Sunday, 20 December 2015

StartUp Grind Hosts Richard Barnwell and Gives Insight in Gaming Industry

On Wednesday 16th of December I had a great opportunity to join a great start-up talks session with StartUp Grind who hosted Richard Barnwell Board Member of Games Ireland, a not-for-profit organisation working to support, promote and drive sustainable growth for the games industry in Ireland.
Let's start from the beginning. That was my first meetup with StartUp Grind and I must admit a very impressive and interesting one in terms of organization as well as quality time! 
Startup Grind is a global startup community educating, inspiring, and connecting entrepreneurs. We host monthly events in more than 150 cities and 65 countries featuring successful local founders, innovators, educators and investors who share personal stories and lessons learned on the road to building great companies. Our monthly fireside chat interviews, startup mixers and annual conferences provide ample opportunities to connect with amazing startups and the people behind them, tap into a strong support network, form meaningful connections and gain inspiration for the startup journey ahead. For more information visit or follow us on twitter@StartupGrind.
Thanks to this event I had an opportunity to visit Google office where the event was hosted. In a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere. You can see on the pictures below great night Dublin views from the top floor of the Google's building in the city center.

I have met a number of great people with fantastic start-up ideas and this proves again and again how much entrepreneurship is boosting. This is really great! I do believe the that the future is in the hands of entrepreneurs because great ideas and people behind them will change the world.
The event started with two great people from Startup Grind! One of them, David Scanlon (in the picture below on the right), has invited me to the event. Big thanks for giving me this great opportunity!

After a short StartUp Grind introduction there was a great session with Richard Barnwell.

Richard Barnwell is the founder and CEO of DIGIT Game Studio. Founded in 2012, DIGIT is the largest game development studio in Ireland: it has already developed Kings of the Realm, which was the biggest game launch in the history of the Irish gaming industry. DIGIT are now scaling up their studio to produce an iconic new title, and we'll be using the opportunity to chat with Richard and get an insight into the fascinating world of video game development.
Prior to founding DIGIT, Richard was CEO at Jolt Online Gaming (part of the GameStop network), and previous to that was a member of the senior management team at Jagex (a leading developer of MMO titles, including RuneScape). Richard is currently a Board Member of Games Ireland, a not-for-profit organisation working to support, promote and drive sustainable growth for the games industry in Ireland.

Richard shared with the audience his story about how he get involved in the gaming industry straight from college and all the way through of exciting times being part of a rapidly growing company, describing challenges and how to deal with them as well as giving great advice to those interested in creating game like working with brands and creating games using popular characters. After the chat between Richard (on the left in the picture above) and David (on the right in the picture above) everyone had an opportunity to ask questions and get more information and industry/company insight.
As it was my first event from StartUp Grind, I must say it was well organized and really informative. I would love to visit more of their events in the future!

Monday, 30 November 2015

The Event for Female Entrepreneurs That Can Help To Make An Impact In Your Business

One of the biggest challenges for female entrepreneurs at early-stage business is access to funding. Normally men can easier access funding for their business (in up to 70% of the cases).  The event "Demystifying the Dark Art of Funding" that took place on Thursday 26th November and organised by the DCU Ryan Academy in partnership with Global Invest Her, aimed to clarify the funding process and help Irish women entrepreneurs become investor ready and get funded faster.

Just before the event started I had a great opportunity to have a talk with Anne Ravanona, who is CEO and Founder of Global Invest herGlobal Invest Her is an international company on a mission to get more female founders funded through demystifying the funding process via their online portal and events. Anne is also an advisor to several startups and non profits who support high growth women entrepreneurs and she founded the Women Entrepreneurs Network in Paris. Anne is a fantastic woman entrepreneur with great portfolio of projects and she believes that women are capable to do more if they can expose themselves and give it a go. Sometimes we take a step back instead of being persistent and this exactly what the true stories of two women entrepreneurs proved to us! If they can do, we can do that too!

The whole event had a great spirit of entrepreneurship and "I can do it!" attitude. Events like this inspire and motivate, then help to believe in your inner power and capabilities and I find it really brilliant!

I would like to thank also Niamh Collins for organizing such a a great event! Niamh is the COO of DCU Ryan Academy. It's so important to have inspirational and informative events like this one. I have gained high value, practical insights and tips about how to look for funding whilst been given an opportunity to network. DCU Ryan Academy is a non-profit, joint venture between Dublin City University and the Ryan Family (Ryanair), that aims to be the leading supporter of entrepreneurs and innovation in Ireland. It promotes an entrepreneurial mind-set and real innovation focus among Irish SME’s corporates, start-ups and researchers through a range of training leadership and funding initiatives.

To read this article in Russian, click HERE.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Networking at Dublin Chamber of Commerce

Following the fantastic and full of information and events with great speakers at Eximsummit I was invited to network with small and medium businesses representatives. This was really nice event in a great location with all Dublin charm in the morning and great start with coffee and talks with business owners and professionals.

I met a lot of professionals in different areas of business: accounting, media, personal development space, coaches, web specialists, owners of software platforms and solutions.
This was definitely a great networking buzz in the morning followed by a very informative informational session with exercises to master listening and speaking skills.

And I do want to confirm that building business relationships is an art and you need to have essential skills in listening and observing as well as communicating the information because it is important to see how and if your information is perceived.
Let's keep it up with mastering our skills and building great relationships online and offline!
Nice weekend to everyone!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

#Crowdfunding Last Things before Launch

So I have had a look at all the tips and I have even investigated the platform and tried to find contacts of other guys who used the platform for similar type of idea funding. Who knows, maybe they will want to give an advice?

Out of 3 projects I found there and contacted there was only one guy who replied :( Why would that be? people do not want to share experience? I found it sadly strange and keep the hope they are on holidays and can't access their e-mails.
The good advice that only guy gave me was that I need to be persistent in posting and never beg and try to push a bit people and make them think they are doing good things by supporting my project. feeling a bit weird but still want to do it.
And yes, my project has moved to the stage called "Ready to preview?" which means if I push the button I can't make any changes. Feeling great for the work done so far! Let's push the button ;)

Saturday, 25 July 2015

#Crowdfunding Before Journey Starts

Great to go almost. I have just received some useful tips from Fundit on how to promote my CF campaign. I want to share them apart from other I plan to use.

(I do not modify them so it's a quoting basically)
Very good tips are given on the following ways to promote your campaign:

  • go for personal mailing lists to make sure you cover your first circle of funding
  • go for company mailing asking colleagues to support
  • consider different ways of promoting on different stages of the campaign (start, middle, prior to end and post campaign)
  • avoid begging!
  • go for value promotion
  • communicate story, team, project etc.
  • your audience is super important (engage with it!)
  • use targeted media
  • go for marketing promo mix (online. offline and combination of both).

Friday, 24 July 2015

#Crowdfunding Part 4

After pulling all together I have submitted the following information about the project to the CF platform:

I have submitted the following looooong description:
Clever Books are the books with personalised stories for kids. We cover day to day life routines  helping parents to teach kids through stories to brush teeth, keep room in order, help parents and much more. This idea is coming from me and my husband as we use stories for our kid and decided to share our experience with other parents through creating great quality books.
Being an Irish start-up company we are looking for local support and the funds we are aiming to raise will be use for the following following purposes:
1) to  create the rest 5 books of the blue book series with new stories (we need to pay designer work, publishing and arts/illustrations)
2) to create marketing awareness campaign so more people in Ireland become aware of our products

We are gladly presenting what we have already achieved so far with our own funds: this is the Blue Book of personalised stories and we believe we can achieve even more with your support!

The Blue Book Set includes
1 book of 32 pages of 204 X 145 mm size
5 unique tales about YOUR KID
great illustrations
7 photos of YOUR KID printed in the book!
extra-white paper with a thickness of 0.3 mm (300 g/m2)
semi-matte paper with a very soft surface
pages that turn easily and never crease or tear
high quality printing

5 customised tales, where your kid is the main character covering the following educative topics:
The Story of the Sad Teeth (importance of brushing teeth)
The Joy of Giving a Gift (sharing with others and making presents)
Tale of a Helpful Kid (importance of helping parents)
Why we go to creche/school (going to creche/school depending on the child's age)
Tale about The Land of Chocolate (if kids need to be careful with eating sweets).
And I have submitted the awards as well the following way (I wanted to keep it simple and really value for money if you go for project funding)

I have submitted the project and it has been returned :( In general it looked good good but for
1. picture needs to be changed. I will work on it and resubmit.
2. as a recommendation I was asked to add more information about team members. good point!

Work keeps on!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

#Crowdfunding. Part 3

And here we come with the project description on the selected CF. So I have got the video already. You can see it here
I have had a chat with the CF and the advised me the following:

  1. Create a story behind the project and where the idea came from.
  2. Provide full description and provide visual (video and pictures) of the product.
  3. Write down the description of full product specification.
  4. Set up reward scheme. This one is very interesting. They say it's better not to go for smallest reward like 5 EUR or so even if it's just "Thanks" from company. The reason behind is that people tend to go and support with the smallest amount in order to support and feel good. So don't use that.
  5. Also, set up the shortest funding period possible due to the reason that people tend to postpone things and they need to feel urgency to take part in the project and the shorter period the better it is.
  6. Pictures should be clear and demonstrate the product without any destructing extras.
  7. Number of rewards you provide (especially they are limited) should be calculated in advance to make sure they amount of funding they represent will match the funding amount you are aiming to get.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

#Crowdfunding. Part 2

And here it comes! I have selected an Irish crowdfunding platform
By the way! Selecting the platform is on of the important moments 

  • as you need to consider not only your first two circles as funding potential but also who are the regular visitors to this platform as they may be your potential investors as well. So search if your project scope really falling into their portfolio. The CF platform will also share your project in their social media and you need to have your target there as well.
  • go for local especially as I want to target local people and therefore it makes sense to select local CF platform. By the way if you consider selecting not local one, check out legal part as at the end you may not be able to withdraw the money or they will not accept your project
  • read some feedback about platform
  • have a look ta the projects of your type that were funded there and how successful they were and analyze.
This all is of course general and each case is individually evaluated. I have only outlined what I have personally considered while making my selection.

I have came across this website once and found it very useful. These guys are doing a good job in CF platforms analysis and give a lot of useful data.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

#Crowdfunding. Part 1

Many people were asking me about #crowdfunding and how to do it and if its difficult and so on. So I decided to create a campaign and let's watch what happens :)
This is the first time I do it in #Ireland. Other #campaigns I have done were abroad and I was either designing them or leading but I never did one on my own. Let's walk it through together.
One of my businesses is connected to #publishing ( I write stories and publish books for kids with educative stories that help parents in solving tiny day to day issues through #personalized stories. That's roughly the idea.
Basically we have done sales however strangely enough outside Ireland mainly. So we use this campaign to create awareness in Ireland that we exist.

Let's set up the main objectives now:
1. Get funds for marketing the business in Ireland.
2. Create awareness through CF campaign about the business.

Don't seem to be SMART enough.. let's try this way:
1. Get 3000 EUR in 60 days through CF campaign on Fundit for marketing expenses to promote CleverBooks in Ireland.
2. Use 1000 EUR for creating 5 new books with new stories in the next 11 months.
3. Create awareness for the business locally in the republic of Ireland reaching out up to 500K people (fingers crossed!!).

Goals seem to be smart and fingers crossed we are good to go. Watch out for the new part on how I set up the campaign and what came next!

P.S. And here you can see the book:

Friday, 19 June 2015

Matt Anton SEO Ecommerce Without a Website

I have recently met a great specialist and simply a very nice person Matt. He was so kind to share different tips on SEO which is extremely important part of any business. He share useful information and soon I will even have a video chat with him which we will record so I can share with you all the great tips and tricks! Meanwhile have a look on what is SEO all about (quoting Matt Anton)

What is SEO?
SEO is short for search engine optimization. It's the art and science of ranking higher in Google, so when someone searches for a service or product you offer, you show up instead of your competition.

How Long Have you Been Involved with SEO?
Since 2006, when I wanted to get more website traffic to a social network for gamers website. Learned how to get insane amounts of traffic and rank for incredibly hard terms such as "gaming" and "mmorpg" but never had the financial backing or coding knowledge to compete with the big boys like Myspace and Facebook at the time. I realized that I had a skillset that was needed and useful, and began to help others get more leads for their real businesses.

Can SEO Be Effective Without a Website? Seller's on Youtube, Amazon, Pinterst, Etsy, Ebay, for example
Empahtic yes! Over the years my clients have shown me ways to use my services in ways I couldn't even imagine. I quickly noticed the people getting the best results with SEO weren't even promoting their own website, in fact, they were piggybacking off the trust and authority of very well known established platforms. This is evident if you look at the top trafficked websites in Alexa; since these websites are highly trusted, it doesn't take much to get them to outrank your competitors.

Please Describe The Process of SEO For One of These Platforms
The search engines and the platform you are promoting on have one thing in common; they want to return the most relevant results. This means showing sellers with a clear Product Title using the main keywords, and using the keywords throughout your sales copy and product listing. Without setting up each listing or product as its own entity, you are going to miss out on search engine traffic, and most likely internal search traffic from within the ecosystem's platform.
Those are all the steps you can "control". The next step of SEO involves promotion, where the fun begins
Relevancy in this case is determined by user metrics (click through rate), and dwell time of a product page. If it's a good experience, and a catchy headline that uses their keywords, it will be clicked on more, and viewed longer, which is a huge signal to Google that it's a quality result. This is why Crowd Search Me is such a popular service amongst ecommerce sellers.
Next would be social network signals. Are people sharing it on facebook, twitter, google+, pinterest, etc? The more a product page is shared online, the more it becomes popular and relevant.
Backlinks, are bloggers, forums, directories linking back to the product page? The foundation of the search engine algorithms to start
X factor is reputation and # of reviews. The search engines and internal algorithms favor peer trusted reviews. Everytime your brand or product is mentioned online in a favorable context, whether that's with positive language (robots can discern this now) or schema markup with star ratings, it reinforces the other factors. All together, the algorithm analyzes if it's a) relevant b) popular/best c) reputable.

SEO Can Be Overwhelming, Where to Start?
I would highly suggest focusing on creating quality products or services and giving them out to friends/family and asking them to leave you reviews online. The first couple reviews are the hardest to get, but after that you'll gain momentum. This will help work on b & c. You already setup your product page to not only have the keyword in it, but be eye-catching with images and video. Once you are profitable, or start selling more regularly you can utilize a guaranteed SEO service, SafeRankBacklinks, which will do all the other steps to promote your product listings in the search engines. It's important to not lose your passion for your hobby or side income. Once it naturally starts to make you more money, then you can invest, but would certainly recommend focusing on product giveaways and obtaining client testimonials until the time is right to pul the trigger on really promoting yourself and your products.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

How Old Should be an Entrepreneur?

This is the question :) Sounds funny enough however for me this question is at the same level with the one about "best time to start". Entrepreneur should simply be or become. That's it!
Regardless the motivational things and related to it you have probably already came across the info-graphics about entrepreneurs that have built fantastic companies and they started with only 1 idea and were able to change the world. Yes! starting from one-self. That is important. For some people entrepreneur life begins quote early at 20-s and for some after 40. This is so individual! For some people it's inspiration and for some it's experience!
Have a look an the infographics below from Entrepreneur:
How Old Is Too Old to Start a Business? The Answer May Surprise You. (Infographic)

Following your intuition and inspiration should be the best advice. If you have an idea then go and implement it! This is the best thing to start with and you learn every single step. Many entrepreneurs gather experience first and when they feel that's the right step to take they just go for it. Feeling confident that you are doing what you want to is one of the signs to follow. Stop waiting for the best time. If you are looking for the best day to start you know already that this day will never come.
Saying that, here you have an interview with Eric, one of the youngest world entrepreneurs who follows his ideas and dream, finds like minded people who can support him and gets things done! That's the way to go. If your time to become entrepreneur is 11, just do it! If it's 37, go for it! 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

How My Procrastination Fight Turned into a Business Idea

I'm a lazy person. I'm a very lazy one. Not that I try to postpone stuff.. or maybe I do? Well I caught myself once on the idea that I'm quite lazy to do sports. I thought I definitely need to do something about that because my office based job doesn't really help a lot in terms of exercising physically. 
Next thing I've done was buying a gym membership. happily enough I was going there for couple of months on a regular basis... and then.. I caught myself on the fact that each time I was tired after work of I saw the weather was not really nice and rainy (those who live in Ireland know what I mean ;)) I was just NOT going to the gym.
fair enough.. maybe gym doesn't motivate me a lot and I need to do some other sports activity like jogging. I've done that couple of times and the same weather issue stopped me again (or was it not?)
I was drinking my evening tea and a genius idea (!OMG those ideas are visiting me quite often) came to my mind. I know how I can push myself to do sports without finding any reasons to stay home or not to go etc. I need to be a trainer or instructor myself and being a very responsible person by nature  that was something very much suitable for me.
Next step was to find out which sport I was to practice. So here I have started all types of sports that were quite interesting at least to try: yoga normal and hot was too much slow and no action (not that I'm too much into action but I was falling asleep), zumba was interesting but kind of seemed to me just dancing (though I like Latin american dancing), then just fitness instructor didn't really worked well for me as well and then I went to a Pilates class with one of my friends (was actually her idea to bring me there). That was nice with a kind of "doing nothing" and feeling everything after the class which was cool and quite relaxing exercises and stretching.. so I saw a lot of benefits it that.
After choosing Pilates I went to look for becoming an instructor. I have made some search over web and found a studio where I can do the workshops and certification with exams as well. Half year later I have become a certified Pilates instructor Mat 1 from Balanced Body University. Well.. was quite challenging as being not a native speaker to learn a lot of new words and terms and then take an exam using them all, perform a class which I had designed on my own and lots of stuff. But I loved it! It was fun and very interesting. Luckily enough I was invited by that studio to work for them as a part time instructor. I'm really thankful I got this offer because without having any hours of teaching classes (basically that's your CV and experience in the filed) you are more likely to not get the gob. Fair enough because everyone want a qualified instructor who knows all the exercises by heart, self confident and does those exercises perfectly as well as explanations to them. Unfortunately straight after education like in any field you don't have all the above and therefore it's difficult to find the job straight away. But I was lucky there and here I'm - the Pilates Teacher.
I still remember my first class where I was standing in front of 20 people I've never seen in my life and I need to show how cool I was as a Pilates instructor and how well I can explain everything and do exercises myself. That was challenging! However it worked and I loved it even after several classes. And I was happily teaching for a couple of years which actually helped me a lot to fight my procrastination just because being a teacher is a responsibility and you must come because your customers will be there and if you just don't come it will damage your image as a teacher. That was a perfect motivation for me including on top a lot of positive feedback from customers!
Couple of years later I decided to start my own studio and that was really great. I have learnt a lot already and even created my own sequence of exercises and stretching, learned how to teach the group of different levels and a lot of other useful things. On top of that I wanted to keep on going and I loved the idea of my own startup.
This is the way I have turned my procrastination into a business. Have you a similar story or maybe you already have a business idea? ;)