Samantha Kelly – Empowering The Irish SME #IrishBizParty

#Irishbizparty is a weekly Twitter based networking event for Irish SMEs. It takes place from 9pm to 11pm every Wednesday night, when Irish start-ups and SME’s gather online from the comfort of their own homes to talk shop, help others and promote their own business in the process

Today we have a quick chat with Samantha Kelly founder of #IrishBizParty.

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How did the idea for #IrishBizParty come about?

It just happened really, it was born out of frustration. I could see there was a gap in networking, especially for those Mums who couldn’t get out to BNI breakfast meetings for example. I thought it was unfair that we would miss out just because we had no one to mind the kids etc. I also thought these networks were expensive for start-ups and they could sometimes be quite intimidating. There were also a lot of new entrepreneurs who had started a business out of necessity as one partner had lost a job due to the recession; some of us were lacking confidence and support as we didn’t know anyone else in the business world.

Then one evening when I was having a particularly demanding week and had got frustrated with all the red tape and paperwork clouding entrepreneurial vision in Ireland. I decided that I would try to create a bit of positivity and thought that surely I was not the only one coming across the same stuff. It was a Wednesday night so I asked the question on Twitter were there any business who needed help promoting themselves, I asked them to tweet what they did using the hashtag #irishbizparty and that I would retweet it for them.

I got a lot of replies and this continued for a while until it started to get really busy. The results were amazing and soon there were over thirty businesses all active and the great thing was they all followed each other and re-tweeted each other’s business.

So that is really how it started and I decided to do it every Wednesday night after that. It has since grown rapidly into hundreds of participents; #irishbizparty trends regularly on Wednesdays and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon!

Who takes part in #Irishbizparty and who should be taking part? 

Anyone who has started a business, is thinking of starting one or who is interested in supporting Irish business by buying from a small business owner rather than the multiples or large chains/

Have you any goals for #IrishBizParty for 2014?

Yes! My goal is to grow the network. We have over 1000 members on our very active and supportive Facebook group.  And over 700 SMEs take part on the hashtag every week. I select a #Starbiz every Wednesday night that get a feature on independent.ie thanks to Ailish O Hora in the small business section. This is a huge emotional boost for the business owner if anything!

Going from Twitter to offline would you like to tell us about the #Irishbizparty Inspires Conference?

I first decided to do a conference as I was always speaking at conferences where the tickets were sometimes costing  over €150 and I thought ‘This is wrong….the people who need to be here learning all these tips and being inspired are start-ups and SMEs yet they can’t afford to spend that amount of money.’  So I decided to do one myself with the aim of inspiring SME community by providing a place for them to network in a friendly environment.

I held the first one in the Green Isle hotel which was very successful, over 200 SMEs came along! So now I have organized one in Wexford to give SMEs a boost. I will have some really inspirational speakers including Jason O Reilly who was the ‘guy who cried on Dragons Den’ and Joanne Sweeney Burke who was a finalist in The Apprentice on TV3. I have made it really affordable at €30 per ticket with lunch included. Find more details on the #IrishBizParty Conference here.

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