After been released to the wild for 8 weeks it was back to the comfort zone of C301. Getting back into case studies, assignments and group meetings initially seemed daunting but the quality of the courses on offer made it enjoyable. A highlight was the opportunity in the Entrepreneurship in Practice course to visit companies, incubation centres and support networks.
The course allowed for an opportunity to speak to start up businesses and get a practical opportunity to understand whether are learnings are truly applicable; outside of understanding how to read a case study. It was inspirational to see so many budding entrepreneurs starting up their own enterprises even when all the news around us talks of Ireland as an economic basket case. In many respects this is the kind of course you want when starting the MBA to offer inspiration of what Ireland has to offer in terms of support from Nova UCD to the Guinness Enterprise Centre and what the latest research is been made available. As already noted this sort of opportunity offers a positive outlook amidst all the doom and gloom.
And there it ends, at this stage I am writing this blog from the couch while watching the tennis, there lies the bonus of been finished. It truly was a great year with a great class.
– Colm O’Reilly
Like an entrepreneur half the battle in Brazil was too survive in the short run. As the mullet has often been described ‘business on top and ‘party at the back’, this was very much the motto on the Brazil trip, as all the students tried to experience both the business culture and the social culture. The country was infinitely wealthier than I had presupposed and the level of wealth in Sao Paolo was quite astonishing at times as we passed by a whole street of car shops selling Lamborghinis, Porsches etc. Even Ireland in it’s hey day never saw such levels. However, this is juxtaposed with poverty showing the sharp contrast between the haves and have not’s which is not apparent in Europe. However, it was interesting how business opportunities can exist in both arenas and the interesting lecture we had in how to incorporate poorer communities with large scale businesses in an inclusive style of entrepreneurial businesses.
The opportunities initially appear endless as it rushes headlong forward in growth, the group spends the week between beers (which is rare) attempting to comprehend whether it is purely a commodity boom or a more sophisticated economic development. No one really had the answer, yes it is a commodity boom but at the same time its hard to understand until you are there that Brazil is nearly a continent in itself. What are the chances for Irish business in such an environment? I spoke with a friend who is doing business in Brazil; and while opportunities exist it is not the easy win that people might think. Very few speak English, regulation is extremely confusing, long term financing is difficult to find, local trading partners are required as well as many other barriers? This brings us back to our first point whether an incumbent business can it survive in the short to medium term without cash flow. Many of our fellow students did not financially survive to see a second week in Brazil while some of those who stayed on could be paying back for a considerable time. There might be a lesson in there somewhere.
– Colm O’Reilly
Inspiration is just what you need in February, a month that I equate with Tuesday.
To try to kick us into gear, the MBA Entrepreneurship Club brought two top class speakers to the college to discuss ‘How To Bring Your Business On-line’. The first speaker was Raomal Perera: Founder of two successful Irish-based tech firms that were acquired over the past eight years, he is about to embark on his third technology venture. The second speaker was Ciaran Crean: Managing Director and co-founder of micksgarage – an eTailer with 1 million car parts & accessories for sale.
Raomal enlightened us on how he had become a serial entrepreneur and how starting on the path to entrepreneurship can lead to all sorts of unplanned adventures. Ciaran spoke on how micksgarage was founded and how they had successfully brought it to where it is. The interesting part was how they had done it with little or no financial support demonstrating how the idea is critical. There was a keen debate afterwards as we questioned them on there key to successes. Its through these sort of engagements that we can see how the real world operates outside of the cosy walls of Smurfit and the Avoca Bar, home to many an idea.
– Colm O’Reilly
The Entrepreneur’s Club finally got the opportunity to hold the ‘How To Finance Your Business’ session at the end of January. Free from the travails of the snow and fresh after a well deserved month off everybody was keen for new events. 4 great speakers convened to give their views on raising finance from different perspectives. Ned Gladney, Managing Director, GSW Tax and Business Advisors (a specialist firm for small & medium sized enterprises), Michael Hayden (Business Advisor Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Enterprise Board), Giuseppe Insalaco – An Entrepreneur (Smurfit School MBA Graduate) & founder of Squargo Ltd, and Dermot Berkery, Partner-Delta Partners Ltd -one of Irelands leading Venture Capital Firms (VC).
Discussion ranged from enterprise structure, to grant and seed money from local authorities to the holy grail of venture capital funding. Dermot explained how VC’s source and invest their funds and the expected win & loss rates for their investments. Giuseppe brought the entrepreneurial flavour in explaining the Do’s and Don’ts from his own journey in trying to source financing for start-ups.
The good news is all the participants reiterated that although times are tough, there is money available for start-ups. However, the cautionary warning was it largely depends on the industry. Let’s see who next from the class will be on the stage in years to come explaining their successes and woes in starting up a business.
– Colm O’Reilly
“It’s all about the knowledge economy, the tech industry, -no the food industry, – sorry I disagree, it will be the pharma industry”. These are the statements we hear as we look for a glimmer of hope in the current economic climate. Who are the Entrepreneurs who will offer the spark for the future? This is the $64 million question (or should that be €85 billion). At the Smurfit School the MBA Class has started the Entrepreneurship Club to allow students both to bring ideas to the table or just for the interested spectator to hear where their future might lie.
At the inaugural meeting of the 2010/2011 Entrepreneurship Club, a number of enthusiastic students from both the Full-time and Executive MBA classes came together to design an outline for the year. There was common consensus to try and move it away from a lecture style modus operandi to more practical implementation (the mere mention of lecture had some quaking as they feared the 75 books they would need to prepare in a week for the next lecture).
A common theme was developed for the year based on the process of bringing a company to success or as the brand has become known ‘ Conception To Fruition’. Nights of trading ideas and more recently lunch time (hunger seems to bring a keenness to people’s mind), visits to UCD Nova to see the latest offerings for the future, and exchanges with recent Entrepreneurs has shown the potential that exists. Unfortunately the weather got the better of us (what a surprise in Ireland) so the Entrepreneurship Club has had to postpone its recent big event ‘How To Finance Your Business’ (and no, this was not because we needed clearance by the IMF). We will be following up this blog with regular slots keeping everyone posted on the progress of the Club.