Interview with Digital Business person of the year | DANI Awards 2018
5th Jun 2018
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Sarah: “Tell me about yourself and how you go to where you are today?”
Gavan: “Well my background is a little bit unusual, I was a barrister previously, all my family is in law. Although I had an entrepreneurial spirit as a child, I sort of just meandered into law with all my brothers and my dad, but the business urge was always there. Once I sort of conquered, I don’t want to be too cocky about it, I mean once I was successful as a barrister although I loved it, I didn’t want to do it for the rest of my life.
I then decided I wanted to go into business.”
Sarah: “Ok, so how did you choose the business path you did?”
Gavan: “So, it was a little bit of an accident. A business partner and I owned a filling station, I owned quite a bit of property at the time. The filling station was rented out to somebody else, he sold illegal fuel from it and I got a phone call saying customs officers are on the forecourt taking out the pumps, Gavan, you better get up here.
I arrived up and as soon as I saw what was happening, I just got an urge or a feeling that this was meant to be for me. It was the business opportunity I was looking for. I did a deal with customs, if they put the pumps back in, I will take the space and start trading tomorrow. I eventually talked them into it and they agreed.
It started on the 19th November 2008.”
Sarah: “OK great, so nearly 10 years in the making.”
Gavan: “10 years this November. That was a tiny wee spot, only 200sq Feet, 10 staff and now we’re up to 140 staff, 8 locations with a 9th location now agreed.”
Sarah: “So, recently you won Digital Business Person of the Year, can you tell us what it’s like to be peer-nominated?”
Gavan: “It’s a little bit bizarre, I’m not even in that industry to be honest. I do a lot of work on LinkedIn, I’m a real believer in giving back to other people.
I have discovered that LinkedIn is a great platform. I have a lot of knowledge whether it be Law, Property or Business and I just love helping people. I’m able to use LinkedIn as a platform to help other people with business problems, I do speed mentoring through the LinkedIn platform.
I give a lot of time and energy giving back.
It is that effort, which is pro-bono, I have nothing to sell, I’m a shopkeeper in North Belfast, which someone has nominated me. I laughed originally, but he said, Gavan you’re putting more out there than maybe people in the industry, you should go for it.
I was nominated and lo and behold I won. Absolutely overjoyed.”
Sarah: “that’s great, you can take a great degree of pride from that.”
Gavan: “ Yes, I even wrote a post afterwards saying that I have had 3 different legal graduations and I didn’t attend any off those. And I was the happiest man in the country the night Alex was chasing after me, looking to speak to me at the end of the night.
I had the greatest night, picking up an award for an industry I’m not even really in. Absolutely Fantastic.”
Sarah: “It was a great night, I have to say. Tell me in terms of your plans for the year ahead, you have ambition growth targets, 28 stores by 2024. How do you think your new title with help you progress?”
Gavan: “Given the warmth I have received from an industry that I’m technically not in. The warmth and great reception says so much about the digital industry in Belfast and Northern Ireland that they can let an outsider in and celebrate what he is doing. I have big plans for my offline business, 28 stores by 2024. The Wall Group is in Spar, Subway and Yoggieberrie, we don’t know where we will get the extra stores from.
Online, winning the award has given me additional drive to ramp up the help I’m giving to other people. I might codify all my vlogs, blogs and work into a personal website. This would create a place where people can go to access all the different bits I’m doing.
I’ve quite a few speaking engagements, which I’m being ask for on a regular basis.”
Sarah:” There are not enough hours in the day”
Gavan: “I know, I wish there was a longer day because I have so much fun doing what I do.
Yes, but winning the Digital Business Person of the Year with the DANI Awards which are absolutely fantastic with Naomh and her team.
I’m looking to do the best that I can for the accolade in the 12 months ahead”