Jamie White: ‘There’s a lot of sugarcoating surrounding entrepreneurship’

4 Sep 2018

Jamie White with Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD. Image: Start Summit

Entrepreneurs have little in the way of a safety net if it all goes wrong, warns the founder of the Start Summit, Jamie White.

Jamie White has built up and sold businesses, including CollegeTimes.com and TeenTimes.com. He now works with brands worldwide on their social media marketing through his business, Leading Social.

‘I think it’s quite negative that if a start-up doesn’t work out and ultimately fails, the founder is entitled to no welfare’

White is hosting the Start Summit, a conference to educate and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs, at Dublin Castle on 15 September.

The Start Summit aims to be an annual gathering of some of Ireland’s leading business leaders and start-up success stories to educate and motivate hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs each year. Speakers include seasoned tech entrepreneur, investor and XSellco founder Ray Nolan as well as entrepreneur and business mentor Jacquie Marsh.

What are your own maxims around succeeding in entrepreneurship?

I believe that succeeding in entrepreneurship is very much on a 360-degree basis. Your client or customer gets a great service with a balanced value; your team is getting fulfilment from the work and is happy with the reward; and, of course, you yourself are happy with the work and thrilled with the reward. Simply put, being successful in entrepreneurship is when everybody wins.

What are the hardest and most important lessons you have learned so far?

The most challenging but important thing I had to learn is knowing my own limits. To be an entrepreneur, there has to be a certain arrogance and self-belief to get you through the hard times. However, you have to balance that out by being open about your weaknesses. You can then begin to delegate and build a team around yourself knowing how to complement your skillset.

What infrastructure, supports or policy do you believe Ireland is missing when it comes to supporting start-ups?

I think it’s quite negative that if a start-up doesn’t work out and ultimately fails, the founder is entitled to no welfare. I think this is very discouraging to aspiring entrepreneurs as there is no safety net or security.

I would also like to see tax incentives for start-ups in their first few years, maybe a rebate or even a tax-free salary for founder(s). Sometimes, from my own experience, being a founder you are paying everyone else and the taxman first before yourself, which can be a struggle.

Why are you holding this event?

In short, I’m holding the event I wish was there for me when I was starting off. I feel like in today’s world, there is a lot of sugarcoating surrounding entrepreneurship and it’s almost become fashionable. I want to break things down on a personal level and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs by partnering them up with the resources they need and inspiring them to take their business to the next level.

Who are you aiming it at?

Early-stage Irish entrepreneurs who are at the start of their journey or even still stuck in the ideation phase. I’m hosting it on a Saturday so people who are breaking their backs Monday to Friday can attend!

What do you hope people will get out of it?

I hope people will leave with a much better understanding of their start-up, the resources they need and, ultimately,  themselves. I want people to go in with questions that will all be answered come the end of the day. I also want attendees to network and build relationships that will serve them moving forward – and, with that, we have done everything we can to deliver on this on the day.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years