‘It’s only failure if you don’t learn from it’

‘I soon learned that it is only failure if you don’t learn from it. I decided to learn from it. Within 18 months I had introduced over 800 kids to coding all across Ireland.’

Harry McCann is an 18-year-old entrepreneur from Kildare. He founded his first business, Kid Tech when he was 15. In May 2014 he went on to found the first Digital Youth Council in the world to make sure young people are influencing the future of STEM. Harry is also working on Trendster Press, a news site that encourages young people to get more involved with current affairs. 

All businesses experience shocks at some stage. What’s been your biggest setback to date?

The summer before my 16th birthday I decided to turn Kid Tech into a summer camp for the months of June, July and August. I marketed the camps, I rented premises, and I hired staff, but a week before the camps were due to start, I had to cancel due to a lack of bookings. This was tough, I was less than eight months in business, and I had already failed, or at least at the time, I thought I had. I soon learned that it is only failure if you don’t learn from it. I decided to learn from it, and move on. Within 18 months I had introduced over 800 kids to coding all across Ireland. 

What drives you nuts in business?

The first has to be automated direct message marketing campaigns on Twitter and spam marketing emails.

Do you have a ‘life lesson’?

Yes. Success is not measured by the amount of money you have in the bank, but rather the impact you make in the world and people’s lives.

Biggest achievement in business to date?

Building an audience of over 50,000 people at Trendsterpress.com with a marketing budget of €20.

What your average day like? 

I am a full-time second level student so my day is considerably different from your average entrepreneur. I’m in school from 9am-6pm, so I have to be smart about how I spend my time. I often have to get up an hour earlier to answer emails, prepare presentations and schedule content. Then I spend my lunch breaks doing interviews and phone calls. After school, I respond to the rest of my emails, send emails for the next day, and do any necessary team meetings, different time zone conference calls and complete any work due for the next day. This can go on late into the night, or sometimes into the early hours of the next morning.

What marketing/PR do you do? What’s the most useful for your business?

At the moment with Trendsterpress.com our marketing and PR is mainly scheduling content across social media which has worked incredibly well for us so far. The same with the Digital Youth Council.

How did finance your businesses?

All of my businesses/ projects have been self-funded at the start. I always build a team around me with a broad range of skills. This allows us to 99% of the product development, marketing, etc. ourselves, which means that at the start of my ventures I require very little funding. However, as the idea and the business progresses I usually go down the road of private investors.

If you weren’t running a business what job would you love (or hate) to have?

I suppose I would be a TV or radio host!

Interview by Barry Walsh.