A PLATO EBR Perspective on BorderBizcamp 2014

For the third year running, Border Bizcamp 2014 drew crowds from near and far, from 15 counties across the island for what proved to be yet another truly enlightening event – full of inspiration, shocking stories of losses and gains, and fresh ideas about managing new ventures. Border Bizcamp which is normally held in June was held on Saturday 13th September 2014 with a change of venue this year as Border Bizcamp 2014 went to the new Monaghan Institute Education Campus, a fantastic modern facility conducive to networking.

With over 240 registered from 16 counties of Ireland (excluding 22 Speakers) and circa 162 attending, the Border Bizcampers must be doing something right. The 2014 event focused on three themes as follows:-

  • Theme 1: “It’s a long way from there to here” Personal inspirational stories of business, lessons learnt, tales of highs, lows and the climb back up again.  

  • Theme 2: “The Inside Job”  You are the greatest resource your business has. If you are not right, the business won’t be right.

  • Theme 3: “To Infinity and Beyond” 
    Business stories that speak of stretching the boundaries of normality – breaking out of Ireland, changing business approaches, changing anything, challenging, diversifying and creating new futures.

Whilst the speakers addressed the various themes eloquently there were common threads reinforced throughout:-

  • Doing things smarter – bootstrapping concept

  • Using the measures provided by support agencies – capital grants, employment initiatives, technology infrastructure

  • Knowing and understanding your market – making money through adding value to the customer

  • Getting up and dusting off after losing it all – being mentally resilient for business

  • Looking after the entrepreneur – personal wellness and productivity for you and your employees

  • The lack of connection between money and happiness – know your personal and business goals.


Some PLATO EBR Reflections:

Ian Lucey from Lucey Group present his top 12 smart ways to raise money early, he covered simple things like why the number 7 is so strong compared to 5 or an 8 or 9 when branding, who to go to for different types of support schemes – R&D tax credits use them, the importance of attracting and maintaining quality internships. Ian reminded us to barter with creditors and suppliers and cut out coffee meetings if necessary, there are different perhaps more efficient ways to do business!
Favourite quote: “Better to have hole in your team rather than an asshole” (moo.com).

Declan Coyle got the emotional ball rolling during his talk on choosing which platform you stand on red or green –  red being negative and green being positive. Declan says, “Don’t ask what is needed but what makes you alive”, you need to tune into yourself first in order to switch on others (employees). He talked about personal magnificence and DNA in creating greatness but the ability to choose was vital – choosing to be angry, to suffer or be annoyed. He said, “it is as it is” meaning you cannot argue with 100% reality or you will lose, so why set yourself up for failure learn how to choose to accept reality and deal with it positively. He accepts that doubters will say you can’t switch off your feelings but he says it is ok to feel first but then you must react and this is when you choose which platform to stand on. Another good saying is “If it is to be, it is up to me,” he encourages us all to get empowered, use unique talents and honour them, treasure them.
Favourite quote: If we have 50,000 ideas, 40,000 will be negative and it is up to us to do something with the 10,000 positive.

John Conway from Meteor Electrical carried on Declan Coyle’s theme of choosing how to react in the face of adversity. John grew his cottage business into a reputable firm where a hedging scheme and economic downturn lead to a €3million loss which the business could not sustain putting the firm into liquidation in 2009. John felt it difficult to stomach putting 30 years of business success and personal assets including his home on the line. Losing weight was the least of his worries, when assets are frozen there comes with it personal embarrassment, groceries having to be returned, the worry over providing for your six young children. John was also carrying the blame of losing a substantial local workforce which had spinoff effects for the local economy. That was the first thing John learnt from this “tragedy” not to carry blame around with you, you need to park it. He says he had to work at being positive, and found it easier to be positive when he had money! He had to accept where he was now and not to get negative about it and he reminded the audience that if you think you are different you are on a road to depression. He had a lot of support from family and friends, one friend bankrolled him US$1million and many other professionals, solicitors and barristers give of their services for free so he says if you look at it, I am jammy. He worked with someone (again donating their time for free), who got him psychologically prepared for dealing with the loss and building up again, he hadn’t lost a limb, he still owned his house at that present moment, he had knowledge gained (albeit knowledge he didn’t want), so the only thing he had lost was money. John remarked that intelligence goes down when emotion goes up – like a see-saw. John advised to not whinge about problems but to get options to fix it.
Favourite quote: Just like on an aeroplane, fit your own mask first you have to look after yourself and get yourself into the right space before you can help yourself and others.

Mark Hurley CEO of Mudge Mobile told a shockingly emotional story of his losses and how his despair nearly sent him over the edge. His story was so surreal; it is better left unsaid until you hear it direct from Mark on another occasion. Most people in Mark’s position would give up, his fighting spirit is to be admired, but like the true telecoms genius that he is, Mark is onto the next big thing and most likely onto making another few million. Both John Conway and Mark Hurley now realised the hard way that money helps but it does not make their world go around but happiness (of loved ones) did.
Favourite quote: I had a 3ft rule, if you came within 3ft of me you had to hear about my business. You need to have GRIT (Be persistent); motivation doesn’t last neither does cleanliness!

There were lots more speakers worthy of mention and these are just a few. Shane Martin rounded off Border Bizcamp 2014 in his uniquely comic fashion talking about the difficulty of finding out how happiness works. As a nation, Shane says we are obsessed by the psychological diagnostics of negative behaviour but people would do better if they tried to understand what makes them tick and what makes them happy and businesses can be more productive if they harvest happy employees.
Favourite quote: Start with happiness and everything else flows.

Two books deserving of a mention this year:-

–        Green or Red platform by Declan Coyle –  ALL proceeds going to Make A Wish Foundation

–        Getting Sh*t Done by Niall Harbison – no 1 Best seller in Ireland 2014

PLATO EBR would like to thank all the Border Bizcampers 2014 for letting us join them in their efforts to drive this exciting initiative for businesses within the East Border Region. We thank the committee for devoting time away from their businesses over many months of preparation for Border Bizcamp 2014.

Dr. Cecilia Hegarty
Director, PLATO EBR