Since the mid-nineties, alongside his corporate career, Joe has been engaged in various entrepreneurial activities. He is a founder of onlinemeetingrooms.com. A leading web conferencing platform in Ireland. More recently he started Irish Debate. A site where ideas and opinions are discussed exchanged via the latest video conferencing technology. He can be reached on twitter, @joegarde.
1. Could you tell us about your background (where you’re from, what you’ve done)?
I started my first business at the age of 26 with a Windows 3.1 box and a mobile phone back in 1994. I realised then how the internet, email and mobile technologies could empower an individual or SME. I was able to take on much larger firms in Ireland and source product without the need to travel. It was while supplying all the blue chip companies in Ireland at the time that I became aware that Ireland’s manufacturing base was dwindling.
In 1998 I decided to delve into Corporate America by joining the Dell team in Bray. After Dell, I joined Storage Online and trained in remote and corporate storage and backup solutions. I then moved into the software development area for mobile devices.
While at Jeecom, which was chaired by Dr. Ed Sun (Caltech), I soon learned with the early development of XML how mobile devices would connect with the web. After the bust in 2000 / 2001 I was involved in a startup for payment systems through mobile devices with Anam through SMS based payment gateways.
During this stage I met with my partner Niels Garde based out of Copenhagen. Niels and I had been trying to buy the Garde.com domain name. We decided to start collaborating together and hence the start of onlinemeetingrooms.com in 2003.
2. What was your route into social media?
Credit is due to Bernard Goldbach of the Tipperary Institute. Through onlinemeetingrooms.com I was now meeting people from all over the world without the need to travel. I could see then, that the future in terms of reduced business cost’s and increased bandwidth was upon us. The need for instant multipoint meetings through video would be a business model that should survive boom and bust economics and also prove to be a valuable method of communication for any and all businesses.
3. Tell us a little bit (if you can) about what you’re interested in or working on right now.
I have always been interested in meeting people and sharing knowledge. Right now I am working on Irish Debate where we gather those with an opinion or experience in their own field to share, discuss and debate what it is Ireland needs to do to rebuild and change. I am also working on a number of other development ideas for the mobile space. I also run www.freefi.ie rolling out wifi hotspots for businesses in the retail sector.
4. What social media services do you use regularly and why?
5. If you could only keep one service or tool, what would it be, and why have you chosen it?
Twitter, as a tool for community building and a service for learning about new technologies from the collective intelligence that is, Twitter.
6. Including your own area of expertise, what developments in social media do you think are particularly important?
Finding like-minded people. In many cases early adopters and tech savvy people.
7. What can you do now that you couldn’t do before the arrival of social media?
Connect with hundreds of people in seconds.
8. What issues, either technical or social, do you see with social media?
Social media has a nasty habit of mirroring the “school yard” I have witnessed bullying on twitter and this I find very distasteful.
9. What one piece of advice would you give to someone entering the social media world?
Find like-minded people. Observe and then join the conversation.
10. How do you see social media helping and improving things for us in the future?
Collective intelligence and opinion is without a doubt becoming the most important factor for me. I am now able to connect with people I would never find in my own social circles. We can all help each other through social media and therefore the greater good should benefit.