Be ruthless with your time: break it down and plan, then execute – it’ll limit how much time you waste and help you get more done in a smarter way ie fail smarter.
Jonny is an entrepreneur and thinker who is known for horizon thinking. At 30, he is the first to admit that this is the beginning of a long entrepreneurial journey but he has already worked in a variety of industries over the past 10 years which makes his entrepreneurial outlook varied and valuable: telecoms, blockchain, hardware, software, events, marketing, concerts, data protection and fashion is a mixing pot of insight and stories good, bad and ugly. He has been quoted in publications from the Sunday Times to Forbes on remote collaboration and immersive technology.
In a past life, Jonny worked in events. From product launches to organising Europe’s largest blockchain hackathon in Dublin in 2016 when he was working with Chainsmiths, one of the world’s leading blockchain consultancies, to the technical side of the industry where he launched Wooq – an event management application. Jonny has put over 1 million people through venue doors in the last decade between Dublin and Boston. He recently won the Dublin County round of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur with Best Business Idea for meetingRoom, doing what he has always done, putting people in a room together, only now it’s in a digital sense.
Jonny was a history and politics student at University College Dublin. He got his first taste of marketing and behavioural economics while studying in Harvard before getting his MBA from Trinity College Dublin and most recently got his certificate in Data protection from the Law Society Ireland.
Jonny currently resides in Dublin with his partner and they enjoy spending their time reading and travelling as much as possible when Jonny isn’t telling the world how Ireland is the home of premium immersive talent and technology, and is a leader in the next generation in sustainable working.
Where did the idea for meetingRoom come from?
I was recovering from an operation and a fractured ankle and had just completed my MBA – I knew it was time for a career change. Myself and my soon to be co-founders were trying to work on some ideas, and we couldn’t do it between Cork, Dublin and Beijing, so we started building a tool to let us do this. Within 2 weeks we had had our first meeting with meetingRoom and we’ve never looked back!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I love getting up early but I don’t use an alarm aside from an 8am cut-off – I usually wake up between 5 and 6 but if I need the sleep, I’ll take it!
I’ll see what’s happening outside my own backyard with some reading on local and international news, then a bit of Hackernews & Reddit, before kicking into a session of exercise to get the brain warmed up properly.
Right now, that’s a virtual reality gym session of Beatsaber, followed by Rec Room and then out into the real world for a (short) run. Then it’s time for a shower, breakfast and jumping into the office.
I work remotely so I find it absolutely necessary to keep a schedule which segments the day to stop it all rolling into one – it’s important to not let work and personal interflow too much – it’s a great way of going off balance. This means dressing for the office (yes, even the home office), keeping to a schedule and breaking it up – I wrap my day with a walk in the local park to recharge on nature and give closure to the work day.
The only thing which I absolutely do every single day without fail is meeting my team for 10-30 minutes in meetingRoom, so that we are all on the same page and expectations are limited all around. I work with some amazing people, the best productivity tip I can apply is letting them get back to work – our meetings are notoriously effective and we move through them quickly. This has built the strongest team culture I’ve every been apart of (especially considering we all haven’t been physically in the same room, yet!).
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’ll research any new idea in as detailed a manner as I can before I go out and talk to people to find the real meat behind it – ideas are great but without execution that’s all they are – ideas.
Whether it’s talking to potential customers to figure out what the real problem is or speaking to people who could become teammates or co-founders to actually make it happen – if you don’t get out and get the lay of the land, you’re not going to follow through effectively.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’ve sounded like a lunatic for years speaking about data privacy, how our next real crisis won’t be financial but information related. I’m interested to see how people finally seem to be taking on board the notion that our personal information is valuable.
Part of my training is in data protection and the last few months, from Cambridge Analytica to GDPR, has been exciting for my inner compliance child! While I’m excited, I don’t see that much of a mass changeover, I think this is only the beginning of what will be transformative to digital business but I’m confidant over the coming decade we will really assimilate the value of using data correctly.
I’m also excited that others are seeing the light to work-life balance – this is one of the most important trends I see for productive work over the next 30 years.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I can do the boring work others can’t for longer, and I can do it with balance. Some of the best advice I’ve always tried to adhere to is keeping that balance and remembering why you’re doing what you’re doing.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Stop multitasking, sleep more (it doesn’t work like you think it does!) and be ruthless with your schedule to maintain real life time – it’s not all about work.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The world does not need to be built around centralised locations – we are doing it right now and it’s not working. I am obviously biased with the work we do at meetingRoom, but I truly believe that we are already in a world where you can work from anywhere and as a global society we should be focusing on building infrastructure to support this. This is why I’m excited about the coming years and 5G.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Look after yourself, sleep as much as you need and be realistic with what you can do in a day. There’s no use being everywhere if you’re not healthy and present.
I ask a lot of questions. Good decision making comes from having the right advisors to help you make the call but also knowing when to ask a question.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Throwing out our management principles and approach to the business after our first year was the best thing we have done so far in the business. We’re a pretty flat organisation in terms of structure but weren’t being very good at acting that was in a reporting structure and in terms of making sure all were able to see and here the plan of action, both long and short.
A simple fix to this was putting out roadmaps on the wall in our digital office for all to see, and this was more effective than adding everybody as a user to every service I use to keep us in flow. Humans are human – keep it simple and let people do their job rather than spend their life reporting – set your objectives and then stick to them!
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early in my career I walked into opportunities that seemed good for making money but in hindsight were not good for myself as a person. Specifically, I’ve worked with people who have helped me to learn they are the last people on the planet I should work with, and I was lucky enough to make these mistakes before I hit 30, so they were a lot cheaper than if it had happened later!
I’ve been told I have a strong sense of justice and while it might sound like wishful thinking, I know I’m led by values. When a project or team doesn’t align with my value system or I don’t feel others on board have a realistic work ethic, then my gut will make me walk away before I begin.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A taxi/ridesharing app that rewards manners and patience. I’d pay a premium for a service that I could hail a cab without cancellations or which would make us (the people hailing the taxi!) act a little more human to the people driving the car. I really don’t enjoy the way technology eats away at social graces, it’s why I was so happy to see manners attached to speaking to Alexa recently.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Workwise, that’s got to be my flight to Pirate Summit – an amazing festival set in Germany which I cannot wait to return to next year. No BS, just 1000 decision makers from startups to corporates discussing how we can change the world, while learning from each other with the rawest of stories.
Personally, I just topped up on Audible credits – I eat books and I love having a few on the go and audio books make this a lot more achievable.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
GTMHub for setting my objectives and results and linking it in with my daily tasks in Jira. I love it as a tool as that once you’ve set it up you don’t need to feed it all the time. I tend to keep it open on a screen as a guiding light to make sure everything I’m doing is what I need to be doing now.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
My recommendation for the community is catching “Console Wars” by Blake J. Harris – it’s a great read if you’re interested in learning more about the early video games industry but what I took most from it was learning about company culture in fast growing companies and loved the stories on strong teams forming.
What is your favorite quote?
“If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.” Hunter S. Thompson
- Figure out what your priorities are now, not later. Live your life and make time for family & friends. Don’t work 24/7 hour days at the expense of all things personal – it’s a sure fire way to not enjoying the journey.
- Be ruthless with your time: break it down and plan, then execute – it’ll limit how much time you waste and help you get more done in a smarter way ie fail smarter.
- Thinking differently is not something to do for the sake of it. Being the lunatic in the room can be valuable – as long as you know there is method to your madness, stay the course of the plan.
- Talking about 100 amazing ideas are great, but executing on one is far more exciting and will benefit more people.
- Surround yourself with smart people – a successful entrepreneur isn’t afraid to ask themselves tough questions or ask for real advice from those who they have validated to trust.
Jonny Cosgrove on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonnycosgrove/
Jonny Cosgrove on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jonnycosgrove
Jonny Cosgrove on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jonnycosgrove/