Web designer refuses to cringe in the face of adversity


BOUNCING BACK: RECESSION RECOVERIES:Eamonn Blaney is resolved to succeed in his web venture – and damn the begrudgers, writes AILISH CONNELLY

IT WOULD be a shame to waste a strong iconoclastic streak, wouldn’t it? Eamonn Blaney uses his to excellent effect; badgering, doorstepping, blathering full belt to whoever will listen to get where he needs to go with his new venture – Cringefactor.com.

A few years ago the Howth native left, rather than waiting to get pushed from, his €110,000 a year job. He decided to upskill and headed into Trinity College Dublin to do a masters in business administration. Blaney spent €25,000 of his own funds, got his masters degree and re-entered a working world of . . . very little – no head honcho job, few prospects of one and faltering hope in a radically different work environment to the one he had previously inhabited.

“You could paper a room with the amount of CVs I sent off to every prospective employer in Ireland, but there are simply no jobs for the likes of me. There is also rampant ageism taking root in corporate Ireland. If you don’t believe me take a look at the age profile of the likes of certain American multinationals,” he says.

On the scrap heap at the age of 45? Not a bit of it. Blaney decided it was time to employ himself and returned to his MBA feasibility study; a web-based personal development company which offers psychological profiling. The purpose of the site is to offer individuals a chance to get to know themselves better through the prism of how others see them. Cringefactor gives us an insight into how we are seen by our friends. “This website has worldwide appeal, is age, market and geographically independent,” he says.

Blaney explains the idea behind his company further. “We want to celebrate individuality in a society of conformity. It takes age and confidence to learn to accept yourself and damn the begrudgers.

“So many lives are marked by bullying and the lack of respect for anyone anyway different. Take me for instance, I’ve done a number of personality tests for various organisations and I’d inevitably be told I wasn’t the type they’d employ. I never did fit that box.”

That clearly hasn’t deterred some heavy hitters who have become involved with his developing brand. Chief relationship officer or content officer and shareholder is Dr Mark Goulson the UCLA professor of psychiatry for over 20 years, best-selling author, commentator, columnist and adviser for the Wall St Journal, New York Times, CNN, NBC, the Oprah Winfrey TV show, BBC and Newsweek magazine to name a few.

Goulson signed up as soon as he heard the business plan, giving the raison d’etre of the site academic grounding. He is responsible for generating all questions and answers on the online personality test.

Blaney doorstepped Australian internet entrepreneur, founder of Xing.com and philanthropist, Bill Liao at an internet conference and Liao joined as a shareholder immediately. Cringefactor now has a team of 25 technical personnel, all currently working on the promise of a payoff later on, such is the belief his team has in the potential of Cringefactor, currently in test mode on Facebook.

Enterprise Ireland ponied up a development package but Blaney has found it difficult in the current economic climate to source ongoing funds to further his company. Fortunately this doesn’t unduly faze him.

“I’ve been turned down by some of Ireland’s richest men. Believe me I’ve asked many of them.” He is scathing of the financial establishment in this country.

“Giving something back? They’re not interested in the little people. For instance shareholder and mentor Bill Liao told me my business idea was the best he had heard in two years. Yet Allied Irish Bank will only consider funding you if you need more than €150,000. Enterprise Ireland and the county enterprise boards will invest if you can put up matching funds but I’ve already invested my savings getting this thing up and running.

“This Government are not going to pull me down. I’ve been on job seekers’ allowance for two years and the geniuses in social protection tried to sanction me when I missed my signing on day one week. Unbelievable.”

On that occasion he was in the UK trying to drum up finance. He hasn’t paid his rent in five months and his accommodating landlord is also on the promise list. So Blaney has walked the walk in common with hundreds of thousands of our job-seeking fellow citizens.

“This will work for me, this has to work. It’s not about money, beyond having enough to live on. Your fundamental job as a human being is about making our world a better place.”

Seeing as it’s a Blaney, son of late TD Neil Blaney, in the hot chair, and he has the greater good for humanity banner unfurled, we have to know . . . Politics? His views of the incumbents and their policies are colourful and largely unprintable.

Further information from www.Cringefactor.com