Business travel could be incredibly boring and repetitive (at times). There is hardly any excitement about the destination you are going to and knowing that you would be working double shifts; you lose out on everything you have planned for your own pleasure (or maybe planning things other than business might just be a very wrong thing to do).
Adding some value to such commute, Pet Phelan, 48 a Cork (Ireland) native and one time butcher and now the CEO of tech start-up Turstev says, “It’s like a boy scout trip” in green sneakers and pulling his suitcase behind him. His dream train ride is way of “giving back” to Cork’s multitude of start-ups, helping the tiny companies from his home county break into global markets. The country is fast shedding its folksy and parochial image and attracted tech giants like Apple, IBM, Dell, Facebook, Google and a dozen others to have large operations in the country. According to the latest surveys carried out by Forbes, Ireland has emerged as the best country for business. Phelan does his own bit in making his county a dream investment destination.
Ireland has attracted as many as 1,000 overseas companies- employing around 10% of country’s workers.
Three years ago, European governments and the IMF has sent Ireland a 113$Billion bailout package to support the country’s budgetary needs and prop up the banking system, after the country got devastated by the Great recession. Attracting a foreign direct investment of 129 $Billion (2008-12) by the United States, Ireland is the fourth largest recipient of US FDI and almost as much as all of developing Asia does.
The three car chartered train- one of Phelan’s many ideas- transported about 50 mostly Irish startup execs, as well as venture capitalists from New York, Luxemborg and Ireland, to an annual two day tech conference in Dublin, last year in October. This included SpaceX’s Elon Musk and Skype founder Niklas Zennström.
For three hours, however, the start-up express offered a mix of homey pep talks and exacting preparation. As the train rolled through the Irish countryside with old farmsteads and bright-green pastures outside, entrepreneurs braced themselves over scones and jam for the bedlam ahead. This was an aim to connect Irish entrepreneurs with irish Transplants in the US.
Phelan got 40 crucial contacts during the time span. For many on the train, Phelan is an example of how to expand. With the country having a “Go west, young man” mentality something very similar to ours, Phelan and his wife plans to jump into the world’s most challenging market this month by opening a Trustev office in New York. He says “ we are going to be a very small fish in a very big pond.”
Source: Reports by World Economic forum, Forbes (US), Vivienne Walt.