PLATO EBR Reflections on BorderBizcamp 2016

PLATO EBR Reflections on BorderBizcamp 2016
All entrepreneurs possess individual knowledge, experience and skills, which can be of immense benefit to others in business or nascent entrepreneurs. BorderBizcamp is a day to showcase and share that talent for the greater good. For a fifth year running BorderBizcamp 2016 sought to create an energetic event in the Border counties to promote business people supporting business people. As was commented by an audience member, the t-shirts said 5.0, so BorderBizcamp 2016 was identified as well-ahead of the industry standard of 4.0!

BorderBizcamp was a celebration of all things Business and Border in this uncertain time of Brexit, and aims to present to the rich talent, tradition and experience that exists in this area. At BorderBizcamp 2016 there were three talk themes:

  • Into the Future – future trends, possibilities, directions, opportunities and business ideas
  • Up, Up and Away – Inspirational business stories
  • Nuts & Bolts – Practical tools, techniques and how-tos to make your business even better.

During the day, there were 8 different timeslots starting at 10am and finishing at 15.40pm. In keeping with the format of previous years, at each time slot there were three speakers presenting, as per the event booklet or the speakers section so that attendees could plan their choices from the 22 speakers who were present.

Some Highlights of the 2016 Event from PLATO EBR were:

Michael Farrell Director of PKF-FPM highlighted the importance of people and building the team whether large or small, keeping an eye on performance management in terms of what goes on outside the normal job duties and how to create great teams of leaders which will lead any business into the future. “Culture of an organisation is everything” Michael Farrell 2

Stephen Dalton talked around the subject of Personal Development. He is a founding member of the Emotional Intelligence (E.I.) Institute of Ireland and works as a E.I. consultant with the company Business Bootcamp. He also teaches eastern philosophy and meditation on a weekly basis in Monaghan town. Stephen’s talk was focussed on hauntings and how they can inform future behaviour and actions within business and more widely in life choices. However, behaviours can be changed and new more productive patterns can be estalbished and developed. “Don’t just say/take No,the word No should be explained as to why you are saying/being told No…No on its own creates resentment”.

Stephen Dalton 2

Dorcas Crawford is a Senior Partner in Edwards & Co Solicitors, Belfast and as a solicitor maybe not an obvious choice for BorderBizcamp, however Dorcas was a scream in terms of edutainment not least the mention of the naming of her new hip which she expertly worked into her talk on how people react to something you say…Dorcas had a very clear but sincere message for the audience in terms of “mediation costs less than litigation” and she has steadily grown this aspect of her business by working with small businesses to mediate their disputes and keep them out of the costly court situation. A definite unexpected highlight of the day! She also referred to Belfast Hour initiative. Check it out:


Martin McVicar, the well-known Monaghan entrepreneur, co-partner in Combilift returned to BorderBizcamp 2016 to talk about the importance of harvesting home-grown talent showing specific examples of how Combilift had initiated and engaged, with Cavan-Monaghan ETB and Monaghan Institute (where BorderBizcamp was held) to roll-out apprenticeship schemes approved by SOLAS and a suite of additional training programmes suited to the needs of their growing SME. Frank Woods who heads up the Combilift in-house training aspects was also on hand to talk through the specifics of how the schemes work in practice – a dynamic duo with humorous tales. Two things you might not know: (1) Martin is passionate about getting school visits into manufacturing plants, “Parents think that the best/only option for their children is college/university but the reality is not all are cut out for sitting behind a desk or computer and we should open up other possibilities to them from an early age. “The big issue is we have to change thinking/attitudes towards apprenticeships in Ireland and this is slow work”. And (2) All employees should have an opportunity to go to tradeshows to better understand the marketplace we are working in and how we are competitive etc.


The BorderBizcampers were careful to position this talk in a room overlooking the construction of Combilift’s new €40 million, 46,000m² manufacturing facility and global HQ in Monaghan, which will position Combilift to double its turnover by 2020 and which will create a further 200 jobs. Martin says: People don’t work for a company they work for people”. BorderBizcamp has been grateful to the likes of Martin who was one of the early volunteers to support the event as a speaker in its first roll-out 5 years ago and who has since provided voluntary support to the event through staff.

Sara Dennedy of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) had something for the social entrepreneurs in the audience as did Malachy Dolan who is combining his love of farming and health and social care under social farming schema. What came across from these talks was that money is important to the venture, if it is government health care money it does not belong to the government but the person in receipt and they should have the ability to spend it as they wish in a sustainable manner with real outcomes for them. Whilst Malachy wants his kids to emigrate since he believes society is not living up to its promises at all…Sara highlighted her experiences of some excellent social projects – revenue generating and job creating e.g. over the last 10years or so, 190 entrepreneurs which SEI supported had created 1,080 jobs.

Social innnovatoes

Mark Reilly of Aphix was one of the younger speakers on the agenda being shortlisted for 2015 IBYE awards (the 2016 Award Entry is to be announced soon!). Mark, a self-declared tech. geek, has been co-founding and growing a software business which assists SMEs in developing their online capacity and interface with customers. It is a cloud-based technology company providing specialist ecommerce and integrated mobile applications to avoid companies having to overhaul their existing IT set-up. Mark had some excellent tips: Treat it like it is real, Make it easy, get company-wide buy-in to what you are intending to achieve, if you build it they will come is nonsense”. Mark Reilly

BorderBizcamp 2016 was drawn to a close by the eminent Ron Immink, who is best described as a maverick and book geek – he doesn’t even stop at the business books these days! Just when you think your mind has taken in so much new information during the day and you are now open to trying out some new possibilities and excited about going back to base and taking on the challenge head-on, Ron transports you to a whole new level. His talk was entitled Future proofing but in reality it was truly scary or daunting for some of us! To think that black swans could exist? The extent of change in our world was conceptualised under the work of Watson and his work in artificial intelligence whilst, “Watson was acknowledged and is now a word it is now set to become a platform.” Also discussed was the growing area of cyber security. Ron also used the analogy of the starfish versus the spider to illustrate how trends change, “If you cut a starfish in 2, you get 2 starfish, if you cut a spider in 2 you get a dead spider”. Whilst Ron had some interesting facts for us such as how London taxi drivers were found ot have an enlarged frontal lobe to cope with the geography of their job, he compared this to how students of today learn and therefore how employees of the future firm will think and operate – multi-tasking the technology and relying on the technology to develop their thinking which presents a challenge to small businesses who are not engaging with new platforms etc. “It is not enough for a company to stay competitive they must be strong on technology usage.”

Some light reading: Mavericks At Work by William C Taylor, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne and any of Seth Godin’s books…and failing this any sci-fi book will do the trick! Apparently those that keep up with what is happening in the sci-fi world are more astute on future-proofing.

PLATO EBR wishes to thank all involved in making BorderBizcamp 2016 a success.