Getting involved in entrepreneurship in college
The NUI Galway Entrepreneurship society is one of the most active organisations I have ever been involved in. It was only started 3 years ago, and so it’s a relatively young society, but it already has almost 1500 members (1499 at last count). With such a large network, we decided to host an event which would engage with students, and open their eyes to the vast ecosystem of entrepreneurship in Galway. With that, “EntreX” was born.
EntreX is an event, inspired by TedX talks, where 3 speakers come in and share their experience in starting up a business. We piloted the event in the first semester of college, and it was a great success. We had Edel Browne from Free Feet Medical, a BioTechnology student in NUI Galway who has started her own company which is designing a device to improve the lives of people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. We also had Enda Conway and John Mulry, two separately successful marketing gurus.
The event was such a success that we decided to repeat it in the second semester. This time, we raised the standard; we managed to secure a place in the newly completed arts theatre in the University, which had only been finished a few weeks prior. We hired a tech guy to work the sound, lighting and slides. All we needed now was the speakers! After a lot of discussion, we decided to base the event around entrepreneurs in the food industry. Instantly, we had 3 speakers in mind. Eugene Greaney, who is co-founder of the hugely successful Dough Bros pizza, Kevin Nugent, founder of Mr. Waffle, and Jack Parsons, a final year commerce student in UCD, and founder of O’Kale Krisps
The promotion got underway about a week in advance of the event. Marketing events in college is tricky – marketing them too early and students just forget, but market them too late and you’ve missed your window of opportunity. The number of people attending the event on the Facebook page was low, so needless to say we were quite nervous. However, on the night we got a very nice turnout and managed to nearly fill the theatre! I was on the mic for the night, introducing the speakers. With all of the lights, it really felt like a production set, so that only added to my nerves.
Thankfully, the speakers took it all in their stride. First up was Kevin Nugent from Mr. Waffle, who spoke incredibly honestly about his experience in starting up a crepe/cafe just beside the University in Galway. We didn’t give the speakers any brief on what to speak about — we reckoned they were the ones who knew what people were interested in, so we left it up to them. Next up, we had Jack Parsons, who founded O’ Kale Krisps while in his final year of college. O’ Kale Krisps is a healthy crisp, made using the health food kale. Having met with Jack previously, he came to mind as a good speaker, and he didn’t disappoint. I met Jack previously when I read one of his blog posts on Medium about running a business while in college, and I decided to message him and tell him how much I related to the article. We ended up having an informal meeting to introduce ourselves (networking is by far the biggest skill I’ve learned in college) and from there we know each other.
Finally, we had Eugene Greaney from Dough Bros. For any of you who don’t know of Dough Bros, it was set up in 2013 by brothers Ronan and Eugene Greaney. They started as a pop-up but have gone from strength to strength, and Dough Bros was recently named one of the top 100 restaurants in Ireland by the Irish Times. Eugene gave an incredible talk, giving students a peak into the behind-the-scenes of starting up a business. It was incredibly motivating to hear such an open account of his struggles in getting the business to the huge success it is now.
I was highly impressed with how honest all the speakers were as to how much they struggled with their businesses, and how many mistakes they made. This honesty really resonated with the audience, and the audience had high praises for the event.
Being part of the Entrepreneurship society has opened my eyes to the huge variety of events constantly happening in Galway around entrepreneurship. Talks, workshops, Startup weekends, social gatherings and so much more, right on the University’s doorstep. With EntreX, we think we added another great event to the calender.