November 10, 2010
The Magic of Family Businesses & the Stories that Keep Them Alive
Occasionally you come across an old shop, creamery, pub, restaurant, chemist or cafe that......simply speaks to you and feels so damn authentic that you go back in time simply through its walls, floors and ceilings.
Having grown up in New England on Richard Russo's soil, I gravitate to places like that or they simply find me. It even shows in the banner of Down the Avenue, which is a modified version of the upstate New York main street small town where I grew up.
Jack Carvill & Sons along Dublin's Camden Street (renown for thrift stores) dates back to 1905. Online, someone referred to it the Rolls Royce of off-licenses.
Not everything in the place is still original, yet many of it remains in its antiquated authentic form, including the door behind the counter, the tills, the back hutch and the gorgeous albeit "dinged up" wooden counter.
Jack Carvill's apparently even got a mention in "Ulysses" although the real story is in its history, which I learned through the young man running it during my recent trip to Dublin. (Jim Bourke is the current owner btw).
In the early 1900s, it was called Delahunt and run by the Delahunt family through the mid-thirties when they sold it to the Cavey family, who ran the place for another thirty years until they sold it in the mid-sixties to Jack Carvill. It was Jack who renovated it (we think in 1968) and for nearly another thirty years, Carvill and his two sons ran it. Carvill died in 1993 but their sons still managed the store until their mother died in the late nineties (she apparently lived upstairs over the shop).
Take a look at this. He showed us the daily revenue book from the mid-thirties. Fascinating. While it may be hard to read, they took in 252 pounds (16 shillings and 4.5 pence) on Christmas Eve in 1936, which was higher than their typical take, which ranged from 80 to 185 pounds.
All I can say is thank God places like this still exist and thank God there are people on the planet who still care enough to restore history and remember the stories which keep the wonderful characters from distant times still alive.
Camara Educates African Communities With Reburbished PCs
Camara's John Fitzsimons tells me about their latest work in Africa during a recent trip to Dublin.
We have both spent time in Africa volunteering and teaching so had some common ground; the difference is John is still committed to making a difference there through his day-to-day working as General Manager of Camara.
It has nothing to do with photography despite the a/e slip in the word that could fool you if you read too quickly.
All about giving back, Carama is a volunteer organization dedicated to using technology to deliver education more effectively to disadvantaged communities in Africa and Ireland.They operate as a social enterprise in two distinct business lines: ‘Education Delivery’ and ‘Computer Reuse’. The connection between these two, seemingly disparate activities is technology.
Essentially they bring in in used computers from Irish companies and individuals, wipe their hard drives of data (in line with US Department of Defense standards), refurbish and load them with educational software before setting them up as Learning Centres in schools in Africa and Ireland. How cool is that?
What's with the name I ask him? It's the Bantu name for one who teachers with experience John says. They currently do most of their work in Lesotho, Zambia, Tanzanaire, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia.
"Camara is not the typical NGO," John says. "I'm not an international specialist. The return on investment for us is a social return, not a financial return. We want to be a 'social enterprise.'" They train teachers to use these computers as tools to improve the delivery of education to their students. And, they produce computer training and educational multimedia materials for use by teachers and children.
When Camara was established in 2005, they had two core beliefs: 1) Education is the key for people to break the cycle of poverty they find themselves in; and 2) properly used, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can be harnessed to revolutionize the way world class education is delivered to disadvantaged communities.
"The Internet is such a great leveler, creating so many equal opportunities with education and distant learning," says John. More on their program and how they operate below.
November 09, 2010
A Chat with F.ounder's Paddy CosgraveBelow, F.ounders organizer and producer Paddy Cosgrave talks to me about the history behind the event, how it got started, and his vision for the future. The chat took place at a 150 year old house along Dublin's Kildare Street early this month.
DataHug on Social CRM
DataHug's Connor Murphy (right) tells me about their service over drinks one night in Dublin last week.
DataHug, which just won an IntertradeIreland award earlier this month in Dublin, has developed technology that indexes corporate email systems and generates insight about the everyday connections between people.
While there are several email filters and indexers, none of them really take the pain out of dealing with information overflow and making sense of it in a meaningful way. Enter the growing need for Social CRM that works.
Currently in beta, DataHug analyzes emails coming in and out of a company to build a rich and dynamic picture of ‘who knows who’ and ‘how well they know them’. DataHug sells their service online to businesses that rely on relationships to succeed and are currently trialling the technology with a number of customers.
The Latest from TweetMeme's Nick HalsteadBelow, I'm chatting with TweetMeme's CEO and Founder Nick Halstead in Dublin earlier this month where he shares his latest insights and company developments. Location? The historical 150 year old Royal College of Physicians of Ireland on Dublin's Kildare Street. The building abounds with historic detail, including an impressive library and exhibition of medical artefacts. Have a listen:
November 08, 2010
Hoorah for F.ounders' in DublinBelow the F.ounders closing dinner in Dublin's Guinness Storehouse, a group of European, American and Irish entrepreneurs give a big hoorah to Paddy Cosgrave for an amazing turnout and 'show'. On stage are folks such as Michael Birch, Jeff Clavier, Tariq Krim, Divyank Turakhia, Matt Galligan and others. The event brought together thought leaders, technology companies, innovators and investors from Europe, the States and the rest of Ireland under one roof.
Irish Prime Minister Chief Economic Advisor Peter ClinchBelow, the Irish Prime Minister's Chief Economic Advisor Peter Clinch addresses a group of technology movers and shakers at a private dinner in Dublin earlier this month - the dinner gathered Irish entrepreneurs, European start-ups and illuminaries (folks like Michael Birch), venture capitalists, media, bloggers and American superstars, such as Chad Hurley and Jack Dorsey. The talk was given at the historical Iveagh House in Dublin.
Meet the 2010 PopTech Fellows
November 8, 2010 in America The Free, Europe, New England, On Africa, On Being Green, On China, On East Africa, On Education, On Health, On Innovation, On Science, On South Africa, On Technology, On the Future, On Women, Social Media, United Kingdom, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
November 07, 2010
Weedle Finds the Skills You Need From People You Trust
Free to use, Weedle enables a better way for you to get found by people who need your skill and also, to find people who have the skills you need. Think lawyers, shoe repair, accountants, hairdressers, piano teachers, tutors, photographers, web designers and more. Leveraging social media with semantic technologies, they're combining both with their own search and social graph algorithm, to increase the effectiveness of a match that is right for you -- whether you need the skill or you are promoting yours to the world.
Because it's based on your personal community, you learn about people who have a particular skill inside your network and can see who in that trusted network has used a person and what they think. It's the kind of service that essentially anyone can benefit from; give it a try as it only takes a couple of minutes to get started. CEO with a personality -- Iain Mac Donald -- tells us more.
November 06, 2010
What Silicon Valley Can Learn From Irish Entrepreneurs
Meet a new emerging market for technology, entrepreneurship and innovation, which was realized from experiencing Web 2.0 the Irish way at the most recent Dublin Web Summit and F.ounders event that spread over three days.
Says Butcher in his Techcrunch post, "F.ounders event did exactly what it said on the tin: almost 95% founders, few investors and an extremely well oiled organisation of events to network everyone together.
Almost no investors meant the entrepreneurs could compare notes, swap war stories and generally relax.....heaven for entrepreneurs who can get pretty sick of having to feel like they are under pressure to perform all the time."
But it doesn't end there and it's only part of the story. What the two simultaneous but related events did was combine the best-of-the-best in one city from Europe and the states, during non-stop rain, to connect in a meaningful way.....and this my friends, involves the exchange of human stories not technology ones.
What made it so special? Unlike so many events in Silicon Valley, we didn't talk business models 24/7 or money 24/7 or tools, deals, plug-ins and traffic strategies 24/7.
I had an opportunity to meet with a number of entrepreneurs in the context of dinners, coffees, pints of guinness, walks in the rain, lunches and before and after Irish fiddling late in the evening. (which btw is 4 or 5 am, not 10 pm which is the time most of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs either go home or are online connecting rather than over pints and bottles of brew, whiskey and port).
I'm not trying to beat up on the Valley, because frankly despite having had a reputation of being an "energizer bunny" (you know, the battery commercial), I'm not sure I could keep up with a wee morning pub culture year round. What I am trying to do is point out cultural differences which is what was instrumental in making this event 'magical.' Multiple cultures brought their own curiosity and their unique ways of pitching, engaging and exchanging with them to Dublin.
There's other magic I discovered too and it has to do with BEING IRISH: the Irish know how to tell a bloody good story.....all the time. As one Irish entrepreneur said to me, "we live for telling a story - we'll talk at ya all day long if you'll let us." The downside he said, was that "we might be more focused on the story than the business model and making money."
Fair enough, yet my initial thought was this: HIRE someone who knows how to get your business to cash-flow positive, whether that's bringing in the right biz dev guy or finding some seed money. Any idea how hard it is to instill storytelling in someone who doesn't 'get' storytelling?
A lot of CEOs over-complicate their pitch, get bogged down with the details, the technical features and what they think is important. If you have a good storyteller on board, no one will leave your campfire gathering, when if presented correctly, can be the most powerful 'magic sauce' in your corporate recipe book. The Irish are naturals at this. And, they also know how to add humor to their story in a way that keeps you engaged for longer.
And we all know what longer engagement can lead to....it's all anyone talks about in social media circles. (modern translation of campfire gathering: your website, blog, presentation, facebook fan page, twitter page and so on).
While this discovery meant that it took a little longer to get entrepreneurs to talk about their company and products, I got to know their personalities, backgrounds and the things they cared about OFFLINE. It's amazing what you can learn about a company and their direction when an entrepreneur is more focused on their story and your story combined than their iPad, iPhone or Blackberry in front of them. No one checked in to anything, tweeted or sent an email in the middle of any of our conversations.
What a joy to have a "human" focus dominate over a "digital" one during a meeting......Imagine truly being present for the journey, participating in that journey and focusing on the laughing, breathing, singing, talking and eating around you rather than the Hootsuite stream in the palm of your digital hand.
"Storytellers, the very act of telling, communicate a radical learning that changes lives and the world: telling stories is a universally accessible means through which people make meaning."-Chris Cavanaugh