Independent Trainer, Mentor & Consultant

This is my ‘About Donncha Hughes’ page … for anyone who might be interested in my background. It is presented in chronological order. If you are actually looking for how I can help you you might skip to this page which talks about Assistance provided to Startups and Microenterprises after watching the 3.5-minute video which outlines what I do!

3.5 minute video

A native of Tipperary, I live in Galway with my family. I am a self-employed independent business consultant, mentor and business trainer.

After studying in NUI Galway where I secured a Masters in Marketing, my first job was 18 months as Marketing Co-ordinator with Galvia Hospital, now the Bon Secours, in Galway. That was a very interesting first job as I was involved in a major strategic review of the future of the hospital. It included research with patients and with GPs. I also participated in the management strategy days.

IBEC was my next job. I spent 7.5 years working with the employers body. It was brilliant as I got to meet with all of our 500 member companies. I also networked with senior decision makers in the region. I learned all about business development, public relations and most importantly about compiling major economic reports. In March 2004, I was centrally involved in the preparation of an economic report on Ireland’s Mid-West region. In 2005, we wrote a report ‘Securing Kerry’s Future’ and in early 2006, I was centrally responsible for preparing a major report on the potential impact of Open Skies on Shannon Airport.

In June 2006, I started as Manager of Limerick Institute of Technology’s incubation centre. During my four years, the Enterprise Acceleration Centre was very successful. In that time, Graham Royce and I established the LEAP programme. The other major highlight was the development of the Mid-West Entrepreneur Showcase which is now an annual event.

Since making the move to self-employment in July 2010, I have worked with some fantastic businesses. It has really pushed me to develop my skills and range of expertise. which now includes: web design, social media, some graphic design and Lean Startups, financial projections, tenders and grant applications.

The highlight of 2012 was the development of the training element of the New Frontiers Programme with Dundalk Institute of Technology working with Bridgewater; and the design and delivery of the Lean Startup @ GMIT programme.

2013 was equally busy and productive as I joined the external evaluation panel for Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund and got more involved with GMIT’s New Frontiers programme providing training on Lean Startup particularly the Lean Canvas as part of Phase 1. I also started contributing guest blogposts to some network blogs to include Tweak your Biz.

I have been lucky enough in 2014 to have been asked to work in depth with a small number of clients on HPSU funding applications and investor ready business plans. A highlight of the year was speaking to Conall O’Morain on the Sunday Business Show on Today FM. I find writing blogs to be very useful and was delighted that my my post on Value Propositions was the very first one published with the launch of the New Frontiers blog in late 2014 – to include a very well written Bio by Scarlett Merrill. While Startup Digest Galway also kicked off around that time.

2015 was another fantastic year. A lot of work happens on a one to one basis with clients while training programmes have been very busy. Along with Conor O’Donovan, the Startup Galway Pitches Meetup was formed (please note that Startup Blink later over the group). At that time it was an informal group that meets on the last Friday of every month (6-8 times a year is the plan) to assist members who want to practice a real ‘pitch’. On the blog front, I wrote a very popular article for Inspired on CSF.

2016 was another busy year. A highlight was working for InterTrade Ireland as a business plan reviewer on the Seedcorn Competition. I spent several days in Newry reviewing lots of business plans – for those that apply the feedback process is very valuable. In conjunction with GTC in November, the Pitches Meetup held their 2nd annual Pitch Competition – a great event.

In 2017, I delivered the training and mentoring element of the LEO Innovation Investment Fund in the West region (Mayo, Roscommon and Galway) in October 2017. Attended by 15 companies, LiiF invested €25,000 on a matched basis in 7 of the businesses. I also delivered training for the Empower Start programme which launched that Autumn.

3 Online Training Courses published in 2018

2018 saw the launch of my online training website. The first 3 programmes were Competitive Start Fund, New Frontiers Phase 2 and Financial Projections. I also secured a tender for 6 months to engage with LEO Galway clients on ‘portfolio management’ – meeting some of their clients on a proactive basis to see what supports they could avail of. A big highlight of the year was being elected Chairperson of YAP Ireland and attending their annual Croke Park event.

Online Training by Donncha Hughes

2019 was a great year – financially the best ever – as I delivered two commercialization & feasibility studies while delivering mentoring and training around the country.

2020 saw the tenth anniversary of starting out as an Independent Business Advisor. I can honestly say that I find it as rewarding and enjoyable as when I started – I am always learning. So 2020 will be remembered as the year of Covid-19. My business had a shaky few weeks but then everything went online. So I am now well versed in Zoom, Teams and other platforms to deliver mentoring and live online training.

2021 became known as the ‘living with Covid’ year. Business travel did not return for me but business was super busy. Early in the year, I worked with a specialist Security Alarm installation company in Dublin on a tender submission to the Office of Government Procurement securing 1 of 13 places on a nationwide framework agreement potentially worth hundreds of thousands for the company in the coming years. In late spring, I delivered a Business Plan training workshop for a private business accelerator programme in London, who provide mobile app development and investment sourcing services to client companies. Also in 2021, Donncha was the trainer for Spark Ignite. This 6 week programme delivered, on behalf of the Health Innovation Hub and funded by LEO Galway, assisted 36 participant teams from within the healthcare system across Ireland to prepare a ‘pitch’ for the 2021 Spark Ignite Competition which seeks solutions that will have a real impact on the patient and/or the healthcare system. In October 2021, Donncha worked with a client company to prepare a successful application to Enterprise Ireland securing significant funding via the Accelerated Recovery Fund (ARF) 2021. And finally, I was delighted to work with two more New Frontiers programmes adding IT Carlow and Athlone to my list of customers in the 2nd half of the year.

2022 was marked by global uncertainty with the war in Ukraine and the resultant energy crisis in Europe – delighted we had our Solar panels – but it saw a return to normal for most businesses in Ireland in terms of travel and events. I still use Zoom and Calendly but in-person meetings made a welcome return. I am keeping my business mileage manageable (under 10k km for the year) with regular trips to Carlow, Tralee, Sligo and Letterkenny for New Frontiers.

At the end of the year, I answered 5 questions about my business for this article on Subkit – always good to think about what you do and why do you it!

Business Advisor, Donncha Hughes 2023

Hopefully, this story will continue for a few more years….

I have a huge interest in startups and SMEs. I would be delighted to hear from anyone who requires assistance in the areas of Financial Projections, Marketing, Business Plans and/ or from organisations who organise Training for startup entrepreneurs and promoters of small businesses. Please use the Contact Donncha page to email me, reach out on Social Media or give me a call on my mobile.

Best regards
Donncha Hughes

p.s dont forget to check out the online training – 5 of the 10 programmes are FREE as of December 2022. Just register a free account.

One to One Consultancy – Pay and Book

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