Tom Kennedy - Chairman
Tom has a proven track record as an entrepreneur and in building a global e-commerce business from Dublin as co-founder of www.hostelworld.com (Web Reservations International). Tom achieved a successful exit from Hostelworld.com in 1999 he previously owned Avalon House hostel in Dublin. He is currently co-founder of www.homestay.com. When he is not working, Tom enjoys the gastronomic delights of life and the views of the Wicklow mountains from the saddle of his bicycle. Tom is the Founder of the very successful Paris2Nice Charity Cycle which has been in operation since 2011.
Diane Hodnett - Vice Chair
Diane Hodnett, a technology/ infrastructure executive is a founder and former CEO and Director of Sea Fibre Networks and America Europe Connect, owners and operators of subsea telecoms cables. In 2012 Diane raised in excess of $15m for the construction of CeltixConnect, a subsea cable connecting Ireland and the UK and most recently over $200m in funding to build AEC, a subsea cable to connect the US and Ireland. Major partners on these ventures included Microsoft, Facebook and Centurylink Communications. Prior to this Diane was a Director and Senior Executive with euNetworks one of Europe’s largest telco and Datacentre companies. In addition Diane has been a mentor to the technology and bio tech sectors in conjunction with SOS Ventures. Diane has worked in the technology and software industry for over 12 years and has a keen interest in all tech and tech enabling (infrastructure) projects. Diane is a B Comm graduate of University College Cork.
Matt is the Group Chief Executive of The FKM Group. Matt’s company works closely with US tech companies setting up in Ireland providing innovative facility solutions. Matt is a founding member of Ireland: Gateway to Europe, a private sector led FDI mission aimed at attracting US companies to set up in Ireland. This initiative has evolved and is now supported by companies such as Hubspot, Zendesk and Qualtrics to name but a few. Matt is passionate and committed to his love of GAA which sees FKM as a co-sponsor to his home county team Monaghan.
An accomplished I.T. entrepreneur, Ray has been instrumental in the success of a number of companies in the Irish technology sector. Ray founded Hostelworld.com in 1999 when he identified an opportunity to introduce online bookings to youth and tourist hostels. As CEO, Ray grew the company to become a leading worldwide brand with distribution contracts in 170 countries. Ray continues to build web-based brands, launching xSellco and Ultimate Rugby amongst others. He has also served on the boards of several tech companies in Ireland and abroad. Notably he chaired Skyscanner, Storyful, Asavie and Whatclinic; all of whom are leaders in their field. Awards for Ray include Ernst and Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the year, IIA Net Visionary and Eircom Spider Awards Internet Hero.
Brett is an expat from Perth, Australia, who has lived in Ireland for 17 years. In 2008 he set out to solve a problem that had plagued him, and fellow expats, for several years; expense and inconvenience when trying to send money internationally. Using a unique p2p marketplace model, Brett solved the problem by connecting people and businesses sending money in both directions of each transfer. The result was international transfers that are much faster and 90% cheaper than traditional bank transfers via SWIFT. CurrencyFair has since gone on to process over €4 billion in exchanges since launch in 2010, saving its customers €150 million in banking fees. Prior to CurrencyFair, Brett worked in a number of roles in both technology and the banking industry.
Head of Linkedin Ireland and Senior Director of International operations. Sharon joined Linkedin in 2010 as one of the founding employees in Dublin, and grew the team from 3 to over 1,000 in the intervening 6 years. Prior to Linkedin, Sharon was general manager and SSC Director at Business Objects. Prior to that she held the role of CFO at Zarion Software and was Director of Accounting EMEA at Siebel Systems (acquired by Oracle). Sharon serves on the Board of Directors for the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland. She holds a B Comm from UCD and is a qualified accountant.
Colum Twomey is VP Engineering and MD for Zendesk in Dublin. Colum established Zendesk's EMEA Headquarters in Dublin in 2012 and oversees all operations. A keen supporter of Temple Street, Colum has initiated many fundraising efforts with Zendesk over the years, funding vital medical equipment, and has participated in the Paris2Nice Charity Cycle for Temple Street in 2013. Always a promoter of innovation, Colum has led two separate companies to national innovation awards.
John Beckett is co-founder and CEO of ChannelSight and is on a mission to make the world instantly shoppable. Recognised as a thought-leader by Gartner, ChannelSight creates new revenue streams from digital content, and enables marketing budget performance to be optimised by giving detailed insights into what is most effective at generating sales.
John gained notoriety by building the first Ryanair.com ecommerce travel booking website while in school in 2000. He went on to found Eirtight Technology, Buyireland.com and other businesses in Europe, the US and Asia. John has invested in a number of successful tech startups, and speaks regularly at technology and marketing events globally. John also mentors and supports young and social entrepreneurs and was included on a list of Most Influential Irish Tech Entrepreneurs Under 40.
John Coolican is an Innovation Principal in Accenture’s Global Innovation Centre (The Dock) in Dublin. He is responsible for identifying and forming collaborative relationships with international emerging technology companies specialising in areas such as, the application of Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, IoT and Blockchain technologies. He established and ran the FinTech Innovation Lab in Dublin for Accenture. Prior to Accenture, John has a background in Corporate Finance, M&A and fundraising for early stage tech Cos. With a background in mechanical engineering he has had business development and management roles in IBM and KPMG Consulting in Silicon Valley.
Nicola is a venture capital investor with UK and Ireland based VC firm Draper Esprit. At Draper Esprit, Nicola focuses on investing in early stage and high growth companies across the technology sector. She currently sits on the Boards of Lyst and Verve. Prior to joining Draper Esprit Nicola was CEO and co-founder of online retailer Covetique, which she sold to ASOS plc in 2015. Prior to that Nicola held a number of investment roles with Balderton Capital and Ravensbeck. Nicola has been a start-up mentor on a number of early-stage programmes including the Enterprise Ireland Retailer Ready Programme. Nicola graduated from University College Dublin with a BComm International.
Anne Heraty is CEO of Cpl Resources plc. Anne established Cpl in 1989 and has played a key role in developing it to become Ireland’s leading employment services company. With an annual turnover in excess of €450 million, the company has over 850 permanent employees. In any one week Cpl also has circa 10,000 temp/contract staff under management in customer sites. Her company has grown through both strong organic growth and strategic acquisitions. As a winner of the 2006 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award she is passionate about helping to nurture and develop new business talent. She has been a member of the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards judging panel since 2007.
Anne holds a BA degree in Mathematics and Economics from UCD. She lives in Dublin with her husband and 2 children.