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Climbing the Giraffe

Hello Blog, my name is Chris Rooney and I am an entrepreneur. Now already I feel like I have told a lie; let me explain from the beginning.

In September 2009 my house mate came to me with a concept which he wanted to turn into a business. The idea was that he wanted to create a reminder service which sent text messages to women to remind them to take their contraceptive pill. I thought it was a mad idea and to be perfectly honest I don’t think I really understood the problem of adherence to oral contraception.

Liam started working away at it and doing research to see if this was going to work. Then one Saturday afternoon in late September when I had nothing better to do, I went with Liam down to his aunt’s house to discuss this idea. From listening to both Liam and his aunt talk about it, it suddenly clicked with me and I got it! This was going to work! We discussed everything from how the website was going to function, to what our marketing strategy was going to be and also how we would convince people that this service was going to helpful.

We left Liam’s aunt’s house and went straight to the pub to talk more. After several creamy pints of the black gold, we were both really enthusiastic about it and ideas were flooding to us well into the small hours. It was great fun!

Things moved quickly after that: we began setting up meetings with doctors to talk about this whole issue and their initial feedback was that they could see the benefits a service like this could have. Following months of research and developing the concept we finally commenced work on the website in June of this year.

We got approved for a bank loan and we proceeded to hire our application designer who worked with us throughout the summer. He did a great job. Then we brought in the graphic designers to make the website look amazing and they really delivered!

So all that work was building up and building up until finally www.safetext.ie was launched on the 13th September 2010! We are delighted how it has all come together and have felt privileged to have won two very prestigious awards since our launch. On 16th October we won the ‘Most Innovative Website in Ireland’ at the Irish Web Awards and on 19th November we won the ‘One to Watch’ category at this year’s Eircom Spiders.

It’s really given us a great boost to see the fruits of our labour, and we primary launched the service on 14th of February 2011 at the Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance Week (SHAG Week) which was run with the third level colleges throughout Ireland.

So that’s where we are at, now what about that “lie”…

Well I have started this blog for one main reason. That is that it has become very apparent to me that I am on a learning curve and, therefore, I want to keep a record of how I go through this experience. This is so I can look back in weeks, months or years time and see how it all went for me.

While I suppose I do fit the definition of an entrepreneur: a person who has possession of a new enterprise, venture or idea and assumes significant accountability for the inherent risks and the outcome, I almost feel like I have to earn that label by having lived through this business a lot more.

I feel so much of my achievements with SafeText has been down to pure hard work and enthusiasm, and very little of it has been to do with any sort of real business knowledge or experience. Maybe I am being hard on myself or maybe I’m being a realist, either way I’m still waiting to feel like I can really call myself an entrepreneur……………….but I’ll let you know when that day comes.

As I said, my primary intention for this blog is for me to be able to document my experiences, but if anyone is reading this I hope you’ll find this a helpful account of one person’s attempt to be successful in business.

Finally, why did I call this post climbing the giraffe? Well everyone talks about climbing the ladder to success and that is far too cheesy for me so instead I have made a reference to one of my favourite books as a kid, ‘The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me’ by Roald Dahl. Anyone reading this I’m sure will recall that these three peculiar animals started a window cleaning business whose unique selling point was that they didn’t have any ‘dirty old ladders leaning against your walls’. This was because of course the giraffe, with her magically extendable neck, acted as the ladder. So in a way I want to be a bit unique in the way I go about this business and hopefully climb the giraffe’s neck all the way to the top.