CoderDojo co-founder and SOSventures investing partner, Europe, Bill Liao and co-founder of OmniVend Declan Fox have been inducted into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame for their entrepreneurial achievements.
Ireland’s Minister John Perry, TD, presented Liao and Fox with their inductions to the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame at the recent Entrepreneur Experience dinner in Kinsale, Co Cork.
The award recognises the entrepreneurial vision, innovation, courage and leadership required to build and grow successful businesses. It also acknowledges the efforts the recipients have put back into the community and the time they have committed to working with start-ups, often without recognition.
Liao said the last award he won was a state science prize when he was 12.
"I was totally stunned," Liao said of being inducted into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. "What has touched me most was being so welcomed by the Irish entrepreneurial community. I was, ‘Let’s all redouble our efforts to raise Ireland up!’"
Fox said the award is very special to him, coming from his peers.
"It means a lot to me," Fox said. "There is a great buzz about working with start-ups, there’s something new every day. It has been a pleasure to co-operate with CorkBIC over the years, and I look forward to working with them on many more projects in the future."
Liao is dedicated to the vision that business and enterprise, both commercial and social, conducted fairly and with respect for the environment, can and will create a better environment for work, life and the world that we all share.
An Australian of Chinese descent, Liao co-founded, along with Founder Lars Hinrichs, Open Business Club in Hamburg in 2003 as a platform for business professionals and renamed it XING in 2006. XING was one of the first Web 2.0 companies to go public and has grown to become one of the world’s leading business-to-business social-networking portals.
Liao is noted for his philanthropic endeavours and is a driving force for a number of environmental and humanitarian causes, including Weforest.com, for planting 20m sq kilometres of new trees by 2020, and has volunteered for The Hunger Project in Uganda, New York and Mexico. A diplomatic passport holder, Liao refuses to fly and instead travels by train and ferry and is behind a global citizen initiative called The Declaration of Earth Citizenship because he believes nationalism is no longer relevant.
Liao long with 20 year-old software entrepreneurJames Whelton last summer co-founded CoderDojo, a movement to assist young people to learn how to write code. On any given Saturday afternoon across Ireland, you can be guaranteed that at between 600 and 1,000 kids between the ages of nine and 16 are learning to write software code at any one of up to 15 CoderDojos.
The movement has also gone international with dojos taking place in Silicon Valley, New York and Paris, for example.
Through SOSVentures Liao has been instrumental in supporting a number of technology start-ups and the venture firm has taken strategic investments in media companies Silicon Republic and Storyful. He has also invested in Startupbootcamp, which is run by former XING CFO, Eoghan Jennings.
Fox, who is also a serial entrepreneur, technologist, digital marketer and business coach, co-founded Comnitel Technologies in 1999 and grew the company from start-up. Comnitel later merged with a US telco, and IBM acquired it in 2007.
Fox’s OmniVend has a key focus on next-generation wireless, network management systems. Fox’s work with start-ups has focused on innovative technologies across different sectors.
The first entrepreneurs inducted to the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame in 2011 were Liam Casey of PCH International and Paul Hands of Raman Diagnostics.