Been in Ireland now for about 6 weeks and we’re finally beginning to find our feet. And I’m happy to say there’s lots happening on this island. In the midst of the media doom and gloom and the deathly focus on politics and generational debt there’s a real buzz going on.

Out here in Connemara I’ve met a lot of people gearing up for the tourist season with a pile of ideas and actually the drive to carry them out. From adventure cycling, to artist tourist trails, to the resurrection of ancient roads and walks to anything else in between.

In Galway city I’ve met people building apps, music experiences, business hubs and creative spaces. It’s hard not to be energised.

This week I’ve a few meetings with other entrepreneurs and a few projects to move along including Féile Icarus and an as yet unnamed one. Already with Féile Icarus there are a few interesting developments that I will be posting about on that blog as they develop. Triamu is also moving to a new stage of development.

In the meantime, if you happen to be in Dublin this week then try going to the Dublin Web Summit. Looks like there’ll be a serious amount of attendees and stuff going on. I’d like to go but have too much on at the moment so will pencil in for next time instead.

 

Have a lot to blog about right now and will limit this post to Féile Icarus. Here’s the rundown for 2011 events so far:

Search campaign started

I’ve just started a search campaign on Google with a budget of 85 euro. Search at first glance doesn’t seem to me to be the ultimate channel as I don’t think people look for things they don’t know exist, but on the other hand I think there may be a long tail effect here I could use so I’m bidding on related low cost keywords I think the target group looks for and then trying to get their interest with this ad HEADING “What’s your journey?” BODY COPY “Deviant and peripheral startups,
creatives and webbies, join us!”. The question now to be answered by the test campaign is if there is anyway enough interest generated when they see Féile Icarus so that enough people, or indeed any people, sign up.

Sponsors

And I’m aiming to have the first 3-4 major sponsors in by 15th of January. The challenge here I believe is getting a balance of sponsors who stand for disruption, creativity, entrepreneurship, social responsibility, inclusion and good business who actually want to be seen together! The sponsors I’ve spoken to so far are interested and I think we’ll be able to cobble something together that gives something to all parties, that’s really a precondition for talking to each other at all.

Venues & locations

And we’ve set a core plan for venues and locations which we may add to as opportunities arise during the year. The full list is on Féile Icarus now and kicks off with Barcelona in April, then Stockholm and then Ireland. I hope to add another Irish or foreign location for the autumn.

I’ll update on any sponsor contracts signed or buzz we garner in the meantime.

 

Why don’t we have 36 hours in a day?

I’ve been in a doer mode the past few weeks with deadlines to meet, projects to move along to a fixed point and 2 new services to launch. It’s all been a bit frustrating.

Though I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now, I’ve had problems with servers configured improperly, domains pointing wrong, then right but not working, skins don’t want to skin up, systems don’t want to work and Gmail has gone on a murderous rampage on random jobs sent to me so that they get deleted and never return. And yes, this time I think it helps to anthromorphise 😉

I’ve managed a couple of check-points along the way and will try to make up for the lost ground over the next 3 weeks. There are about 8 major check-points I have to pass then I’ll feel like it’s all moving along at the correct pace. And I have a couple of posts on projects specifically I’ll update on by the end of next week all going well.

Whew, rant over! Now back to work.

 

Am going to the Entrepreneurs gala tomorrow, an event run by the gang at Founders Alliance which is always inspiring, full of good people and opportunities to connect up again with other entrepreneurs. And Founders is doing superb work in general in supporting members and driving entrepreneurship as an agent of change and prosperity in Scandinavia. Full kudos to Niclas and the gang there. I’lll post more about that afterwards.

New brands and services

For Language Army we’re now in the middle of the rebranding process and shaping the services we are already offering. We will now have three distinct brands: Language Army will become more focused on translations, copywriting and SEO translations, and medical translations and services will move to a separate brand which I will reveal when the site is up. And multilingual marketing, strategy and international e-commerce is moving to a brand called Interim Local. Here we show companies how to market on different local markets and also supply dedicated local experts short-term or long to drive traffic, campaigns, attention or sales: whatever the goal is for the client. If you know anyone who’d like to be one of the first user cases for Interim Local and has a need to sell or be visible in other markets to their home one feel free to put us in contact. The site will be up in about a month.

Now sales pitches aside, I have a few clients to talk to today :)

 

I’ve needed a bit of time to think about how the Féile Icarus event went because the feedback, both explicit and implicit, needs to be digested to build on properly so here goes:

Since the last post this has happened

I’ve run the event for the first time in Ireland where the feedback was really excellent and in our feedback forms everyone said they would recommend the event to others. That for me at this point is the most important metric, “Would you tell your friends?”, it indicates the virality of the concept and if at least some basic needs are being met. In Ireland it was a superb bunch of open, supportive and exciting people with big plans for the future and I’m honoured to have held a workshop for them. I can see elements that can be improved and now I see my next step as making the next workshop better so it can be even more tailored for each individual participant and their particular journey.

Streams will need to be developed

I already had a template for different streams but thought it premature and had to run the battery of questions for real in Ireland to see how it played out. This current version of Féile Icarus is more focused on pre-inception to already started up rather than established businesses, and also mixes the introspective with business issues though there is still “something for everyone” in the programme. Next steps are flipping that so there is “everything for someone” through targeted streams set up for: In the egg, Leaving the egg, In flight parts of the journey and these 3 stages are either focused on YOU (as a free agent/lifestyle entrepreneur/artisan/craftsperson) or on a BIZ (business/startup/project), leaving us with six targeted workshops to help people and companies in their journeys. Phew, I even have to read that myself to get it!

Satellites and approach

There’s a need for sessions on generalised problems and challenges attendees have. This is best solved in satellite sessions á la Open Space Technology or crowd-solving. I really love these methods and the outcomes and buzz they generate and am excited about using more in the scheduled programmes as well as in satellite sessions.

Communications

Here are my observations based on the time contraints and a microscopic marketing budget :
– a signup or expression of interest on Facebook is pretty nebulous. It definitely drove some attention and some people who came to the event did actually do so via Facebook. The key takeaway here is take the numbers there and divide by 2. Not using Facebook at all really for the Stockholm one as I want to test other methods too but it will definitely feature in the next stage. LinkedIn also plays a role and I’ve set up a basic group there for people to keep in contact and post questions to a wider audience. That may then play a role further down the line in communications but difficult to say exactly how right now.
– real world PR was excellent with 8-9 articles being written, a couple of blog posts and some activity via Twitter. It didn’t deliver as much on numbers as I’d hoped, though possibly the next event in Ireland will have a better turnout from these channels due to the recognition factor. My sincere thanks to everyone who covered the event and supported it.
– the website was fine considering it was a ticketing solution from Amiando masked with the Féile Icarus domain. By the way I recommend the people at Amiando as they were very flexible and went out of their way to help. However, I’ll still need a dedicated website and design in the next 6-8 weeks and will probably use the Amiando widget then to manage the ticketing.

Stockholm event signups coming in

The first real (not Facebook! ;)) signups are in for Stockholm and we’ll be holding the event at Digital art Center (DAC), a really cool venue where the founders are looking to blend business, digital, art and technology in new ways. Absolutely in keeping with the Féile Icarus ethos. I’ll be running an adapted programme based on learnings from Ireland and looking forward to seeing what is learned there and what participants are planning!

After Stockholm

There are a couple of really exciting things going on after Stockholm which I can’t go into in much detail here but can at least say that it looks like the first fully-fledged 6-workshop Féile Icarus with satellite sessions will hit the tracks in early 2011, and at least two other countries are being timetabled and and we’ll be looking to really build on that. Secondly, the training of people to hold a Féile Icarus event in addition to partnering with the right people in different venues, cities and countries is being at least considered. There I’m working on a model which shares revenues fairly and helps build a community of people and participants driven to change the world in their own unique way. Thanks to some friends who have brought on those thoughts at their own initiative, you know who you are :)

That I believe is it for now.

 
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