How the pandemic inspired a complete business rethink for one Carlow man

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Donal Kearney shares with Sunday Times his business journey during the pandemic and why IrelandTogether and community support was essential for him

For me, the pandemic has brought on an array of different processes and emotions. What was essential — travel, meetings and even
foreign holidays — became nonessential. It has been a time to get to know people outside of my network, people I would never have had reason to reach out to before were on a screen in front of me, not looking to buy or sell but to connect and find a way through a lot of uncertainty. I have had to take a step back and reinvent my business to suit the needs and demands of the new world.

My background is in LED lighting technology, and my previous company in the US called me one afternoon to talk about the advances in UVC LED and how the market is finally ready to look at it across a range of industries.

Since that conversation, I have not looked back. I searched for the right partnerships to develop and bring a highly engineered quality UVC Germicidal LED light to the market and I found them with a UKbased company called Cool-Tech. None of this would have happened if not for the lockdown and people’s willingness to open their minds and spend time looking to new real-world alternatives.

So far I have found that through the uncertainty, co-operation with technologies such as Zoom is fantastic. Sometimes it feels like you are going nowhere fast, staring at a screen talking to some remote stranger with kids banging on the door and then all of a sudden the dots connect.

When you work from home it can be difficult to draw a line between where work ends and life begins, and vice versa. I have had to delete
apps like Reddit from my phone because of the constant updates of deaths, Covid cases and riots. I’ll get my opinions from the lads at
the pub when it reopens — it’s a lot more entertaining.

Finding Ireland Together has been a big turning point for me — it has helped me find like-minded people who are not just there to talk but to listen and offer valuable feedback. There is one channel where Peter Turley runs a Dragons’ Den-style pitching session and everyone critiques it. Let’s just say I’m glad I didn’t pitch on TV, but the panel spent at least an hour giving me tips and pointers on how to improve my methods. You couldn’t buy that quality feedback.

Ray Costello was on the panel that day and has since become an adviser for my company. He is of pure quality. Joanne Griffin has been a
force of nature in connecting me with some amazing people, I honestly don’t know where the founders of Ireland Together find the time to do what they have done but I am very grateful that they did.

I think that Covid has brought out humanity within the business community in Ireland that might have been lost through the daily grind.
I would tell people to stay moving forward — keep their good routines and lose the nonbeneficial ones. I would tell people to connect with intent to give and not get, something I believe this community has done really well.

For more articles of IrelandTogether’s members: IrelandTogether In The News

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