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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

Supermac voted All-Ireland PR champ for 2020

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Pat McDonagh: marketing award.

Pat McDonagh, head of the Supermac’s chain of family restaurants, has been named the All Ireland Marketing Champion of 2020.

The award was created by the Marketing Institute of Ireland to highlight the achievements of individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to business, who have demonstrated leadership, vision and skill and in particular whose customer and market focus have been central to their success.

With more than 100 restaurants throughout the country, Supermac’s employs over 4,000 people nationally and has helped to establish up to 60 self-employed franchisees in their own successful businesses.

The current climate means that the consumer is looking for more online and contactless ways of engaging with service providers. Supermac’s has developed its own in-house online platform to meet those needs and has order online messaging at the core of all its key marketing campaigns. Digital marketing has been a key area of focus over the past few years along with using well known sports personalities and influencers.

Some of the brand’s most publicised marketing efforts include taking out a large billboard in Times Square in 2016 which was picked up by global media as a small Irish business punching above its weight.

Furthermore, Supermac’s ‘No Clowning Around’ humorous dig at a competitor in the height of a legal battle also resulted in widespread attention.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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NWRA calls for ‘regional investment accelerator’ to distribute funding

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Chairperson of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, David Maxwell

The Northern and Western Regional Assembly has called for a dedicated ‘investment accelerator’ to be set up to distribute Government and EU regional development funds – in an effort to address an imbalance.

The Government is about to decide how to spend the €1.2 billion pot of EU Cohesion Funds for the period 2021 to 2027 with €350 million allocated for the Northern and Western Region.

The NWRA wants the Government to give local bodies more control over how the 2021 to 2027 funds are spent – it suggests replicating a model that has been successfully rolled out in the Cornwall region of England.

This week, it launched a campaign called ‘Let’s Be More’ to address inequality and economic decline in the region.

The NWRA believes the region can do more with funding by:

  • Being allowed to make more localised investment decisions using a new instrument called an Integrated Territorial Investment (ITI)
  • Encouraging more action’ to stimulate research and innovation
  • Doing more to facilitate local industrial transition and entrepreneurship
  • Offering more SME supports and funds for urban rural regeneration.
  • Funding more climate-friendly innovations

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

CitySwift announces 50 new jobs for city as part of its major expansion

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Minister Hildegarde Naughton at the CitySwift jobs announcement with Brian O'Rourke and Alan Farrelly of CitySwift.

A Galway company, which produces cutting-edge technology to optimize the public transport experience for operators and customers alike, this week announced 50 new jobs over the next two years.

CitySwift, the transport data company which works with global players such as Go Ahead and National Express to transform the operations and passenger experience of public transport, announced the jobs for over the next two years – with 15 roles to be filled immediately.

The announcement comes after CitySwift secured €2m in funding from existing investors Enterprise Ireland, Western Development Commission, ACT Venture Capital, Irelandia Investment, and Mike McGearty.

The new roles will be across software, data science, and commercial roles including customer success, sales, and marketing.

As part of the rapid growth, CitySwift will also be moving to a bigger headquarters in Galway city centre.

Junior Transport Minister Hildegarde Naughton welcomed the jobs announcement.

“Growth of this scale for a local company, especially during these times, is remarkable,” she said.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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