Stephanie, tell us a little about your business…
We all know Ireland has amazing things to offer, but we often forget to tell people about places outside the main tourist attractions, places off the beaten track that ‘as locals’ we fall in love with and return again and again. OnTheQT.ie is a website aimed at the alternative tourist who is looking for something different and fun. It highlights the hidden gems of Ireland and showcases them through the use of multimedia content.
What inspired you to start your own business?
A few years ago, I spent a summer in America. I worked in a camp in Cape Cod surrounded by locals. I really got the local feel during my visit. When I returned to Ireland, I realised people weren’t seeing the places that as locals we fall in love with and return to again and again. Through this experience, I came up with the idea to start OnTheQT.ie to show people our local gems. I have always been somebody who is on the go all the time, doing a million things at once. As soon as I had the idea, I just went for it. I decided to take my future into my own hands and start something I was passionate about.
How did you get your business off the ground and what supports did you avail of?
Firstly, I pitched my idea to the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme in UCC and I was accepted into the programme. As I studied TV, Radio & New Media Broadcasting in IT Tralee, I would have had the creative mind but I needed help with the business side of things. IGNITE is an incubation centre for start-up businesses. I had a great mentor, Anne Moore who gave me advice and continuous support from the very beginning. South Cork Enterprise Board, now known at Local Enterprise Board South Cork, was another great support to me setting up, not only financially but with great networks, workshops and mentors. It was the support system I needed to start OnTheQT.ie.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
When you think you are doing great, take a step back and THINK BIGGER.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
Coming from a creative background, my biggest challenge was getting my head around the business side of things but with help from IGNITE and the South Cork Enterprise Board, I was able to discover business skills I never knew I had, and merge them with my creative skills to create the unique business I have today.
Who is your hero?
My hero when I was a little girl (as is the case with most little girls) was my Dad. When I read hero, I still think of my Dad. He has been a huge support and encouragement to me setting up my business. My Dad has lots of experience in the entrepreneurial world and I learned so much from him growing up. He was very proud when I told him about my idea and how I wanted to ‘Just do it, like’! Since that day he has become my ‘at home’ mentor.
What’s the best thing about having your own business?
The best thing about having your own business is being able to create something from scratch and see it grow and develop. It is like your baby. Also being able to work in something you are passionate about is one of the best feelings in the world.
Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
There are probably lots I could change, but if I am honest I feel you learn from your mistakes and you grow from them. At the end of the day, it is your journey and all you can do is learn, grow and move forward.
What are your business plans for the next 12 to 18 months?
My goals for the next 12 – 18 months is to grow, grow and grow! OnTheQT is growing outside of Ireland very fast with bloggers based in America, New Zealand, India and Australia. The goal is to grow with the amount of bloggers worldwide, while still growing in Ireland with our own local gems. We create blogs and unique videos to showcase the overall experience in places through the eyes of the locals. OnTheQT is aiming to hire 3 – 4 people in the next year to help grow the business at the fast rate we want to grow.
If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering starting a business, what would it be?
If you are starting a business, make sure it’s something you are passionate about. Nothing is better than building your business in an area you love. You will eat, drink and sleep your business so you might as well start something YOU LOVE. If you do something you love, you will never work a day in your life, and that is exactly how I feel with OnTheQT.ie