My business development role see’s me taking MakeMatic’s content and licensing it to local authorities, CSRs and voluntary sector organisations. Building innovative packages of content that they can use in their funded projects.
There is a disruptive element to what we do. Local authorities, for example, often currently deliver things physically, at events and so forth, whereas we’re teaching them about the digital distribution of content and how that can help them reach their goals. This intersection between the old and new is where I operate. There’s such an interesting tension and opportunity there.
I was born and raised in Downpatrick, near Belfast. At the time, everyone was in a band and I was in a few. I toured and played lots of local gigs but I was always fascinated with language too, so I studied Celtic Studies at Queen’s University. Irish, Scots-Gaelic, Welsh and Breton.
After college I went travelling around North America: New Orleans, Chicago, St Louis and finally settling in the San Francisco Bay Area. I worked for a record label out there, Real Music. They promoted New Age and World Music, and it was great to learn about the industry. I’d already played music, toured with bands and had an interest in learning about licensing, royalties, publishing and the mechanics of the industry.
I joined in 2002, when Napster was having a big effect on CD sales, and it was a hell of a time to be selling CDs because no-one wanted to buy them any more. It was all going digital. But found that I had an aptitude for sales – selling records into Barnes and Noble, Best Buy and all those big box chains. I really enjoyed it.
We put out about 25 releases a year and each one had to be promoted. I met with reps, made sure they were talking about our releases and that they were being put in the right spots in the shops in order to increase sales in general. That said, part of my job was to negotiate our first digital distribution agreement. Watching how technology completely changed things for musicians and record labels alike, all while running full pelt to keep up, was pretty incredible.
Moving back to Ireland in 2008, I started to use my expertise to help independent artists and labels make use of the new revenue streams technology was offering, as well as pitching and licensing their content for use by major brands. And it was the same tension and potential for disruption that got me interested in working for software startups.
The opportunity to disrupt an industry, while delivering real value to clients and customers, got me working for a couple of software start up companies in Belfast, taking interesting and innovative products and helping companies in the retail and manufacturing industries to use technology to grow – and that brings us up-to-date.
I’m very excited to start selling our content at MakeMatic, content that will help so many teachers around the world. It’s an exciting time.