Disruptive telecoms entrepreneur Pat Phelan received the top gong at last night’s Net Visionary Awards for his contribution to Ireland’s emerging entrepreneurial class, as well as the evolution of the internet from these shores.
Phelan, a Cork-based entrepreneur known for creating and deploying innovative telecoms services on a global basis, who is also a prolific blogger and consummate Twitter poster, received the overall Net Visionary Award at the 2008 Irish Internet Association (IIA) and Enterprise Ireland Net Visionary Awards.
His MAXroam business offers a mobile phone service for travellers across 50 countries, and he has presented at the prestigious TechCrunch 50 Conference.
“I’m completely shocked and stunned at this award, I never knew I was even in consideration for this,” Phelan said. “The award, I must stress, is not just for my work, but a whole team of Irish people who made sure that our telecoms visions became a worldwide reality.”
Despite all the economic doom and gloom, Phelan said Ireland is punching above its weight “more and more, month on month in the tech world, and from my own world travels, the Irish are respected and revered more than ever.
“Recent world economic events have been a great leveller for all world markets, and I wholeheartedly believe Ireland has a great chance of gaining even more business in the next few months and years,” an ebullient Phelan said.
IIA chair Maeve Kneafsey said the choice of Phelan was an obvious one. “When we are looking for our Net Visionary, we are looking not only for internet innovators, but perhaps, even more importantly, those willing to risk their money and sometimes reputation to see their idea become a reality and succeed. Pat Phelan is one of those entrepreneurs who takes risks and has succeeded globally.
“Along the way, Pat Phelan has upset and disrupted the communications and telephony business and technology models. Perhaps that is the true characteristic of a Net Visionary, their ability to disrupt and cause change. We suspect we will need many more Pat Phelans if we are to keep Ireland as ahead in the internet industry.”
Other winners on the night included:
- Alex Gibson who presents The Persuaderson Dublin City FM took the Best Business Podcaster award, sponsored by RTÉ
- Martin O’Leary of RaboDirect was awarded Best Online Financial Service, sponsored by Data Electronics
- Brian Fallon of Daft.ie won Best Online Trader Ireland sponsored by Realex
- Cathy Clarke collected the e-Government Award for Itsyourmoney.ie, which was sponsored by Allied Irish Banks Merchant Services
- Paul Whelan was presented with the Educational Contribution Award, sponsored by CFO Services for Lichens.ie
- Derek Quinn won the Internet Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by Dell for MyAddress.ie
- Marie Boran from siliconrepublic.comwas presented with the Technology Journalist Award, sponsored by Elucidate
- Johnny Beirne of Downloadmusic.ie was presented with the Mobile Internet Innovation Award
- Karen Hanratty of Pixel Design was awarded the Web Designer Excellence Award, sponsored by Daft.ie
- Jennifer O’Brien of Webtools Software was awarded the Web Developer Excellence Award, sponsored by dotMobi
- Michele Neylon of Blacknight Internet Solutions won the Best Business Blogger award, sponsored by Newsweaver and the Best Internet Marketer award, sponsored by the Irish Times
- Niall O’Driscoll of vStream Digital Media won the Best Online Business Use of Irish, sponsored by Foras na Gaeilge for his work on the Referendum Commission’s Lisbon Treaty website
- Lulu O’Sullivan of 4giftsdirect.com won the Best Online Exporter Award, sponsored by Tibus
- Marcus McInnes of Pix.ie won the award for Best Use of Social Media, sponsored by Hostelworld.com
- Niall Devine of MyCharity.ie won the Innovation Award, sponsored by iQContent, as well as the Social Contribution Award, sponsored by IEDR.
By John Kennedy
Pictured: Pat Phelan, internet entrepreneur and winner of the overall Net Visionary Award at the IIA and Enterprise Ireland’s Net Visionary Awards 2008