Mentoring innovators to market
A new mentorship programme organised by the MBA Association of Ireland in conjunction with the Guinness Enterprise Centre has just kicked off. In the coming weeks ‘The Irish Times’ will track its progress
WHILE ENTREPRENEURSHIP might now be taught by academics, nothing is more valuable to a business starting off than the expertise of someone who has known real success. Hard work and determination are the two fundamentals of successful entrepreneurship but if you can get some insider advice along the way too all the better. The MBA Association of Ireland (MBAAI) is the representative body for the 6,000 Masters of Business Administration (MBA) graduates in Ireland and is running a new mentorship programme with businesses housed in the Guinness Enterprise Centre (GEC) in Dublin.
Five companies have signed up with five mentors:
B-Smark – marketing software innovation
B-Smark has created an innovative marketing software platform – MySmark – which offers brands an emotional real time feedback service. The small company hopes that major international brands will catch on to their innovation. Easier said than done.
“Our main challenge now, which we hope our mentor can help with, is validation of the product,” explains B-Smark chief executive, Nicola Farronato. “We need endorsement from relevant brands but we also need some direction in terms of who to pitch to. Secondly, we need to be able to match that validation with our business model and marketing position. We have 1,000 test users and are now primarily leveraging businesses and talking to international brands in Italy, the USA, UK and Ireland.”
Mentor: Jacques Henry-Bezy, managing director of Bespoke and Beyond Marketing Consultants.
“I’ve had three meetings so far with B-Smark Technologies and it took me a while to precisely understand what was the business model. But since the third meeting I am now convinced of its market relevance. Nicola and his team are making good and rapid progress in the right direction.
“The main problem they face is demonstrating to large brands that they can enhance and simplify their understanding of the consumer base. It’s a novel product, so explaining its purpose is key. Once brands know what it is they will be very enthusiastic.”
Dovetail Technologies – Bespoke software development
“We build custom-made software,” explains co-founder Martin Wallace. “Whatever the client needs we can do – e-commerce, internal operating systems, web applications, mobile apps – anything that’s custom built. We set up in 2002 and have five full-time staff.
“We recently secured a large contract in the UK, which has given us a renewed confidence and interest in scaling up. We have proven to ourselves that we can do the work there and here. So we want to expand. We have just developed a product, custom software development company for other companies but we’ve also developed our own cloud-based product for community projects and hope for it to take off in the UK. Now we need to scale up and learn how to improve our sales and marketing strategy.”