Green Light featured in the business section of Friday’s Irish Times – an Inside Track Q&A with our founding partners Roisin and Jane to discuss Green Light, surviving the recession, and the future of the event management industry in Ireland. Read below for Michelle Jackson’s feature.
Inside Track Q&A – Roisin Callaghan and Jane Gallagher, Cogs & Marvel
Cogs & Marvel is an international creative events agency.
Working with many of the world’s largest tech brands, including Google, Twitter and Facebook, Cogs & Marvel is an international creative events agency based in Dublin. Founded by Roisin Callaghan and Jane Gallagher, it is celebrating 10 years in business.
What sets your business apart from the competition?
We have retained our clients who came on board when we started in 2006. In 2015, we organised one of the biggest corporate conferences ever held in Ireland for Google, with over 5,000 attendees. We have also managed these types of sizeable events outside of Ireland – in Spain, Greece, Germany and France. Our skills can travel.
What was the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
Try to hire people who are better than you so you can learn from them. We’re very aware that the greatest asset of a company is its people. We know we have a fantastic team and we are immensely proud of them. In fact, we won an Event Industry award this year for the best team to prove it!
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?
Our biggest mistake was that we were too slow to scale and grow our business. Despite the advice above, in the early days we felt we had to do everything ourselves.
We learned quickly that this was not the case, especially once our personal lives suffered. So we hired additional people to build the team and structure the company into what we needed. We have grown 200 per cent in the past 18 months and now have a team of over 30.
Your major success to date?
We have so many things to shout about. We have won major contracts on the back of previous work we’ve done, which we think is a fabulous endorsement of our team and company.
We’re immensely proud of our great team who show pride in the company and in the work that they do. Winning an accolade to prove how great our team was cemented that for us.
Who do you most admire in business and why?
We admire women entrepreneurs like us who have worked hard to get where they are and who lead fantastic companies and also juggle busy family lives – for example Sheryl Sandberg, Arianna Huffington and Samantha Power (US ambassador to the UN). Closer to home, there are some amazing Irish women in business like Louise Phelan and Una Fox.
Based on your experience in the downturn, are the banks in Ireland open for business to SMEs?
Green Light Events was set up at the start of the downturn. We went to Dún Laoghaire and walked into all the banks to chat to the managers directly to see what they would do for us and eventually settled on AIB, as they had a fantastic female manager who was very proactive and helpful. It feels that the banks are not treating SMEs in the same way now. It’s much harder to get any sort of support from the banks.
What one piece of advice would you give to the Government to help stimulate the economy?
Keep the 9 per cent tax rate for tourism and reduce the venue hire tax rate to 9 per cent for all venues.
Ireland is facing some serious international competition for conferences, congresses and events. Maintaining the tax rate at a favourable rate will help to encourage further business tourism into Ireland.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face?
Rapid growth. It’s an interesting challenge to face as it’s fantastic and shows massive success, but it doesn’t come without its pitfalls. The team has tripled in size in the last two years.
Last year we set up a travel agency – Green Light Travel – to enhance our client offering. This is solely to deliver travel to our clients who are travelling to our events. This brought challenges, as it’s a new area for us, but we’ve had a very healthy first year and the clients are pleaser with the added value it brings to for them and their events.
How do you see the short-term future for your business?
We have a lot of exciting ideas in the pipeline for Cogs & Marvel. We are expanding the company both geographically and within different markets.
What’s your business worth and would you sell it?
We’ve been increasing our turnover year on year and are showing profits. Reinvesting this profit back into the company will help further growth of the business. While we’re very successful, we’re not for sale – yet
At Cogs & Marvel, we believe that every time you get a group of people together, whether they be staff, customers, partners or consumers, you have an opportunity to strengthen their relationship with you. You have an opportunity to turn passive admirers into an army of advocates for your corporate brand. Cogs & Marvel is an event agency that creates brand experiences to delight in the moment and inspire lasting change.
Want to inspire change in your audience? Get in touch with the Cogs & Marvel team.