A Perspective on Startup Environments

I just spent a day at the Wild Atlantic StartUP Conference held at the University of Limerick, Ireland. The event was organized to change how business innovators and startups collaborate and engage together. Now in its third year, the goal of the event is to create a platform that enables entrepreneurs to advance their knowledge and for startups to hone their skills by learning from the success and failure stories of other startup companies. While on vacation on the Wild Atlantic Way on the West Coast of Ireland, I was lucky enough to stop in for a day at the conference to speak on a panel about startup life.

I shared a perspective inspired by xOverTime’s first blog post, that the right startup environments are a privilege to work in. I talked about the value each person receives when they feel that they are part of building something successful. While entrepreneurial environments are risky, it is the shared risk that really brings a team together. Finding an entrepreneurial team that has the right mix of talent, energy, and personalities makes it truly a joy to go to work because every day is exciting.

Building on this theme, I shared a metaphor that compares startup life to a marathon – something we often talk about here at xOverTime. I explained that like a marathon runner, there’s a certain skillset needed to compete, to keep on running. I also shared my perspective on the importance of little rituals to help sustain you on the startup journey.

On the panel with me was Jill Holtz of mykidstimes.com and Kiernan Normoyle of Ocean Survivor, who also shared stories from their own startups. A common theme from our discussion was the unbelievable hours and effort needed for startup success, but how these seem to just flow as everyone wants to carry their weight and not let the team down.

Michael Lehane on Wild Atlantic StartUP Conference's startup panel

Overall it was a great experience for me. It was not a typical startup/entrepreneurial event. Instead I found everyone at the event believed that by aligning a startup hub with entrepreneurs, innovators, and businesses from within the ecosystem, something bigger can grow along the Wild Atlantic Way. It was great to be able to a part of!

After the day I came away with three observations that will drive startup success along the Wild Atlantic Way:

1. Strength of the Attendees – Every one of the attendees at the event was invested in the region, from the universities present to the number of attendees from outside the region who gave of their time to contribute. Giving back to make things better was a common thread across the different panels and desire to build something bigger than individual successes.

2. Shared Collaborative Vision – The opportunity to create an enterprise corridor along the Wild Atlantic Way to provide an ecosystem driven by an entrepreneurial mindset and innovation between business, startup and social circles is an attainable vision. At the event there was a willingness from all partners to roll up their sleeves to identify where they can contribute the most value.

3. Focus on Success – In general, the attendees wanted to celebrate success and focus on how others can replicate similar success with a mindset of building a strong ecosystem that would sustain the Wild Atlantic West region. There was definitely a no nonsense approach across the board at the event especially from each of the speakers contributions including some colorful answers or responses.

Follow more conversation from the event with #WASup16 and connect with me if you’d like to learn more.

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