Monthly Archives: October 2016

Student in need of grinds

“We used to give grinds to other students while we were in college,” says Orla, explaining how the idea for their first business venture came about. “Sean graduated before me and found that he was inundated with requests for grinds. At first, he taught the students himself,” she explains, “but after a while he started hiring other tutors to do the work and taking a cut of their earnings.” It was at this point that the two came together and decided that this had the basis of a good business idea.

Taking the leap

Leaving their business consulting positions, they approached the student union bodies in Trinity College, University College Dublin and Dublin City University with the idea. They all agreed to partner with Orla and Sean and provide a service offering grinds to students in need. “It’s often the case that a certain percentage of students in one class need one-on-one attention from a tutor and it can’t be provided,” explains Orla. “Most lecturers are aware of this and happy for students to take grinds as a result. And that’s where we come in.”

The company launched last year, and since then Sean and Orla have branched out into providing grinds for Junior and Leaving Certificate students due to demand. “We decided that we’d set up a separate site for school grinds and started a new company called TutorHQ,” explains Orla. “It officially launched last September and has been doing incredibly well since.”

A unique offering

Challenges the business initially faced included the recruitment of tutors, not only in Dublin but in other parts of the country like Limerick, Cork and Galway. It’s also been a challenge to make students aware of the service and most of their marketing has concentrated on online ads. “Our ultimate aim is to provide a tutor for students, no matter where they are in the country,” Orla says. “But we also have to make students aware that we exist.”

At the moment, the company’s main competitors are grind schools. However, TutorHQ differs in that it offers one-on-one tutoring in the student’s own home. All tutors are vetted by the company and Orla stresses that they only take on those with a Leaving Certificate ‘A’ in the subject or a qualified teacher. What’s more, many of the grind schools do not allow online booking.

“We make it really easy for people to find the very best tutors in a short period of time wherever they are in the country,” adds Orla. “We’re like no other grind school. Our service is unique.”

Two months after it launched, TutorHQ already has over 700 tutors located throughout Ireland. What’s more, it’s being used by hundreds of students. Orla and Sean have now set their sights on the UK and are hoping to expand their business there soon.

Tools to help Start-ups succeed

“We couldn’t have done it so far without the help of AIB,” explains Orla. “Their support and MyBusinessToolkit have been invaluable.”

Choose Brand Names For Your Business Tips

It is important that brand owners be aware of the trademark registration process when choosing a new brand name. Not only should a brand name address the commercial needs of a company, it should also satisfy the legal requirements for registration. To qualify for registration, a trade mark needs to be distinctive so that consumers can easily identify the trade origin of products or services, say David Flynn and Mary Bleahene of FRKelly – Ireland’s leading Intellectual Property firm.

 

There are many types of brand names which do not qualify for trade mark registration and these include “descriptive” trademarks. A trade mark is considered descriptive if it has a meaning which will be immediately perceived by consumers as providing information about the goods and services on offer. For example, the mark DetergentOptimiser was refused registration for washing machines (laundry machines / dishwashing machines), the mark ELITEPAD was refused registration in respect of tablet computers and the mark Original Eau de Cologne was refused registration for cologne.

 

All of these trademarks provide immediate information about the goods being sold. The rationale behind forbidding registration of descriptive trademarks is that purely descriptive terms should be left available for all traders to use. However, it should be noted that trademarks which are merely suggestive of the goods or services are generally protectable.

 

Trade marks which attribute quality or excellence to the products or services on offer are also unregistrable because they are considered descriptive in a laudatory sense. Examples of laudatory terms include “Finest”, “Prime” and “Deluxe”. The reluctance to permit registration of laudatory trademarks is based on the belief that the customer will view the mark as a promotional or advertising term which describes positive aspects of the goods, rather than as a trade mark denoting trade source.

 

If a brand owner is concerned that its trade mark could be refused registration because it is descriptive / laudatory, the crucial question is whether the mark provides immediate information about the goods or services of interest.

 

If there is no direct and concrete connection then the mark should be able to be registered. Therefore, brand owners should make efforts to adopt brand names which are distinctive and do not describe characteristics of the goods or services e.g. Amazon for books, Starbucks for coffee or Apple for electronic goods. Non-descriptive trademarks are generally the most desirable brands and are much easier to protect and enforce than descriptive names.

National digital week be most famous these days

It might be most famous these days as the home of Olympic heroes Gary and Paul O’Donovan, but Skibbereen is rapidly gaining a reputation as a centre for digital excellence in Ireland. This week, the eyes of the tech world will be on West Cork as the country’s best and brightest come to town for the second annual National Digital Week, backed by AIB. From the 10th to the 12th of November, attendees can take in talks and demonstrations from over 70 experts, visionaries, and movers and shakers in the global tech scene.

As part of our ongoing commitment to the digital sector in Ireland, AIB are the lead sponsor of Skibbereen’s Ludgate Hub, Ireland’s first rural Digital Hub. The Hub offers local businesses world-class fibre-optic broadband in a state of the art 10,000 sq ft facility that rivals anything in Silicon Valley. AIB has also sponsored National Digital Week since its inception last year, and we’ve got big plans this year with a fantastic line-up of speakers on the AIB Brave Stage all week. Read on for our insider’s guide to the best talks, workshops, and entertainment at this year’s National Digital Week.

 Who to Catch

Kick off the festival on an inspiring note at the AIB Brave Stage, with some uplifting stories from our Digital Champions – including Trendster’s Harry McCann, Lord David Puttnam, and Dr. Seamus Davis from Cornell University. Or dig deep into the future of farming, with talks and demonstrations on tech, innovation and food science, from luminaries like Drone Expo Ireland’s Ian Kiely, THRIVE AgTech’s John Hartnett, and our own head of Agri Business, Tadhg Buckley – all on the Google Stage. We’ll be shining the spotlight on female leadership on Friday, with FM104’s Margaret Nelson, Geraldine Karlsson from DoneDeal, and Ericsson Ireland MD Zelia Madigan taking the temperature of women in digital. On Saturday, we’ll be talking all things Internet of Things, with Leonard Donnelly from ARTOFUS, Donal Sullivan of Johnson Controls Ireland, and Debbie Power from Vodafone. And if you’re a business owner, make sure to stop by the Google Digital Garage all day Friday and Saturday, where Google’s experts will be offering free one to one sessions for all festival attendees to give you a crash course in all the skills to take your company to the next level online.

 

Where to Go

The bulk of the action during National Digital Week will take place at the West Cork Hotel in the centre of Skibbereen. You won’t be able to miss the AIB Brave stage. We’re right beside the registration area as you enter the hotel – and adjacent to the Food Hall if you’re feeling peckish. Still feeling lost? You can check out the event map here. The National Digital Week website also has you covered for accommodation, with info on some of Skibbereen’s best hotels and B&Bs.

 

What to do After Hours

You won’t be short of things to do once the talks end and the real networking begins in the pubs and restaurants of Skibbereen. On Thursday night, NDW attendees can take a tour of some of the town’s best bars with entertainment including a trad session from local legends, Brendan McCarthy and Derry Moynihan, an old-school storytelling session in Annie May’s pub, and a special performance from folk duo Alchemy in The Corner Bar to round off the night. If you want to sample some local cuisine in spectacular surroundings, The Church restaurant is housed in a 19th century Methodist church which retains its original stained glass windows and has a crowd-pleasing menu to provide some serious festival fuel. On Saturday, rabble-rousing festival favourites the Booka Brass Band will finish the week off in a style with a gig at the Google Stage, before DJ Ian Richards takes the party into the early hours with a party-starting mix of funk, soul, and rock & roll.

National Digital Week takes place from 10th – 12th November in Skibbereen, West Cork. Get all the info you need at the official site and stay tuned to AIB’s social channels for exclusive video content from the festival.

Success business for five years story

“Most days I’m so busy that the phone is constantly ringing,” he says. “It’s hard work but I’m not complaining.” Although he has long had a love of photography and always showed an artistic flair, Evan studied Sound Engineering after school. He soon found it was not for him and left after a few months to take up a role as an assistant chef working on Irish Ferries. It was only when he was made redundant in 2011 that he decided to study photography.

 

A Change of Direction

“Taking pictures was always a hobby for me. It never occurred to me to try to make a living from it,” he says. “But when my friend’s mother suggested that I do a year-long course in photography at Marino College of Further Education, I decided to give it a go. After that, I did work experience with fashion photographer Barry McCall.”

Evan was then offered a place on a fine art photography course in Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology. Although it was a four-year course, Evan found he was being offered work with top clients after just two years and decided to leave. He hasn’t looked back since.

 

Learning on the Job

“I threw myself into it head first,” he laughs. “And in many ways, I learnt on the job. It helped that it was around the time of the changeover to digital from analogue photography.”

However, he emphasises that it’s not just the ability to take a good photograph that makes a good photography business. “You have to have people skills too,” he says. “And be good at marketing yourself. Of course, there is all the admin to manage too. It may sound glamorous – and believe me, it is at times. I travel all the time, work with celebrities and shoot in exotic locations. But it is a lot of hard work and you’ve got to have a good work ethic.”

 

Getting the House in Order

That’s where AIB’s MyBusinessToolkit came into play. Evan discovered the service when he opened a business account with AIB last year and has found it an invaluable tool ever since. “My accountant used to laugh at my accounts,” he says. “Realistically, it’s hard to keep track of finances when you are working all day on the job and you’re tired in the evenings.”

“What’s more, in the first couple of years I had to spend money to update my equipment on a regular basis. I needed a good computer and hired a studio on George’s Street. I used to just spend without thinking about what money was coming into my account, and I used a personal account for business so I mixed the two.”

These days, however, he is much more organised. He finds Sage and Receipt Bank from MyBusinessToolkit particularly helpful. “Sage allows me to monitor exactly how much money is coming into and going out of my account,” he says. “And the Receipt Bank feature is amazing. It categorises everything that I spend and means I don’t have to keep bits of paper.”

Evan feels that AIB have been hugely helpful since he opened a business account with them last year. “AIB have been friendly and helpful from the start. They even ring me up every now and then to ask how the business is going. I appreciate the personal touch,” he says. “I’ve also started to think about saving money for the future, which is something I never really did before. I would recommend them to anyone starting up a business.”

Find opportunity to grow their business

The European B2C eCommerce market will break the €500 billion barrier in turnover this year. While growth is slowing down in major markets such as the UK, Germany and France, there is rapid growth in other countries such as Southern and Eastern Europe. The UK market has a turnover of €157 billion and is ranked number one in Europe, while Ireland is ranked 17th, but experiencing double digit growth.

 

Ireland vs UK eCommerce Landscape

The UK eCommerce market has more than doubled in the last five years, yet only 9.5% of retail goods are purchased online – over 90% are purchased on the high street. Despite this, the eCommerce market is growing fast, as more Europeans are shopping online, and on a more regular basis. The population aged 15+ in the UK is 53.6M and in Ireland it’s 3.6M. Despite this staggering gap the % gap is not as large when looking at our internet users (93% for UK and 82% for Ireland). However when we drill down to those of us who shop online the percentage gap widens again (81% of internet users in the UK shop online and in Ireland it’s 52%).

 

Free shipping is one of the key drivers to encourage consumers to shop online more often. However, many online retailers are still not offering this service. This is especially a challenge for smaller businesses where there are tight margins and the average selling price can be small. It makes it harder for them to absorb the costs. We analysed over 180k online retailers and took a deeper look at the shipping market; from those who offer free shipping, to those who declare international shipping upfront and who is ranking tops in the ecommerce shipping market.

You can read the full report here. Of the online retailers analysed 36% of Irish online retailers’ offer free shipping with the UK coming in at 34%. Only 20% of Irish and 22% of UK online retailers state availability of international shipping upfront. And here’s who ranks for the biggest market share  – An Post (31%), Fastway (12%) and DPD (10%) in Ireland and Royal Mail (45%), Parcelforce (8%), DHL (6%) in the UK  – see the top ten ranking in the report here.

There is no loyalty among online retailers with regard to who they ship with so it’s interesting how the market share changes when analysing the top Irish websites that are doing over $1 million in online volume – AnPost continues to hold top position. However, Fastway drops down to 5th position and UPS jumps up to second. Similarly in the UK Royal Mail continues to hold top position. And, Parcelforce slips down the table to fifth position and DPD jumps up to second.