Aiden Flynn, CEO 24 February 2021
As a business founder I am fascinated by the back stories of others who have decided to take a leap of faith and start their own businesses. It takes incredible courage, tenacity, resilience and sometimes a bit of luck to successfully turn your idea into a successful business. Underpinning any start-up or established company is a purpose and the motivation to act upon it. Many people have great ideas that could make a viable business but the dream never becomes a reality. What drives people to take the plunge? What makes them get out of bed in the morning? What makes them pick themselves up after persistently being knocked down and go again?
There many reasons why people start their own business: for money; for the good of society; for autonomy; greater flexibility; or to achieve something. Most founders are driven by some if not all of these motivations. Whatever the reason, it is difficult to achieve anything without the support of other people. Any founder would struggle if they had difficulty in working with people. At the same time, many founders are actually motivated by the opportunity to create opportunities for others. Often, that motivation comes from personal experiences. When I graduated from Queens University Belfast in 1992 there weren’t many job opportunities, and like many of my compatriots, I had to leave to seek work elsewhere. Founders have the capacity to transform people’s lives by simply offering them a chance. For me, one of the most rewarding and motivating things is to see someone grab an opportunity and to watch them grow and develop into outstanding experts and leaders who make an incredible contribution to society.
When I was setting up Exploristics, I considered a few locations. At the time I was living in London, right in the middle of the Pharmaceutical hub in the South East of England. In many ways, it would have been easier to establish the business within a traditional and recognised ecosystem. However, I had a very strong pull back to Belfast, to create new opportunities there. I suppose its human nature to be drawn to the environment and experiences we are familiar with but there’s something special about the people of Belfast.
As you know, Belfast has had a troubled past. I don’t want to revisit the past, that has been covered many times over, but it is important to recognise that in the middle of any conflict there are people – people who just want to get on with their lives. They value the same things that others may take for granted: access to a good education; a comfortable home; a safe and secure environment for their families; job opportunities and prospects. Unfortunately, because of our history, some of those things were not always accessible or didn’t exist in a way you might expect. Based on my own experience, I felt that people would grasp an opportunity to build rewarding career and a meaningful life in their home city.
Today, Belfast is a very different place. It has experienced an incredible transformation and the statistics will tell you it’s now one of the EU’s top tech cities and is ranked first in the UK for University spin-outs. In some small way, my role in setting up Exploristics has contributed to that transformation along with other founders hoping to give something back to the place they grew up. But that’s only part of the story. Behind this transformation is the people of Belfast- they have repaid those that have given them a chance. They are eager to move on from the past, to be part of an outward looking, forward thinking society. The people are highly educated, smart, witty, charming, warm, friendly, honest. They make committed employees who aim for excellence. Around three quarters of the Exploristics staff is based in Belfast. It defines our culture and has become a unique selling point. Our customers love the open, collaborative, flexible and accessible way we do business. The Exploristics heart is in our Belfast home- and a pretty special one it is too.