ISAX seeks over 50s for pioneering Start Your Own Business programme

ISAX

Eamon Ryan, CEO, Local Enterprise Office, Limerick, Pat Carroll, Start-up Community Manager, Bank of Ireland, Anne Connelly, CEO, Ireland Smart Ageing Exchange, Peter Doyle, Key Ingredients and Aine Cuddihy, Mini Cake Company. Picture: Alan Place. ISAX.

ISAX (Ireland Smart Ageing Exchange) are currently seeking mature entrepreneurs over 50 to take part in their innovative Start Your Own Business programme. The programme is aimed to harness the financial, human and social capital of new and would-be entrepreneurs.

Developed from research commissioned by ISAX, the Ingenuity Start Your Own Business course is currently accepting applications. It will train participants in how to capitalize on the advantages specific to their age group, while tackling the barriers they face, both real and perceived.

The advantages mature adults have over their younger counterparts when it comes to starting a business is that they are generally on a sounder personal financial footing, have built up a lifetime of industry knowledge and experience, and have forged a lifetime of connections and relationships within that industry. Barriers include the perception many people have that entrepreneurship is a young person’s game, as well as technological change, such as social media.

Chief executive officer of ISAX, Anne Connolly said: “It’s a myth that starting your own business is only for young people – global successes such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, IBM and Porsche were all set up by businesspeople in their 50s and 60s. Average life expectancy has increased by more than 20 years since the first official life table was compiled for Ireland in 1926, and the retirement age is increasing, and will continue to increase. With this in mind, it is essential that we foster a change in attitude towards the older entrepreneur, both in the minds of older people and in society in general. The Ingenuity programme will offer a first step for many would-be entrepreneurs”.

The course is particularly targeted at fast-growth and lifestyle businesses and would be of benefit to people who have an idea for a business, or entrepreneurs who have recently started a new business and need some commercial direction.

The programme brings together mature entrepreneurs in a collaborative environment, as well as business advisors and carefully selected mentors. It is designed to provide participants with the opportunity to develop and validate their business ideas with target customers, and, if necessary, to adapt their original idea. Participants will be guided through “best in class” business modules to learn the skills and knowledge required to set up and run a successful business. They will also be trained in some of the aspects some mature adults find more challenging, such as social media and communication in general in a more digitized world.

The course will also deliver training to participants in how to pitch to investors, will facilitate a real live pitch, and will include the opportunity of moving into the ISAX Smart Ageing Hub. These incubator units allow participants to benefit from a “hothouse” of specialists in smart ageing. Benefits include low cost space, shared equipment, support from mentors, and networking opportunities.

Ms. Connolly added, “Based on the research we commissioned to design this course, we believe the Ingenuity Start Your Own Business programme is the first of its kind in the world completely tailored to the needs and experiences of the over-50s. One of the main barriers preventing mature people from starting their own business is a belief that it’s ‘not the done thing’ as we get older. However, the over-50s have so much to offer to the business world and to society. This programme offers them a fantastic opportunity to learn, or to build on, the business skills to bring a good idea to fruition, while also providing a ready-made network of business experts, and a support group of people in a similar position, who can share their experiences”.

Lecturer in entrepreneurship at the University of Limerick, Dr. Briga Hynes, is one of the mentors offering her expertise to course participants. She said: “Age is a truly meaningless reference point when considering an entrepreneurial career. Companies don’t succeed simply because of the age of their founders – they do so because those founders have an idea for which there is a need in the market, and for which they have the skills and support network required to successfully bring that product or service to market.

“The over-50s are a vital and vibrant pool of potential entrepreneurs, as they bring a high level of personal and professional experience and great networks to their startups, along with creativity born of a lifetime of knowledge. Senior entrepreneurs have a clearer vision of exactly what they want to achieve and how they plan to achieve it. I am delighted to be part of this innovative and exciting project and I look forward to working with, and learning from the participants.”

Head of Seniors Banking, Customer, Products and Propositions at Bank of Ireland, Antoinette Golden added: “Bank of Ireland is delighted to support this programme, which fits with our commitment to support small businesses across the community. Age is no barrier to being an entrepreneur – in fact research demonstrates that older people have a wealth of talent and connections to tap into. We believe that the Ingenuity Start Your Own Business Programme is a wonderful support for these entrepreneurs.”

The ISAX Ingenuity Start Your Own Business programme will run on two evenings per week over an eight-week period. The Dublin City programme begins at the end of September, while the Limerick and Fingal courses start in the second week of October. The cost of the programme is €250. The closing date for the Dublin City course is Friday, 9th September. The closing date for Limerick and Fingal is Friday, 23rd September. Visit www.isax.ie for further details and an application form.

The ISAX programme is sponsored by Bank of Ireland and run in conjunction with DCU Ryan Academy and Local Enterprise Offices in Limerick, Dublin City and Dublin Fingal.

To find out how you can get involved and read more about ISAX click here.

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