Author Archives: Heather

Saturday, 22nd Jan – Join a photo scavenger hunt, win prizes and contribute to a free, open photo archive of Ireland.

Sligo yeats

At Sligo VEC, we’ll be kicking off a photo scavenger hunt, and you can enter to win a prize and make a significant contribution to the open web.

More info at:
– Perfect for families and groups of friends to join together
– Learn about Wikipedia
– Win Prizes ūüôā

There are 463 events happening world wide to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Wikipedia. Please join us for the only event happening in Ireland!

Taking a break for summer! What’re you up to?

Enjoy the August bank holiday week. We’ll be taking a break for August. We’ll be back in action soon. Keep track of us here and on twitter: @opencoffeesligo

Please leave a comment below and tell us what you’re up to? Any buzz for your business and new ventures you’d like to share? Looking for some help? Any community events or other opportunities you’d like to tell us about?

Join us for an evening networking event

Enterprise & Innovation Week will run from the 22nd to the 25th of February 2010 at The Innovation Centre, (formerly the BIC).

They’ve invited Open Coffee Sligo and Northwest Connects to participate.

We’re holding an evening ‘Open Coffee’ networking event on the Wednesday, the 24th of February from 6.30-7.30pm at The Hub. Snacks and drinks will be served. After our networking event we will go to A0005 in the IT’s main building to see Sean Gallagher from Smart Homes on Dragon’s Den.

The whole week is packed with talks and events, many for the public to join in. On Monday the 22nd of February 11‚Äď12.30pm, please join the Launch of Enterprise & Innovation Week¬†with Danny McCoy (DG, IBEC) and Prof. Terri Scott (President, IT Sligo)¬†at The HUB (Innovation Centre).

Plans for 2010!

Coffee Beans by Lyncis

Coffee Beans by Lyncis (cc) Creative commons

We had an epic meet-up last Thursday. A great turn out and many new people, over 25 attendees! We talked about plans for 2010 and I wrote up the notes and we’re discussing them in our new LinkedIn group.

Come join us there and pass on the link to anyone who has been to Open Coffee Sligo or who might like to attend.

Some great ideas which can be summed up by our group goals: to network, create opportunities for ourselves and others and improve our skills through exchange.

Kevin, Justin and myself (heather) are meeting on Wednesday to figure out what our game plan is for the next meet up and future ones.

We look forward to your input.

Open Coffee Sligo

Open Coffee Sligo

We’ll get your info updated on the attendees list. If you don’t see your name there, please remind us by leaving a comment.

Happy New Year!

Art of Coffee - by Minwoo (cc) creative commons

Art of Coffee - by Minwoo (cc) creative commons

Happy New year!

There’s no “official” Open Coffee Sligo meetup in January, next one is Thursday 4th February 2010.

We’re trying out using Ning to help people communicate about Open Coffee Sligo. There are a bunch of other Irish and international Open Coffee groups there. Please join up!

See you in February!

Northwest Connects: a conference for people starting up or restarting business

Northwest Connects logo

This logo was a collaboration between Open Coffee Sligo members Justin Knecht and Eddie Johnston

We’re getting really excited about the Northwest Connects event… in TWO WEEKS!

28 November 2009; 9.30-5pm at the Innovation Centre at IT Sligo

The event is free attend, but registration is required. Register:

What is Northwest Connects?

A day long conference with talks, presentations, discussion and workshops to share expertise about starting up and running a business. Hopefully lots of business to business opportunities will arise from the event.

A collaborative effort

Schedule draft

The schedule has 20 minute speaker slots, two discussion panels, a networking activity and special 5x5 sessions to allow people to sign up to give a brief talk on the day, BarCamp style.

This event is being organised by Open Coffee Sligo members. Many people have made a contribution to planning and coordinating this event.

Denise Rushe & Aoife Porter are taking care of marketing and PR, getting this event into the papers, and getting the word out. Denise even started a NW Connects LinkedIn group & event listing, a facebook group: Northwest Connects, and Twitter @nwconnects! She’s been busy!

Eddie Johnston did the website, Justin Knecht designed the logo (Eddie added the cool dots map in the back). I’m (Heather James) working on the layout of print materials & volunteer wrangling. Kevin Peyton has organised the group panel discussion, and he’s going to chair it. Anne Louise O’Donovan, Aidan McKenna and Feargus Callagy are helping coordinate streams, and communicating with speakers. Anne Louise has also stepped in since last week to crack the coordination whip and keep us on our toes as we enter this home stretch.

Thanks to the sponsors

The reason we can offer this event for free is because of the sponsorship by WDC/, Sligo County Enterprise Board, AIB, Infacta and our hosts, The Innovation Centre at IT Sligo.

We’re really looking forward to the event. Please tell anyone you think who might be interested.

What is OpenCoffee all about?

Recently, Claire Burge of Simplify Learning asked me “What the open coffee events are about and why they have been beneficial to you?” I thought instead of just emailing her, I’d write a post here and share with others…

I recently spoke at the Ignite Dublin talks at the Science Gallery. I spoke about our OpenCoffee group, and the plans for Northwest Connects – so this is all fresh in my mind.

By the way, this is Heather– since this cheapo WordPress template doesn’t show authors.

The Origins of the Open Coffee network

Saul Klein’s early descriptions of the Open Coffee network focus on connecting web developers & web-based entrepreneurs with investors.

“The OpenCoffee Club was started to encourage entrepreneurs, developers and investors to organise real-world informal meetups to chat, network and grow.¬†Read the blog post that started the ball rolling.”

And this is primarily what they have been doing: growing. The OpenCoffee official group lists 80 groups, but this is likely not all of them. Not all of the over 20 groups in Ireland are listed there. Of the groups in Ireland, some meet weekly; some once a month, and some took off the entire summer.

“The key is¬†a regular place and a regular time – it’s not important who comes along, some days it might be no one – just that people know if they want to meet, this is the time and this is the place.¬†We want to create some density for people — a few places where people know they can meet or bump into others.” – from¬†the original post by Saul Klein

In the original context: London, you have a population density which can handle frequency; and can specialize in the area of web developers & investors. Ours is a little different…

Our Open Coffee in Sligo

Our Open Coffee meets the first Thursday of every month, 11-1pm. It’s free and open to all. Depending on the location, you just have to buy yourself a coffee (or tea!)

We also have a different mix of people. While all brewing some ideas for services and businesses; and we’re swapping referrals and leads- but we’re not at the stage where we can go run to an investor or join the Chamber of Commerce, or BNI for established businesses.

And we’re not all techies. I think this makes it a more interesting group, and more useful since we’re not all living in the same bubble.

Our OpenCoffee is also like a “community of practice” – a type of learning group. Last week, Anne Louise O’Donovan presented some tax tips for small businesses and freelancers. We’re sharing our expertise, while also learning about each other – and this helps each of us expand our reach. As a freelancer or working in your own company- you don’t have the same context for learning- to look over the shoulder of, and learn from your colleagues. I think OpenCoffee can offer this kind of context.

Networking through knowing

Like with anything worth while, the tired adage applies: “You get out what you put in.” A representative from a County Enterprise board (not Sligo) said he went to an Open Coffee (not ours) and he “was underwhelmed.” I was annoyed when he said this, what did he mean? Did one-off visitors to our OpenCoffee not return because they were underwhelmed? Well, I wanted to say to him, (but didn’t) Open Coffee isn’t there to entertain, and I doubt you’d get much out of it if you only attended once.

With that said, I know someone who has attended the Open Coffee Sligo only two times, but in those two times he made contacts- and got back in touch with them, which lead to two more clients for him, and three hot leads which he has lined up for when his service gets out of beta-testing. That’s great news for him, and a sign that without a chance to meet and rub elbows with people outside your bubble, you may be missing opportunities.

Networking is built on developing relationships– meeting once off, you aren’t likely going to get valuable reputation-based referrals. People need to *know* you, and know what you do. I am learning more and more about the others who attend our group, and more and more I’m knowledgeable about what they do, what they offer, and what kind of help/leads they are looking for. ¬†And- over time, I care more, and I’m motivated to help them.

We’re hoping to grow the network more and more. Email me at hjames {at} if you have questions.

Open Coffee in Ireland

If you’re not near Sligo- check out a map of the Open Coffee groups in Ireland. Some are hibernating, some are buzzing. Check their sites to see. Also @Burkie is setting up a site for open coffee groups in Ireland: