Success for MBA entrepreneurs

Congratulations to Lynne O’Donnell, MBA 2012, who came second in the final of the entrepreneurship accelerator programme, LaunchPad, run by the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC).  Lynn is founder and CEO of the start-up company, Tempity, which took second place at yesterday’s final granting access to an investment fund of €20,000.

Tempity is a cloud-based platform, which allows Recruitment agencies to easily monitor the availability of temporary candidates and match their clients with temps in real-time, based on skills match and location. Tempity dynamically tracks candidate availability so recruitment consultants will only see temps who are available for work now.  On the other side, Temps can actively manage their availability, location & accept jobs directly from their smart phone.

Lynn was in good company yesterday with a second UCD Smurfit MBA start-up company also competing on the day – Buzzoo.  Three graduates from the Fulltime MBA 2012 are part of the management team – Founders Dave Byrne and Vishal Balasubramaniam and Business Development manager – David Pierce.  Buzzoo is social music software for businesses that play music. It allows people at a premises to control the music by using their smartphone to view and influence the music playlist for the venue. It’s like moving the jukebox onto the smartphone and turning the smartphone into a remote control for the music so that the crowd becomes the DJ. Buzzoo also represented UCD Smurfit in the inaugural ‘Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition’ last June.

NDRC LaunchPad is Ireland’s first digital accelerator, ranked 1st in Ireland and 6th in Europe, supporting the next generation of digital entrepreneurs to accelerate good ideas to sound startups. This innovative programme is managed by another UCD Smurfit MBA graduate – Gary Leyden, who has worked with over 80 digital ventures to date on LaunchPad.


– Michael McDonnell, MBA Programme Manager

Because you’re worth it….

Today’s Irish Times features an article about MBAs in Ireland.  The article quotes Smurfit MBA Director Orla Nugent on the increasing number of Smurfit executive MBAs who receive some form of sponsorship from their employer.

In the article, Smurfit FT MBA 2012 alumni Dave Byrne talks about how the year on the MBA offered him the ideal opportunity to get a business plan together and take the first tentative steps towards being an entrepreneur. “One of the key things about it is that it’s a risk-free environment. You’re very free to just take risks during the year, and if it doesn’t work out then it’s not the end of the world.”

Read more here..

– Rikke Budolfsen, MBA Programme Manager

Give Man Fish…

Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day.

Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for his whole life.

If that man innovates fishing methods, he’ll catch more fish than he needs, thus being able to sell the surplus fish, the technology, or both.

In other words, innovation will give the man disposable income.

I attended the Dublin Investment Summit on Friday 30th September 2011. CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors and investors were present to discuss business topics relevant to today’s economy. There were also pitches from companies that were looking for investment (including some very exciting nanotechnology from Vasorum and Alta Science. Continue reading Give Man Fish…

Paddling away…

So, as the Spring semester exams are over for the EMBAs and the FT MBAs are immersed in their company projects, I am often asked what I actually do at this time of year as it must be so quiet with so few students on campus.

Well, although our MBAs will be back shortly to complete the last 5 weeks of their Programme, and although it is quieter in one sense, this time of the year is one of the more important ones in so far as we are currently planning the vast majority of the activities of the next year’s MBA Programme whether they be academic, personal professional development, careers, extra-curricular, or social.

We are building strategies for the next year – going back through all the feedback and evaluations from the past year seeking to determine what worked well this year, what could have been better and what are our ambitions for next year.  Each year on the MBA Programme sees new initiatives, developments and improvements and our current class and alumni plays a huge part of this.

We collaborate with the module coordinators (lecturers) about next year’s modules (subjects or courses) , building schedules and timetables to ensure that we maximise the academic learning outcomes  for 2011/2012.

We also assess and build the Personal & Professional Development Programme so it enhances and supports the academic learning to the max.

Another big task for the Spring is of course to prepare for the next year’s intake on the MBA Programme. The (constant) updating of the Incoming Student Portal, updating the MBA Programme web,  the week-long Foundation Week programme, organisation of extra skills seminars,  getting to know the new class members etc. are all keeping the MBA Office busy at the moment.

So although everything may look calm on the surface, we are paddling away underwater…

– Rikke Budolfsen, FT MBA Programme Manager

In pursuit of the ‘Big Idea’!

What is the best process to produce the Big Idea? Is it more art than science?  Can the application of tools and models bring forth from the chaos, the simple compelling idea? And is this process best enabled by the lone wolf or pack of wolves?

In architecture it’s said that great buildings which capture the zeitgeist of the times come from 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. This  same  principle could also be applied to creating  sustainable business platforms.

In the realisation of architecture, 99% of the time spent on the blood, sweat and tears is involved in influencing others. From convincing a client to be brave, the authorities to be visionary, inspiring collaboration between the right expertises, to develop a solution that is within budget and then be the guardian of its integrity, as it’s executed on site by builders. The real test for architecture is how it’s occupied, used and perceived and it’s legacy for society, if any.  Yet, it’s a slow and ultimately noble process that can create vestibules of permanence that celebrate the passing of time.

So why  would I venture outside my profession as an architect to pursue an MBA? Several reasons, but the main one is, although it is a beautiful profession, staying in business and been able to practice architecture is a huge challenge, especially when the opportunities for architects are diminishing in this ‘new world ‘we find ourselves.

Twelve years ago when I began my journey into architecture, I would never have conceived a need to do an MBA. I probably had no idea what it was or its relevance to my end goal. Architecture was going to provide me with every opportunity that I desired. But in 2007, following two years working in an award winning practice, the reality of the business environment in which architecture was conceived made me re-evaluate my strategy of my goals. I made the decision at that point to take a position with a commercially orientated office , as it had the ability to make money as opposed to the majority of vocational practices. As the alarm bells of the recession began to toll, I realised then that I would need to expose myself to as many experiences as possible, as specialisation in boutique extensions and family houses was not sustainable. Three years later in 2010 the company eventually went into liquidation following a very painful process of redundancies and cost cutting measures.

While experiencing this implosion, I began to realise the relevance of an MBA and the attractiveness of learning the skills to create a business model around a profession which has  a creative output at its core. Continue reading In pursuit of the ‘Big Idea’!

The Company Project

We full-timers now find ourselves mostly finished with classes, but still very busy. The company project is what we do in lieu of a thesis and is a lot more practical. Instead of simply researching a theory we get to go out into the real world (scary after six months of school!) and solve a real company problem. We are, essentially, cheap consultants.

The company project is a great opportunity to push ones boundaries and try something new. Coming from an electronic engineering background, I wanted to challenge myself in an area with which I was unfamiliar, and signed up for a project involving strategy for Ogilvy Ireland. My partner on this project, Gemma Ginty, found it through the CEO of the Ogilvy Group, JP Donnelly. JP is also a Smurfit MBA alumnus and a board member of the Smurfit School.

The first and most important thing that needs to be done when helping a customer to solve a problem is understanding that problem. In order to really understand a business problem, one first has to understand the business itself. To that end, we spent the first week of this project reading a lot of background material on the advertising business and the challenges it now faces due to social and technological changes. This immersion in the business not only gave us a deeper understanding of the industry, but also added to our credibility when speaking to people involved with that industry. Continue reading The Company Project