AIB Start-up Academy & Irish Times Content Series: Johnny Ryan, Head of Ecosystems at Page Fair

Johnny Ryan of Page Fair speaking at the AIB Start-Up Academy.

28 Aug 2015

Posted in:  Business Support

JOHNNY Ryan is in the midst of fielding international media calls at the PageFair offices in Ranelagh, when we drop in. The Head of Ecosystem at the Irish Start-up, he’s sharing his expertise in the wake of international coverage of PageFair’s report on ad-blocking, released in conjunction with Adobe.

Involved in the establishment of the AIB Start-up Academy with the Irish Times, he’s also a consultant with the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

Situated firmly within the heart of the Start-up and business world, he says of the buzz around PageFair: “It’s a completely Irish company, based in Ranelagh and it’s tackling the problem of ad blocking.

“Hundreds of millions of people around the world are using ad blocking to remove annoying and intrusive ads from their web-browsing experience"

“And we understand why they do that. But at the same time, this means that publishers are losing literally billions. We announced recently it was in the region of just under $22 billion in 2015 in revenue.

“We’re working with publishers to design an experience that web users can enjoy but which will also support publishers.”

Formerly the Chief Innovation Officer at the Irish Times, he says PageFair’s approach to reaching out to consumers ahead of developing their product was key.

Johnny has also written extensively for publications including Fortune, Contagious, BusinessWeek and Wired.

And for the past number of years, he has coached AIB Start-up Academy finalists on the best ways to implement design thinking and the lean business canvas model - to help Start-ups effectively develop the right product for their audience.

Read on for his expert advice on introducing these frameworks into your Start-up today – and why we should be excited about the future of Irish Start-ups and business:

What Start-ups don’t need is too much passion and too little testing

The worst thing that can happen is that you let the idea and the excitement for the idea take over, without testing it against the market first. I have done this.

You cannot come up with the best idea in the world and not test that idea against consumers you think are going to buy it, because invariably what will happen is the market won’t want your first version. They may want your tenth.

You need to keep going back to the market and checking what they want. That’s the fundamental of lean Start-up development and Design Thinking.

You’re wasting time not letting the public tell you how to improve your product

The more feedback you get from your intended end user the more likely your product will be what the market wants to buy. Even if that’s not what you initially thought you should build. That’s going to bring you closer to success.

What I learned from my own Start-up mistakes is the need to test the product idea as early as possible. I think that’s one of the things that the AIB Start-up Academy can resolve for people through the training with The Irish Times.

The Business Model Canvas is a tool for experimenting with how a Start-up might operate

The business model canvas gives entrepreneurs a way to take a helicopter view of their entire operation and test hypotheses of how things might work. By abstracting beyond the day to day, and having a single bird’s eye view of the entire thing, they can see what impact changing one aspect of the business will do, and can consider the knock-on effects.

There is something really nice about the Irish Start-up ecosystem

It’s very social, people are always learning from each other; from people who have gone before. You can get in contact with almost anyone you need to and that’s a wonderful resource to have. I think the AIB Start-up Academy builds on this a little by connecting a new generation of entrepreneurs together.

The second thing that’s an advantage is that Irish people are quite good at getting into business conversations because they are social. That helps in the B2B space, which Irish Start-ups have a good record in.

There are many reasons to be optimistic for Start-ups here

First, there is a high attrition rate for Start-ups. Many will not succeed. However, those people will have become more dynamic and more flexible from the experience. Their Start-up experience will see them doing a range of things they otherwise wouldn’t have. That means that the wider workforce receives an interesting mix of ex-Start-up people who are dynamic and interesting. This is a benefit in creative terms, that I think we’re going to see bring a knock-on effect to the Irish economy.

The second win is that a small proportion of Start-ups are going to make it. There are two dimensions to that. On the one hand I’d like to see is a broad set of Start-ups that don’t necessarily scale to international scale but that do sustain teams of five to ten people. And it would be a very healthy thing to Ireland if we had a large number of these small, entrepreneurial companies. On the other hand there may be a number of ‘unicorn’ Start-ups that scale far, far larger.

Our next AIB Start-Up Academyevening takes place in the Sheraton Hotel in Athlone, on Wednesday September 16th. Don’t miss out, it’s free and places are limited.Registernow!

Find out more about theAIB Start-up Academy.

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