IRISH START-UPS try to make their points succinctly and passionately during OpenCoffee, Barcamps and at Curry 2.0 because more than passing around your business card at trade shows, it matters that you can quickly state your mission. Joe Drumgoole has a different perspective. As participants at Limerick OpenCoffee (two participants at left) have discovered, mission statements and proprietary technology often resonate with other business interests more readily than in the open market with a customer base. It's often easier to establish a business account than it is to attract millions to an innovative product or service. Today's Sunday Tribune covers last week's Curry 2.0 evening and because it mentions Enterprise Ireland, it will surely land inside the Minister for Enterprise's briefing folder for the Monday morning commute. But don't expect anything to appear in that Read File concerning the social software that stirred up interest in Curry 2.0. Maxim Kelly's quarter-page article sits below the break.
Currying favour with investors
by Maxim Kelly in the Sunday Tribune, 15 July 2007
Take two dozen cash-starved Irish technology entrepreneurs. Place in a large Indian restaurant. Sprinkle in a smattering of venture capitalists and Enterprise Ireland executives. Add wine liberally. Stir vigorously for two hours. Result: Curry 2.0.
The brainchild of Segala chief executive Paul Walsh, what began as a private social event for London-based Walsh to catch up with some Irish friends and tech sector colleagues over dinner at his Jaipur restaurant in Dublin two weeks ago became a nerdy networking event. Budding internet entrepreneurs arrived to pitch their Web 2.0 business ideas to the eatery's head chef while sampling his tangy cuisine and lashings of South African Stormhoek wine provided by online vintner Bubble Brothers. (Ed.--See clarification below.)
The rationale was that if spice specialist Sanjay, whose first language is Punjabi, could understand the obscure industry jargon and have his curiosity piqued by one novel tech idea, that pitch would be declared the winner and the group would stump up cash to send the lucky pitcher to London's OpenCoffee and InternetPeople events, where investors mingle with techies. The Microsoft contingent gamely threw in a copy of Vista and a presentation pointer too.
James Kennedy of SmartNote won the competition with his idea for software that automatically directs mobile phone text message mail shots to a business's customers. Using the canny example of a restaurant booking database distributing text reminders to customers no doubt attracted Sanjay's attention. Quamir Hussain of QHC Consulting was runner up, aided by his (unfair?) advantage of explaining his m-payment retail coupon idea in passable Punjabi.
Eagle-eyed observers noted that Mike (sic) Caulfield of Trinity Venture Capital was quick to dip into his pockets to pay a EUR 25 contribution to send Kennedy over the water.
An online wedding planner application from Spoiltchild was an interesting niche product, while Joe Drumgoole's PutPlace concept for a single online depository for storing one's digital data, such as photos and music, received murmurs of appreciation amongst the gadget-wielding audience.
Meanwhile, the eponymous Eoghan of EoghanMcCabe.com, who described Curry 2.0 as "like a coming out party for tech ideas except less gay", described his intriguing Fold Spy web trickery, which tells web designers where to place ads on pages to attract the most attention.
A host of other original ideas were presented too, but the Sunday Tribune is keeping them under its tinfoil hat for the moment.
Walsh said he would definitely be putting the Curry 2.0 event on a regular footing in future, as InterTrade Ireland and Microsoft have expressed interest in getting involved.
"The benefit for me is raising my profile but I want to put back in too," he said.
Walsh is a member of several associations in Britain designed to promote start-ups across the tech sector.
"I want to ensure the UK becomes a centre of excellence for interactive digital media but the irony is that I'm a Paddy so I want to do the same thing for Ireland too."
Maxim Kelly -- "Currying favour with investors" in The Sunday Tribune, 17 July 2007.
Paul Walsh -- "Curry 2.0 Pitch to a Waiter" and "SmartNote Wins Curry 2.0 Pitch"
Picture above of Michael Kiely and Brian Lanigan from Limerick OpenCoffee. Guess who is pitching whom.
Joe Drumgoole -- "The myth of the 60-second pitch"
Noted: The Fold Spy blue screen
Bonus Links: Irish OpenCoffee back channel and the most generous social networking group I have found.
Needed: Revision to the list of providers of Innovation Vouchers