Down on the Valley?

So you may know that I’ve been in San Francisco a little bit this year, firstly meeting with our US friend and investor David Kirk after the fun that was SXSW and then again to get married in the amazing surroundings of San Francisco City Hall. This has meant many round trip flights, long layovers and general travel mayhem that has got in the way of both our fun and our business.

So it’s heartening to see a heavy push for direct flights from Ireland to Silicon Valley led by John Hartnett of ITLG and the Irish Innovation Centre in San Jose among other things. In fact it’s surprising that such a flight doesn’t exist already. The business case is crystal clear and obvious, so I feel no need to restate what’s been said.

If you’re interested in helping to push the case join the Facebook group here and make your voice heard…

  • In Category: Business Stuff
  • Lovingly scribed by: marty , September 22nd, 2010

“A living philosophy is not a belief – it is an action…”

William Melvin Hicks

Move along now….

  • In Category: Musings
  • Lovingly scribed by: marty , May 24th, 2010

Destroy 40 years of Culture

Okay so we could possibly do with destroying the last 2000 years but hey, we have to start somewhere. If you know me in any way, you’ve probably had a pint with me and been subjected to lenghty and lofty rants theories about culture change and how it’s bloody important to tear down the attitudes of old school Northern Ireland and start anew, especially with the high tech renaissance in full swing all around us.

If you’ve been listening to the majority of our politicians in the run up to the election then you know that draconian views and limited thinking is still rife in our less than moderate little part of the world and it can drag you down. I’ve said it before, it’s not easy being a young person in Northern Ireland, many of the cultures and outlooks that are ingrained in the place are at best restrictive and at worst destructive. Especially to those who are creatively minded and entreprenurial. Too often trying to get your voice heard and your ideas across feels like wading through quick-sand. If you’re not careful, your motivation and belief can get sucked down into a gabbling abyss and be lost forever.

In the past six months I’ve been going through a loop of validation, finding interested and interesting people who think our business ideas, like AirPOS, can be big noises not just in our own backyard but on the world stage. On the one hand this is a wonderful experience that makes the world seem brighter and everything seem possible. On the other hand it makes you lament the years you spent in Belfast’s wilderness giving time, energy and ideas to projects and people who either didn’t know how to, or didn’t want to, recipricate. I’ve fought my last battle with the attitudes of old. In answer to the question “Do you want to win or do you want to be right?” I’ve decided that I want to win, come what may.

And I’m learning new ways of winning. If your ideas are strong enough and your will to carry them through is equally strong then there are a thousand ways of progressing with the one constant being levels of risk. There’s an ingrained need in many for the security of the day job, the regular wage that takes the sting out of the mortgage, the child support payments, the school fees, to keep the pension pot ticking or any number of reasons. I can appreciate that attitude, but I can’t subscribe to it. If your idea is strong enough and your will to succeed equally strong I believe there will be a way to meet those commitments and also to follow the path that opened up to you when you had the eureka moment. You may fail but if you do there will be options. You and the people you love will survive, and be stronger for it.

If the alternative is mortgaging your dreams and robbing the world of your creations then that risk is mitigated surely? It’s got to be worth a try.

At the end of May VI (that means six BTW) companies from various different sets of circumstances will be building their own incubator in Belfast City Centre to start the first steps of this journey. We’re still young enough and in need of learning enough to be one of them. AirPOS will be VI of VI. The others will be announced in due course.

They’ll be sharing experiences, being mentored, seeking investment, helping each other and generally supporting each other as they seek to have grown enough in VI months to stand alone and try to take their ideas to the next levels. Surrounding them will be people who have volunteered their time and resources to help from lawyers to accountants, designers to joiners, investors to civil servants and every spectrum in between. The BBC will be documenting this process, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.

These people, like me, have decided that they want to win and that there’s generally little value in being right.

You can boke at the sentiment if you like, and growl at the sheer lack of hipster-knowing-wink in the following statement but what you can’t do is deny the thruth behind it.

You may say that we’re dreamers, but we’re not the only ones…

Post inspired by Phil Wilson an entreprenuer, salesman and part-time comedian who, incidentally, is winning.

  • In Category: AirPOS, Musings, VI
  • Lovingly scribed by: marty , May 03rd, 2010


So they’re all trying to gain our trust again it seems these politicians and they’re sorry indeed about the expenses stuff and all that bad stuff they were caught doing. We should forgive them and let them fix up the country they say. We owe it to ourselves.

Now it’s unfair to tag them all with the same brush but the adject tedium of the Facebook posts and Twitter stream with the electioneering is overwhelming to the point where they are now best referred to as anti-social networks. But like the proverbial wobbly tooth I haven’t got the willpower to unfriend them all, on some horribly corrupt level I must be enjoying it.

Saying that it’s not all bad. In the interests of disclosure yes we built her website and yes my fiance works for her but it’s still refreshing to see Anna Lo pledging her help to SME ands, wait for it, Start Ups on her election literature. Check it out for yourself…


Sweet Valley High – San Francisco Day 3

So we had to wait nearly a month before shouting from the rooftops but we thought we’d let the Belfast Telegraph and the very kind @lyramckee have the exclusive. Here’s the article about our investment in Silicon Valley and a few wee photos for fun…

Ulster firm Air Pos attracts Silicon Valley investment

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A Belfast-based entrepreneur is flying high after his company received its first investment from a prominent Silicon Valley investor.

Marty Neill, Managing Director of point-of-sale software company Air Pos, was in San Francisco to attend the Irish Leadership Technology Group (ITLG) Silicon Valley awards when David Kirk, the former Vice President of AOL, Inc and ex-Senior Vice President of Cisco Systems, made the surprise gesture.

“It was St Patrick’s Day and we were having a drink in an Irish bar in San Fran, The Chieftain, when he called me outside to hand me the checque”, he laughed.

Hailed as the “evolution of PoS software”, AirPOS allows retailers to connect their in-store sales with online sales. According to its website, www.airpos, “AirPOS allows companies of all sizes to sell from a single stock across unlimited points of sale. It solves the age old problem of till and web integration and will help lead to greater customer satisfaction, reduction in human error, better detection of fraud and theft, easy access to multi channel sales and much more AirPOS also allows sales to be performed anywhere that an internet connection is available, which is essentially everywhere in today’s mobile connected world.”

Kieran Graham, David Kirk and Marty Neill at the Apple Store, San Francisco

Kieran Graham, David Kirk and Marty Neill at the Apple Store, San Francisco

“AirPOS is a different approach to PoS. PoS hasn’t progressed in about 15 years. We created the problem we’re trying to solve when through our other web company, No More Art, we created a system for a client which didn’t hook up their in-store stock and sales with their online stock and sales. This created huge problems for them, but in those problems we spotted an opportunity. Air POS is PoS evolved to the new web.”

The company is currently creating a stir in the US after attending the SXSW interactive conference in Austin, Texas, where it attracted interest from corporate giants such as PayPal.

“Staff from their Manchester office are coming to Belfast to meet with us as they’re really interested in seeing the software”, says Marty, “That was a huge lead for us. The US as a market is perfect for us; it’s basically a cashless society. I don’t think I saw one person pay with cash the whole time I was there, everyone pays by card, and that’s perfect for AirPOS.”

David Kirk and Kieran Graham at Stanford University

David Kirk and Kieran Graham at Stanford University

And Marty is calling on other Irish companies to make the trip to the US and consider it as a potential market.

“Invest NI offer trade missions to the likes of SXSW every year. The best thing about the US is that everyone is interested in what you’re doing; the American mentality is real. Out of 400 stands at the SXSW tradeshow event, we spoke to 399, including companies like Google and PayPal.”

But success in the US isn’t the only thing the Shankill Road man has to smile about.

“My fiancée and I have decided to go to San Francisco and get married in September”, he said. “We’re going to stand outside the Chieftain on the same spot David gave AirPOS its’ first investment and have a champagne toast to celebrate.”

The Chieftan Irish Bar, San Francisco

The Chieftain Irish Bar, San Francisco

  • In Category: Musings
  • Lovingly scribed by: marty , April 14th, 2010