By John Power
In August 2000 I along with some two hundred other people was made redundant from A.T.Cross Ltd the manufacturers of writing instruments. I had suspected about a year before that the “axe” would fall and decided I would try to set up my own business.
With my business experience I identified a gap in the market for start-up’s and early stage companies. Business needs technical expertise which is usually the founders skill. They also need Management skills and access to funding which I could provide.
Entrepreneur’s, Engineers, Bio Tech. IT experts et al have the ideas and I put their plans together and provide management support. This allows them to do the technical aspects of the job, without the worry of all the other stuff.
The plan was to work from home, no need for offices or overheads. Sounds familiar!. My first client; a company developing an application for mobile phones arrived at my house for an initial meeting. There were three people from the Company ushered into our front room. First question, where was my phone and land line. Our phone at the time was in the hall and was almost at the ceiling to stop our four active children dialing numbers for fun. No bluetooth or broadband in the year 2000. The initial meeting was a fiasco.
I was in trouble. I headed to the fledgling Enterprise Centre where I met Gerry Cleary and Terry Noone, to look into office space to rent. The only two floors up and running were fully let to a US online gambling Company. I met the Manager of the US Company. A nice young man from Arizona who allocated us some unused space on the ground floor.
We agreed a rent of €100 a month with a review and I moved in that day. Shortly after I moved in, work commenced on renovating another part of the Centre. Four offices, toilet and a small conference room were built where the St Thresea’s special school is now located. I took the lease on the entire unit and was joined by Sean Brennan who ran a Consulting Business for Electronics companies, Colm Croffy a Festivals and Events Consultant and David Flynn Health & Safety expert. The conference room was used by the Board of BEC and by a number of businesses and organisations from the Town.
After the crash of 2008/9 we had to reconfigure. With the help of the BEC Manger we downsized and David Flynn and myself continued in a smaller office where we continue to operate. Mike Dowd a project Consultant in the construction industry has joined us recently.
During the period I have been involved with around forty start up companies and early stage businesses. Many have survived and prospered others failed. Such is the nature of start up’s. We also work with County Enterprise Boards, EI. IDA and other State agencies.
Projects have covered IT, State bodies, Sports Organisations, Food, Bio Technology, Sustainable Power, Executive training & Mentor programs.
In partnership with BEC, Ballinasloe Credit Union and John M.Power & Associates we ran the successful BEST Entrepreneur’s awards program for Secondary Schools for about six years. I look forward to seeing some of the prize winners emerging as Entrepreneurs of the future.
We have managed through the ups and downs of redundancy, banking crisis, clients going bust and not been paid money we were owed and other unplanned events.
The Covid 19 crisis is another such event along the business path. During our time we have received help from unlikely sources at critical times, some local some international. In these times of no meeting up, we try keep your network channels open by phone, letter, email or however we can.
The last 21 years have been really enjoyable. I continue to work with Entrepreneurs of all types and ages. Almost all of them are very talented and capable people. Every day I myself am educated and stimulated by their ideas and energy.
Our Enterprise Centre has been an amazing success. It has been operational for almost 22 years. Without it I would never have got my business up and running. We will continue to partner with BEC and look forward to a major “bounce back” in business start-ups when Covid 19 has been eliminated.
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