Where ambition meets experience for Irish startups

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The Challenge

Successful entrepreneurs are often inundated with requests from members of the startup community. They are generally willing to give their advice for free to others, so long as they can fit such requests into their overloaded schedules. Scheduling and administrative difficulties in arranging these meetings are often more time-consuming than the meetings themselves.

A survey conducted for the 2014 Entrepreneurship Forum Report revealed that the majority of even the busiest and most successful entrepreneurs in Ireland are willing to give their time if it can be done in a well-structured and efficient manner.

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The Solution

“Office hours” is a simple concept whereby experienced and successful business people share their time on a voluntary basis, providing one-on-one advice to startup entrepreneurs on the various aspects of starting or running a business. “Office hours” duplicates what university professors have known for centuries: make some regular time available, and the people who really want it will go out of their way to show up and learn. The use of free online off-the-shelf tools have simplified the scheduling process and removed administrative burdens.

Change for Ireland’s startup community has to happen from within. If just 200 entrepreneurs across Ireland give 30 minutes of their time each week to help their peers, startups will be able to benefit from over 3,000 hours of free, transformative advice before the end of 2014.

OfficeHours is a completely voluntary, grassroots initiative by and for the Irish startup community. #StartupIreland and its regional networks are key partners in spreading the word about OfficeHours to organisations and individuals across the country.

LOOKING FOR SOME ADVICE?
See the Mentor List

WILLING TO HOST OFFICE HOURS?
CREATE A PROFILE HERE



HOW DOES “OFFICE HOURS” WORK?





“Office hours” can be arranged in multiple ways to fit the needs of the entrepreneur volunteer. For example:

The important thing for the mentor is for the process to have as low overhead as possible. We use the online free booking tool youcanbook.me, which allows you to slot out specific times in your schedule on a regular, consistent basis.

Note: when you book time with an OfficeHours host, officehours.ie will have access to the information provided through youcanbook.me. However, OfficeHours will only use this for the purpose of collecting aggregate data on how many bookings are made, and will never directly contact people who book through the system nor share this information with any third party.

EXPECTATIONS AND MUTUAL RESPECT





Office hours gives startups an opportunity to speak with seasoned entrepreneurs for a once-off period of time. Office hours is not a long term coaching or mentoring engagement, unless the two parties mutually agree to such a relationship. Office hours is also NOT an opportunity to “pitch” an idea or business, unless the host explicitly notes that they are willing to entertain this during their office hour sessions.

The entrepreneur may designate certain topics that are “off-limits”. They may indicate these on their youcanbook.me or office hours profile bio. Anyone booking time with them should respect these parameters.

How do I get involved?

This website hosts a registry of Entrepreneur citizens who are willing to give back to strengthen the startup community.

LOOKING FOR SOME ADVICE?
See the Mentor List

WILLING TO HOST OFFICE HOURS?
CREATE A PROFILE HERE

Why Ireland

In Ireland, the idea for a national Office Hours database was highlighted as a key recommendation of the Entrepreneurship Forum’s 2014 Report Entrepreneurship in Ireland: Strengthening the Startup Community. The Forum’s report found a wealth of Government-sponsored mentoring programmes, but concluded that more must to be done to encourage entrepreneurs to share their experience with each other through peer mentoring initiatives.

Recommendation #19:
Develop a national registry and process for ‘Office Hours to facilitate Entrepreneurship mentoring. Perhaps have this registry be compatible with other volunteer activity requests, such as for talks at conferences, schools, etc.
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