A Startup is Not the Place to Make Money

Fiachra Ó Comhraí

Fiachra Ó Comhraí, Player 1, Gordon Games

Fiachra Ó Comhraí started his own company and gave himself the job title of Player 1.

The company, Gordon Games, took off and Ó Comhraí decided it was time to grow up and change his title to CEO.

People wouldn’t have that and he’s still Player 1. Even says so on his website.

It was just one of the many stories he told at this month’s Entrepreneurs Anonymous meetup in Dublin. Held on the last Tuesday of every month, the get together is for people looking for who want startup advice or to network.

Gordon Games applies gamification techniques to Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Ó Comhraí (pronounced O Co-ree) left his position of VP of Sales in Salesforce to help sales managers and staff improve results using his app.

Ó Comhraí got in to sales to make money. A startup, he joked, is not the place to do that. Setting up a new business, “you want to have fund and you want to create something,” he said. “Unless you feel you must do it, don’t do it.”

Other tips Ó Comhraí had were:

Get an advisory board. The advice will be valuable and your network will expand.

Put some money in to it. Venture Capitalists will want to see that you are serious if you seek investment. There are also incentives in Ireland that offset against tax and protect some of your capital.

V2MOM. Also recommended by Jochen Lillich at his talk, this stands for Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles and Metrics. Created by Marc Benioff at Salesforce, it is a structure that helps leaders keep themselves and their teams on track.

Ask for help. People can say no, ignore you, or actually help, Ó Comhraí said. “Ignore the people who don’t help. Don’t chase them. You’ll be amazed how many people do help.”

Money is tough. It should come as no surprise that startups don’t have it. But when they do get funding or sales, they can often be paralyzed by indecision, he said.

But part of a CEO’s job is to “take that money and put it at risk,” Ó Comhraí said.

People are key. Ó Comhraí mentioned one entrepreneur who was struggling to make sales to big corporate clients. He took on a Spanish intern seeking to learn English in Ireland.

After several weeks, she asked what exactly the entrepreneur was selling. It turned out her father was a senior executive in the industry the startup was targeting. And now the product is in use all over Spain and Latin America.

“It was lucky but it resulted from persistence and a decision to hire someone” Ó Comhraí said.

Know where your product fits. Are you selling high-value items? Or are you a high-volume seller?

Understand people I. “You don’t have to be personality challenged to be in sales,” he said. People react better to an honest salesperson than someone who is pushy or a liar.

Understand people II. “People admire complexity but they buy simplicity,” Ó Comhraí said.

Talk to people and network. “Irish entrepreneurs have a habit of not talking about their ideas” he said. They often fear their ideas will be “stolen.”

“But the idea is not that good without the execution behind it,” he said. Even if you are talking to potential or actual competitors, they have their own priorities and are more likely to look at you as a future acquisition if you execute successfully”, he said.

Standard help is free. Asked how funding terms, Ó Comhraí suggested Googling the TechStart Cofounder Agreement.

  • Picture of Fiachra taken from his LinkedIn profile.
  • The next Entrepreneurs Anonymous meetup will take place the week before the Web Summit.