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College drop-out / entrepreneur shakes up rich list

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Paul Kenny of Cobone an internet millionaire and entrepreneur who dropped out of college in Galway and made a successful career in Dubai.

Paul Kenny left Galway for Dubai in November 2007 in the middle of a Masters degree at NUIG and returned six years later a millionaire.

The Sunday Times places him fourth in its list of millionaires aged 30 or under: just behind Rory McIlroy and ahead of One Direction’s Niall Horan.

‘That attracted a fair bit of attention in Ireland and abroad,’ says Paul, ‘although the article seriously over-estimated my financial worth.

How did a self-confessed college drop-out go from a lowly internship to digital media magnate in six years?

‘It wasn’t a straightforward path,’ he says, ‘as I didn’t set out in 2007 with a clear aim to be at the top of this or any other business.

‘One thing I learned early in Dubai was to ask myself ‘What can I do now?’ when faced with a new situation and to not be afraid of failure when deciding what action to take.

‘The answer became apparent very quickly,’ he says.

‘It was – anything I wanted to do. I was unconstrained by background or education, in an environment where people were accepted for their abilities and where there was huge opportunity for personal and business growth.

He was recruited by Emirates as a marketing consultant and felt that he had landed in the right company in the right role. He quickly found that he had a knack for generating revenue and helped bring in almost a half billion dollars income in his first five months.

He also discovered that it was his ability to work at speed, changing direction quickly to adapt to markets and technology which was key to delivering this performance.

But after six months he says that he wasn’t a fit for the company and again found difficulty with having a boss.

‘I was 25, a college drop-out who had spent less than three years in the workplace and had left three different jobs,’ he says.

‘I wasn’t exactly an ideal candidate for another marketing role, so I had to ask myself again, ‘What can I do now?

The answer this time lay more within his own control.

He contacted some venture capitalists he knew and within four weeks, in August 2010, he had raised €1.4m in equity and had started Cobone. He was now a full-fledged entrepreneur.

By the end of 2012 the company was attracting the interest of investors looking for opportunities in emerging markets and in March 2013 US investment firm Tiger Global acquired Cobone in a deal reputed to be worth $40m.

Paul and key members of the management team were retained and funds were made available for future growth.

Cobone reached profitability in 2013 and he quickly turned his attention to a travel business Triperna.

‘Cobone continues to grow but the market is possibly no greater than $100m in total,’ he says.

‘The travel market on the other hand is estimated at $35bn, so there’s a lot more scope for growth.

Between the two businesses about 80 people are employed and they are experiencing month on month growth in excess of 70%.

When asked what advice he’d give to a start-up entrepreneur in Galway, he says that once they have a working product they should aim to grow quickly. Having ‘early-mover’ advantage in a market is really important he says.

‘If financing is needed and not available locally, then get on a plane and find it,’ advises Paul.

‘There are investors looking for opportunities all over the world.

Looking to the future, Paul says that there is so much that he’s about to do that he will be kept busy for a short while at least.

‘I love trying to do the impossible,’ he says.

In his own words: ‘What can he do next?

The answer would appear to be an awful lot. Watch this space.

A longer version of this interview and more on Paul’s plans for the future can be found in this week’s Tribune here

Connacht Tribune

New course helps make sense of Artificial Intelligence and its uses

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Managers in Galway companies who would like to learn how they could put artificial intelligence (AI) to work for their organisations are being encouraged to sign up for a new course.

It comes as research found that 50% of organisations around the world have adopted AI in at least one function, while 79% of organisations are also exploring or piloting AI projects.

Of those companies who have implemented AI, 63% report revenue increases in the relevant business units.

The new Artificial Intelligence for Managers postgraduate certificate is being offered by NUI Galway to those who wish to get a better understanding of AI and its implications for business and enterprises.

Participants do not need to have any coding skills; this non-technical programme will focus instead on the strategic use of AI and how businesses and management can approach the practical implementation of AI technologies within their company. Candidates will learn about the practicalities necessary for successful AI adoption including data and skills requirements, ethics and legal issues. As such the programme would suit those in management positions in sectors like telecommunications, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, biomedical, finance, marketing, automotive and more.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

GMIT hotel industry’s big cheese

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Cáit Noone

The Galway International Hotel School in GMIT has been listed in the Top 10 Hospitality Management Institutes worldwide by global publication Education.com, for the second year in a row.

During the pandemic, the school continued to deliver courses safely on campus and online including a brand-new series of online masterclasses by industry representatives such as Conor Spacey, Culinary Director of Food Space, alumna Catherine Toolan, Managing Director of Guinness Storehouse, Diarmuid Kelly of Kelly’s Oysters, Siobhan Ni Ghairbith, St Tola Cheese, Bernie Doherty, Galway County Council Community Archaeologist, Padraig McGillicuddy, MD and owner of Ballygarry House, Tom Doherty, Access Hospitality and many more.

Cáit Noone, Head of the school, said: “The tourism industry is a global employer and a qualification from the Galway International Hotel School provides graduates with multiple opportunities to work across the vast industry.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Glenamaddy site goes green

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Green initiative…Peter Flanagan, Site Manager and John McDermott, Procurement Manager at Kingspan.

Kingspan Water & Energy in Glenamaddy is the first manufacturing plant within Kingspan’s global network of 166 manufacturing sites to have its manufacturing process completely powered by renewable energy, following the installation of BioLPG.

Following the July installation of BioLPG, the Glenamaddy site is now 100% powered by renewable energy, closely followed by Kingspan’s manufacturing plant in Aston Clinton, England, which has also reached this milestone.

The move to renewable energy has been a gradual transition over the past five years, following the introduction of renewable electricity to Kingspan Glenamaddy in 2016.

This accomplishment is aligned to the Group’s ground-breaking Planet Passionate sustainability objectives and helps Kingspan to move closer to its ambitious goal of achieving net zero carbon manufacturing* across the business by 2030.

Kingspan Glenamaddy manufactures storage solutions for numerous sectors including agri, water, domestic as well as specialist custom tanks as part of Kingspan’s Water & Energy Division.

“Over the past five years, the introduction of renewable electricity to our Glenamaddy site has delivered a significant reduction in our carbon emissions,” said Peter Flanagan, Site Manager at Kingspan Water & Energy in Glenamaddy.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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