Rory Timlin is Playing His Cards Right

This article was originally published on and has been republished here with permission.

Rory Timlin is from Galway and works in the PorterShed. Like his Bowling Green peers, Rory hasn’t always done things the way most other people do. In fact, for a period of around eight years, he became a professional online poker player before ultimately going on to become a business analyst and financial controller. 

This followed a period of time over a decade ago, in the wake of the most recent recession, where Rory backpacked and lived abroad for a time following his studies. Today, Rory works for a company in Galway, and it was his decision to push for a remote-working role there which would allow him to say in his hometown of the city of Tribes

“I love Galway and I’m not a major fan of living in Dublin for a number of reasons, like the rent – and I’ve got a beautiful girlfriend living in Galway as well,” he says.

The co-working and open innovation culture of the PorterShed suits Rory down to the ground, and Rory adds that the PorterShed is certainly a big part of what keeps him in Galway – especially the open and humble atmosphere.

“That’s one of the things I love about the PorterShed is that when you walk in the door, you don’t really know who’s this big-shot important guy. You know they’re there, but unless you really get chatting to people…and there’s nobody going around bragging to people about how great they are or anything like that.”

To go from a poker player to a professional analyst/wearer-of-many-hats with a company headquartered in Dublin called Meltdown is not your average career path, for sure, but it has certainly been one that has stood Rory in great stead. After all, it has allowed him to learn things most people wouldn’t, put himself in extraordinary situations, and figure things out in quick and innovative ways. 

Rory, in fact, managed to earn enough money over the course of his poker career that was the equivalent to quite a decent wage year after year. 

“I wanted something more steady, but also something that I could progress at. With poker it’s always going to be a struggle, there’s no natural progression – there’s no going to someone for a raise or ‘look at everything I did in the past’. There’s no obvious progression aside from: get better, get lucky, see what happens.”

Rory Timlin

So, Rory decided to go ahead and put his poker skills to a different use: taking the pragmatic, clinical perspective of strategies and analyses to help a business understand the hows, the whys, and the what nexts.

And Rory explains that numbers, statistics, and data are what keeps him motivated, and it’s what he’s best at.

“I love numbers, I’m good with numbers. I could happily stare at stats all day and be happy. I like taking stats and making them into something that people who don’t like stats would happily look at and understand,” Rory says. 

“For example, when I take a deep-dive into what sells best in one of our cafés. I might talk to the manager or the owner of the shop, and they’ll all have an opinion on what sells best or better, but they won’t actually know, but when you show them the facts, they might be surprised because people’s perceptions of what’s happening don’t always marry up with what’s actually happening. So, for me the stats tell the real stories, and that’s how you make better, informed decisions.”

In today’s world where industries and individual companies are over-saturated with misconceptions and misreadings, it’s people like Rory who are able to scythe through the noise and create an impact that’s felt on a number of levels. And that all comes with his varied career which covers a number of disciplines – and Rory explains that this is part of what he identifies with.

“One thing I’ve learned in the last few years is that there is no normal career path for most people, especially the people who are very successful. They just take their opportunities and see what happens.

“I was reading the other day somebody’s advice that if you’re reviewing a job description and you meet all the criteria, then you’re over-qualified – you shouldn’t be going into something you’re comfortable in, it should be outside your comfort zone.”

Rory has certainly proved that it’s best to test yourself, and even though some moves might seem like a gamble, the winnings are there to be won if you play your hand right.

Inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit in the Portershed, Rory is now offering his services to growing companies in financial systems setup and business analysis. You can find him in the Portershed, on LinkedIn, or at

Polecat: Mining for Meaning with MeaningMine

People now know that if you don’t want the world to know about something than don’t post it on the internet. (Sometimes sadly, but sometimes entertainingly, that particular message hasn’t quite reached everyone yet.)

For individuals it is quite possible to disappear from view online for most businesses this is neither a desirable or worthwhile option. After all, online is where the customers are. However, while a company can control its own postings it has no control over what others may say in response.

Leaving libel issues aside, these comments, whether they are hurtful or not, are a mine of invaluable data that, if thought about and acted upon correctly, could help the company shape a profitable future or enable a non-profit to have a more effective presence in ways that could not have been anticipated otherwise.

Data mining is a set of tools and techniques that enable individuals and organizations to find out how the data that they themselves are generating is being received, reacted to and given meaning by others. Correctly interpreted the results can show how a given activity or series of activities are being perceived by others.

This technology deployed in the fields of Business Information and Analytics is being found to be particularly useful and powerful. It can find the answers to the questions that any organisation that has an online presence has to ask itself on a consistent and regular basis. Such as:

Is what we are doing working?
Do people know we exist? One reason for the absence of sales may be the absence of knowledge about your product.
Do people care that we exist? Are customers seeing our product story as being relevant to them?
Is our offer appealing? Would people appreciate a bit more taste in the design and presentation?
Do people like or dislike dealing with us?
Are people interested but just not quite enough? What woud it take to make that sale?

These are just a few of the thousands of questions to which a new breed of specialist companies coming into existence in the big data space are able to retrieve meaningful answers. They have the technological capability to measure customer sentiment from many sources including the social media channels and be able to provide long-form analytics for business insights.

One such company is Polecat who are based in Dublin, Ireland. They have an R&D team in Bristol, in the UK, and an analytics team San Francisco, in the US.

According to John Peavoy, the Head of Sales at Polecat, “The company has done a lot of research into linguistics, machine learning and search algorithms. The team out of Bristol have created an engine that provides very relevant results to any search terms that you provide.”

The information acquisition platform is a program called MeaningMine which provides visualizations and graphs that can describe the health of a conversation: Key topics, key phrases, sentiment, magic quadrants around influencers and their key roles in a conversation.

“These are tools that enterprise will, typically, find very valuable as a briefing mechanism for the broader organization by informing decisions on how to engage with stakeholders on any particular subject.

“MeaningMine is a browser-based tool that allows you to enter various search terms, manage them, filter them and iterate and immediately see the results of any term you include in the research.”

John goes on to describe the MeaningMine interface, (screenshot above,) “You have a Google-like interface on the left. You have six standard visualizations or graphs, which are all customizable, on the right sid of the browser page. As you enter more terms into your search you can see the effect it has on either increasing or reducing your results. It makes the results more representative of what you are trying to find out.

“We have done a lot of work with some industry specific taxonomies around the energy sector, the financial services sector and some of the government sectors such as tourism.”

But this just the start. According to John, “We are also continuing to add visualizations. At the moment we have visualization around; top number of citations, the health of a particular conversation which is like an advanced sentiment analysis, top organizations, top people and top phrases and words.

“The next level of visualization, the more advanced visualizations which we will be introducing over the next quarter will include a force by sentiment chart — a graph that shows both positive and negative sentiment along a time axis. It provides a very strong snap shot of how a conversation is evolving or has evolved. It allows you to identify where you may need to engage with the stakeholders.”

Gartner estimated the business intelligence and analyis market to be worth over $10 billion in 2010. This is data derived from the software sales of big players such as SAP, Oracle, IBM etc. Another guesstimate, based on a broader base of platforms and tools, suggests the market could already have been worth as much as $50 billion two years ago.

Either way, the indicators show that the business intelligence, analytics and data-mining market is very much in the boom stage at the moment.

“The Irish organization has grown from two people at the end of last year to nine right now. We may be up to fifteen by the end of 2012. We are well on target to hitting thirty people in the Dublin office within three years if not sooner.”