Category Archives: DES809 Entrepreneurship

List of 100 Irish Entrepreneurs

This list from

In alphabetical order, Irelands’ top 100 entrepreneurs courtesy of Irish Entrepreneur Magazine unfortunately it has a very small profile on each entrepreneur in the magazine.

It says this “list does not purport to be definitive or exhaustive but rather the people whom Irish Entrepreneur believe reflect Ireland’s best entrepreneurial spirit in 2009“.

[The list is from 2009, most are still around but, sone of them have gone, lost in the Celtic Tiger Demise, some are in NAMA, somewhat stuck and at least one is in the Dail!]

1. Bert Allen – Slaney Meat Group
2. Kevin Anderson – Ward Anderson
3. Gerry Barrett – Edward Holdings
4. Richard Barrett – Treasury Holdings
5. Graham Beere – Abrakababra
6. David Bobbet – H&K International
7. Joseph Brennan – Brennan Bakeries
8. Nicola Byrne – 11890
9. Pierce Casey – Getmobile
10. Michael Chadwick – Grafton Group
11. Anthony Collins –
12. Peter Conlon – MV Technology
13. Pat Cooney – M&J Gleeson Group
14. Paul Coulson – Yeoman Capital
15. Harry Crosbie – 02 Arena
16. Michael Cullen – Beacon Medical Group
17. Bill Cullen – Glencullen Motor Group – No
18. David Daly – Albany Group
19. Dermot Desmond – IIU Investment Co.
20. Denis Desmond – MCD
21. Patrick Doherty – Harcourt Developments
22. Brian Fallon –
23. Louis Fitzgerald – Fitzgerald Hotel Group
24. John Fitzpatrick – Fitzpatrick Hotel Group
25. John Flaherty – C&F Group
26. Pearse Flannery – Pragmatica
27. John Fleming – John J. Fleming Construction
28. Conor Foley – World Spreads Group
29. Charles Gallagher – Gallagher Holdings
30. Sean Gallagher – Smart Homes
31. Gerry Gannon – Gannon Homes
32. Larry Goodman – Irish Food processors
33. Stephen Grant – Grant Engineering
34. Ray Grehan – Glenkerrin Group
35. Liam Griffin – The Griffin Group
36. Anne Heraty – CPL Resources
37. Phillip Hegarty – Castleroc Estates
38. Oliver Hughes – Porterhouse Brewery
39. Michael Kearney – SNAP Printing
40. James Keaveney – Peter Marks
41. Sean Keenan – Multis Group
42. Angela Kennedy – Megazyme
43. Charles Kenny – Clancourt Group
44. Dr. Michael Lynch – Autonomy
45. Dr. Pierse Lyons – Alltech
46. Hugh MacKeown – Musgrave Group
47. John Magnier – Coolmore Stud
48. Margaret Nelson – FM104
49. Sarah Newman – Newmac Capital
50. Denis O’ Brien – Digicel
51. Mary Ann O’ Brien – Lily O’ Briens
52. Barry O’ Callaghan – O’ Callaghan Hotels
53. Noel O’ Callaghan – O’ Callaghan Hotels
54. Owen O’ Callaghan – Moyglen Holdings
55. Padraigh O’ Ceidigh – Aer Arann
56. Eddie O’ Connor – Airtricity
57. Nigel O’ Flaherty – O’ Flaherty Holdings
58. Michael O’ Leary – Ryanair
59. Neil O’ Leary – ION Equity
60. Brendan O’ Regan – Zenith Technologies
61. Sir Tony O’ Reilly – Independent Newspapers
62. John Reynolds – POD Concerts
63. Michael O’ Rourke – Setanta
64. Ray O’ Rourke – Laing O’ Rourke
65. David Power – Paddy Power
66. Derek Quinlan – Quinlan Private
67. Sean Quinn – The Quinn Group
68. Barry Maloney – Balderton
69. Jim Mansfield – Citywest Group
70. Gemma Maughan – Convest
71. Pat McDonagh – Third Force
72. Jim McGettigan – Regency Hotel Chain
73. Dermot McKeown – Kilsaran Concrete Products
74. JP McManus – Bloodstock
75. Xavier McAuliffe – Spectra Group
76. Bernard McNamara – Michael McNamara
77. Pat McCann – Maldron Hotel Group
78. Sam McCauley – Sam McCauley Ltd.
79. John McColgan – Coroin
80. Pat McDonagh – Supermacs
81. Martin McVicar – Combilift
82. Jim Miley –
83. Tom Moran – Bewleys Hotels
84. Sean Mulryan – Ballymore Properties
85. Ed Murphy – Home Instead
86. Brendan Murtagh – Kwik Save
87. Senator Fergal Quinn – Superquinn
88. John Reihill – Tedcastle Holdings
89. Ken Rohan – Air Space Investments
90. Seamus Ross – Menolly Homes
91. Dr. Sean Rowland – Hibernian College
92. Liam Shanahan – Shanahan Engineering
93. Domhnal Slattery – Clarnet Capital
94. Michael Smurfit – Smurfit Kappa
95. Christian and Simon Stokes – Cafe/Residence
96. Brody Sweeney – O’ Briens Sandwiches
97. Oliver Tattan – VIVAS Health
98. John Teeling – Cooley Distilleries
99. Thomas Tougher – Tougher Oil
100. Mick Wallace – Wallace Construction

Here is another list (more recent, 38 tech entrepreneurs from 2012)

Entrepreneurship for the creative industries

A 2007 report by the UK Higher Education Academy entitled “Creating Entrepreneurship: entrepreneurship for the creative industries” discusses Stereotypes of entrepreneurs.

“The story of the industrial revolution is characterised by the shaping of our social, economic and physical landscape by a few highly successful industries. Mining, engineering and manufacturing are large scale and highly visible and tend to be rigidly hierarchical with few entrepreneurs at the pinnacle of each enterprise. In trade particularly world trade, the focus is on a few pioneers who opened new trade routes in the Empire or explorer-engineers who built railways, roads and plantations. Then there is the parallel model of the great scientist-inventor, the technological innovator, often successful in business but just as often a tragic figure battling in a world of small minded conservative financiers to materialise their vision, a vision with the advantage of hindsight seems self evident. The currency of these stereotypes is also reflected in the popularity of contemporary TV shows about entrepreneurship such as The Apprentice and Dragons Den.”

There is an alternative view of Entrepreneurs that I would like to suggest. It is one where start up’s are more common place. These start ups are driven by the Internet and Creative Industries. They vary between being content driven and technology driven ideas. They reach customers with the help of clever social network marketing strategies. Instead of being just a few super high value entrepreneurs there are many smaller scale entrepreneurs.

We looked at two inspirational videos: the first one is an attempt at definition of Entrepreneur and a call to arms. The second one is truly famous already and will probably be played for decades. It is Steve Jobs speech at Stanford graduation ceremony in 2005. It is a very personal speech and one that is very personal. Probably the start point for every would be entrepreneur is a deeply personal story. What is yours?


A short course in Entrepreneurship – contents

On the MDes programme I take a short course about Design Entrepreneurship
called DES809 Design Entrepreneurship Awareness.

Schedule of lectures (6 Weeks starting Thursday Jan 30 MQ202)

1. Entrepreneurs in Ireland
Inward Investment
Home grown tech start ups
Entrepreneur hero’s
2. Goldrush stories
How Shares work
Business set up
Risk and reward
Is Design Entrepreneurship different from Entrepreneurship?
3. Intercept the Strategic Vector
Strategies for small companies selling to big companies
4. All about the people
People you employ
People who invest in you
People you meet
Networking and asking questions?
5. Customer lists
The life of a salesman
6. Uncertainty
Which market opportunity?
(Elevator pitches)

Schedule of Assignments

1. Intercept the strategic vector. Essay
2. Customer lists / People lists
3. Elevator pitches

Teaching: Semester 2, 2014

So, I figured out what I will be teaching next semester: This is what it looks like:

DES134 Introduction to Interaction Design Techniques

I wrote this module but I have not taught it before: it will cover the following items: Story structures, storyboards, icon design, information design, data, information, decision. This module is with Year 1 Design students and sounds like fun.

DES320 User Centered Design.

This one is for Year 2 Design students. This is a project based module. I anticipate that we will get some new product and or service inventions developed here. I am going to squeeze in something about Roy Stringers Navihedra also. Exciting.

DES809 Design Entrepreneurship Awareness

This is a Masters of Design Module. The module is a series of 5 lectures including: Anto and Rob’s Gold Rush story and Intercept the Strategic Vector. There is a day of Elevator Pitches also.

I will be supervising a few BDes final years, don’t know who or how many yet. I also have a two MDes supervison students. That’s it, should be a busy 12 weeks. Starting, 27 Jan.

Entrepreneurship in Ireland

In Ireland the Entrepreneur has historically had a bit of a bad name. In the Pogue’s song ‘Navigator’ the emotional pivot point is on the word Entrepreneur as Irish emigrants are exploited by (probably other Irish) Entrepreneurs as the infrastructure of the other country was put in place.

The canals and the bridges, the embankments and cuts,
They blasted and dug with their sweat and their guts
They never drank water but whiskey by pints
And the shanty towns rang with their songs and their fights.

Navigator, navigator rise up and be strong
The morning is here and there’s work to be done.
Take your pick and your shovel and the bold dynamite
For to shift a few tons of this earthly delight
Yes to shift a few tons of this earthly delight.

They died in their hundreds with no sign to mark where
Save the brass in the pocket of the entrepreneur.
By landslide and rockblast they got buried so deep
That in death if not life they’ll have peace while they sleep.

Navigator, navigator rise up and be strong
The morning is here and there’s work to be done.
Take your pick and your shovel and the bold dynamite
For to shift a few tons of this earthly delight
Yes to shift a few tons of this earthly delight.

Their mark on this land is still seen and still laid
The way for a commerce where vast fortunes were made
The supply of an empire where the sun never set
Which is now deep in darkness, but the railway’s there yet.

Navigator, navigator rise up and be strong
The morning is here and there’s work to be done.
Take your pick and your shovel and the bold dynamite
For to shift a few tons of this earthly delight
Yes to shift a few tons of this earthly delight.

I wonder is there a part in the Irish psyche that is set against Entrepreneurship? If there is it must be pretty deep because I am an Entrepreneur and even I have a bit of bad feeling about Entrepreneurs.

Didn’t the settled Irish in America most cruelly exploit their countrymen who had just arrived? Duffy’s Cut, for example, is a story of murder of Irish workers because they were suspected of having Cholera. But Patrick Duffy hired then for near nothing and put them to work digging. They died like so many others building America in employment more like slavery under the control of Irish Entrepreneurs.

Perhaps it is just that the Irish have been oppressed forever, in employment or impoverished and out of employment. It seems that there are few great Irish Entrepreneurs and when we have one, they turn out to be bad. More often the Entrepreneur was the Englishman or American whose company employed the Irish once we had emigrated.

In Derry many of the cities greatest Shirt Industry Entrepreneurs were of Scottish descent, not Irish. The Irish were the ones working in the factory, not the owners.

Recently the history of entrepreneur’s has not been great either: Entrepreneur developers are largely to blame for the economic meltdown of the Celtic Tiger. Having bankrupt Ireland in mad speculation they now escape to the UK to avoid Irish bankruptcy laws. When they get through the courts in Britain they come back and buy mansions.

Derry - Factory women producing the famous white shirt

The Shirt Factory Horn – courtesy of BBC Northern Ireland

The worker is more respected. Even today, Entrepreneurs such as Denis O Brien, Michael O Leary are treated with some suspicion. Builder developers, people who have tried and lost are not particularly liked. Listening to the news about the collapse of the Celtic Tiger it seems like the ordinary honest worker has been robbed again.

Faced with a lack of industry in Ireland successive governments have sought inward investment. There is a sense that a job in a big respectable American/German/Japanese/English company is as good as it gets. On occasion this strategy has been brilliantly successful.


I wonder if because of the success of Inward investment projects is the idea of the entrepreneur not being one of ‘us’ is re-enforced?

There was  period of super confidence when being Irish and being an entrepreneur were almost the same thing. In 1998 and again in 2002 tech start-ups in particular seemed to flourish.

Class task: Name four Irish Entrepreneurs

(Back to contents)

DES 809 Wk 1 Sales and Elevator Pitches


Believe in this:

Sales are essential to build a company (sounds obvious?)

Sales as a customer driven culture

Deliver value and success to customers


Do you know what you are talking about? Go over the last written assignment that you wrote about your project. Are there any numbers in it?


Guideline 1.

In general measure everything, quantify everything.

How many of them are there, how long does it take to build one, how much does it cost, how many do they need, how much is it worth, how many people will buy it.


Guideline 2

Don’t state things, ask questions?


Guideline 3

What is the value of your proposition to the customer, understand their point of view.


Making a good Elevator Pitch

  1. ask a question
  2. Quantify the benefits
  3. Talk about the current situation! Highlight the pain! (sell me this pen)
  4. How you can change it.
  5. Ask for another meeting/follow up/can you call them