ESB Spark O' Genius

I don't write much about the Company, what with me being a self-effacing developer type with a disinclination to hyperbole. But we have an interesting week ahead of us. There are a couple of things happening -- the first is about learning: the first module of the iGAP3 Program, subject matter being Strategy. There's even homework! Due today! And it's not done yet! I'm writing a blog entry instead -- classic displacement activity. Provided I don't have to wear the cone of shame, I'm looking forward to the session. The second thing is about exposure: we've entered Vigill in a number of these startup competitions, one of which was the ESB Ireland Spark of Genius, which is inextricably connected to the upcoming and massively hyped Dublin Web Summit.

As an aside, if you bump into me, don't ask me how and when and what we did -- if it's not a story on Trello or a ticket at Assembla or a strange MongoDB query or trying to do capacity analysis for cloud service pricing, it's difficult to get my attention these days. I'm merely the development angle here. Barry spins the visions and Helen hunts down and corrals the customers. Myself, more than ably assisted by Steve, has to make sure that the services don't break and that we can make good on our promises and that there's some kind of costing and schedule that makes sense.

[caption id="attachment_519" align="alignright" width="300" caption="The Brownies of Reward"]The Brownies of Reward[/caption]

Back to the competition. Last Friday we went out to a big lawyery place on St. Stephen's Green with nine other companies to pitch to the judges in the semi-final stage of the Spark of Genius. Sitting in the Green Room there was a noticeable lack of G+Ts, but plenty of coffee, which was no doubt fuelling the nervous tittering of the individuals that were there to show off in front of the panel in the boardroom.

The panel turned out to be a dozen people -- I still don't know who half of them were -- but we did our pitch, our multiply-practised 5 minute pitch, and then we toddled off, intercepted briefly by a posh lawyerly standup lunch and a bit of a hobnob with the great and the good.

Long story short, we just recently found out we had progressed to the final and there's a short article in the Irish Times with an overview of all finalists. I remember being told that one of the important goals when running a company is to keep the organization off the front page, but the technology section is good, apparently. Myself and Barry have lined the meeting room with whiteboards and are bursting our brains to try to come up with a good presentation for the final which is on Thursday 27th at 1515 on the main stage of the Dublin Web Summit. Follow the @_vigill tweetstream for more information as it comes in.

Office Move!

J McNeill Pub and Music Shop

The good news today is that it looks like we’ve settled on an office in Capel St. as the place to grow the startup. You would think that getting space in Dublin would be easy - and yes, there is a load of office space available. You would think that you would pay a keen and competitive rate for it too, considering the depressed market, but on that point you would be very, very wrong.

We visited buildings that have lain vacant for two years and the lettors would refuse to lower their prices. This makes a sense in the most perverse way - the financial way, I mean - in that lowering the rental will automatically take value from the ‘apparent’ investment worth of the building itself. These guys are heavily delusional - and they are hurting startup businesses. A letter to Enterprise Ireland has been delivered by the usual suspects.

Back to the venue itself - we’re delighted that we are sub-letting a space from another technology company that are scaling up. I plan to pick those guys’ brains on all topics relating to making startups go.

Capel St is a fantastic street. There’s a mixed-use pub and music shop. There’s pet shops, pubs, camping stores, martial arts shops, adult naughty fun stores, Asian markets, Polish markets, Sari Sari stores, more pubs, chippers, more music shops, Asian restaurants and the highest concentration of Korean Barbecues I have ever had the privilege to see in one place.

The Boars Head Pub

Right around the corner is a large cinema, a gym, many second-hand book shops, an early-morning fruit market and 3fe, one of the best coffee shops in Dublin city.

If you go check it out on Google Maps, you will see the street as it was about three years ago, it’s changed a bit even in that short time. More restaurants, less headshops.

At this moment in time we are searching the skips and dumpsters of Dublin looking for furniture to put into this ex-Art Gallery space. Or maybe we are going to just visit Ikea, not sure yet. Once the furniture is in, I’ll be looking for developers to keep the seats warm :)