitis fours and espresso came to €48 which for the food alone was worth it but the service we received will stay with me and inspire me to try and be that good with my own business. From communications, to product, to presentation of the product to (the hardest bit) making all of this seamless. Thanks Guildbaud’s.

Guilbaud Surprise starter

Guilbaud Veal

On that, the Restaurant Patrick Guildbaud has a book celebrating the first 30 years and it retails at €50. Profits will go to The Irish Hospice Foundation. Available at Avoca stores, Brown Thomas, Dubray Books, Fallon & Byrne, House of Frasier, The Irish Hospice Foundation and the restaurant itself at 21 Upper Merrion Street. The book is quite beautiful.


Sunday, October 30th, 2011

The Dublin Web Summit was on last week and a huge amount of people went to see it. A great networking event from what I’ve heard. I’ve heard complaints too from those that do conferences in the tech scene that the conference somehow steals the lunch of other organisations. When is time, not effort, a right to maintain a monopoly? Jack Murray from Media Contact has started running social media conferences and digital conferences in the past while. “Pivoting” an existing business that was about a printed database being posted to people twice a year into using that database to bring people together and extracting more value from it. If it wasn’t for the Dublin Web Summit and the various Media Contact conferences in the past few years we’d just have the same ole same ole with pretty much the same Irish speakers on rotation. New blood, new talent, new takes on things. It’s good to see conferences becoming more competitive and new conferences taking over. In time they too will be usurped.

The Journal won at the Web Awards last week. I saw one person asking was it the “Best Copy and Paste” Award they won at the Webs. Humour that has truth to it is a great weapon. The Journal is about a year old and is the most disruptive thing in the Irish Web right now. Have a look on Google Trends for a rough idea how they are dominating breaking news. It’s fascinating how this product launched with momentum and is still gaining it. There are plenty of critics of it and plenty of internal chatter from organisations with even legal people consulted about the way they work. The Journal though is a web service run by a new generation, totally immersed in web culture and the new way information moves. The stature of the Irish Times, RTÉ and other media organisations in a way is their detriment and I can’t see how they can successfully react to this without first pretty much destroying their own organisations. What The Journal will do though is get these organisations to either take risks or do really silly things which will do more harm. Such is the cycle of things though.

Enterprise Ireland announced a fund this week to encourage startups to move to Ireland and people were complaining about the money not being spent nurturing local talent. There are plenty of social welfare for startup funds out there if people looked though. Bringing startups in to Ireland is a very good idea once they are a benefit locally. Experience and even philosophies being brought in to disrupt an existing industry is a very good thing. Dublin Web Summits bring wisdom to people for a few hours, this EI fund will bring new ideas for a much longer time. It might bring enough people that a creative hub establishes which will bring more people along too. The gravity from these centre of talents isn’t strong enough just yet. I think Malcolm Gladwell pointed out that when Tiger came along, the game of golf adapted and everyone got better to match him. Maybe we’ll get the same with this fund?

Eugene from Tweekaboo (a client) went off to Silicon Valley and got inspired. I met up with him this week and a short visit over there left an impact. It made me think of when we organised Paddy’s Valley and of course vowing to never do it again. Myself and others kept telling Eugene he needs to get over there and see how the tech and investment world works there. Getting talent to inspire you locally is good, bringing long-term talent to Ireland is also a very good thing, bringing new blood into a stagnant industry is a good thing but also going to where there’s an ocean of talent (and money) is an important thing. There are some tech tours (UK Centric) that go over to the Valley now and then and it’s worth sending people over once they meet and greet and don’t shy away from networking and feeding on the brains of wonderful tech people. Though Zuckerberg seems to think Boston is it.

And cross-pollination is great and is important but a worry is that you are still only learning from a subset of clever and engaging people. Why not leave art and culture inspire you too? Cross training in sport works. I recall my idea of trying to intern in some companies before to gain experience. Maybe some of those tech hubs should have artists around too to hang around with.

No more Guinness Jazz Festival or Absolut Fringe after sponsor ban?

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

The Business Post reports that a Government sponsored group, the National Substance Misuse Strategy Steering Group is looking at suggesting the banning of drink sponsorship of Arts and Culture events. There’s been talk for a long while too about banning drinks brands sponsoring sports events. So no more Jameson Film Festival, Absolut Fringe, Corona Cork Film Festival and the Guinness Jazz Festival?

Arts and Culture organisations will be even more moany if another source of funding is shut down. Government grants aren’t what they used to be. We’re in a recession so it’s harder, for some at least, to get corporate sponsors. Of course one can donate to an arts project without having to publicly be listed as a headline sponsor/sponsor. I’m sure many drinks companies will instead do this, given how they care so deeply about Irish culture. So says the press releases. Bit of Dáil discussion on it too.

You have to wonder about Arthur’s day too then. Will this artificially created calendar event get killed off too? It’s not “Guinness day” but is associated with it. No coincidence it was created just as worldwide drinks companies started seeing traditional marketing routes denied to them. Funds for social entrepreneurship, like sponsoring arts and culture events are another route to keep your name around if you’re a drinks company. I wonder will these be classed as sponsorship too. It’s nice that a fraction of revenue from a single day out of a year is spent to keep these projects sustained for a while.

There’s some great lessons to be learned from the arms race between the tobacco industry and various Governments over the decades. Now it’s happening with alcohol. I’m sure fatty foods will be next. For those that haven’t issues working for tobacco companies or drinks companies then there is serious money in change and disruption. Think of the euro changeover or the Y2K bug. Fortunes were made from it. Helping these companies find newer routes to market their products will get you that mansion sooner.

And of course with tobacco TV ads banned we get this instead, now if they ban drink and fatty food ads…


Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Jim Carroll’s post on Quality v Quantity in the music business where you now have only a few months to break on through (it seems) due to easy findability of every band on the planet, kind of links into this piece quoting Ian Rogers on how it’s easy to create and distribute music nowadays but again because of easy discoverability, you have to market harder/smarter to get yourself noticed, so more resources are going in to marketing/pr/promotion.

That to me says there are opportunities as well as suggesting maybe with all this connectedness it could bring the quality way up for bands but they still need that 10k hours idea Gladwell came up with. Wait til they get the tech right for people to jam with each other properly around the world in real time. No more ‘bassist wanted’ flyers in guitar shops. It worked with Internet dating!

This of course ties into everything else not just music. When the web first came about, search engines allowed us to find/discover textual information and it worked well. The amount of information then for the basic web was tiny compared to now. With these more complicated media, more tech and more opportunities to sort out information were born. Now with the web we have services like (liked this song, others who did liked this one), Netflix for movies, Amazon recommendation services (bit rough) and sites using your social media footprints are now aiding us into finding new things we might like. Counter to that though is the idea we are having too much hidden from us due to what we soley like. Serendipity gets stomped on. There’s a whole TED video on filters and this:

Anyway, Dylan Collins did a blog post on what people (I was included too) thought were opportunities for startups. A good range of people and a load of good ideas are over there. Importantly for me and maybe you is that these quick bursts of ideas get you to think and come up with other ideas and opportunities based on them. Even reading them and saying “this is bullshit because…” gets you to be creative and analytical and maybe share ideas and potential opportunities.

So loads of new ideas for everyone around the world that can be inspired by blog posts and what not. More ways to be inspired, cheaper tech and infrastructure to build your ideas and faster turnaround for the ideas. Increase in quantity, increase in quality too but also a lot of noise. Geography won’t matter as much (we’ll have no Valley is better than Roundabout stuff in the comments please) so an Irish startup could compete with a German one for example. Creativity and skill not previous history of the area become stronger factors for startups.

Is the startup world following what is happening in music? If yes, will the issues with the music industry become a lesson to be learned by startups too? So a bit like Inception, there seem to be opportunities inside opportunities as the opportunity to have an opportunity becomes easier.

Inspiration is just a matter of slowing things down and observing:

Fuckoffier – #mulleycomic 2

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

The next version of the Mulley Comic is plonking down on doorsteps about now. First one is here.

Thanks to Nick and Dena who didn’t know how they’d be presented.

Also thanks to the companies in the comic for investing in good old product placement. Voice-over Bloke. Curious Cupcakes. MadeInHollyWood. John Blackbourn. Blacknight. made by Keith and Anthony also features. And of course we all <3

A bit of end of business year fun.





Ink/Drawing by the legendary Tommie “jetpack” Kelly

Don’t hire anyone, ever

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Bullshit backstory bit, skip down if you want

The dayjob is about three years old this month. It’s been going well, I think. Doubling in revenue year on year.

I work for myself, pay myself a basic wage and that’s it. I get to buy nice work related toys now of course. I’ve turned down more work opportunities in the past year than took on, many times because I can and don’t want to but some because I just don’t have capacity even when I do want to. That bit sucks but I still get to work on great things. Even though I mostly work seven days a week (which when you enjoy what you do, isn’t too taxing) and long hours, I still have missed some projects which would have been fun.

About two years ago I started thinking I needed to hire people. Doubling every year is a nice growth rate but you can’t do that on your own forever. I’ve reached that impasse about now, unless I increase my prices. So two years ago I was looking around and being the type that doesn’t forgive mistakes easily, found it hard to find the right people. Personality wise and experience wise.

An additional slight backstory is that I was a teamlead in a previous job and people management is not for me. I like to just ask people to do things and let them do their thing while I do mine. How are you today, is there anything I can do to make your job easier, I knew you had a hangover and skipped work but HR rules state instead that I have to see can we work together so this doesn’t happen again. Fuck that.

Finding the right people
Back to the main bit of meandering. So I looked at this for a while but work got in the way of looking more into the idea of hiring people. In the past 12 months again as I saw where turnover was going I knew again that if I want to grow the company more, I needed to hire people.

Going past just you
When I talked to a lot of business people, well experienced ones, they all said this: “Damien Mulley can’t scale so what are you going to do?” Back to looking for good people. When you run your company your own way, it’s a mess, full of odd routines and illogical organisation methods so anyone that comes on board will need slight deconstruction of their persona and then rebuilding back up.

So there were things I could do:
* document the way the company works
* build systems and automate them as much as possible
* hire someone to learn these systems
* hire in people that were good with people and have them hire the workers and keep them away from me

This is why a little while back I started looking at the Myers Briggs tests. Find the first fulltime hire and have them being a good match with my personality. Which apparently says I have the same personality as the great dictators. So someone that can put up with that is what is needed and is good mentoring others.

Don’t hire anyone, ever
While this was going on, I used to say this to every business owner I met. Without exception they all told me that employees were the bane of their lives and things would be so much simpler without them. One person that owned a multi-million euro company had 80 staff and said they broke his heart, another said she wished she kept the company at 3 people and that was it because for every new employee, the company made less per person and brought with it more personal drama. It was accepted that employees were a necessity to scale but I was forewarned by many that they would change what I do and change the company too.

Digital will scale?
I’ve been using contractors for various work bits and bobs and for clients I send them straight out to others when they ask me to do certain services (Web dev, web design, marketing campaign supervision, status updates etc.) All these services need people though and it looks like I’ll be avoiding that now. So how to scale?

It has to be digital, right? I’m working on a few web services (me bitching about finding Irish web devs to build it is another post) that will aid the company in scaling up and luckily I’ve calmed work down for the past few weeks and have time to draw out on A4 pages on what these services can do. Still, ironically, getting this right seems to be as taxing as finding that unique special snowflake employee type but I can get away with not wearing pants in the office with this digital employee. Sorry, I went there.

Now this is just me who works in a very personality driven company. I know other business people who love the company of their employees and see them as a big family. It’s not you, it’s me and I have the utmost respect for people like that.

Anyway, it’s been an interesting 3 years and we’ll see who the work in progress goes for year 4.

This video has everything to do with nothing: