This morning I had coffee with Marty Neill (from AirPOS and Brian McKimm (from eSynergy). I could have done with another couple of hours (and a whiteboard) but in all I was very pleased with the conversation even though we may not have agreed on the finer points.
In essence, I was pitching to try to increase the “ideaspace” in Northern Ireland.
I’m of the opinion that there are small ideas and big ideas. The theory is that all of these ideas tend to have equal chance of happening in any given time. The difficulty then is not only finding the time to just have ideas but also having the space, time, resource and, probably most importantly, the network, to realise the idea.
Sometimes what seems to be a small idea can turn into a big idea and it’s not always apparent immediately. Facebook began as a blog, turned into a college network and is now permeating every aspect of our lives. Twitter began as a way to send text messages to groups (and have them be able to easily reply to the group). Google began as a search engine and now does pretty much everything.
I can’t speak for others in this but I’m pretty sure that AirPOS started because Marty realised that Point of Sales systems were hopelessly outdated and none of them used the Internet. I’m sure that Onotate started because Rumble Labs needed a controlled way to share graphical assets with clients and generate appropriate feedback. I’m certain that Planzai started out as a way for Richard to organise some of the activities in his dual life as a rockstar software developer and a rockstar. But these were big ideas masquerading as small ideas.
We’re working on methods now to increase the ‘idea space’ in Northern Ireland. We’ve been doing it through the InvestNI Collaborative Network Programme and we’re continuing it with the development of an “innovation hub” in Belfast. Part hub, part incubator, part soft landing zone; the intent is to provide the default industry location for the development of ideas and collaborations. It’s what I’ve been doing for the last three years – with the ideaspace being virtualised – and it’s what we’re going to be executing on for the next three years.
If you’re interested in being a part of it, drop me a line.