Powering Through - Facing Rejection With CEO of Occupop, Caroline Gleeson

Let's talk: Irish women in business

Caroline Gleeson, CEO of recruitment platform Occupop (formerly BidRecruit), on the power of perseverance and the impact of Enterprise Ireland funding.

What does your day-to-day role look like?

Typically, when I arrive at the office, I check my emails, take a look at my task board to see what priorities I have for the day and check over the sales figures and financial accounts. A large part of my day is interacting with customers on our support desk, ensuring they are getting the most from our software. I also spend a lot of time working with the technical team, project- managing the deployment of our software and planning new features with my co-founder, David Banaghan. I meet up with the sales and marketing teams every week to discuss what we've achieved and what is planned for the week ahead. On quiet days, I research different markets for business growth options. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?

If it was easy everyone would do it.

How did Enterprise Ireland help you set up Occupop?

We had been in operation for about a year when we first approached Enterprise Ireland. I pitched in the Female Entrepreneur Competitive Start Fund in May 2017. The CSF is a prize fund worth €50,000 investment plus business support by way of an accelerator programme with experienced mentors. We were lucky enough to be successful on that occasion and the timing could not have been better as we were running out of money. We were generating some traction in the market, but the CSF investment allowed us to invest much-needed funds into our tech and marketing which had a massive impact on our overall growth in 2018. It also puts us on the map for Enterprise Ireland's High Potential Start-Up funding which we secured in December 2018. 

What wisdom would you offer someone starting their own business?

Perseverance is key. We had a lot of doors closed on us at the beginning and it can be hard to pick yourself back up. I think it’s really important to have a good co-founder so that you can balance the highs and lows. Whenever I felt down, David was always really positive and motivating, and vice versa. We have very supportive families that encouraged us along the way. Ultimately there are lots of businesses starting up every day and some fail, some don’t. I believe it comes down to three things: timing, surrounding yourself with a great team, and most importantly, perseverance.

If you could live anywhere where would you choose?

I’d love to spend a year in Lisbon. It is a beautiful city with a great climate and amazing people. It’s a real metropolitan tech hub.

Is there a book you wish you’d written?

Writing is a hobby of mine and I'm currently working on a book. I love to write fiction but I think I'd really enjoy writing about the Occupop journey: we've had highs, lows and some very funny moments that I'd love to share. 

It's the zombie apocalypse: what's your survival skill?

I can't run very fast, so I'd be in trouble if they were anything like the zombies from 28 Days Later! I grew up with four brothers, so I think I have a bit of fight in me if I ever need it. My skill is identifying people's strong points, I think I'd be good at rallying people and getting them to work together. 

For more on Occupop go to occupop.com; to learn more about Enterprise Ireland go to enterprise-ireland.com. 

For the full article, check out this month's Irish Tatler. On shelves now...

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