We chatted to In Hand Guides founder, Trevor Winckworth, about disrupting the marketplace and the challenges of starting up in a post Celtic Tiger Ireland.
Tell us about yourself your startup.
We at In Hand Guides produce re-usable, credit card size audioplayers. They are used as souvenirs when you visit tourist sites such as the Book of Kells and Blarney Castle. They are also used for Public Advocacy (for example Human rights education, Diabetes education) as a simple way to inform and educate (particularly when language is a barrier or technology is not readily available).
The company has developed a business opportunity based upon the development of low cost embedded audio products using adapted MP3 technology – and to date over 500,000 units have been sold in a number of market sectors in particular tourism. Outside the tourism market, the company products are been used in advocacy sector in Africa for and the Middle East for educational purposes. The idea came during a chance meeting with a passenger abroad a plane leaving Saudi Arabia – we had both been working there for different companies and were heading back home. That passenger, Leo Callow MBE, is now a Director of our company. Soon after that meeting I had the opportunity to take a redundancy package from the multinational I worked for – Baxter Healthcare – and I invested it into the idea that became In Hand Guides. Moral of the story – avoid Leo Callow on airplanes!
What is your vision for In Hand Guides?
We want to turn our simple idea into a successful international business. We aim to “disrupt the marketplace” – be that in tourism, health education or public advocacy.
What have been your biggest hurdles as an entrepreneur and how did you get over them?
The biggest hurdle is easily finance. The lack of it still has implications for ongoing cash flow and business support and starting a business just as the so-called ‘Celtic Tiger’ disappeared certainly did not help. Yet with the help of CIT, we found a way to develop the technology. We travelled out to China and arranged manufacturing logistical and QC support, patented product all with investment support while regularly battling with the banks for support.
What are your views on entrepreneurship in Cork?
We have had great support initially from the SCEB (now known as the LEO), then Enterprise Ireland and finally from Kernel Capital Cork. All that means that I have a very positive view of entrepreneurship in Cork; being located here has not held us back one bit.
I have a very positive view of entrepreneurship in Cork; being located here has not held us back one bit.
What motivates you – in other words – why do you do what you do?
It’s important to be self—motivated to overcome ‘roadblocks’. There are a lot of people – whether they are clients or potential clients/partners – who will support you in name but do nothing (‘That’s a great idea’ but are then not prepared to follow on by doing something about it). Talk is cheap! There is nothing worse than lip service!