Entrepreneur returns from successful US trade mission

Northern Ireland finalists in this year's Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards Programme pictured during their recent Trade Mission to Silicon Valley. From left to right: Dennis Lynn of Finnebrogue in Downpatrick; Brian McErlain from Derry-based bakery Genesis Crafty; Matthew Brown, CEO of Connect Telecom; John McCann of Willowbrook Foods in Co Down. MM28 506
Northern Ireland finalists in this year's Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards Programme pictured during their recent Trade Mission to Silicon Valley. From left to right: Dennis Lynn of Finnebrogue in Downpatrick; Brian McErlain from Derry-based bakery Genesis Crafty; Matthew Brown, CEO of Connect Telecom; John McCann of Willowbrook Foods in Co Down. MM28 506
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A MAGHERAFELT-based entrepreneur has just returned from a hugely successful Trade Mission to the west coast of the United States where he engaged with some of the world’s foremost business leaders, renowned academics and investors.

Brian McErlain of Genesis Crafty was part of a 120-strong group of entrepreneurs from across the island of Ireland that participated in this prestigious trip to Silicon Valley, home to many of the world’s largest technology corporations

This year’s Retreat proved to be as dynamic as ever with a comprehensive itinerary that not only built upon the success of previous trips but far-exceeded the high expectations of all participants. Delegates were afforded a diverse and exciting array of advisory and educational opportunities throughout the week.

These included interactive presentations with Niall O’Connor, Chief Information Officer at Apple Inc, and Facebook’s Global Head of Branding, Paul Adams - both of whom originally hail from Ireland. There was also an array of inspiring workshops with Irish entrepreneurs who have created successful companies spanning a wide range of industries throughout The Valley.

Those attending were given a unique chance to engage in master-classes and Executive Education sessions with world-renowned academics from Stanford and Berkley Universities; obtain investment advice from analysts at some of the world’s leading Venture Capital Firms, and meet with Corporate Financiers from Silicon Valley Bank over the course of the busy, six-day agenda.

Rob Heron, Ernst & Young Partner-in-charge of the Entrepreneur Of The Year® Programme for Northern Ireland, spoke of the importance of such Executive Trade Missions to the continued recovery and resurgence of this island’s economy, and re-enforced the value of building upon Ireland’s reputation as a highly-skilled and increasingly-competitive location for foreign and domestic investors.

“By engaging with some of the world’s most prolific and enlightened academics, investors and innovators, Brian and his fellow finalists embraced the opportunity to expand upon their international networks and gained a unique insight to the ambition, determination and energy that permeates the hugely successful entrepreneurial culture of Silicon Valley.”

He continues: “The 120-strong group of delegates explored how the dynamism and technological innovation that has been the driving force behind global brands such as Facebook, Google and Apple can be applied to more traditional industries here at home, such as Food Production and Agriculture, and were inspired by the impact that these cutting-edge developments could have on the future growth and continued success of their own businesses far in to the future.”

Brian McErlain was greatly impressed and enthused by his visit to the home of high-tech innovation, and while he believes that the long-term consequences of this hugely successful Mission are, as yet, immeasurable, he is already confident that the knock-on effects of the Retreat will be evident across the island of Ireland for years to come.

“This trip has not only given us a unique opportunity to meet with some of the key players within Corporate America but has allowed us to learn from our fellow entrepreneurs who are also operating within the global market place, competing for business and bringing investment back to Ireland Inc.”

He continues: “In addition to learning, exploring and uncovering commercial opportunities that we could have never previously imagined, we have all made real and lasting friendships throughout this incredible week and have forged an unrivalled network of international contacts that will allow us to build upon our own winning-strategies as we champion the spirit of enterprise across the island of Ireland into the future.”