Entrepreneurial Ecosystem – Pivotal or Peripheral?

Entrepreneurial ecosystemPeripheral to two capitals that benefit from significant foreign direct investment, policies favouring support of 21st century technologies plus agencies committed to expanding markets, the NI/ROI border region is uniquely placed to focus on just three of these six key pillars.

Human Capital, Supports and Culture

Our task is to develop these to ensure we can fully participate. In an age of a mobile and freelance workforce, geographically peripherality does not preclude our being pivotal to both markets

A skilled workforce is educated, confident, flexible and resilient. Peer to peer educational and networking opportunities serve to showcase local entrepreneurial success stories, highlight opportunities and encourage our somewhat risk averse population to follow their lead.

At the core, programs like BizCamps, Newry Creates, Women that Work among others, address the roots of our collective difficulty with ambition & self-promotion.

We signpost resources designed to provide mentorship among peers, encouraging participants to “pay it forward” volunteering with outreach efforts like CoderDoJo and Drone Academy to inspire and support skill building among young people as well as the unemployed.

Where opportunities may not yet exist we support people seeking to create them.

Learn more…


Creating Community

Neo Ireland is all about growing a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem regionally.  We do that by creating community.images

We provide a physical and virtual space for curious and interested people who want to experiment with entrepreneurship and social enterprise. We inspire by telling the “good news” stories and letting entrepreneurs lead by example. It’s an incubator and a “launchpad”.

Our first outreach was BizCampNI since 2012, we’ve run in them Newry, Belfast & Craigavon.

BizCamp provides an entire day of inspiration and education as volunteer speakers, accomplished in some aspect of running an SME or microbusiness take to a podium to share their experience. It’s continuing education to teach what we didn’t know we didn’t know about marketing, PR, finance, innovation and business development.

Beyond that it has created a community of “BizCampers”. When you leave a BizCamp you don’t just have a pocket full of business cards. You have potential relationships.

We offer a microbusiness support group in Newry. Moms that Work and Women that Work were the original day and evening groups. Merged into one and meeting monthly, on line and now informally over the course of three years, relationships have been established and new businesses formed. More importantly the group now exists as a safe place to ask for help and advice, test new ideas and get the word out about new products, opportunities, craft fairs and available business development courses.

The Drone Academy and After School Coding Club are perhaps the best example of what happens when you simply make the space available. This ground up effort by a resident programmer with little more than his ambition to teach young folks to code – has resulted in about thirty people through the doors and 3 full time programmer/app developers added to the region.

10511220_317915241715885_7337605097432165033_nNewry Creates is our latest endeavor. Re-united with BizCamp co-founder Chris McCabe we’re happy to support this bi-monthly, evening meeting at Amplified Bar. Chris is leading with his same passion for building community as when he helped introduce BizCamp 5 years ago. Local entrepreneurs, creatives and technologists are invited to give a 10 minute lightning talk on their success story. The ups & the downs.

We’re a dynamic and entrepreneurial region already – come find out who is making all that happen and how! Perhaps become inspired to take a leap yourself.

2015 promises to be a banner year continuing these endeavours and adding more. We’ve moved to smaller quarters, created a “hacker space” to invite more techies to hang out and share their wisdom. There’s a regular Coderdojo back on the roster. We’re taking the Women that Work group to a new level, rebranding as Microbuzz.biz in order to offer a crossborder reach to men and women.

Let us have your feedback, add your name to our mailing list, or just let us know how we can help you make 2015 a prosperous one.

Email: eve@neoireland.org

Changing the Conversation, the Disservice of Silence

Albert Samuel Anker "Grandad tells a story"Oh, we Irish are grand storytellers. Poor though, in frank and open conversation. Worse at speaking truth to power. Perhaps the former comes naturally. For the latter, skills are required.

We teach polite, we teach deference, we don’t teach assertiveness or skills to influence¹. That is a very specific skill set.

We lack a belief that we are entitled to be heard. Not to always get our way, rather to be respected when we assert our needs, our insights, and ourselves.

How else can one explain the dearth of leadership across public institutions in two governments in Ireland? We whinge to our friends, but we are silent in public.²

Imagine finding your voice as a way to take back your power. And to empower others.

I tell this story often, to illustrate the way in which we silence ourselves.

The butcher enquired of my special request. “What would you be wanting that for?”

I’d forgotten that even a paying customer’s whims are not always humored in Irish villages.

“My children are coming and it’s their favorite.” His politely stern retort: “Well, your children will just have to learn to eat Irish”

The child in me recognized the tone. Educated by an Irish order of nuns in an academy with a mission to transform the daughters of immigrants into ladies worthy of the upper classes their parents aspired to, I knew to smile, nod and change my order.

It would have been an automatic response before a thity year journey of finding my voice. My response was polite but fierce.

“Well, I will learn to eat Irish, my guests will learn to eat Irish, but my children will get what they have always gotten. I’ll be in tomorrow at two to pick it up.”

I did and it was lovely.

Apart from my reputation as that “cheeky American woman”, all goes well enough. I shop there and enjoy conversations about children and grandchildren and have fine meals of my choosing.

Two friends related how they handle the same shop. “The Irish way” I’m told.

One, an American expat said “Eve, you will just have to learn to act Irish”. The other, a woman with a family of six, regularly drives 18 miles round trip to shop elsewhere because “he always tries to talk me out of what I want”.

Surely these responses serve no one.

Failure to assert what we need, and in this case, what we are entitled to as paying customers, does a disservice to all.

I don’t get what I want, the environment suffers the insult of extra emissions and the butcher misses an opportunity to serve, to please and as in his case with me, excel.

It belies a disrespect of both the merchant and us. It is in his best interest to sell the meat already cut in the case. It is simply incumbent upon me to insist on what I want. That is a transaction of equals.

Working with a group of clients I used this example to explore the nuances of language, practice assertiveness and exercise our voices in a new way.

Months after the long forgotten session I ran into one.

“I have a butcher story for you. I remembered what you said about asking for what we don’t see, or sending a dish back.”

In the past out of “politeness” she wouldn’t have asked for something she didn’t see.

“So I asked for rhubarb.” He didn’t carry it, he didn’t know why, but he said “The farmer up the road has a field of it. Leave it with me and come back tomorrow.”

A few hours later a lad from the store delivered a bunch to her house. Now, in season he carries it.

Her assertion provided an opportunity for him to be generous, prove his skill as a wise merchant, and my point.

A fine man, willing to please, he is rarely given the opportunity. In our deference we don’t empower each other to do better.

Power and influence are there for the taking. It requires no force, just practice. In fact you may find that the more softly you speak the harder they listen…and pay attention.

¹The Elements of Influence


The Elements of Power

²Irish voter turnout, 2014

For more on the painting – The Storyteller: http://robvanderwildttellerstalespictured.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/this-man-is-a-real-storyteller-and-so-is-his-painter/