J. Kelly Hoey

Innovator Insights: Claire McHugh (@clairemchugh) CEO and Co-Founder of Axonista

Name: Claire McHugh Title: CEO and Co-Founder of Axonista Twitter: @clairemchugh

Dublin-based entrepreneur Claire McHugh is the co-founder of Axonista, award-winning technology powers a whole new generation of intuitive smart video experiences for some of the world’s leading brands and media companies. Prior to Axonista, Claire was part of the team that established the Setanta Sports channels in Ireland and the UK. She is a mentor for Startup Next Ireland, a Techstars program, an ambassador for the Silicon Valley based accelerator Blackbox Connect, and for Going for Growth, an Irish initiative to support female entrepreneurs to achieve their growth ambitions.

Me: Why are you an entrepreneur?

Claire: Because I’m a really creative person. I love creating something from nothing that delivers real value for customers. Throughout my career I’ve worked directly with business owners and been part of teams that have created and innovated in both consumer and business offerings. Founding my own company was a logical next step in that path.

Me: What problem would you like solved?

Claire: That everyone who has an entrepreneurial spirit and a vision also could have the confidence and self belief that they can make their vision a reality.

Me: Advice you’d wished you’d had or had followed?

Claire: Listen more. Talk to people, especially in times of stress, as fear can really cloud your judgement and make you miss obvious solutions to problems. Think big, and trust yourself.

Me: What does success look like for you?

Claire: Being the go to platform of choice for large brands and media companies who are creating smart video experiences for their audiences across multiple devices.

Me: Who are your heroes?

Claire: I’m in awe of startup heroes that build supportive communities and help people realise their entrepreneurial dreams. People who facilitate valuable connections and give honest feedback and are so generous with their time. In Dublin, we’ve got several heroes in our startup scene, people like Niamh Bushnell, our Commissioner for Startups, David Scanlon who runs the local chapter of Startup Grind, Gene Murphy from Startup Next Ireland and Startup Weekend and a whole team of volunteers from Google Ireland and other multinationals who help make these programmes happen and build up people’s confidence to think big.

Me: What is your best discovery?

Claire: That I am capable of so much more than I think I am, and that I’m still learning every day.

Me: What would the title of your biography be?

Claire: Choose your own adventure

Me: What makes the Dublin entrepreneurial ecosystem unique?

Claire: Dublin has such a strong supportive community and a passion for great storytelling. This coupled with a relatively small size of city makes serendipity possible every day. Because Ireland is a small island, we’ve always had to export overseas and think big, and that mindset is a core part of our being. We’re always up for making new connections and welcoming new people.

Me: If a Shark Tank investor asked “why should I invest in Dublin?, what’s your answer?

Claire: As an English speaking EU country with a favourable tax rate, we are home to many European headquarters of multinationals like Google, Facebook and AirBnB. We have a diverse and skilled talent pool, and an excellent startup support network including companies like IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland that help businesses grow here.

Me: From meetups to co-working to networking events, what are your top recommendations for someone just stepping into the Dublin startup ecosystem?

Claire: Go along to the next Dublin Startup Grind event and chat to 5 people. Then wonderful things will start to happen.

Me: Anything else we should know about (product launch, crowdfunding or marketing campaign, recent interview, job openings..)?

Claire: We’re growing our team…so if building the future of video sounds like fun, do get in touch!


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