Inspiration – reflections on Inspirefest Dublin Ireland

inspiration for ks wordpress site cover

I had the pleasure of traveling to Ireland and participating in Inspirefest. Held in Dublin, Inspirefest is a unique international festival of technology, science, design and the arts. Founder Ann O’Dea puts diversity and inclusion at the festival’s heart, and the ratio of women to men is a refreshing change from the still massively male dominated tech world. This is directly in line with Jeanne M. Sullivan and Astia, the group that originally invited me to the Emerald Isle. Sullivan is Chief Inspiration Officer at Sullivan Adventures and a long-time investor in people, while Astia is a 501c3 dedicated to diversity in leadership.

The photo above is Ellyn Shook, Chief Leadership and HR Officer, Accenture Global professional services company incorporated in Dublin. Accenture is the world’s largest consulting firm with over $31 Billion in revenue and operates in more than 120 countries. Her theme was empowerment and diversity leads to breakthrough results. Similarly, Judith Williams, Global Head of Diversity at Dropbox demonstrated how Dropbox with more than 500 million users is also changing the rules.

Judith Williams, Global Head of Diversity, Dropbox changing the rules with more than 500 million users

While attending Inspirefest, I was part of a strategy panel entitled Thinking Big Enough to Scale Internationally. Our panel consisted of Anne Ravanona (moderator), CEO Global Invest Her, Paris, Eilish McCaffrey, Growth Strategist iOT and Digital, Silicon Valley, Emily Brady, Business Advisor, Growth Strategist & Supply Chain Optimization Expert, Dublin, Corinne Nevinny, Angel Investor, Non Exec Director, Los Angeles and Andrea Clausen, Senior Business Analyst, Google, Dublin. As a business strategist, I drive community success using the power of social media and the real time web, and I was excited to demonstrate that these tools and methods translate easily and globally.

In addition to witnessing the continued power of digital communication, I also had the opportunity to discover new business incubators in person and meet with entrepreneurs in, and just outside of, Dublin and Galway. I met Eoin Costello, co-founder of Startup Ireland, who filled me in on Digital Dun Laoghaire, a small town a half hour out of Dublin with a big project, and saw how the Bank of Ireland has taken a breathtaking leap into the future of banking, transforming old structures and ways into a true leadership engagement.

Surrounded by the drama of Brexit and the increasingly contentious US election process, I found it refreshing to be able to focus on business and only business. Ireland has rolled out the welcome mat, with groups like IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland bursting with excitement at the prospect of expanding business in Ireland. Connecting entrepreneurs to resources is the key to job growth anywhere and is now a global imperative. Do you have an interest in manufacturing? Ireland has some strong connections for you, and good entrepreneurial leaders know to take advantage of gaps and disruptions to drive success.

I’ve talked previously about validation. If Validation is the culmination and recognition of all the work that goes into launching a business, then Inspiration is both the starting point of an enterprise as well as the fuel that keeps you going through the rough spots. There is no better way to be inspired than to surround yourself with cheerleaders, advocates and strategists who can expand your thinking and help turn that business idea into a reality. Pull enough good people together around a great idea, and you can change the world.


Entrepreneurial Road Show – The B&M Connection

Entrepreneurial Road Show

page 8 from the Cryer story & photo by Keith SpiroTo some, new tech and entrepreneurship can only be found –or at least financed – in the big startup hotbeds of Silicon Valley – or maybe New York, if you’re a New Yorker – or Kendall Square if you’re from MIT or Harvard. But that didn’t stop a music festival called South by South West from turning into an annual celebration of technology and art near Austin Texas

So, just maybe, entrepreneurship thrives in places where a community comes together to support it. Such is the theory of Steve Case who created a project called Rise of the Rest which came to Maine via Portland last month – the end stop of a nationwide tour showcasing exciting new – communities that incubate and celebrate entrepreneurial endeavors.

Steve should know, he was the founder of America On Line, yes AOL which when sold to Time Warner turned him into a billionaire on a mission. Maine got to showcase a few visits in and around Portland and the evening culminated in a pitch contest co-hosted by Jess Knox, current head of Maine Accelerates Growth & Olympico Strategies and a co-founder of Maine Startup and Create Week. Jess Knox photo by Keith SpiroHis background includes working with Blackstone a Venture Capital Group and a stint as assistant Administrator of SBA Field Operations. He’s the right person to cheerlead this next generation of Maine Entrepreneurship.

The Revolution powered road show came into Maine with former Massachusetts Governor Duval Patrick and met up with US Senator Angus King and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree for the daytime business visits. These are all folks who make a difference and take real action. Senator King and I go back to his Plus One program as governor where every Maine business that added at least one employee got gubernatorial recognition.Governor Duval Patrick photo by KeithSpiro

Duval Patrick, as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, actively participated in international trade missions to significant consumer and tech places like China, Israel and Denmark, growing Massachusetts footprint in BioPharma and mobile technology. Today he heads up Bain & Company’s Social Impact Investing initiative. Each of these folks have been regulars on the entrepreneurial and tech circuit. They always smile and take the time to say hello and more importantly to enquire and show real interest in the new businesses that they encounter.

The future of work and economic stability lies in the intersection of doing good while doing well financially. Seth Godin asks when did the community shift to chartering corporations who view their primary task as just making money for their investors? We might not have public libraries today were it not for Andrew Carnegie and his broader mission of adding community value.

The winning pitch was for a clean tech app leveraging the power of big data that is now available. LobsteRx staff photo by Keith SpiroMy personal choice went to LobsteRx, a startup based out of the University of Maine, Orono. They were one of the few finalists that exhibited leadership-team diversity in both age and gender and presented a product direction mix that could help Maine with marketing visibility and a significant number of jobs. With focus from skincare to cancer, LobsteRx can have impact on major life areas. Their source product is Lobster, something the world fully identifies with Maine.

#RiseofRest selfie photo by Keith Spiro

Selfies of Rise of the Rest participants and huge audience are another way to raise visibility and awareness. Please re-tweet and re-post.

By focusing on re-use and conversion of some of the 20-30 million pounds of lobster processing waste, we get jobs, PR and a uniquely Maine identified mascot in the mix. Even though only a part of Maine is involved with the lobster industry, there are still some compelling economic facts associated with it, like upwards of $1.7 billion in total economic impact (2012 figures), 5 to 7 changes of hands from “caught to bought” as the Press Herald called it. Maine is responsible for more than 75% of the world’s lobster catch and the US and Canada see a combined f $4 billion in economic impact. Linda Bean figured it out. We’ve got a number of entrepreneurs who will also. Let’s support the local efforts, help fund them and amplify their messages.

You can find the original print edition of this article in THE CRYER ONLINE NOVEMBER 2015 page 8 The Boston and Maine Connection.