It is hard to believe that the Startup Awards are now in their 6th year – how time flies when you are having fun!
The Startup life can be a hard one so sometimes it is good to look back and take stock of the successes (as opposed to mulling over the inevitable failures). The Startup Awards like this site (Startups.ie) were born out of a passion for supporting and promoting entrepreneurship in Ireland. I launched Startups.ie 12 years ago (again hard to believe!!) when I first left the security of a well paid job to venture out into the unknown and set up my first Startup.
Ireland in 2005 was a very different place – the Celtic Tiger was roaring and there was little interest in Startups – why would you start a business when you could just buy an investment property and flip it at a hefty premium? – the country was obsessed with property at the time and it was very difficult for small business people to secure leases and if they did the rents were crazy.
I started looking online for advice on Starting a business in Ireland and was quickly confused by a wide and varied selection of resources often offering conflicting advice or pushing some specific agenda – it was out of this frustration that Startups.ie was born. The site started out as a simple blog on wordpress – I live in Meath and we had no access to broadband so most of the early blogs were written in the lobby of a local hotel – remarkably we still have no proper broadband where I live in Meath but that is another story.
Pretty quickly people started engaging with Startups.ie – offering to provide content, asking questions and looking for advice. I think that the key to our success has always been authenticity – this is and always will be a resource by entrepreneurial minded people for entrepreneurial minded people. I have always tried to keep the goal of providing useful information and inspiration as our true north. Over the years Startups.ie has provided me with countless connections, many of who are now friends and/or business partners, lots of media exposure in press, media and television and it created the platform to launch the Startup Awards.
The Startup Awards were born out of the simple realisation (from working with Startups all over the country and from my own hard earned experience) that starting a business is incredibly tough and often very lonely. In 2011 there were award ceremonies in place recognising companies that were successful and celebrating big business achievements – while these events are fantastic and play a vital role in celebrating business success I felt that the Startups that I was talking to deserved recognition too. People who take a chance in the hope of a better future deserve to be recognised as it is these people who create the jobs of the future. The odds are stacked highly against Startups and many fail and fail again but it is through this difficult process that the winners are born – this bravery needs to be recognised and supported.
The first Startup Awards took place on a wet and windy evening in the Burlington hotel in Dublin, it was a black tie affair (we scrapped this pretty quickly) – a number of Dragon’s from Dragons Den showed up to support companies that they were involved with and the overall winner was the Handmade Soap Company (who have since gone on to do fantastic things). From the moment the night kicked off I knew that we had created something pretty special, the atmosphere in the room was amazing as Startups from all over the country got a chance to network with each other, share war stories, swap business cards and most importantly let their hair down for a well earned night off.
The 2017 Startup Awards will take place in the Mansion House in Dublin on the 18th of May, we are currently in the process of judging the hundreds of amazing startups that have entered once again this year. The judging process gives me great hope in the future of Ireland as we get to see first hand the ingenuity and talent that this country produces.
The Startup Awards would not be possible without the support of our amazing sponsors – Bank Of Ireland have been the headline sponsors for the past 3 years and have been instrumental in bring the awards to where they are today – our other sponsors are Enterprise Ireland, TaxAssist Accountants, McCann Fitzgerald, The IEDR (Domain Registry), BlueFace & The Irish Independent – Thank you all for making the awards so special.
Thanks also to all the Startups who entered this year – we look forward to another super night out – You are all amazing – keep going…..
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” – Goethe