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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

Hospitality group raises €90k

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Lorraine Gallagher (left) and Charlene Hurley of Galway Hospice presented with a cheque for €27,537 by Brian Lynch and Eveanna Ryan of Connacht Hospitality.

The Connacht Hospitality Group this week announced that they raised more than €90,000 for a range of good Irish causes throughout 2022.

The group, which owns well-known Galway establishments including The Connacht Hotel, An Púcán, HYDE Hotel, Residence Hotel and 1520 Bar, as well as the Galway Bay Golf Resort, held a range of events at various stages of 2022 to fundraise for Claddagh Watch Patrol, the National Breast Cancer Research Institute (NBCRI), Galway Hospice and Make-A-Wish Ireland.

The announcement of over €90,000 worth of funds raised by the Connacht Hospitality Group for national and local charities comes off the back of the past 12 months which saw the group aim to make Corporate Social Responsibility a core part of their identity. This focus allowed them to become more aware of the causes that need assistance while also raising the profile of many of the charities.

The group arranged a diverse array of events to raise funds, and had lots of imaginative ways of grabbing the public’s attention. One event saw people attend HYDE Bar to savour a menu made by a mystery celebrity. In the end, it was revealed that TV personality Gráinne Seoige was the Executive Chef on a night that generated over €8,000 for the NBCRI.

Another event saw staff take part in a ‘Sunrise Swim’ in Salthill – and the public donated in their droves. All money raised went towards Claddagh Watch Patrol, an organisation that works to make Galway’s waterways safer by preventing accidental death and suicide.

One of the most successful fundraisers was the Galway Bay Golf Resort’s Golf Classic, which raised over €22,000 for Galway Hospice.

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

Finance Minister among key speakers at three-day conference on the regions

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David Minton, Director of the Northern & Western Regional Assembly.

Balanced and sustainable regional development will be top of the agenda when new Finance Minister Michael McGrath addresses a special three-day Regions in Focus 2023 event beginning next Tuesday week, February 7.

The Association of Irish Regions (AIR) event will see a host of leading academics and industry experts gather for workshops, seminars and specialised training from February 7 to 9 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Coolshannagh, Co. Monaghan.

And the future development of counties, including Galway city and county, will be discussed and debated at the event attended by leading figures from industry, academia, and policymaking.

Attendees will also include representatives from Ireland’s three regional assemblies, who will offer their perspectives on the big challenges facing Ireland’s regions, including climate change, regional inequality, and the transition to renewable energy.

David Minton, Director of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, which covers Galway and the North West, admitted that recent years had been difficult for the region.

“We’ve seen longstanding economic fault lines such as the shortage of housing and reliance on non-renewable energy exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and the continuing fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, placing further pressure on households and businesses,” he said.

“Events such as Regions in Focus 2023 give us the opportunity to meet with lawmakers and leading experts in industry and academia, to exchange ideas about how to improve the prospects of our respective regions for the benefit of the whole economy.

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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CITY TRIBUNE

Digital Accounting degree adds up for ATU Galway

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ATU Galway...Digtital Accounting.

ATU Galway has unveiled a new honours degree in Digital Accounting. The four-year, Level 8 degree (including a work placement in year three) offers the best of both worlds – careers in accounting and in the rapidly growing digital business field.

Students can expect a strong focus on practical learning, work placement and projects.  Much of the learning will take place in specialized classrooms and laboratories.

Applicants for this degree do not need to have studied accounting or business previously, nor do applicants need to have studied honours maths.

Furthermore, there is no need to be a ‘techie’ or be into computing – there is no coding or software development involved as the degree focusses on using software products as tools for Digital Accounting and Digital Business.

“Our aim is to prepare students to operate successfully in ‘real world’ situations,” explained Deirdre Lusby, Head of Department of Business & Accounting at ATU Galway.

“We have a top class and dedicated lecturing team and access to the latest technologies so students can develop the knowledge, skills, and professional competencies they will need for their future careers”.

“Lecturers on this programme are highly qualified professional accountants and digital technology specialists, many acting as examiners and lecturers for the professional accounting bodies,” added Seamus Lennon, Head of School of Business at ATU Galway.

“They maintain very close links with all of the professional bodies, industry, and employers.  We are extremely excited about this new degree programme, with graduates having career options in areas such as accounting, business, blockchain, systems analysis and digital auditing.”

For more information, go to www.atu.ie.

 

 

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