Yesterday we attended the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Bootcamp in Dublin and the first thing that struck us as we drove towards the pleasingly quirky egg-shaped edifice at the DCU Ryan Academy Citywest was how wonderful it was to have a cloudless blue sky for the second year in a row (this was our second time being fortunate enough to get down to the final 40 list of candidates for the awards programme).
Were the event being held in any old venue one might have felt the sun was mocking us but the light-filled atrium of the Ryan Academy is as pleasing an indoors space to be as any you’ll find on a sunny day. And even if the sky had been a dreary grey the atrium would surely still have been flood lit by the enthusiasm and positive outlook of the gathered entrepreneurs.
After coffee and conversation Claire and Darren got the ball rolling with a fun group exercise involving clothes hangars (don’t ask) and Sean gave a talk on what it takes to be a social entrepreneur. Then Analisa introduced us to the judging panel and it was time to make final preparations for our pitch.
Which was a great excuse to hit the car park and catch some rays while I mumbled lines to myself in a last ditch effort to memorize the script. I’m fairly sure I got a sympathetic look from at least one office worker who no doubt thought it was a case of sunstroke.
Back indoors just in time to be guided to a room with Declan Ryan, Paddy Holahan and Sean Coughlan sitting across the way with mercifully friendly faces. The sunstroke had set in however and I managed to lose the run of myself twice but was given plenty of time to recover. And the ten minute Q&A gave us ample opportunity to discuss the project. [Note of trivia: I first blogged about Paddy Holahan’s company Newbay, way back in 2003 so it was an absolute pleasure to finally meet him]
Phew, it was over. Time to go mingle and enjoy the rest of the day. I caught the end of Deirdre Mortell‘s talk on Fundraising and then it was lunchtime.
Next up was Lisa Domican on Social Media. And I have to say it was a pleasure to listen to someone who became an expert in social media as a real practitioner, rather than as a consultant. Lisa’s talk was humorous and insightful. I hadn’t realized she managed to leverage Twitter to get her autism product reviewed on a highly regarded American tech show – wow!
The next talk was delivered by indefatigable (and I never use that word) Gavin Duffy who assured us he was nothing like his TV persona – neither the Apprentice hard-ass nor the Dragon’s Den cry-baby Sure enough, he was just really, really funny in person. He tutored us on how to be successful networkers (of the traditional variety) as he danced and pranced around the room.
It was a hard act to follow, so nobody did. And then it was time to hit the road before rush-hour became bumper-to-bumper hour. A fast-paced end to a wonderful day. With a blinding sun in our eyes all the way home to Limerick