Graduate Engineer to Start-up Business Founder

“How many engineers does it take to change a light bulb, dunno but it takes one to build a program for it.” – Lauren Walsh

4 years studying maths and engineering gives you a certain outlook on things, an eternal Mr. Fix-It complex. I think I always had that though. Thousands of maths formulae and theorems can only fix so much but they have their uses. I graduated from computer and electronic engineering in Trinity College in November 2012.

While I was still in college, new ideas and concepts were a constant distraction from the everyday college work. I enjoyed college and the lectures we had but there were always one or many projects in the making, outside of the lecture halls.

In first and second year, I had Bojangled. An “alternative pop rock” band which I had with my cousin and singer Stevie Cliff, and friends Brian Sinnott and Robert Gaffney. We had a great time playing gigs in Dublin in some of the smallest and biggest venues around. It was the best way to spend the first two years of college! Gigging lead to my first proper job in the entertainment industry, sound engineering in Captain Americas on Grafton Street.

Working with bands and Captain Americas for the next year was great. I met some great Irish talent who played for years around Dublin and also helped some young artists get through their very first gig. The experience was good and the payment was better. I was lucky to be able to buy the required equipment with some savings initially and then expand my equipment set for bigger and better gigs after a while.

I got a number of gigs through working with those bands, networking and word of mouth. That was great for making use of the gear I had. I fell down on my own marketing after a while. One gig led to another but that wasn’t going to last, especially when I was entering my final year of college and needed to put my head down to study.

You could say that was my first failed business but I had a great time with great experience. It paid its own way for a while. In all, no huge amount of money was made but it sustained working for myself for 2 years throughout college.

Apart from my own and the bands gigs, I worked for a number of event management companies since my last year of secondary school. It started off as an ice marshal at the ice rink in the RDS, picking up fallen skaters and teaching newbies to stay vertical on skates on the ice. That same company hosted food and wine festivals in Dublin, top car shows and fashion exhibitions. Those were great gigs for the weekends and the long hours and physical work suited me surprisingly well. I also got jobs with 3 or 4 other companies on an ad-hoc basis at the same time.

Those jobs always had technical responsibilities, like fixing and building things, liaising with contractors, stage management and so on. This is where theatre comes in! My first introduction to a theatre show would be best described as damage control! In my previous experience, things had to happen fast and effectively so I was used to thinking on my feet. That specific show was in need of a “do-er” so that one worked well. I have learnt since then that theatre is much slower paced on terms of rehearsals, design and doing. I enjoy the work, however, because you get the head space to create new atmospheres and environments from one scene to the next. That’s a great experience, if and when it works! I would prefer to have plenty of preparation time in theatre but that’s not achievable for a lot of companies.

That is why I firmly believe in VisiLit’s ability to make a test run more accessible, just not in a theatre that will cost you money. We can automatically relate the creation and design of theatre shows to the technical side of being in a venue so that designers and producers don’t have to spend time or money resolving issues on the day.

In the future, I hope that theatre can be more achievable for under funded and under staffed companies because VisiLit helps reduce that time and effort required.