A crowded pub in downtown Dublin was the location for one of the most innovative entrepreneur events I’ve been to.
As one of the oldest drinking establishments in Ireland’s capital, The Stag’s Head is steeped in history, but it had a rather more digital edge to it on the night I visited.
I was in town for the 2012 edition of the Dublin Web Summit and was invited to attend Inventorium’s Open Mic Idea Jam, a no holds barred opportunity for budding entrepreneurs to test their pitching skills and get some feedback from the watching audience.
Inventorium, a programme designed to help turn innovative digital ideas into sustainable businesses, described the event as an opportunity to ‘share ideas, practice pitching, start conversations and form brave new partnerships’.
With hundreds of technology and digital investors in town for the summit, those taking the stage could be excused for getting a little over-excited.
It’s no hidden secret that Dublin and Ireland has seen a surge in its start-up population and there was no shortage of ideas bouncing around the packed bar.
The largely standing audience was introduced to an Irish version of an invoice purchase business, similar to the UK’s MarketInvoice, aimed at companies which require access to payments before customers have paid them.
Other open mic pitches focused on ways of bringing a social element to the way we watch television series while one of three female entrepreneurs ‘performing’ on the night presented her case for a worldwide organisation to promote and fund international study by disabled people.
This very informal take on what is normally a very serious matter shows just how far the notion of being your own boss has come. While all those answering the open mic call were at the very early stage of building their business, their enthusiasm and energy permeated the crowded room.
Building up an active and influential network early doors is pivotal in giving a fledgling business a chance down the road. There will come a time when a seemingly innocuous contact may save the day by putting you in touch with a supplier, providing an entry to an investor or just providing some unique advice.
Audience interaction directed towards stand-up comics normally comes in the form of heckling and the grilling that some of the business ideas received at the end of three minutes pitching could be likened to the task of having to deal with rowdy barrackers.
But while the evening might not have rendered any investments, and by the absence of any tangible business plans I would suggest this was the case, the open mic forum offered much more than that. It was about promoting the concept of entrepreneurship, allowing people to share ideas with like-minded people over a pint of Guinness and most importantly, showing that in a country where the pinch has been felt more than most, innovation still reigns.