Author Archive

Proposal: An Irish Tech Brain Trust – Advisory Board for Irish startups

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

This post has been in draft since February so is a little stale now. I had some private chats with James Corbett and John Timmons about this. I don’t really have the time to put more work into this idea but I thought I’d throw it out and get my draft posts down under the 20 number. 🙂 So here goes:

James over on EirePreneur is talking about fantasy business teams and how the Entrepreneur OPML reading list he created would make a good advisory board:

I started asking myself similar questions recently after putting together a reading list for Irish entrepreneurs. It occured to me that the list was something of a fantasy business team. If I was to be struck by a flash of inspiration for the right business idea I can’t imagine having a better team than the 13 people on that list.

IrelandOffline has something we call a “Brain Trust”. It comprises of people we’ve handpicked and who we trust and we pass ideas to them that we would not disclose in public for a while. Sometimes these are new campaigns we are working on, or consultations we are answering or questions we want to ask and debate but not do so in a public forum. The IrelandOffline discussion forum on is great but from logs and conversations with the *buzzword warning* stakeholders in the telecoms industry, we know that people from ComReg, DCMNR, eircom, BT, Smart, Digiweb tune in daily to see what we are up to. That’s why we have an exclusive private mailing list where we can safely discuss some items. I have been in other groups that also use this idea of a private advisory team and it can be quite effective.

A Brain Trust comprised of some of the people on James’ list might be a worthwhile group for a new startup to seek advice from. While some people give out about stealth modes being so last year or Web 1.0, they are still important for a small company working on something where their only advantage is a great idea and keeping out of the public domain. If you’re a one person operation I’m sure you wouldn’t like it if you had this idea, blogged about it and then a week later saw another company with 10 dedicated employees do the same thing but faster. As well as that it might be better for some companies to keep their fuckups private if they are small and cannot manage their PR properly as they are spending all their time doing other things. Or in fact to not fuckup at all. One public fuckup early on could wreck your reputation. The Brain Trust could say “Listen mate, if you do that then this is going to happen. Why not try this instead?”

Advisory boards are good but generally want some kind of cut on future revenue. Me, well I like money but don’t think the type of Brain Trust I’m proposing should demand anything from a small startup. However, to prevent every kid with an idea from spamming the Trust, I would like to see some kind of small fee given to the Trust which could be used later on to perhaps help out a struggling company or used as some kind of defense fund or put a small investment in a company we all like. Hell it could be used to run a conference or showcase for all the companies that we liked. Just piggy bank the money for now. I’m thinking something small like €100 would do. The Trust members would not get any of this money.

So why would people want to be on the Trust if they get nothing out of it? Well, they themselves would probably learn a lot from their peers. It might also mean business for them where they could sell consulting services to the people that are seeking Trust advice because while the Trust would give advice I’m adamant we would not be redesigning a whole system for a guy with an idea for free. There’d be nothing stopping a Trust member from getting work from an advisee, once it’s disclosed to the Trust. Still, maybe it is a romantic notion but I would like to think the main motivator for the Trustees is to help foster local businesses and aid in the growth of indigenous ideas.

There’d need to be guidelines too for this Trust, like above about selling your services to someone. I’m sure they can be worked out in time. I’m sure people would give out that such a Brain Trust would be elitist and non-transparent. Yes it would be and there shouldn’t be any apologies for that. Issues about NDAs and so forth would have to be looked at too. Lots of stuff would need to be figured out. Maybe this can be the place to figure them out.

Fluffy Links – October 31st 2006

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

(I’m not here. Ssssh.)

T-Shirt Beta. I want one! Pity my size is sold out.

Universal gets Firefly fans to create a big online buzz to market the Serenity movie. Then fucks them over. So they repay the favour.

WordPress plugin to allow posting to Vox as well. APIs are really needed for Vox though.

The Fermoy by-pass – a ghost highway? Not a sinner on it.

I need to get this handy doormat that reminds you to take your keys and wallet and phone.

Handy message in a bottle notice for USB memory sticks.

Don’t copy that floppy!

Left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing…

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Left hand: Phantom FM, backed by Denis Desmond, have availed of paid banner advertising on for the past week or so in preparation for their launch at 12 noon today. The Phantom FM forum has been hosted at for a number of years.

Right hand: “MCD is taking legal action against the site for allegedly hosting a defamatory statement about Oxegen. The discussion forum was targeted by the Denis Desmond-owned music promotions company, after festival goers used it to complain about tent-burning and fighting at the festival in Kildare last month.”

Engage Autopilot – AFK

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Autopilot should kick in on this site in a few hours. I’ve scheduled blog posts to publish for the rest of the week and on Monday of next week. Everyone will still get their dose of fluffy links and there are a few other posts which will publish most days. It seems I’ll be more productive on the blog while I’m away then when I’m here.

Currently waiting for the audiobook version of Barak Obama’s first book to download from iTunes. Have his next book ordered from Amazon too. Thanks to Richard Delevan for the suggestion and welcome back!

Right. See you on the other side.

Digital bits – Arrests, bans, le CD est mort, hands off the future

Monday, October 30th, 2006

The owner of Greek Blog aggregator was arrested. Why? Because his aggregator aggregated a blog story which mocked some public figure. Ouch. Greece is in the EU and not part of China, right?

The Indo finally picked up on the story about Leinster House banning blogging.

In the UK the Institute for Public Policy Research is calling for a “private right to copy”. DRI over here wants the same I believe. This comes as the head of EMI says the cd is dead.

Levy stated that 60% of consumers now rip CDs to their computers for transfer to portable devices.

It’d be nice to see a survey done here in Ireland to see how many people rip their music.

Unlike the Telecoms Poodle, the UK telecoms regulator has balls and is happy to tell the EU to back off. Ofcom doesn’t want the EU to regulate TV over Internet or other emerging technologies. This TV without Frontiers thing from the EU is just a continutation of jobs for regulators. A new land to regulate. Job security. I’m sorry but who the hell are you to tell me to put watershed limitations on the content of my website?

Party Political Blogcasts – Competition to make your own political ad

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Simon McGarr is running a video competition for people to create political ads.


30 second or less video.
Address a political issue- in the widest sense. Could include voter registration, or a pitch for a certain party, policy or area

Suzy mentioned on her Newstalk stint the other evening that we don’t have any political advertising beyond the party political broadcasts. Probably a good thing but there are no rules for the Internet and what can and cannot be done. Simon’s idea could be the push onto the web that Irish politics needs. It’d be great to see style ads created “by the people, for the people”. A url on the screen would get people to visit political websites with the American style ads.

What would you have in a 30 second ad if you had no restrictions whatsoever?

In the run-up to the UK elections in 2005, Channel4 commissioned the boys that made the fake Volkswagen suicide bomber ad to create fake ads for the main parties. The idea was these are ads the parties would release if they could get away with it. By far the best ad has to be the one for the conservatives showing no-go areas in cities, kids rolling spliffs in dedicated smoking areas in school yards and teachers putting on riot gear in order to teach. Absolutely fantastic ad that preyed on the fears of a liberal government. You can watch the ad streaming from here or here is my attempt to put it on YouTube:

Via Kevin Burton is an attack ad lashing out at George Allen.

If you had the resources, what would you do? Anyone want to make one on road deaths?

New blogs on the Block updated over on

Monday, October 30th, 2006

More new blogs on the block. 6 to be exact.

I’ll specifically talk about two more here. The first is Alan McKernan’s blog. Alan is a really good friend of mine who I know years and years and years. Alan is off in Whistler, Canada enjoying snow sports and just landed a sweet job. “Living the Dream” is his blog and it’s what he’s doing.

The other is A Random Walk down Grub Street. A foodie blog from a lovely woman in Cork. 😉 More food blogs please!

When so many people are departing from the blogging community, it is nice to see a few joining.

Fluffy Links – October 30th 2006

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Telling the time by the stars
. When you don’t have a watch, a computer or a mobile and don’t live in a city since the light pollution hides the stars. Practical. 🙂

Sneaking around RTE TV studios at night time.

Stupid deaths. – Site for sharing coupons for online sites. This is the new project from the people. Not enough coupons on it yet but I’m sure it’ll grow. Speaking of which has some cheap DVD deals at the moment.

Cute Panda t-shirt.

Via Brandish: Training video from Wendy’s. Hiphop stylee. Very 1980s. Horrible.

Request: Beirut t-shirt at their Olympia Gig

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

My favourite band of 2006 – Beirut are the support band for Calexico in the Olympia this Thursday. After spending almost half a day contemplating canceling my NY trip just to see them, I decided not to. If, however, some kind soul is going to this, I wonder could you pick me up a t-shirt (large) from the band and I will repay you once I get back to Ireland? It should be a really good gig. If there are tickets left I’d recommend going to this gig.

This is Beirut live in Moscow:

Music Recommendations for my impending trip

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

Currently I’m liking Cold War Kids, Sebastien Schulder, Hanne Hukkelberg, Girl Talk, Midlake and Cast King. Just got Tom Waits’ new triple album too. If anyone can recommend anything else then I might Google Checkout it on iTunes before I head to the states.