CEO of the Irish Internet Association, Joan Mulvihill is next to feature in our eir Spiders blog series. A real internet aficionado, Joan has taken an amiable “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach to the eir Spider Awards. Every October, the IIA host their own awards programme, the DOT IE Net Visionary Awards. Thus, Joan likes to exhibit the essence of co-opetition in practice which lies at the core of the community spirit foundation of the IIA’s not-for-profit awards programme. If the eir Spiders are said to be the Oscars of the tech and industry awards, then I believe we can agree that the DOT IE Net Visionaries are the Golden Globes.
However, Joan’s IIA duties prevent her from taking a place on the judging panel of her awards. But the eir Spiders offer her an opportunity to be part of the judging process in such a way that allows her to support the joint mission of making Ireland a leading web-enabled economy. In addition to this, her involvement in the eir Spider Awards has exposed and introduced Joan to some great emerging businesses and even better people.
Joan has been part of the ride for quite some time now and as such has witnessed the evolution and continual improvement of the eir Spiders. She credits the eir Spiders team with consistently responding to judges’ feedback; allowing the panel’s voices to be heard so that the awards go from strength to strength each year. Just as the programme improves, so too does the impressive, ever-growing calibre of entries. While recognising the achievements of some of Ireland’s leading agencies, the programme also leaves the door open for smaller and younger companies to pave the way for excellence in creativity and innovation within the tech and digital industry. Indeed, the beauty of the Awards lies in equality amongst entries as they are judged on merit of the campaigns, not the magnitude of the creators.
When asked about the purpose and importance of the eir Spiders, Joan is quick to highlight the reputational and financial value which making the shortlist or even some Spider silverware can add to a business. Undoubtedly, her experience in the digital world makes her a key contributor on our judging panel but don’t be fooled by her jovial manner – she admits her toughness when it comes to judging business models and market traction.
In terms of the categories, Joan declares her passion for the start-up category. “I like the start-up category because if I had money I would be a brilliant Dragon!” But speaking to all category entrants, she advises you to think about the question and get stuck in on what the judges are really looking for. She explains that the longest submission is not the best submission so get to the key points on the what, why and how of your campaign and provide the evidence.
Joan oozes excitement when it comes to the eir Spiders judging process and perhaps even more so when it comes to the night in question; “love, love, love” is how she describes the eir Spider Awards ceremony. “You get dressed up, go out with your friends and have a great party. Win or lose, everyone has a great time,” she beams. Joan’s excitement is matched by our enthusiasm to have her part of the eir Spiders team!
This seasoned Spiders supporter offers some words of advice to new businesses starting out online by encouraging them to have a great idea, one which is tried and tested, and to also have a plan of attack. By getting some great people behind you, you will not only have a solid support but a network on which you can count to keep you on the right path. “Working 22 hours a day on it, on a diet of coffee, beer and pizza does not make you an entrepreneur. Eat well, sleep well and exercise – it will help to keep a clear head.” And that is exactly what will be needed when things are difficult. All too often newcomers make the mistake of envisioning entrepreneurship as an extended gap-year. But its business, and that’s the bottom-line.