We spoke to Gregg O'Malley from Neonburn about his journey as a startup founder.
Tell us a bit about what your startup does?
Neon Burn creates software and hardware for easy to use remotely updatable digital signage. The possible uses for digital signage is endless, from bars to museums, trade shows to company dashboards. Having the ability to update all you screens using a cloud based solution makes life so much simpler. Add in the fact that you can have others take ownership through user management then the stress of using such a solution just disappeared.
What was the inspiration behind your startup?
It turns out that there really wasn’t much of a market for this. This journey started when creating fancy/digital presentation boxes for the construction industry tendering process.
However, another friend asked if what I had created could be used with a cheap Android TV stick to display content on a standard TV screen and it turned out this possible without too much effort - so I pivoted to the digital signage solution. When doing this we noticed that the new wave of TV devices and tablet computers are ideal for interactive digital signage, so we set out to create software for people to create amazing digital signs.
What is your background?
I’m a software guy. I’ve worked as an employee for some large tech companies and was also an academic in the Computing Science department at the University of Glasgow for far too many years in between!
Did you always see yourself running your own company?
Not really. I always wanted to do something different from the norm but when I was young I never saw myself being an entrepreneur.
I actually really wanted to be in a band and tour the world but that didn’t happen. Then working for some large companies made me realise that I hated it and the only way I was going to avoid that is either to start your own company or get involved with an early stage startup in some way.
What are the biggest challenges you face having your own business?
As a software developer, the biggest challenge is being a salesman. It doesn’t feel natural. That said, the reality is that neither are natural, you just enjoy doing one more than another, and you become over-attached to the thing you enjoy. The problem is a successful B2B business is heavily sales focused!
If you could tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
Nothing really, I’m not into regrets.
Do you have one piece of advice you’d give to people looking to make the jump to self-employed?
Don’t start a business on your own, have someone that can share the burden with you. The best way forward is to find someone to work with whose skills complement yours.