Fifty of Northern Ireland’s most ambitious tech entrepreneurs got to participate in a unique business experience when they got up close and personal with global thought leader and serial entrepreneur, Bill Aulet.
Hosted by Catalyst and supported by Invest NI, Belfast City Council and Queen’s University, the event saw Bill, who is also Managing Director of the Martin Trust Centre for entrepreneurship at Boston’s prestigious MIT, deliver a one day intensive bootcamp to provide local businesses with the tools to significantly grow and scale their businesses.
Taking participants through the principles of his best-selling book, “Disciplined Entrepreneurship”, Bill focused on starting, growing and scaling an innovation driven business, tackling the key elements to de-risking the ‘go to market’ strategy by understanding customers, building a strong value proposition and fine tuning the all-important selling process.
John Knapton, Director of Growth & Scale for Catalyst said, “Back in January we took a group of local CEOs to MIT where we heard Bill deliver his Entrepreneurship Development programme to hundreds of entrepreneurs from across the world. We were instantly blown away by his knowledge, impact and no-nonsense approach. After that trip I knew we had to get him to Belfast so he could inspire even more local entrepreneurs to grow their business much faster and significantly larger and after hearing the feedback, he didn’t disappoint!”
Lord Mayor Belfast, Councillor John Finucane said: “We’re fast becoming globally recognised for tech development – and supporting the accelerated growth of this sector is a priority for us in Belfast City Council. It’s a real pleasure to welcome such an established and respected leader as Bill Aulet to Belfast – especially since he hails from our Sister City, Boston. We highly value our partnership with Catalyst, Invest NI and Queen’s University in supporting our innovative SMEs and feel sure that this collaborative approach will reap dividends for our economy.”
One of Northern Ireland’s best-known e-commerce specialists is set to double its 14 strong workforce over the next 18 months by recruiting a range of new roles within its Belfast office.
Built for Growth Digital, formerly known as Export Technologies is recruiting creative designers, e-commerce consultants, digital marketing specialists and experienced e-commerce traders, as it significantly expands its in-house e-commerce trading, growth and strategy division.
Export Technologies had grown to a £3 million+ turnover business and was at the forefront of the Irish e-commerce industry for almost 20 years. Built for Growth Digital will continue to build on this success by managing the consultancy services of the existing client base, continuing as an authorised reseller of the highly successful IRP international online trading platform and by targeting new retailers seeking to rapidly grow their online sales and margins regardless of their e-commerce platform provider.
The newly recruited staff will work alongside the current e-commerce consultants from Export Technologies who between them have helped transform the fortunes of many successful online retailers such as Argento, Christies Direct, Newbridge Silverware, Belleek, Camping World and Magee1866.
Leanne Blair, Sales and Marketing Manager for Built for Growth Digital said, “In many ways Built for Growth Digital will be business as usual for retailers we work with as they will still continue to receive the same excellent service and support they have always enjoyed under Export Technologies.”
“As we invest in our growth we now have the ability to target a new pool of retailers that are ready to grow in the e-commerce sphere regardless of their platform provider. We have over 20 years’ experience of digital marketing and sales growth expertise that our new business model, under Built for Growth Digital, will allow us to showcase.”
The new company structure not only means a new name in the form of Built for Growth Digital, but also represents the arrival of Northern Ireland’s only full-service e-commerce agency, thanks to the unique combination of both the international online trading platform (IRP) and the e-commerce growth expertise (trading consultancy, digital marketing and creative design).
A Belfast based event management consultancy has secured contracts with international companies to bring their teams and clients to NI, and alongside this is marking its 10th year in business with a new name and rebrand.
Bespoke Business Events began a decade ago as Bespoke Northern Ireland and buoyed on by the recent rise in global confidence in the tourism sector, thanks to the success of Game of Thrones and The Open, can now count global players HBO, Now TV and Boston Consulting Global among its clients.
These significant contracts have come on the back of Bespoke opening an office in Wales in 2018, where it beat off stiff competition to become the preferred partner of Visit Wales and Visit Britain to host international VIP buyers who visit the region.
Enjoying a growing reputation in the international market, Bespoke’s expansion plans are firmly in bringing its global experience to the local market and tapping into the business events that will come from 1 billion tourists predicted to visit NI by 2020.
Working across the island of Ireland and Wales, its team of four full time staff specialise in running conferences, meetings, team building incentives and business events in the digital, manufacturing and technology sectors to name a few, as well as creating unique business trips and sales missions for both local and international companies.
Bespoke Business Events Founder and Managing Director, Melita Williams said, “The international events industry has changed dramatically over the last 10 years and keeping up with trends such as cutting-edge event technology, sustainability, wellbeing, CSR and understanding our new Millennial buyer and attendee characteristics are issues we now address daily.
“Northern Ireland has also changed massively, with the development of so many new hotels, venues and attractions. It has been great to watch the province develop into such a cultural hotspot – international companies now want to come here and the country’s leading business events company means we are more than happy to facilitate them.”
The global interest in Northern Ireland as a business tourism destination has also rubbed off on Bespoke’s local clients with many highlighting their location as part of their global sales and export strategy.
Melita Williams commented, “There is an increased sense of pride with indigenous NI companies who see their location as an extra benefit to their offering. This ties in with our goal for the next 12 months of assisting more local companies in showcasing and celebrating their brilliant achievements. Actively marketing Northern Ireland globally at major international trade shows gives us the experience and confidence to apply this to the local market.”
Brands wanting to improve interaction with social media influencers can get expert advice at a free workshop in Belfast next month. The event, How to Engage with the Influencer Generation, is on Wednesday 16 October, and is targeted at companies and professionals who want to get a better understanding of digital influencers and how best to connect with them to improve brand awareness.
Organised by Airtight Influencers, a division of Belfast based social media management agency, Airtight Creative, the workshop will also offer practical tips and advice on how to tap into this global industry forecast to be worth £8 billion by 2020.
Managing Director of Airtight Creative, Craig Blaney said, “Social influencer advertising is big business in which the top vloggers, bloggers and instagrammers can command five-figure sums from brands in exchange for product endorsements. Our agency offers a transparent platform that connects bloggers to businesses who are willing to pay to use their digital channels to increase awareness of a product or service.
“We have decided to run the workshop as we have been inundated with queries from local businesses that don’t understand the different opportunities available through digital influencers, don’t know who to contact or don’t know what is a fair rate to pay for product placement. We hope to demystify this new form of marketing as well as providing a service that connects them to the hot new social media influencers on our books.”
Places on the free workshop are limited. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register for a place or www.airtightcreative.com/influencers for more information.
Pulse PR is working with UniBaggage.com on an awareness campaign to highlight the online shipping company’s US expansion plans. Having just signed a $1 million deal with US couriers to ship customer items in and out of America to 500 new global routes, the is a significant milestone for the East Belfast operation.
Opening an office in New York to work directly with these couriers, the deal will give Uni Baggage access to hundreds of thousands of new customers who regularly ship their belongings out of the US for college, while travelling or relocating to a different country. Company owner, Paul Stewart who set up the business eight years ago while he was at university in Scotland and spending a fortune on airline costs shipping his belongings to and from his home in East Belfast said,
“We have enjoyed fantastic growth over the last 18 months and are on target to double sales thanks to this new deal which allows us to sell into countries we previously hadn’t had access to. We will be taking on an additional 5 staff in 2018/19 to manage new customers and to keep our growth on track.”
Although Uni Baggage started shipping luggage solely for students, the customer profile has evolved, which has increased business– something Mr Stewart is keen to cultivate.He said,“We initially set up the business for students as they need to move several times a year, and often travel home during Christmas or summer breaks. However, as airline prices increased, we found that more ‘frequent travellers’ who move around several times and year used Uni Baggage to ship their luggage ahead of them. We are now also finding that people are moving countries for work or family commitments and want a quick and reliable way of shipping their belongings across the world. Our service is completely online, making it very easy and affordable. Long gone are the days of the big removal trucks for long distance moves.”