Bringing Business Of Software To Dublin

The Big Read, sponsored by Vodafone: Mark Littlewood (pictured) likes bright shirts, has a loud voice and a roaring laugh.

Attention grabbing traits aside, Mark insists that he’s shy. Possibly one of the reasons why his popular Business of Software (BoS) conferences are rather intimate, not to mention unique occasions. Now Business Of Software is coming to Dublin, to the Powerscourt Hotel on May 16th and 17th.

Give us the pitch…
Life is too short for bad software – and bad software conferences. We curate a mix of topics, from product management, management trends, attracting talent, what the future will look like and what are the things we need to worry about, what is culture and how you create it. We have a very simple formula: get the best people possible with the best experiences to share in an environment where attendees feel comfortable.

The Big Question: Why Dublin?
Someone said to me when I said I was off to Dublin last week “Why? Not very BoS – it’s just big companies running sales and customer service operations for tax reasons.” Perhaps 10 years ago, there was some element of truth. But I think that is completely changed. Yes, there still are a number of structural advantages to being here, but in terms of tech capacities it has grown very much. There is more and more R&D, engineering, UX, UI and all the roles that make up a software business. I want international attendees to see that, and learn from the local experience too. And vice versa.

Tell us more about what you see in Dublin?
It has gotten to a place where it is safe to be an entrepreneur, it is safe to fail. This is hugely important. Failure isn’t a disaster. People look after each other and respect each other for having tried to do something good. What is noticeable is how small Dublin is. And that is a good thing. It is very well connected. You quickly learn who are the good people and the ‘bad actors’. And people understand how ‘networking’ works – ‘takers’ in the ecosystem are soon found out. Always try to give something valuable back.

What is the state of the businesses of software here?
I was struck with how many interesting startup businesses there are as I walked around the NDRC. Various pitches were happening, the buzz at the entrance of the Digital Hub with people preparing to present was great. It seems like a thought-through space and is representative of how the rest of Dublin is. The city really is on it’s way up. I have known this for a while and it is one reason why I wanted to bring BoS here and help it grow.

BoS Europe 2015 002
Des Traynor of Intercom speaking at last year’s BoS conference

What has been your experience navigating Dublin as an outsider?
People in the Dublin ecosystem have been very helpful. People are smart and they know how to make the interactions that evolve businesses work. It feels like home. It is a transparent, open, friendly, straightforward place, which also happens to be very manageable. That is a cool combination, and is the reason we chose to come here.

What are some of the things that we need to learn here in Dublin?
We are all still learning how to build successful businesses and Dublin is no exception. For startups to grow and become successful businesses, they need to learn how to build partnerships, how to put software out there and attract customers. There needs to be more talk on internationalisation and building a business, beyond code. You only learn if there is going to be market fit when you have tried different markets. Coding is the easy bit to do and talk about. It’s building the business that is the difficult part, which we want to bring.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs in Dublin?
Keep being awesome. Stay true to yourself. To be successful in the business of software in the long run, you need to be a decent human being. You do not necessarily have to take venture funding or institutional funding. There are a variety of ways to grow. Venture funding is not the only way. Money is important but it is not the only thing that will make a business work. Do something you LOVE. There will be bad times so solve a problem that makes you feel good.

Business of Software takes place on May 16-17 at The Powerscourt Hotel.

BoS are offering five sets of 2 for 1 tickets to Irish Companies two years old or less, who haven’t received funding. More info HERE.

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