‘We were voted No 4 in the world and No 1 in Ireland’

April 12th, 2015 No comments

Small Business Inside Track - Q&A Tiago Mascarenhas, co-founder of English-language school Seda College Dublin

Tiago Mascarenhas, co-founder of English language school Seda CollegeIt was great to see Celtar client Tiago Mascarenhas (above) interviewed in the Irish Times last week. Tiago is one of the new breed of entrepreneurs in Dublin City, the college he co-founded now employs 60 full-time and part-time staff, brings over 2,ooo students a year to the capital and promotes Ireland as a wonderful place to visit and study.

“A pleasure to work with, Tiago has an enquiring and restless mind and an ability to get things done” says his business mentor Billy Linehan.

“In just five years Tiago with a strong team of colleagues  has created SEDA as a major player in English language education in Ireland.”

Tiago Mascarenhas co-founder of English language school Seda College Dublin was interviewed in the Irish Times by Pamela Newenham. This is an excerpt from the interview,



What is unique about your business? The number of students we have, and the fact that we have created our own sales channels. The college has 2,000 students every year from about 40 countries, including Brazil, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Argentina, South Korea, Malawi, Japan, Taiwan and South Africa.

Our website is in seven different languages, and Seda has offices in Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico and Chile, all of which market Ireland and the college as a study destination for English-language students.

What has been your biggest challenge? A number of English-language schools that closed in Ireland last year. It was difficult for us, as students were wanting to go to study at universities such as UCD that they knew weren’t going to go out of business.

We were getting lots of questions asking if we were going to close, and what guarantees we could give. With all the bad publicity about language schools closing down, I approached the bank about a bond facility, so students could feel more secure. It would have been a complicated process. We have since got insurance instead.

We are the first language school to be accepted by an insurance provider. If we close down in the morning, the students will all get their money back.

What has been your biggest success? We came from nothing, with no support, and now Seda is one of the biggest language schools in Ireland. We were voted number four in the world and number one in Ireland based on reviews on EducationStars.com, an independent ratings agency for schools worldwide.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in business? Not listening to people, especially those who have been in business longer than I have. Sometimes I’m a bit stubborn. I did an MBA when I was 21 against the advice of people I worked with and my university professor. They said I was too young and wouldn’t benefit from it. I refused to accept this.

I was too young. I didn’t have the professional or life experience necessary and didn’t benefit from it.

What key piece of advice would you give to someone starting a business? It is better to be the owner of 1 per cent of something, than 100 per cent of nothing. I got that advice from my mentor at the Dublin City Enterprise Board [Billy Linehan]. Another piece of advice I think is good is: you do more when you do less, which I got from a documentary about Steve Jobs called Billion Dollar Hippy. Basically, you shouldn’t do too many things at the same time.

For the full interview see  http://www.irishtimes.com/business/retail-and-services/we-were-voted-no-4-in-the-world-and-no-1-in-ireland-1.2167697

For more about SEDA College see www.seda.ie

For more about business mentor Billy Linehan of Celtar see https://ie.linkedin.com/in/billylinehan

Events this Spring in Dublin – funding, venture capital & family business

January 29th, 2015 No comments



Events for growing businesses in Dublin, Spring 2015

A couple of events in February and March in Dublin which may be of interest?

If you wish to meet, to discuss your business opportunities

email me or tweet @billylinehan

See you there!



1. Free and great for networking!

SFA Small Business Awards Showcase

Wednesday February 5th

2.30pm Open Exhibition to visit stands
5.00pm  Refreshments served
5.45pm  Speaker Presentations

To book http://sfa.ie/IBEC/Events.nsf/wvSFAPages/Event~sfa-national-small-business-awards—small-business-showcase-05-02-2015?OpenDocument



2. InterTradeIreland Funding for Growth

Finance options for growing businesses morning event

Tuesday 10th February 2015 – Croke Park Conference Centre



3. Good for networking too, but more importantly gives you an overview on raising finance for your startup or for growing your business

InterTradeIreland Venture Capital Conference 2015 

taking place on 11 March 2015 at 08:00 in The Helix , Dublin 9.

see www.intertradeireland.com



4.For Family Businesses, academic-ish event set up by DCU Centre for Family Business

The Family Business Conference  – morning conference, Tuesday 24th March 2015

Crowne Plaza Northwood, Santry, Dublin

Main speaker is Dr Timothy Habbershon the Managing Director at Fidelity Investments, the advisor to Johnson Family and the founding director of Institute for Family Enterprising based in Babson College, Massachusetts, USA, 




To discuss how to overcome challenges and to refresh your ideas this year, you are welcome to contact me at billy.linehan@celtar.ie



Wishing readers and clients a prosperous New Year

January 6th, 2015 No comments

News from the Celtar frontline

Welcome to the Celtar web blog if you have not been here before, and if you are a returned reader, thank you for visiting us again.

Our calendar is filling up with business mentoring sessions, quality management meetings, directors and management meetings, interview panels, strategic planning sessions and having conversations for action with new clients.

This month at Celtar we plan to move a few steps forward, and continue our work with business owners, directors and startups.

Our services fall into the following categories – there are many overlaps

  • business mentoring and advice for business owners and directors of SMEs (across sectors)
  • business mentoring for startups and early stage businesses (across sectors)

Specific services are

  • business plans for funding
  • business planning advice for managing your business better
  • strategic planning workshops & assistance in implementing plans
  • Business Reviews, holistic report on your company from external perspective with recommendations for growth
  • Business coaching your staff
  • Training (personal development training in a business context), performance management, effective internal communications


With 25 years of experience of working with the owners of great ‘small’ businesses, we look forward to continue to share our knowledge and experience in 2015.

We love variety, and believe that business owners are the sector specialists and that we are the specialists in working with business owners!

Here is a selection of companies and startups we advised in 2014

A transport website, an exhibition stand business, two website companies, an online learning platform startup, a materials handling manufacturer, a wig studio, a language school marketing company, a rock and quarry blasting company, a client management software app startup, a fashion agency, a professional audio company, a digital marketing agency, a fitness programme for primary school children, an environmental management consultancy, a recruitment company, a TV and film production company, a showbiz website, several different software development businesses, a PR agency, a retailer of audio and lighting equipment, a mobile ordering solution for restaurants increasing their sales,  a crowdfunding startup and a  Bitcoin startup.

Most of the above are well established companies, others are startups seeking investment from external sources.

We are proud to have partnered with Intertrade Ireland, Dublin City Enterprise Board and the Dublin City local enterprise office during the year


Fees are quoted per project.

One-off meetings may be charged for, please check beforehand. If a meeting  results in an assignment or programme of work, the fee will be refunded.

Enquiries are welcome, as business advice and business mentoring can be offered via Skype and email. We have one satisfied client in New Zealand.

Contact us today at


business advice from Dublin Ireland

Websummit 2014 is on! Guerilla mentoring is here!

November 4th, 2014 No comments

As well as attending the 2014 websummit in Dublin over the next 3 days, I will be offering free #guerillamentoring to any startups who are interested.


Tweet me @billylinehan so we can connect and arrange to have a coffee together.


Starting a business in Ireland? You might be interested in an objective view of the range of government supports, which ones make sense for your business at this stage?


Like all countries there are a plethora of supports for startups, most of value to specific groups BUT at the right place and more importantly at the right time. Some programmes are PR driven, whether supported by public or private sectors.


Me, I specialise in offering strategic planning through workshops, cooperative business plans &  business planning and practical business mentoring.

Enjoy the summit!


Celtar business and management consultants



4 Myths of Entrepreneurship, and Ireland

September 18th, 2014 No comments

With the advent of the most hyped web summit to date, it  is worth reflecting - based on solid research elsewhere - on the support for entrepreneurs and ‘ordinary’ businesses in Ireland.

Probably one of the most intelligent sources of research on entrepreneurship that I have come across in recent years emanates from the Kaufmann Foundation based in Kansas City, USA, says Billy Linehan of Celtar.


Dane Stangler of Kaufmann delights in challenging all of us in the enterprise support community – and Enterprise Ireland in our local context – by demolishing commonly held assumptions about

- small business and job creation

- the typical age range of successful entrepreneurs

- why governments and local authorities should stop trying to copy and re-create mini ‘Silicon Valleys’

- and that incubation centres are NOT effective in launching early-stage companies


I love this animated sketchbook, see it at




“There are several areas in which I think our research and the research of those we fund has been making headway in, if not disproving, at least pushing back against conventional wisdom or what turn out to be myths,” Stangler says in the three-minute animated video.

“Myth-busting Entrepreneurship,” notes four commonly held beliefs and attempts to set the record straight.

  • Challenging the notion that small business plays the most important role in growing the economy, Stangler notes that the age of the firm is a more important variable than the size of the firm.  “It’s new and young companies that create most jobs and innovations, not necessarily small companies,” he says. (This is accepted by most commentators in Ireland, except possibly ISME and the SFA?)


  • He cites multiple studies that refute the popular stereotype that most entrepreneurs are 23-year-olds starting tech companies in their local coffee shop or their bedroom.  “By and large,” he says, “the ‘peak age’ for starting a company is in the mid to late 30s, early 40s.” (majority of Enterprise Ireland startup support and PR has been targeted at young men in their 20s, though this is slowly changing)


  • Stangler warns against efforts to recreate Silicon Valley in the hopes of creating a hotbed of high-tech startups. “Silicon Valley is a very unique place that’s never going to be replicated.  We all need to stop trying to be a Silicon fill-in-the-blank, not just in the U.S., but anywhere around the world,” he says. (time for Enterprise Ireland, Dublin City Council, #startupireland and Dublin chamber of commerce to consider their approach to tech startups in Dublin?)


  • More recently, Stangler and the research team at Kauffman have been examining the role of business incubators to launch early-stage companies. “Most research shows that incubators are not effective at all for actually producing companies,” he says. (politicians will loathe losing the opportunity and kudos of creating bricks and mortar incubation centres all over the country, and Enterprise Ireland and Forfas might review their relevant investment and job creation policies)


Stangler concludes by acknowledging the importance of harvesting more research to uncover myths and propose constructive alternatives.

State agencies, colleges and state funded quangos in Ireland must continually review their enterprise development policies, justify their expenditure and demonstrate on our behalf the return of their investments .


See more about the foundation at www.kauffman.org


Billy Linehan is MD of Celtar, business advisers, Ireland



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