Dave McCormack from Dublin recently returned from the UK to lead VAAS, which provides video services to corporate clients.
VAAS managing director Dave McCormack is a recent alumni of the Irish Government’s Back for Business programme.
The Back for Business programme was created in 2018 to foster and support entrepreneurial activity among Irish emigrants returning to Ireland. Now in its seventh year, Back for Business has helped entrepreneurs to significantly grow sales and employment.
“We pride ourselves on understanding what a company is trying to achieve”
Funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Back for Business is seeking up to 50 applicants from returned and returning Irish emigrants that wish to start and develop businesses in Ireland. They are invited to apply to participate in the development programme which is tailored to their needs. There is no cost to those selected.
This cycle will run from February to June 2024. The closing date for applications is 5pm on Monday 15 January 2024. Those interested in learning more about applying for Back for Business 7 can download a brochure and register their interest in receiving an application form by visiting Back for Business.
Dublin native Dave McCormack was working in local television in Ireland when he and a colleague saw an opportunity to launch a local television business in the UK.
For the first couple of years, he travelled to England once a week before they raised seed finance and he moved to London in 2012.
“From the start of the idea to launching our first tv channels took over four years. It was a government licensing scheme and we had to raise lots of money. By October 2014, we had done that and launched the first of eight tv channels in the UK,” he says.
Dave spent four years in London before moving to Harrogate to be closer to his company’s headquarters in Leeds.
In 2018, he brought new ownership into the business and remained with it in a commercial role before leaving in March 2020 to start a corporate video production company.
“It was just in time for Covid, but we actually came out of it quite strong because all of a sudden people couldn’t communicate face-to-face and all sorts of industries couldn’t get their message out, so the pandemic gave us a launch pad,” he says.
“I did that for two-to-three years, but the call of coming home was too strong. My wife is Irish. I dragged her over for a three-year project that turned into 10 years. We were onto our third child, and although we had a fantastic life in the North of England, we started to ask ourselves, do we really need to be here?”
The family moved home in 2022, and Dave continued to run his Leeds business from Dublin until an opportunity to join VAAS, a recent start-up, as managing director with an equity option emerged.
“We love being back. We’re both born and raised in Dublin. A lot of our friends who had grown up and travelled have all returned as well, and we’ve got some family support now for our three kids which is huge,” he says.
While the move back to Dublin was largely for personal reasons, Dave also believed it offered more business opportunities. “Leeds and Dublin are very similar-sized cities but as a capital city, there’s a stark difference. From a business perspective, Dublin is much more lively, bigger names, more activity, bigger budgets,” he says.
VAAS provides video as a service to corporate clients on a subscription and one-off basis. “First and foremost, we are corporate storytellers, and we pride ourselves on understanding what a company is trying to achieve, what their message is and the ‘why’ of what they do,” he says.
“We’ve done lots of work for clients who require two or three videos in a year, often quite big in scale, and then we also offer a subscription service for clients who have more regular comms needs, feeding their socials on a weekly basis.”
Dave says Back for Business was helpful to him for a number of reasons. “It was great to get different perspectives on cash management and things like that, sales and marketing tips and presentation skills. I think it was organised excellently. It was also great to learn off everybody else in your cohort. You took real care and interest in other people’s businesses. You got to know them well and wanted to see them succeed.”
Having started out with corporate video storytelling, Dave’s plans for the company include developing the digital strategy and television ad production arms of VAAS.