Burgers, beer and cocktails provided the perfect recipe for the Midsummer Mixer, hosted by Waterford Chamber, Waterford Chamber Skillnet and Waterford Micro Business Network at the Athenaeum House Hotel on Thursday night last (June 23rd).
Designed to appeal to start-up and micro businesses and sponsored by Bank of Ireland, close on 100 business people arrived in glorious sunshine to mix, mingle and take part in some fun speed networking.
Hawk-Eye Falconry provided a spectacular opening to the event as their Harris Hawk did a fly over while guests sipped on Thin Gin and Claire’s Cordial Cocktails created by the talented team at The Reg or Metalman beer and enjoyed a delicious BBQ.
Getting proceedings under way, Waterford Chamber President Laurent Borla said that while multinationals are our front window, 99% of businesses are SMEs.
“We want to support start-ups. We NEED to support start-ups. And that’s why Waterford Chamber this year created a start-up/micro category, because networking is key to your success. You will not do it on your own. You need to share, to learn from others and to be exposed to business opportunities. SMEs and start-ups are passionate and love talking about their business so don’t be shy and avail of it. There is a strong and growing ecosystem in Waterford: the LEO, New Frontiers, SEBIC, Arclabs, New Frontiers, Fumbally Exchange, Waterford Micro Business Network, Waterford Chamber Skillnet, and loads of small initiatives like tonight. Get to know them, participate, give and I promise you will receive.”
Sponsors Bank of Ireland then led a ‘fire-side chat’ discussion, facilitated by Start-up Community Manager Ita O’Sullivan and featuring Sandra Whelan from Immersive VR Education; Barrie Rogers, Chia Bia and James O’Sullivan, FlavourHaus, who all spoke about the highs and lows of starting a business, the challenges they faced and the support they received.
Next up was keynote speaker Robbie Skuse, owner of Kollect.ie and founder of Digest Waterford, a community designed to connect start-ups. Having worked on start-up networking groups in other cities, Robbie said it is essential Waterford replicates what they are doing and that the potential here for new businesses is second to none.
"I'm challenging you as an individual, not as an organisation to take action; to engage and to help create a better eco-system for Start-ups here in Waterford”, he said.
"Waterford is a very loyal city which makes it a great place to start a business but we need more synergies between the small companies starting out, and the businesses who have already established themselves here."
With that message in mind, guests joined Seamus Hayes of Fitzwilliam Training Consultants for a speed networking session and the event was brought to a close by Ronan Cleary, Chairperson of the Waterford Micro Business Network, who thanked sponsors Bank of Ireland for their support and also those who contributed to making the event such a success.