Joining the dots

Oct 01, 2018
Jane Downes FCA, Founder of, talks to Accountancy Ireland about life as a start-up entrepreneur.

How did your new venture come about?

I launched, a site specialising in part-time roles, in January 2018. Having worked part-time myself for 10 years, I was very aware of the challenges facing anyone looking for a flexible role and saw a gap in the market for a website that facilitated a more efficient hiring process.

What key challenges are you facing?

Time and funding are challenges for any start-up. With a young family, I try to work around their schedule. I also wanted to keep my costs as low as possible, as experienced entrepreneurs ahead of me all said it takes more time and money to get a business off the ground than you ever expect.

Describe your average day.

I get up at 7am and love that first coffee, planning the day ahead. I get the kids out to school, after which I’m usually at my desk for 9am. AIB has kindly sponsored a desk for me in the Portershed, an innovation hub in Galway city, and I usually work from there three days a week. I catch up on emails and social media for the first hour and after that, it’s meetings and phone calls for most of the morning, focusing largely on business development. I usually collect the kids from school and then, work from home in the afternoons. I try to squeeze in a 30-minute walk or jog most evenings and avoid working late.

Who inspires you, and why?

As clichéd as it sounds, my children inspire me because of their positivity and energy. When kids want something, they find a way to make it happen and it’s exactly that focus you need when getting a new business off the ground. I also worked with Sharon McCooey in my first job after practice. She was fantastic at getting the best out of people and took time out when her children were small, returning to work a few years later to become Head of LinkedIn in Ireland and a regular on Ireland’s lists of successful women. It’s great for women to see that they can make family-friendly choices and still rise to the top.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Listen to your customer. I spend as much time as I can speaking to employers and I’m ready to adapt my product in whatever way I have to to ensure that is fixing their problems.

What’s your favourite hobby?

As I grew up Limerick, I still find it a novelty to live so close to the sea in Galway so I push myself to swim in the sea as much as possible. It’s never that attractive beforehand but I always feel fantastic afterwards.

What’s your best advice for budding entrepreneurs?

My advice for start-ups would be to keep costs low to start. You learn so much in the early days and money will be better spent once you have some experience of the marketplace.

Lastly, what three books would you recommend and why?

The most recent book I read was Seth Godin’s The Purple Cow, which is all about creating a remarkable product that will stand out in a crowded marketplace. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini really affected me. It tells the story of war through the eyes of women and children in particular. Lastly, I loved Peter Stringer’s book, Pulling the Strings, as I have always admired his sheer determination to succeed.