ITLG: Pointing the Way Forward

A delegation from the Irish Technology Leadership Group came to Ireland this week. Their mission was to offer support to young Irish entrepreneurs, and facilitate access to the skills, experience and wisdom of those who work in Silicon Valley. They did the latter by bringing over more than twenty seasoned Silicon Valley leaders from California to meet face-to-face with the Irish business community.

In amongst the many private meetings, there were public talks given in Dublin and Galway, and an all-day event took place at the Kemmy Business School in the University of Limerick.

A crowded house had the opportunity to listen to three panel discussions; Ireland and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead; mobile and the vast possibilities that are available in that space; and a discussion by VCs on how venture capital works.

Craig Barrett was a member of the first panel, and the context of the discussion was centered around the subjects he spoke about in Dublin and Galway and which are laid out in greater detail in this article, “Technology Only Moves Forward“. Essentially, the challenges that we face are really our opportunities. Corporations by their very nature are not set up for innovation. Their primary R&D spend is on extending their product lines. Innovation comes from research universities, and the two sectors need to come closer together. As Craig said, ”There is no point in being depressed. We’re all in this [global economy] boat together. Let’s row for shore… It’s not so much a time for depression as it is for action.”

Other key takeaways from this discussion were:

  • Results matter, not meetings.
  • Don’t expect too much help.
  • Entrepreneurs don’t wait.
  • Most importantly of all: take action.

After lunch we had the mobile panel. It would be the easiest thing in the world to fill the rest of this post with amazing statistics such as, “Four out of five phones are not smartphones,” and sobering statistics like, “More people have access to mobile phones than clean water,” but I don’t think that is necessary – the message was clear.

Mobile is where future development and opportunity lie. The playing field is wide open – go for it.

The final panel consisted of a group of VCs talking about their work. All (except one) were engaged in the same business of investing money in risky ventures in the hope of a substantial return. An essential observation to be had from having them all seated together was that their differing personalities, tone and demeanour indicated that there was no one catch-all approach when going to call on a VC for funding. You have to do your research and know who you are going to be talking to.

Apart from being sure that the VC is right for you in terms of being able to work together, you have to bear in mind that something that would intrigue one VC would make another’s eyes glaze over. “They [VCs] tend to stick to their knitting”, said Robert Simon from Ariva Partners.

The ITLG delegation led by John Hartnett were energetic, focused and organised. They covered a lot of ground and got a lot done in a very short time. It is impossible to predict what the results will be of all this concentrated effort, but I suspect that if even a tenth of the passion and enthusiasm that the delegation exhibited for what Ireland has to offer rubs off then we have a great many positive outcomes to look forward to.

Technology Voice is primarily about making new technologies accessible and relevant, but we make no secret that we also wave the flag for Irish tech. The future is technology and the only way forward is to have greater investment in innovation and greater opportunity to exploit those developments.

Two final quotes to leave you with:

  • “Think big, go big” – John Stanton
  • ”We have to compete with our brains if we want to get paid” – Craig Barrett

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