Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Siobhán Ní Chofaigh is CEO and co-founder of Mint Tek Circuits, a go-to platform for technologists to source and build electronic prototypes. Her passion is technology and she enjoys helping the creatives to bring those ideas to life. She has honed these skills working with successful companies such as Siemens, Infineon, Sanmina SCI and most recently Beta LAYOUT Ltd. She is also a keen supporter of Women in Technology movement and works closely with others to help increase the ratio. Siobhán holds a Diploma in Electronics Engineering from DIT and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from University College Dublin. A native Irish speaker, she is based in Galway on the Irish west coast. She enjoys sea swimming and walking the prom.
What is the idea behind Mint-Tek and how did you come up with it?
To help researchers and developers build prototypes. It never made sense to me how brilliant and busy researchers have to micromanage their prototype builds. I felt it was a waste of their talents and knew I could help them. I hoped I could give them a better service, better costings and more options.
When did all start and do you have other members in your team?
I started the company in August 2014, Georgina Kearney joined shortly after as a co-founder. For 3 years we hustled and presented. With help from Enterprise Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta, our investors and customers we survived. Today, we are 4 full time and 2 part-time. With plenty of room to grow.
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
What was the biggest obstacle?
Listening to people say what we did wasn't sexy - when we were enabling our customers to create the most amazing things.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
Working with some great researchers in Europe. Having a product on the International Space Station. Finding and keeping some great co-workers.
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female founder / entrepreneur?
Funding growth and not getting caught in the cul-de-sac of investments. For a female founder, having courage and conviction. And steering clear of vanity projects.
Is #WomenInTech movement important to you and if yes, why?
There was no #womenintech movement as my career evolved. My job was to be as good as men, never to have their confidence. That we have an opportunity to do that now, for young women means we can really help develop a truly diverse and inclusive workplace. Technology, products and the world will benefit from that.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs in wearable tech and hardware out there?
Be brave and get real customers - nothing smacks of success like someone willing to pay you for it.
What will be the key trends in the wearable tech and IoT industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
Health - data collection; Industrial - increasing machine efficiency; Health - inside wearables.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in wearable tech and IoT?
Haiyan Zhang - MSR (Emma's watch).
Suzanne O'Callaghan - Tyndall Institute
Dr Ellen Roche - Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (she'd developing a wearable for the heart).
Facebook: Mint Tek Circuits
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.