Speaking at the monthly Last Tuesday meet up, McKeagney and Head of Marketing Irene Dehaene (@irenedehaene) offered a wealth of start-up and management advice to the assembled entrepreneurs. He named his talk, “Six things I know to be true about entrepreneurship.”
(Silicon Republic has a piece on the event here).
Established in 2001 in DIT’s Hot House Programme, iQ Content (iQcontent) is a “world class user experience and design consultancy that just happens to be based in Dublin,” said McKeagney. It now employs 40 people and has annual revenues of around €5 million, he said.
With a client roster that includes Citi, Vodafone and Goodyear, iQ Content was built without the aid of government grants or venture capital, McKeagney said. It has even grown through the recession, and has doubled since 2008, he added. “That’s good hurling in the current climate.”
Calling it the “single biggest piece of advice,” McKeagney said finding the right business partner, and then the right employees, is crucial. His business partner Paul Fitzsimons focuses on execution “rather than being a talker or a bullshitter [like me],” McKeagney said.
When iQcontent started hiring, they looked for exceptional people, he said. The employees could have made more elsewhere, but chose his company.
Although it can seem “woolly,” establishing the right culture was another key to the company’s success, McKeagney said. “It’s the glue that holds us together,” he said. In an effort to build an exceptional team, an environment of openness and transparency was built. The company has Free Thinking Fridays where all employees get together.
Although “anyone can say anything about anything” and be listened to, it does not mean they won’t be challenged, McKeagney said. He noted, however, that maintaining such a culture has become more challenging as the company grows.
Another component of a company’s culture is the “common enemy,” McKeagney said. For some firms, it is the competition. For iQ Content, with its creative approach, the enemy became “shitty design” where poor websites or frustrating user experiences were held up as examples of how not to do things.
Although start ups have no money, no premises and no clients, they also have no constraints and no friction, McKeagney said. They should think big, he said.
But ambitious words must be matched by actions, McKeagney said. Referring to Fitzsimon’s ability to execute, he said, “Paul is my credibility.” A trap for companies is that if they fail to deliver on their plans, they will lose key people, he added.
McKeagney said he is driven by sales. These are particularly important for fledgling companies. “Nothing validates a business model quicker than a sale,” he said. In deciding how to charge, he advised: “If there is no friction with pricing, push it, push it, push it.”
On Marketing, McKeagney said the goal is “letting people know who you are and how you solve problems.”
Piss No One Off Ever
Ireland is too small a place to annoy customers, prospects or suppliers, McKeagney said. “Piss no one off ever,” he advised. With iQ Content now concentrating on international expansion, he said, “The Irish are good are pretending to like you. That gives us an unfair advantage in countries where people are more honest.”
Photo of Morgan McKeagney taken from iQ Content website.