Tweak Your Biz » Growth » Irish SME’s Coming Together: Interview With Rob Marr Of smeople

Irish SME’s Coming Together: Interview With Rob Marr Of smeople



It’s a challenging environment for Irish SME’s as they seek growth, funding and stability. smeople is a new nework that provides Irish small business owners a different way to network, do business with one another and get funded. In this interview, Rob Marr explains why he co-founded smeople and how creating a community will encourage positive business growth.

What is smeople and who founded it?

It was founded by myself and my business partner Gareth Duffy.  It is asmall business online network [based in Ireland] where we can buy, sell, barter and network and also raise cash by pitching for it.  The members vote on the pitch they like best and the winner is gifted the cash by smeople.

What was the inspiration for starting this Irish small business collective?

smeople was born of frustration – I run courses helping people become self employed and got fed up of how hard it was for SME’s to find sales, raise cash and cut costs.  I wanted to tell them about this brilliant place where they could do business using easy social media functionality and also raise some cash.  It would save them time, money and help them get the cash they need to get going or keep growing.  Then I realised that site didn’t exist so I decided to build it myself!!

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Also, from talking to people running small businesses, they all seemed to be saying that we need to come together to support each other in trade.  It got me thinking that if we all just gave a small amount every month and, if smeople didn’t mind giving a chunk of that away every month, it might just work!  They also wanted some social media that was designed to do business – not the other way around.

Since smeople is about people, how are relationships between SME owners fostered?

They use the marketplace to communicate.  It is essentially a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook with added functions to allow the member to personalise their marketplace.  They can limit their own marketplace to industry, county or town and change that whenever they want.  They can also select their existing business networks and form mini marketplaces using the groups they already belong to.

What kinds of resources does smeople provide to support small business growth?

We have started just offering the marketplace and the fund.  We have other plans to add training, experts corner and some other top secret but very exciting stuff in the new year!  We also write blogs regularly offering tips, support and guidance from experts in their fields – we look for the issues members are facing and then get the answers for them.

Tell us about the funding programme offered by smeople.

As I mentioned, it is quite simple.  You simply record a short video, preferably not longer than 2 minutes explaining what you are trying to do and what you will use the money for.  The members get a vote every month and the one with the most votes gets the cash.  It is a gift, not a loan.  We then follow up a few weeks later to see how you got on.  There is a great video on the site giving some great tips on what we are looking for

Why did you decide to include this funding programme?

Because it is independent,  self funded and not reliant on board approval or excessive application processes – if you can get your ideas across then the members decide. I feel that being judged by your peers is the fairest way to do it as well – being a small business owner is tough and I am personally tired of decisions being made about my own business by people that have never even walked one day in my shoes.  The only people that really understand being self employed are other self employed people

How do you see smeople becoming  a leader in the Irish small business community?

We are trying to show leadership by putting our money where our mouth is and backing our own project.  There is no state funding in smeople or actually any state or bank support at all.  It is small business people taking a risk on an idea.  Hopefully, we will show leadership by doing, not talking.

 Going forward, what additional ways will smeople serve the small business community?

I think that will be up to our members to decide.  This is going to constantly evolve we hope.  We have created the two tools that we were asked for most with the marketplace and the fund.  We will be lead by what our members want.  We have some ideas as I have mentioned but if the members don’t see the value then we’ll rethink and redo.

Many thanks to Rob Marr for taking the time to explain smeople and it could be a game changer for many Irish small businesses as they navigate challenging economic conditions. This online business collective takes advantage of how SME’s connect with one another and support one another. Please take a look and see if it could be a great resource for you.

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The Author:

Elli St.George Godfrey guides small business owners as they expand in their own community or internationally using her 3 Keys Coaching process helps clients not only navigate growth stages. With each stage of the 3 Keys coaching process, we tackle strategic planning, goal setting, managing change, organizational development and managing the stress and feelings of overwhelm that often plague small to mid-size business owners and executives. This results in clients feeling confident in identifying and developing strategies to be more effective leaders, plan more creatively, increase revenues and overcome the fears and obstacles that interfere with building thriving small to mid-sized businesses. I am also Chief Community Manager of Kaizen Biz and Host of Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz (a chat that uses the concept of "kaizen" for continual improvement in how we think and act in business). Please visit www.abilitysuccessgrowth.com/about/ to learn more and I look forward to meeting you in a complimentary coaching session. http://www.abilitysuccessgrowth.com

Add Your Comment

  • http://www.bloggertone.com Niall Devitt

    Small business people investing in other small business people, this could be great! Thanks for another top interview, Elli.

  • Christina Giliberti

    Hi Elli, Powerful interview and words from Rob Marr. Big fan of the independent approach and working together. We shouldn’t depend on the gov to help us…we should depend on each other – like a family ;0 )

  • Elish Bul

    Wonderful knowing about the collaborative networking and crowdfunding is taking hold of Small business

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey

    It is so inspiring when people take a problem and find a solution that works for many. The crowdfunding part is fabulous because it doesn’t focus exclusively on startups.

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey

    Rob Marr and his co-founder, Gareth Duffy have put something together that provides ownership and action. Two things small business owners need to feel like they have some control. Government has a role.That said, there is nothing like pulling together and providing solutions for one another.

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey

    Indeed! We know each other and can relate to each others’ joys and pains. I”m looking forward to seeing how smeople grows!

  • http://www.cutehoney.ie/ Mairéad Kelly

    Absolutely love this concept and I believe it is something that many SMEs will look into during 2013, great interview @ElliStGeorgeGodfrey:disqus

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey

    I certainly hope so! Nobody ever said you had to go it alone. It’s great to see how Rob Marr and Gareth Duffy saw a need and provided an answer!

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks Niall. Yes I think he’s great – could listen to his wisdom all the time. I’m reading his autobiography too – it’s brilliant

  • http://about.me/Lindeskog lyceum1776

    How many round-ups so far? Time to celebrate a milestone? :)

  • http://blog.seoservicesedge.in/ Rahul

    Thanks for the warm Welcome Sian. I’m Glad you like the my post. I’ll continue to post some useful tips in TYB Sian.

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks for these great tips Annie. In this day and age every business must be online to compete. It’s also like writing a blog and then never sharing it – as though it’s been written for no reason. I look forward to your next post for us

  • https://h1-west2.leadpages.net/makeconnections/ Harlan West

    Thanks for the post, Annie. I think one of your suggestions that is easy to forget about is in blogging. What you said is important, pick a schedule and post regularly. I have seen a lot of blogs that don’t follow that rule.

  • http://www.terryculkin.com/ Terry Culkin

    Great post. I find that most businesses let the website go. As you stated it’s important to keep it up to date. Thanks.