Dave Doyle, commercial manager of 123ink shares his life and business lessons.
It emerged recently that 123ink.ie has invested in excess of €500,000 in the country’s largest online store dedicated to 3D printing.
Its new store 123-3D.ie is aiming to establish itself as the go-to destination for 3D printers and accessories, to tap into the emerging 3D printing market.
“I’ve sold everything from bread rolls to toilet rolls, but I learned and took something from every job I worked in and applied it to my next role to get me ahead of the pack”
Last year it emerged that the business, which has already doubled its workforce to 54 staff since 2021, will hire 25 people across sales, customer service, warehouse and content to meet the growing demand for its printer and office products.
Tell us about your background, what journey did you take to arrive at where you are?
I worked from the age of 13 in a builders merchants during summer holidays and at weekends and while I finished school after a semi successful leaving cert, I was much more of a worker than a scholar. I always worked, it helped support our family and my mother who was on her own and had six children to look after. I guess I was always selling something, but got my first real selling job in C&C Ireland back in 2001. Fast forward over 22 years later and I’ve sold everything from bread rolls to toilet rolls, but I learned and took something from every job I worked in and applied it to my next role to get me ahead of the pack.
Why are you doing what you are doing? What need are you meeting? What’s your USP?
I have an innate ability to take a step back from a project or a problem and find a pathway or a solution to move forward. In sales the focus is mainly on selling more, on increasing margin, on gaining more share. I can do this, but with the needs of the customer firmly at the forefront of the decision.
“I am a tenacious problem solver, with vision and drive to get the best possible result for anything I work on and those I work for”
What are the business’s growth plans?
After 17 years in operation , 123ink.ie still treats each day as a new opportunity. We have a relatively untapped and under serviced B2B market that we can offer significant value to with our core range of ink, toner and office supplies, along with a portfolio of 3D printing, batteries, cleaning products, LED lighting and more. Our 25 years of business experience in Holland enables us to introduce new verticals seamlessly into our operations in Ireland.
“Success breeds success, ingrained success breeds failure”
What are your key skills and qualities that set you apart?
I am a tenacious problem solver, with vision and drive to get the best possible result for anything I work on and those I work for.
What (or whom) has helped you most along the way? Who was your greatest mentor/inspiration?
Growing up we didn’t have much, but my mother instilled some old fashioned values in me – work hard, don’t let anyone down when you give them your word, and always wear clean shoes! I have had many great mentors along the way, namely Denis McCormack from C&C Ireland, and Tom Doyle, Business Unit Director during my time in Cuisine De Frace
“You can portray a vision of success and achievement, but people can see through the cracks if you do not truly believe in yourself”
What was the greatest piece of business advice you ever received?
Success breeds success, ingrained success breeds failure. Tom Doyle cemented that mantra in my mind from early on, and it has stood to me to this day. No matter what I have achieved I am humble enough not to let it get to my head.
What circumstances/qualities/events can mark the difference between success or failure in life or business?
I believe there is a lot of talk about manifestation and belief these days, but you have to truly believe in your own abilities behind closed doors to be successful. You can portray a vision of success and achievement, but people can see through the cracks if you do not truly believe in yourself.
How did you navigate the business through the pandemic and what lessons did you learn?
We were fortunate to be in an e-commerce industry that saw unprecedented demand during the pandemic, which we are extremely grateful for, as the pandemic was so tough on a lot of businesses. We remained grounded, kept our prices keen, and offered unmatched service, and we have retained many of those customers today as a result.
How has digital transformation been a factor in your scaling journey and do you believe Irish firms are utilising digital technologies sufficiently?
It is not true for all sectors, but traditionally businesses in Ireland have been slow adopters of new technology, which I find surprising, as many Irish businesses are spearheading and developing world-class digital solutions for export every day. Being agile in this market is key, and having the ability to add on and scale a new product category, or even a new warehouse can be the difference between success or failure, and this would not be possible without being digital first.
“From day one, we never bend the truth with each other. Trust is earned and it forms the bedrock of a great working relationship”
If you were to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would study as hard as I worked in the early years – who knows I may not have made as many failures along the way, although some might say that those failures have shaped who I am today.
Who inspires you in business today?
Locally, it is hard to see past the success of Lorna Conn, CEO of CPL. I worked with Lorna during her time in INM, and seeing what she has achieved since moving to CPL is an inspiration to all women, and all in business in Ireland. Building on the success of Anne Heraty, Lorna continues to expand and develop the company. Internationally it would have to be Ben Francis, CEO of Gymshark , from starting an apparel business in his bedroom, to a billion dollar valuation in 10 years an amazing feat. His passion, drive and how he has remained humble through it all, are values that I try to apply to my every day, both at work and at home.
“There needs to be a mix of data and old fashioned gut and common sense when it comes to making decisions”
What advice/guidance do you give new hires and how do you nurture talent in your organisation?
From day one, we never bend the truth with each other. Trust is earned and it forms the bedrock of a great working relationship. I try to impart some of the learning from my career, good and bad to develop skills and abilities across anyone I meet in business and beyond.
What business books do you read or would recommend?
Not necessarily business, but Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.
What technologies/tools do you use personally to keep you on track?
I use a Whoop band to keep on top of my personal metrics like sleep and the recovery time I need, and primarily use Evernote to keep on top of tasks and notes day to day.
What social media platforms do you prefer and why?
Lately TikTok, it brings a mix of fun and laughter, with some good insights into new and emerging technology, depending on your preferences of course!
What are your thoughts on where technology overall is heading and how it will apply to business generally and your business particularly?
There needs to be a mix of data and old fashioned gut and common sense when it comes to making decisions. Data can be interpreted in many ways, and a feeling can bring you down the wrong path, but together I believe they give business leaders the best opportunity to make the correct calls. We are seeing an emergence in the 3D printing space, both in the home, and in industry. This technology will be at the forefront of innovation and prototyping in the very near future. People will be able to make instead of buy, and the application for this knows no bounds
Finally, if you had advice for your 21-year-old self – knowing what you know now – what would it be?
Travel more, don’t stress about the small things and keep working hard, and you’ll do just fine.