Start-up Advice: David Finn, AmaTech

10 Mar 2016

David Finn is the CEO and founder of AmaTech.

Perseverance is often cited as one of the key traits of entrepreneurs and it is certainly something AmaTech CEO David Finn would appear to have in spades.

Finn originally established AmaTech in the ‘90s and it played a pioneering role in the development of contactless payment technology, floating on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2000 before going bust in 2002.

Not to be deterred, Finn returned to the fray in 2007 to set-up AmaTech 2.0, which has offices in Galway and Germany.

Having developed the unique PayWear technology, the company is now focused on the smart jewellery space.

It recently struck a tailored sale and leaseback agreement with Ulster Bank that will allow it to embark on a €850,000 expansion of its manafacturing facilities.

In your opinion, which areas of technology hold the greatest scope for opportunity?

  • Intangible knowledge in the form of software that controls and regulates transactions such as payments
  • Wearable devices with functions greater than just fitness tracking
  • Fashionable hardware devices that make a statement.

Are good entrepreneurs born or can they be made?

There are different types of entrepreneurs, those forced to be an entrepreneur and those that have a different perception to risk and how they can change the world, and not how the world moulds them

What are the qualities of a good founder?

A good founder is, in essence, a leader with a clear vision, but one that can manage the obstacles of business, in particular money and customers. Being able to select the right business opportunity, which matches the core competencies of his or her organisation, is paramount. And, most importantly, being able to identify the right people for the pioneering team, especially in the area of innovation.

Inspiration, instinct and innovation go hand-in-hand

What does a successful entrepreneur need to do every day?

There is no such thing as a successful entrepreneur, otherwise they would have achieved their objective and should be selling their enterprise and moving on to the next venture.

Entrepreneurs who lead the way (in essence, successful entrepreneurs) need to have an open mind to change in their environment.

They are constantly focused on their objective, managing the ups and downs of business, and spotting the right opportunity in the noise that surrounds them.

‘There is no such thing as a successful entrepreneur, otherwise they would have achieved their objective and should be selling their enterprise and moving on to the next venture’

What resources and tools are an absolute must for your arsenal?

Resources are good people and tools are the sufficient capital to fuel the engine.

An entrepreneur also needs to have the knowledge to succeed, and this may be achieved through education.

Knowing your weaknesses is also important. And, finally, creating luck is an entrepreneurial skill.

How do you assemble a good team?

  • Observation and spending time getting to know people
  • Immersing yourself in a community, like in a faculty of a university
  • Finding people with greater knowledge than yourself.

What is the critical ingredient to start-up success?

  • Perseverance
  • Having the right people on board
  • Coping with risk and bad news
  • Sufficient capital to get to the next stage in the evolution of your business.

What are the biggest mistakes that founders make?

There are many errors to be made, but not having the right customers for your great idea is detrimental.

Knowing your position in the value chain is also crucial, this will determine whether you will make money or not.

The entrepreneurial journey is not for the faint-hearted: you are dealing with people and events that cannot be controlled completely and, if your objective is to earn money fast, you may be in for a surprise.

‘Remember, there is no success without failure’

Who is your business hero and why?

I do not have any hero, I do my own thing and I am not preoccupied with other people’s successes or failures.

What’s the No 1 piece of advice you have for entrepreneurs?

You’d better have a good partner, in my case, my wife, to support you during the good and bad times.

Remember, there is no success without failure.