Helping The World Meet

Tips For Entrepreneurs - Lessons Learned From A Female Founder

"I was always destined to become an entrepreneur".

This was the first sentence Niamh Bushnell, Dublin's first Commissioner for Startups, spoke at InspireFest 2015.

She was on stage to give tips to potential startup founders in Dublin who may be struggling to get their idea off the ground. Bushnell told the, predominantly female, audience that she was enterprising from a young age, persuading an Italian man to drive herself and her friend the length of Italy, for free, when she was just 18 years old. 

Since then Bushnell has worked for Enterprise Ireland, has become an Angel Investor, and has set up two companies of her own while living in New York city, the first of which sadly failed.

She shared 10 lessons she has learned over her career thus far, from communication challenges and picking the right co-founders to the issue of becoming too emotionally involved in your idea. Below are her tips for anyone looking to start their own business

Lesson 1: Don't lost track of the market.

You have a great idea - brilliant. But as your idea, and product or service develops, be sure not to lose track of which direction the market is going. Will your idea still be relevant is 6 months? Are you keeping up-to-date with your competitors? One of the most important things to know when starting your own business is to never lose track of the market.

Lesson 2: Being busy doesn't mean you're being productive.

Anyone can make themselves busy, but not everyone can be consistently productive. Make sure you are spending your time working on the right things, the things that are most important to your business taking off.Start with spending time doing the things you love then try to get the more difficult tasks done when you are feeling more motivated.

Lesson 3: Choose everything carefully.

When starting your first business, it is imperative to choose every small element of it with extreme care. Consider your phone providers as much as your investors, be as picky when choosing internet services as you are with choosing talent.

Lesson 4: There are no shortcuts.

You need to tell yourself this again and again because taking shortcuts will only end in a lot more work further down the line or in some instances, ultimate failure. Everything takes time and everything needs to be done properly. Taking shortcuts with your startup is a BIG no-no.

Lesson 5: Tech is challenging.

If you have tech in your product but are not a techie yourself, you will need to learn to be an excellent listener. If you're co-founder is good at the tech side, and your're not, you will need to find clear ways to communicate to ensure you both understand the direction you wish to take your product.

Lesson 6: Successful businesses LOVE numbers.

It's all about the numbers, both at the beginning of your journey and cone your business is established. Investors want to know numbers: How many customers do you have? How many are you retaining? How big is the market? How much profit are you making? Always keep track of the numbers for everything, no matter how small.

Lesson 7: Know both your macros and micro market.

This is about knowing what people are up to in the 'virtual town hall'. Knowing your market isn't just about keeping an eye on your competitors and your sector, it's about understanding and being aware of the bigger picture. Watch the news, read newspapers, subscribe to tech blogs and stay up to date on everything and anything that could potentially affect your business.

Lesson 8: REALLY like your co-founder.

Some people say you should never go into business with friends. While that isn't exclusively true, you do need to be VERY careful with who you decide to start your business with. You have to really like them. You need to like them so much that you would willingly invite them over for dinner every night of the week. If you don't get on with your co-founder, your business is doomed to fail from the get-go.

Lesson 9: Beware of 'good enough'.

This is about focusing on a problem that does not need to be fixed. If the general public feel the product or service they currently use is 'goof enough' that there is probably no real need for a new one. Don't try to create a market where one does one already exist.

Lesson 10: Avoid all the 'startup hype'.

It is so easy. especially here in Dublin, to get sucked in by the hype that surrounds the startup sector. Everyone wants in and some people have even become serial startup founders, jumping form one startup incubator to the next. Just because there is funding available and a great selection of accelerator programmes does not mean they will take you to the next milestone. Your're idea and features need to be killer and you need to work harder than you have ever done before in order to get it off the ground. 

The Significance of InspireFest 2015 - Changing The Ratio

Inspirefest 2015, which kicked off in Dublin today, is a three day international event that connects professionals interested in the future of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) with new perspectives on innovation, leadership and success.

The conference aims to challenge the status quo in the STEM sectors by featuring a speaker line-up and attendance list dominated by high-achieving women. Those high-achieving women, who already act as role models to so many young people around the world, are what makes InspireFest so special.

This is a conference that puts women first and aims to showcase that STEM is just as relevant and should be just as interesting to girls as it is to boys. 75% of the speakers at the event are women, with many flying in from as far as the United States to speak at the event.

If we are to encourage youth that their is a future for them in STEM, that it is imperative to show them how many leaders are in this innovative sector already and that is is very possible to start 'changing the ratio'. Below is our pick of the top speakers to check out over the next 2 days, women who are sure to inspire in many ways.

Thursday's Speakers To Watch

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Said to have discovered one of the "..greatest astronomical discoveries of the twentieth century", Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell is an award-winning astrophysicist from Northern Ireland. Bell famously missed out on winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1974 ,despite being the first person ever to discover radio pulsars, for reasons that were never fully explained. Bell is one the most extraordinary scientists to ever come out of Ireland and is sure to inspire generations more of young scientists.

Susan McKenna Lawlor

 Astrophysicist Susan McKenna Lawlor is best known for her role as the principle investigator for an experiment on the European Space Agency Giotto mission and for founding the space instrumentation company Space Technology Ireland. Mckenna is so talented in her area that she was asked to lead an international team of scientists in building a particle detector capable of detecting energies between 30 kiloelectronvolts and several megaelectronvolts for the Soviet Union.

Ariel Waldman

Ariel Waldman is one the younger speakers at InspireFest and is a real inspiration to youth interested in space exploration and science hacking. Founder of, a directory of ways to participate in space exploration, and the global director of Science Hack Day, a worldwide event that brings together scientists, technologists, designers and people with good ideas to see what they can create in one weekend, Ariel is sure to open the minds of many at InspireFest 2015.

Friday's Speakers To Watch

Dr Sue Black

One of the top 50 European women in tech, Doctor Sue Black is one to watch. Black is founder of @savvytechmums (a global community of kick-ass tech savvy mums), an award-winning computer scientist and (yes..there's more!) a tech journalist for The Guardian and The Mirror. Black is also a long-time champion for women in computing and recently launched Savvify, a social enterprise that aims to empower people through technology.

Niamh Bushnell

Niamh Bushnell was recently appointed Dublin’s first Commissioner for Startups, a role created as a result of the Activating Dublin report spearheaded by Dublin Chamber of Commerce and Dublin City Council. Niamh is also the co-founder of IDIRUS, a purpose-built peer to peer networking and mentor-matching platform. Prior to her appointment as Startup Commissioner, Niamh was the Entrepreneur in Residence at Talent Tech Labs in New York City. Niamh is already working tirelessly to make Dublin the best city in Europe for startups and can constantly be seen improving and promoting Dublin's startup ecosystem.

Cindy Gallop

Cindy Gallop is probably one the best known and most out-spoken speakers coming to InspireFest 2015. Gallop is the Founder of 'If We Ran The World' and 'Make Love Not Porn' and is behind the #changetheratio movement, encouraging more women to get involved in tech and promoting for a fairer workplace where women have the same chance as men of landing top tech positions. She has a reputation as a highly compelling and inspirational speaker at conferences and events around the world on a variety of topics and her Ted Talk in 2009 was one of the most watched and most talked about videos that year.