Pictured at the conference were Deirdre O'Sullivan (Skibbereen community college), Lauren McCarthy (Skibbereen Commmunity College) and Neil O'Driscoll, Platform Avenue.
Four hundred transition year pupils from schools throughout West Cork attended a special Student Enterprise Conference in The Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery, hosted by the Local Enterprise Office Cork West, on Monday, October 17. The ‘Steps to Success’ conference was held for students undertaking the West Cork Schools Enterprise Programme, which sees them set up and run their own mini enterprises.
Students were welcomed by Kevin Curran, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Cork North and West and addressed by a diverse line-up of speakers including Breffney O’Dowling-Keane, Fruit Cubed, Neil O’Driscoll, Platform Avenue, Paul Delaney, Visual Artist and Designer, David Hyde, Irish Patents Office and social media guru Damien Mulley.
Opening the event, Kevin Curran, Local Enterprise Office gave the 400 strong crowd key tips for success, which included the importance of writing down your goal, as a goal not written is not a goal; and the importance of doing something every day to make a difference to your life, the lives of others or your business. He finished by saying that “just because you’re not the biggest, doesn’t mean you can’t be the best.”
Also speaking at the conference was Neil O’Driscoll, co-founder of software technology company Platform Avenue who have brought CV’s to life with their groundbreaking software, which has been utilised by reality shows including First Dates, Dragon’s Den, The Voice and US show ‘Married at First Sight’. O’Driscoll shared his journey to success, which began with a career in Civil Engineering which ended with the collapse of the economy in 2007 and the diagnosis of testicular cancer. With no grand plan he moved to China and back to Cork to complete a course in IT where he founded the company with a friend which began as a solution to the problem of recruitment of construction workers who were looking abroad for new work. He encouraged the students to “identify a problem and solution and make sure that customers have a want for it and if you believe in it stick at it.”
Visual artist Paul Delaney told the students to turn the “what do you want to be?” question on its head and instead think about “who you want to be”, as this is really where you really discover where your true passion lies.
The students were also sent a special message by West Cork heroes, the O’Donovan Brothers, who imparted the advice they would give their 16-year-old selves. The one-minute video clip was met with cheers from students, with Gary and Paul encouraging them to have absolute belief and confidence in themselves, to achieve whatever they want and to enjoy their school days as they get to hang out with their friends everyday.
The Student Enterprise programme has been in existence since 2004 with schools from West Cork gaining national recognition for their projects in the past. Throughout the programme, students are exposed to all the realities and challenges faced by entrepreneurs in every stage of business development from market research and production to sales and marketing.
Each of the ten West Cork schools will compete with their mini enterprises in the regional finals next February where one team will be chosen to represent West Cork and their school at the National Finals Croke Park.