So Will, tell us a little about your business…
LiveDuel makes games that engage readers of sports media content. Content producers already produce content on a daily basis, and LiveDuel’s games compliment this content and give it an extended life by adding readers’ thoughts and opinions.
What inspired you to start your own business?
Being a part of online communities is something I have been passionate about since I first went online in 1998. Bringing together strangers based around a shared interest is a powerful thing. Building games to help foster that community is something that I am passionate about.
How did you get your business off the ground and what supports did you avail of?
A lot of hard work and conversations with people who could help me. Having the drive to get up every morning and just do it like is something unique to entrepreneurs as you can’t just go through the paces, you have to go above and beyond on a daily basis.
The South Cork Enterprise Board, now known as the Local Enterprise Office South Cork, and Enterprise Ireland have been a great resource and support.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Write things down and break things down into small manageable tasks. When I started on the IGNITE Programme at UCC I was told to write things down as you will forget things, and it reaffirms things having them written down in your moleskin. Breaking things down to their smallest parts ensures you can get through your to-do list but also to do it in a natural flow.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
Conveying the concept to customers, users, investors, mentors etc. Being involved in the idea so closely, it is easy to get caught up in it, so being able to communicate efficiently to people who have never heard of you is a constant job of refinement.
Who is your hero?
I don’t just have one. There are many thought leaders around the world that I take inspiration from, but the ones closer to home are people I look up to greatly. They have been there and just done it, and have all the time in the world for you if they think they can help you. People like Pat Phelan, Connor Murphy, Peter Coppinger and the SoundWave guys are inspirations and very easy to talk to and get value from.
What’s the best thing about having your own business?
Being able to build something innovative is something that I am fortunate enough to be able to do. Building your own company up from nothing has given me great experience in all aspects of business and I have met some amazing people. Being a part of that unique community is amazing and I love giving back to it.
Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
Talking to customers earlier and focussing more on customer development instead of product development. It is easy to stick yourself in your office night and day trying to build your vision and put all the polish in the world on it, but talking to customers earlier will reduce a lot of the wasted costs and allow you to build a product your customers actually want and will use, rather than building something you assume they want.
What are your business plans for the next 12 to 18 months?
Rolling out existing products to more customers, focussing on international growth and building on our product offerings with the help of our vision and our customer feedback.
If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering starting a business, what would it be?
It’s hard to just offer one piece, but talk to as many people as you can, don’t be shy and don’t feel like you can’t discuss your idea. If your idea can be copied after one conversation then chances are that there are many others out there doing the same thing as you. You will need help and guidance, so go out and get it. Distil this advice down and form your own opinion, it is easy to follow every bit of advice to the letter and end up going in circles!
If it’s a technology focused business, then attend a Start-up Weekend, it’s like a 3 day crash course in technology entrepreneurship and it will accelerate your learning, as well as showing you what it’s like to be an entrepreneur.