What’s your role at Superpixel Labs?
I’m the Community Manager. I started here on the 1st of February.
Tell me your background.
I’ve had two start-ups. One’s a tech start-up and the other was back-office solutions. Before moving to Ireland I worked in PR and marketing; I was an IT consultant, and I worked in retail and licensing for Marks and Spencer’s. The Community Manager role is just perfect for me. It encompasses all of the best bits of any job I’ve had – all those bits rolled into one! It’s quite a new role – community manager. There’s a lot of social media interaction obviously, but also physical interaction with people too.
— Superpixel Labs (@superpixellabs) March 22, 2016
I deal with people every day in the space. I make sure that they’re happy! There’s a lot of synergy going on. I’m putting people together and seeing opportunities for them – and just talking really at the end of the day.
Who is coming in? Who is using the space now?
It’s a mix. We call the smaller labs baby-labs. We’ve got PR in there, food PR, social media management – a couple of people are doing that; there’s a team who work on the Galway 2020 doing all the marketing for that. We’ve got a couple of web-developers. And then there’s another guy who does talent-management for YouTube. Oh, and an engineer who’s going to be moving in this week as well!
They are all independent. But now, five of them are actually working together on different projects which is brilliant! That’s what this is meant to be! It’s about sharing skills, knowledge, helping out with clients. It’s an ecosystem down here!
What’s important for you?
I think the most important thing is that we don’t just make it tech. Superpixels is naturally going to appeal to tech people. But we’re deliberately not just focusing on tech. We have a gentleman who does Yeats’ tours around Ireland for poetry and literature. Also: This is Galway, who do digital events – promotion about people and businesses in Galway. We have front-end, back-end graphic designers, a film-production company, somebody building an app for football, several photographers.
So it’s a real mix. A lot of the tech guys would just sit there with headphones – if you let them! You know! The interaction is really important. It’s pretty much: they’re interviewing us – but we’re interviewing them to make sure that they really are a great fit for us.
— Superpixel Labs (@superpixellabs) March 22, 2016
Any black days?!
I think getting it ready before we launched. Just before we launched there was that big hurricane coming over from the Caribbean, which meant that our desks were stuck in the U.K. for a week! That had a knock-on effect of putting them together, getting everything in place. We couldn’t put the partitions up until the desks were in. We couldn’t put the big vertical dividers up for the sections until the desks were in. So the Friday before we launched was a bit crazy! We got it done – but you can’t control the weather. Unfortunately.
How important is tech to you?
Tech makes my life easier. We use an online management system in the Cloud that basically manages this whole space for us. I’m all for automations and process. We use it every single day with this management system. And then for our sister company as well that’s what we do.
What would you say to first-time Start Uppers?
Lots of things really. I’ve been there myself. I mean first time around you do make a lot of mistakes. I think, for me anyway, second time around was a lot easier. You do make a lot of mistakes so you have to realise that mistakes happen. I think now though it’s a lot easier. You’ve got access to people, like Blackstone LaunchPad, it makes the process easier. You’ve got Start Up weekends – which means you can bring your idea and actually create a team and ramp things up very quickly.
There’s a great ecosystem here in Galway in terms of tech – established companies who are trading globally. And the goodwill here is amazing. People will talk. They will help you out. They will network with you. They will introduce you to people. So never be afraid, especially in Galway, to ask people! They will help. Never think that you’re on your own.
In terms of limiting the errors you would make, I would say research your target market as much as you can. Talk to your target market as much as you can. Identify the problem that you’re trying to solve. And actually see IF it is a problem. And if it is, find out how much people are willing to pay to get that problem solved.
Advice as regards funding?
We all bootstrap. I think I’m a perpetual boot-strapper! That’s the way I work! I just love the challenge of not having to pay for stuff! Beg, borrow, friends and family! There’s so much stuff out there that you can get for free! I’ve got a massive, massive list, a tool-kit essentially, of every single type of thing that you can get for a Start Up that’s free.
Also, there’s loads of awards out there. It’s now award-season. So you’ve got Start Up awards, the Best of Galway awards, the Ulster Bank awards, Business Achievers awards, there are so many. And you are never really too early to enter.
I won my first business award after two months of trading. So never think that you’re too small because it’s not just the award. It’s the publicity that you get on the back of it and the recognition in that marketplace that people will see forever when it’s indexed.
I got a huge international client for my other business just by having some press and that client obviously said: “Well, she’s doing well. She’s got a presence. She’s being covered by press.”
So, it all helps.