Archive for the ‘Business Start Ups’ Category

A Night of Passion

April 13, 2014

Passion

This was going to be a busy night dancing between three events ..

First up Eamon Curtin, Programme Manager of the IGNITE Programme had arranged for an incredible speaker to tell us about his fantastic start-up journeys. Raomal Perera, now a Professor of Entrepreneurship told the group of young entrepreneurs about how he scaled the dizzy heights with two companies, ISOCOR (listed on NASDAQ in 1996), which he sold and Network365, which was ultimately purchased by Intel in 2013.

Raomal PereraThe very passionate and honest Raomal,who has won many entrepreneur awards gave the group precious advice about funding a business and dealing with Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists. He told the group that the first things they look for in a young business they consider investing in, is the Integrity and PASSION of the people involved.

Next up we headed to L’Atitude 51 for the International Wine and Food SocietyBest of Local Producers” event where we sampled the best of wine which was carefully selected by the joint owner Beverley Mathews who is as passionate about wine as the guest food producers.

The wine was accompanied by the finest food from some of the best of local food producers. We heard from Frank Hederman who has been smoking salmon for over 30 years, we heard from the owner of On The Pigs Back about the fantastic cheeses and best of all was our butcher from Kanturk.

Jack McCarthy, Butcher KanturkJack McCarthy, 5th generation butcher was both entertaining and no-nonsense as he lit up the room with his passion for spicing beef, black pudding, haggis and tongue – you just wanted to plan an immediate trip to Kanturk and stock up on anything that this passionate man was selling.

Our final event of the evening was the Mark Geary gig at Coughlan’s Bar, which has just been voted IMRO’s best live venue in Ireland. This is an incredible and well deserved accolade for this cosy venue, which is a huge credit to the woman behind all of this, Edel Curtin. Bands all over Ireland and Cork music fans are lucky to have such a passionate person as Edel bringing us great gigs in such an intimate venue on a regular basis.

Mark Geary

After a little wait our buddy Mark Geary and his band of merry men and the fabulous Grainne Hunt came on stage and entertained us in his inimitable style complete with great songs, great story telling and a special sense of humour. This was a great gig with a special solo cover of a Tom Waits song by Grainne ..beautiful!

Mark could have brought a small band with him for this intimate gig but this is a passionate artist who prefers to give his audience everything instead of making a few extra bob and doing just enough.

We had a really great and quite diverse night, but the one thing that was the same and made everything special, whether it was business, wine, food, music or running a venue was Passion.

Raomal was right …Passion is the most important ingredient of all.

Does what you do allow your passion to shine through? 

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

10 Years, Crystal Balls and Awards

September 19, 2013

Chambers Ireland - CSR Awards - Greg Canty, Fuzion PR

10 Years ago my buddy Tommy Doyle collected me from my old job. I handed back the keys to my five month old Saab 93 (that was tough as it was the best car I had ever driven!) and I handed in the keys to the office – I was done with my well paid job as General Manager and about to start my life as a 100% self employed person.

Tommy took me to O’Brien’s in Little Island for a sensible breakfast before we started a day of celebratory drinks – the boy was set free!!

While I was in celebratory mood quietly I was really nervous – I had just shut the door on a long and quite successful career in the drinks industry and was about to enter a new world, which required me to totally reinvent myself and put bread on the table at the same time.

If I had a crystal ball I couldn’t have predicted the 10 years that I have had …

  • We traded in Dee’s car and bought a second had Santa Fe jeep (hated that jeep!)
  • We toured Ireland with our high profile luxury women’s event Catwalks with top models, top brands and Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet fame (great fun but exhausting!)
  • I sold my music stores – I had three stores in Cork, Limerick and Dublin
  • We did a lot of work with Killarney Golf and Fishing Club, launching the new Killeen course
  • We took on our first staff member, Ali who is still with us
  • We took on more PR staff and a graphic designer
  • We opened an office in Cork city – who remembers the punishing four flights of very uneven stairs?
  • The recession came crashing in and wiped out some really good clients –  We adopted the “storm the recession” approach (great book)
  • We bought a new Santa Fe jeep (liked this one!)
  • We had to write off nearly €200k in bad debts over three years, mostly because people were unable to pay but we did get caught by some chancers as well – the Credit Control Warrior and Famous were born!
  • We started to do PR and social media training – this has been so enjoyable and we have met so many great people through these courses 
  • We got married eventually – Dee still calls it “her” wedding!
  • I started blogging and realised I love writing
  • We won a national PR award for the “War Crimes” Cystic Fibrosis , St. Vincent’s Hospital  Campaign
  • We took on staff in Dublin and opened an office
  • Dee’s mum Joan sadly passed away – a dynamic and challenging woman (my buddy Tommy made her giggle by calling her a …. I better no say!)
  • We moved to better offices and celebrated Fuzion’s 10 years in business
  • I really started to excel at social media lecturing for the Digital Marketing Institute and providing courses for Enterprise Boards and clients
  • My kids are both flying, Brendan with his video production company Feel Good Lost and Ellen with her own career
  • We bought a brand new car, a Jaguar XF, one that was better than anything I ever had before – this is something we had to do for oursleves 
  • We managed a few really great holidays to the US, Italy, Turkey, Greece  and Cuba and back to Italy again
  • We continued to grow picking up national PR recommendations for Tour de Munster and Safebook
  • We are about to unveil a statue to celebrate the values of a great man Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty

No crystal ball could have predicted these 10 years, the variety, the speed that it  has flown by, the tough economy that have us working our socks off and digging deep continuously, the sadness and the smiles, the stress and the joy, the worry and the excitement, the highs and some lows, the friends and team mates past and present.

I have had to totally reinvent Greg, bringing all of my old skills and moulding these into a new sector including social media which didn’t exist 10 years ago when I started this journey. When I tell people I started off life as an accountant most won’t believe me!

For me the culmination of this 10 years was accepting a National Award at the Chambers Ireland, Corporate Social Responsibility Awards  event last  week for the work we did on “Safebook“, which was really my baby. We designed a simple info-graphic to encourage our young people to behave responsibly and respectfully online and a simple “how to” if they are victims of cyberbullying.

All of the Fuzion skills including PR, Design and my knowledge of social media helped us to push this out internationally to over 100 countries (a few months ago we were asked to translate it into Hungarian for a conference in Zagreb!) – we are making a difference!

!0 years …wow!

What will the next 10 years bring for me and for you?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin 

€20 and the “too good to be true” Dream Client!

July 21, 2013

Too Good to be True

Is it ok if I show this man around your office?” Frank our landlord asked (by the way he hates if we call him that – he prefers to say we are his customer and to be fair that is always how he treats with us).

No bother at all Frank” – he wanted to see how we had laid out the office space, which had the same footprint as the vacant unit two floors down.

Frank introduced me to this English gentleman, Mr Cooper who was starting an airline, which was to operate from Cork ..interesting!

He would be needing Marketing and PR support and he also would need the services from our graphic design team. We had a quick chat but I had another appointment to get to – he wanted to tie things down quickly so he asked us to meet with him the next day for a full briefing.

This could be a very exciting project to work on.

Just before I ran out the door I did a Google search on this guy to see if there was some evidence of his existence online ..nothing!

On the way to my meeting I rang Frank to make sure I caught the man’s name correctly – I had.

What do you make of our English gentleman?” Frank asked. He explained to me that he also popped into the accountants on the floor below us who were also going to do work for him. The following day they were to introduce him to one of the banks.

Frank, is he too good to be be true?

saab airline

We both agreed that maybe it was wrong to be cynical and there was a chance that this well dressed, well spoken Englishman was the real deal after all.

He arrived the following day, a little later than organised but even more well dressed than the previous day. He apologised for being late – there were some technical financial details he was ironing out with the accountant about licences.

He took me through his project in detail – he was really looking for a marketing partner for this venture. He told us that he really liked and trusted us. He spoke to our really talented head designer, Jonathan about his brand and what he had in mind – we all agreed that while he was on a deadline, the work should be done properly.

Maybe this guy was a dream client after all?

After many years in business and knowing how hard you must work to win a new account, this guy had me suspicious. I was “on guard” for a sign, any sign that this was not going to work out.

He started telling me about the lonely childhood he had and now he was alone and did not have any attachments.. for reasons that we would understand. Hmm..where was this conversation going?

He had a request – he wanted to give us a shareholding in the business!

He wanted to embrace the true spirit of partnership – if this happened everyone would work together. He explained he would make the same offer to everyone that was involved in his project. He was doing this as he had no family and he wanted the business to have a “safe” home if anything happened to him.

While this was an outlandish tale maybe it was true? The alarm bell was ringing in my head at this stage but I was feeling a little sorry for this lonely businessman.

I politely told him that people might think he was “nuts” if he were to have that shareholding conversation with them – I advised him to keep that idea to himself and if he wanted to do something like this down the line, then maybe.

He had another request – until he had office space sorted out could he work from our offices?

He had noticed on the day that there were desks with no one working at them. A louder alarm bell started to ring!

That wouldn’t be practical I explained but maybe he should have a word with Frank who might let him use some of the available space in the building until he had a formal arrangement made.

He told me he understood ..

We had arranged to meet the next day when he wanted to introduce us to some of his team who he had already recruited..that sounds ok I reckoned.

Just as he left the office he patted his pockets ..”Damn, I’m a bit short and the bank is closed. Could I borrow €20?” Even though the alarm bell was shaking the whole building at this stage I found myself handing this guy who we hardly knew €20.

On the way home I bumped into Frank as we left the building.

Well, what do you make of our friend?” I asked. He had told Frank that he was very impressed with Fuzion and the accountant and he just needed to finalise everything and get cracking. I told him the story (with a red face) about the €20 knowing already how the whole story was going to unfold.

What’s worse I told Dee the story about the €20 – “You big fool” ..she told me.

If this was going to end up going nowhere I’d prefer to kill it quickly. Before he was to arrive I would prepare a budget and insist on a % payment upfront before we committed any resources to the job – if he was not the real deal then this would flush him out.

20 minutes after he was scheduled to arrive I called him ..nothing.

Another 10 minutes ..nothing.

A few minutes later I received a text from him saying that Fuzion and the people in Cork were the most unprofessional and backward that he had ever come across and he was going to set up in Belfast instead.

Needless to say I haven’t heard anything about the airline but I do wonder about the “dream client, Mr Cooper” who got away.

When it seems too good to be true it probably is ..the tale alone was worth the €20.

Mr Cooper …good luck with your venture!

Greg Canty is a partner Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin

Chasing “Your” Dreams

November 11, 2012
Chasing Dreams

Chase “your” dreams

A few months ago I found myself having a coffee in town on a Saturday morning chatting with an old school buddy who I hadn’t see in thirty years. We had connected on LinkedIn and it was as if those thirty years had disappeared in a flash.

I always thought he was “sound”, one of the good guys and in truth not a whole pile had changed – both of us had done a lot of living in between but we were essentially the same two school mates – we had a good laugh recalling stories about our teachers and football matches we had played in. I had a photo of our “winning” team in some school tournament and there we were the two of us in our red kit!

Both of us have done well in our varied careers and he was in the early stages of a new online project – by the end of the conversation he asked if I wanted to come on board with the project utilising our expertise on some type of a shareholding arrangement. In a few years the plan was to sell the business and we would all make good money. Hmmm ….sounded good.

After this me met a few times and got down to business and delved into the nitty gritty of his project and our involvement in it.

While his project was really interesting to my surprise I found myself not being as enthusiastic as he was about it. Why was this I was asking myself?

Like every great “driver” he was pushing me for our plans and input. I did this of course but I discovered his project wasn’t my No.1 priority. My clients and our own projects motivate me and this project just wasn’t having the impact that I was expecting.

It wasn’t a client and it wasn’t “my” project.

My buddy needs more than 1,000% from me and everyone else involved in the project for it to be a success. I realise this more than anyone.

Before we damaged our friendship we gracefully concluded our arrangement and that was cool with both of us. We’ll meet again for coffee soon – probably in about another 30 years!

It’s important that we spend our time chasing our own dreams.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing and PR firm with offices in Dublin and Cork

Bobby or JR?

September 21, 2012
Bobby and JR Ewing

Who do you need to be like?

To succeed in business who do you need to be more like?

Isn’t that a huge question?

Can you succeed by being decent, honest, fair, considerate, principled and moral just like the Bobby Ewing character in Dallas?

OR – do you have to be ruthless, cunning, deceitful, back stabbing just like his brother JR ?

Have a think about it and give me your honest answer .. what do you genuinely believe?

I’ll tell you what I think later!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Watching the mistake

July 17, 2012
Maitre d'

Very Fancy!

Guess who is selling his bar and buying a 5 star restaurant” Tommy, my Sales Manager said to me. I was the General Manager of Deasy & Co at the time, a subsidiary of Guinness.

Oh My God, you can’t be serious” I said to him “That will be a total disaster“. “I know, we all know ….it will never work

One of our loyal customers who was running a good solid suburban bar had done a decent job with the place and he was made an offer to sell up. The offer was “too good to be true” and our customer was going to make a clear profit from the deal.

His plan was to buy and run this very successful five star, fine dining restaurant whose reputation had been built around a well known chef. He reckoned he could manage the purchase with the windfall from the pub sale and even be in a position to upgrade the restaurant premises with some support from the bank.

The problem as we all saw it was that our guy wasn’t exactly Mr.Sophistication and in truth he was the last person that we could imagine operating this 5 star restaurant. He always did well in the pub but that was with a very different, country type crowd.

My buddy Tommy was really close to him – should he have a strong word with him and advise him against his dream?

Our customer was determined, full of enthusiasm so maybe we were the ones that were wrong – who were we to say anything? If Tommy said something to him it could backfire and damage the professional friendship they had.

Shortly after the restaurant opened under the new owner we went there for a meal to support him. Our worst fears were realised as we had a poor meal and you could see that our customer, who was a really nice guy just wasn’t able for this level of fine dining. Maybe he was on a learning curve and it would get better?

Unfortunately within a year the place was shut, the “fine dining” reputation in tatters, he had lost huge money and the building was handed back to the bank and our customer had lost everything.

The crazy thing was that we all saw it coming ….

Would you have said something ?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Deirdre – When does a business start?

July 8, 2012
Deirdre Waldron - Fuzion PR

Deirdre Waldron – Fuzion PR

Deirdre Waldron or Dee as most of you know her, started the Fuzion journey many moons ago.

She will admit herself that the very last job she had before she started Fuzion was with a newspaper in Kerry and it was literally nearly killing her!

She will tell you quietly that there were days she was feeling so miserable that she wished for a small car crash that would put her out of action for a while (with only minor injuries of course!).

Can you imagine, someone that talented being that miserable in their job – whatever was going on in that newspaper they managed to squeeze the life out of her and she eventually quit.

Even though there was a lot going on in her life Dee decided it was time to try things on her own and Fuzion was borne.

When I met her first towards the end of 2000 I was well impressed by her determination, her tenacity and her willingness to get results for her first clients, which included the Kerryman newspaper and some other businesses in the Kerry region. Within no time she had taken on an assistant and I watched her close hand at events and dealing with the media.

I could see the results she was achieving for her clients as a result of her talent and this incredible work ethic that she had picked up in no small way from her formidable mother Joan, who was quite an able businesswoman herself.

As the Marketing Director of the Rose of Tralee I witnessed her skilfully dealing with the local and national press and I watched her protect the girls and the eventual winner with the media. She worked tirelessly on this project  – and this was a voluntary role!

I clearly remember one day en route to Limerick listening to her on the radio cleverly defending and promoting the merits of the Rose of Tralee to Ray D’Arcy on national radio (in later years he went on to present the event – I think she left a lasting impression on him!) . This Cork boy was very impressed with the Kerry girl who had no idea how good she was.

Deirdre Waldron and Greg Canty - Fuzion PR

Fuzion 10 Year Party!

After some persuasion I convinced Deirdre of the attributes of  Cork and the opportunities that would be available to her and in late 2001 she packed her bags and Fuzion HQ had moved!

Since then I packed up my full time job and joined Deirdre in Fuzion and gradually we went from working from home to opening an office in Cork city and in the last few years one in Dublin. We carefully added more members and skill-set to the team despite it being a tough time for business and each of them have benefited from working with Dee in the same way that I have.

I have had an incredible journey and absolutely love the work we do in Fuzion and for that I have to thank Deirdre for making that decision to go it alone a long time ago ..

Thanks Dee, you’re a star!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a PR firm with offices in Cork and Dublin

A Silicon Valley “State of Mind”

June 20, 2012
John Hartnett - ITLG

A Silicon Valley “State of Mind”

I am just back from a really uplifting Cork Chamber breakfast where the attendees had the pleasure of listening to John Hartnett, a Limerick man who is now working and living in Silicon Valley.

He was speaking about an initiative he is involved in called ITLG (Irish Technology Leadership Group), which is all about facilitating the Irish to succeed in Silicon Valley.

While the topic was absolutely fascinating what was even more interesting was his observations about Ireland and the Irish, which he can now do quite well “as an outsider, looking in” as he put it and the differences with Silicon Valley.

He spoke about Silicon Valley not being a place but being a “State of  Mind” and after listening to him speak for half an hour you get to understand exactly what he meant even by the language he chose in his presentation and in the Q&A afterwards.

The people in Silicon Valley work with a focused intensity, everything is possible, failure is often considered as a natural step on the ladder to success, mega opportunity is better than “niche”, we need to change the game and it’s all about “out of the park” ideas ….I was enthralled!

OK, we can see the big American influence but the language, both tone and content was totally infectious.

John spoke of the Irish having natural advantages such as being smart and sociable with great story telling ability but not being so great when it came to pitching and selling – “our kids should be presenting regularly at school so standing up in front of an audience and pitching your idea should be the most natural thing in the world when it matters”  he commented.

Silicon ValleyHe spoke about the very tangible “Negativity Bubble” in Ireland that we need to lose as quick as possible .. we need to get aggressive and go after it, we need to shake things up and make positive things happen. He spoke about getting more of the successful ex-pat Irish community in the US involved in the right organisations in Ireland such as the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and the Science Council.

Not only did John make perfect sense but he gave everyone in the room a huge injection of positivity – Thank you John.

Cancel all flights …don’t let him leave the country!

What’s your State of Mind?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Note:

Colm Healy from Skelligs Chocolate gave me a great link to a “Ted” talk by Cameron Herold about “raising kids to be entrepreneurs“.

 

Celebrate those individuals making it happen for themselves

May 14, 2012
Beata

Making it Happen

On our usual Sunday walk with the four legged one (Bing for those who haven’t seen previous posts!) a little poster caught my eye on the pole of a housing estate we walk through on the way to the park.

It was placed on a pole where you might expect a picture of a missing dog but when I peeped a little closer it was an advert for someone advertising their house cleaning services.

The poster was typed up with a simple cartoon graphic of a cleaning lady and housed inside a sheet of plastic to protect it from the elements and it had the contact phone number repeated on little vertical strips for those who wanted to tear them off to make an enquiry later.

I’m sure this simple poster with a clear message “A completely clean home – my cleaning services are thorough, consistent and customised. If you want to change your cleaning routine, Call me” will bring Beata the customers she is looking for.

I started thinking about Beata on the rest of my walk whoever she is.. I pictured her deciding to start her cleaning business to earn money, drafting up her posters, printing them, cutting the phone number strips, housing them in plastic covers and then walking around finding poles in the housing estates she was targeting. She had her mini campaign for her house cleaning service well thought out and there was a real honesty to how it was delivered.

Often we celebrate the big companies with the big job numbers and the vital role they are playing in our economy but we should also celebrate those out there who are digging deep, making things happen for themselves instead of sitting back and waiting on someone else or the state to look after them.

Beata and all the other startups , I Salute you!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Is the Grind worth it?

February 1, 2012
Tired Runner

Is the Grind worth it?

In recent months I have posted about the importance of following your passion and also about avoiding the trap of a job that does not provide fulfilment. Isn’t there a huge personal risk in letting that happen?

I received a response to one of these posts that really moved me and it did make me think long and hard about the grind of working for yourself.

Interesting sentiments Greg. Having always run my own businesses and taken risks from the perspective “you’ll regret what you didn’t do” this is something I’ve reflected upon a lot – At one stage I left a very cushy public sector job and we then went through very tough times as the recession hit.

It’s very hard to comfortably make a good living in Ireland now – fair play to anyone who can make more than they could in the corporate world once all salaries, outgoings etc. are paid. I’ve gone back into the corporate world and am making more than I did at my business at the peak of the boom- with none of the recent stress.

At the end of the day all that matters is your ability to educate your children and give them a decent lifestyle. I would guess that that guy at Guinness slept easy at night and his kids have never wanted for anything.

If you have a true vocation it makes sense to do what you do best – and follow that path. However most small business and startups are struggling – I see people grind away for years, barely surviving – and this is not a good place to be over the long term.

When I read this I started to feel a little guilty that maybe I am being a little disrespectful with my blog posts to all of those who have tried their utmost and despite everything it just still has not worked out for them.

I’ve been reflecting on this ..

If you find a better life working for someone else then well done to you – I hope that in Fuzion we are giving our team a good life.

If you find yourself without work then I would encourage you to take control of the situation and  try to start off something for yourself. It is hard but it can be great fun (and yes…very worrying and stressful at times).

But, someone somewhere always has to be the starter..

If you try and it doesn’t work … well done, at least it was your grind.

What do you think?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion


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