Alumni Stories - Anna Carmody
'I am founder and CEO of Little Red Edu Ltd. We are building a digital learning platform for early learners to learn and speak English as a foreign language.'
Name: Anna Carmody
Current Career: Entrepreneur
Graduation Year: 2016
Discipline: Product Design
What career path did you want to follow as a child?
I always wanted to have my own business in a creative industry.
Why did you decide to study at National College of Art & Design?
It was always my dream to study in NCAD. The success stories I heard from NCAD drove me towards applying. I wanted to learn in a creative environment.
How did you develop your career towards your current practice?
I am founder and CEO of Little Red Edu Ltd. We are building a digital learning platform for early learners to learn and speak English as a foreign language. I started with a children’s book that combined with a playmat to teach children about farm safety as my final year project in NCAD. When I finished college, I taught English in Vietnam. When I came home, I wanted to bring my final year project from NCAD to market in Ireland. I firstly joined Acorns, a programme to assist rural female entrepreneurs to build their business by providing a support network and mentoring. I committed myself to learning about the business world.
I then went to the Local Enterprise Office in Dublin City. They provided me with mentoring and a grant to help fund the initial app development. A lot of my learnings came from going to events, constant networking online and offline, talking to people to figure out the next steps and having a plan in place in terms of what milestones I wanted to achieve to bring the product to success. I then joined New Frontiers in March. This is an accelerator programme in Ireland that provides entrepreneurs with 15k investment as a salary to them to work-full time on their idea. It provides 15k worth of mentoring and support to get the founder ready to take on investment. It is greatly helping me to structure the company and within nine months I grew a very strong team to help build it. I have now been chosen out of 20 companies to join the investor ready programme with Intertrade Ireland. They match you with an angel investor and prepare you to receive funding from Enterprise Ireland of up to 200k.
What is the one experience during your time at NCAD that has informed you most in your work to date?
Presenting and pitching is a very important part of running a business. If you can’t sell your idea to grow a team, get funding and sell to a customer, it’s very difficult to succeed.
The creative environment in NCAD also helped me develop a strong culture in my own organisation, and communication amongst the team.
If you were chatting with current NCAD students today what is the one piece of advice you would offer?
My advice would be to just go for it. Do a lot of desk research; read books to help you understand how to grow a successful business. Learn from other people’s mistakes, but prepare to fail. Books I would recommend are: The Moms Test by Rob Fitzpatrick,and Lean Startup by Eric Ries. You will get different advice from everyone as you grow. Trust your own instinct and judgement and do what’s best for you and your organisation. Prepare to be rejected many times before acceptance.
Given the global turmoil and change accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, what in your opinion are the opportunities for those in creative industries?
The edtech industry is growing significantly due to Covid-19. We are using technologies such as speech recognition, augmented reality and artificial intelligence in our products. These are also growing technologies and an exciting space to be in. You don’t have to be tech savvy to get into these industries. I am a Product Designer and team up with my CTO to get the tech developed.
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