By @SimonCocking, interview with Mary McKenna Irish entrepreneur, storyteller, collector of people. My projects @_RunAClub

Image  Emma Jervis Photography



Since we last featured you, what are you working on now? What are your plans for 2017?

Thanks for asking. I think the last time you featured me was as part of Digital Week in Skibbereen back in October. I’ve just angel invested in a Derry company called Elemental Software that has a very dynamic all female founding team. I’ve invested because they’re an awesome duo with a great product selling into a fast growing social prescribing market & also because it’s tech for good. I’m putting some time as well as money into Elemental and that’s going to keep me busy during 2017, especially as we just closed our first piece of business in the Middle East.

What will you be talking about at Totem?

I’ll be talking about what entrepreneurs and startups can do to increase their chance of catching and then landing an angel investor like me. There are a lot of indications in the market that early stage investment is becoming harder & harder for startups to access so it’s important that angel investors are open about what they’re looking for in a team and product and also the things that put them off investing. When I was starting out, I found this sort of information so useful on a number of fronts.

I’m also going to offer some private entrepreneur 1-2-1 sessions to delegates attending Totem Summit. I’ve done these now at a couple of other conferences and the feedback I get from the entrepreneurs I meet is very positive and for a couple of people our confidential sessions have been life changing. Without a co-founder, life as a startup CEO can be a very lonely place.

I’ll be in Whistler for few days so who knows what else I’ll end up putting my hand up for – although it definitely won’t be the bobsleighing…

What inspired you to attend it?

I met one of the Totem Summit founders, Michael Murphy, at Digital DNA in Belfast last June. We were both judges on Digital DNA’s startup competition upSTART. Mike is a big dreamer and I love his philosophy around the importance of slowly building social capital. I’ve always been interested in networking and Totem Summit promises a completely different approach to building business relationships by taking people out of the conference environment and making special things happen as part of an outdoor adventure. What’s not to like about that – and the Totem team have tried this successfully before.

I hear so many stories about good things that have happened to entrepreneurs as a result of serendipity or chance meetings or through what can only be described as fairly random events. But that can only happen to you if you put yourself out there in the first place.

As well as the lure of adventure networking in a digital night market, Whistler is one of those places I’ve always wanted to visit and the opportunity to meet and mingle with entrepreneurs and investors from a completely different ecosystem is so compelling for me. There’s a cheesy saying about how magic happens outside of your comfort zone and cheesy or not, I do believe that’s the case. I still won’t be bobsleighing however…

How was 2016, what worked well, what didn’t move as quickly as you would have liked?

In May 2016 I moved back to Ireland from London where I’d spent the previous 5 years. It’s great to be home but I’m finding it’s taking a bit of time to slip back into the Irish startup scene. Maybe that will change now I’m firmly back in an Irish startup myself.

Which influencers and websites do you follow to keep up to date with the latest developments?

I use Twitter to keep an eye on what everyone is generally up to, I attend a lot of industry events (Dublin Tech Summit for example) and I also invest a decent amount of time in face to face meetings with the people I consider to have their finger on the pulse. Technology is great but it’s no substitute for spending quality time with real people.

How can people find out more about what you are working on?

I write a blog at & I publish to LinkedIn. I’m also an avid Tweeter – I can just hear the groans coming from anyone amongst your readers who follows me!

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?

My extra question Simon is “How can Totem Summit delegates get more value out of attending the conference?”

My advice would be to do a bit of homework on the people attending and taking part and perhaps reach out to a couple of them in advance with a specific ask, if you have one. I’ve already done this myself with Terence Mauri as I’m interested in interviewing Terence for my blog. Of all tech conferences, this one is likely to be very informal so delegates will find themselves elbow to elbow in the bar beside all sorts of people – practice your elevator pitch and be prepared to trot it out when you get an appropriate opportunity.

Connecting with our true purpose in order to achieve meaningful success, Tanveer Naseer speaking at Totem Summit

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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