The IE Domain Registry (IEDR) is the registry for .ie Internet Domain Names and maintains the database of .ie registered Internet names. The OPTIMISE Fund is designed to help Irish small businesses improve their online presence and increase their use of e-commerce. The Fund was developed based on key findings of research undertaken for the IE Domain Registry’s (IEDR) Domain Name Industry Report 2010 which showed that Irish businesses were slow to harness the potential of the Internet as a sales channel for their business. Two Service Providers, Elucidate and Software Design, operate, implement and provide the services of the OPTIMISE Fund on the IEDR’s behalf. Now, in its fifth year, the Fund has provided technical and marketing consultancy, training and web development services to over 60 Irish companies.
To mark the fifth year of the Fund, the IEDR decided to add a Public Voting element to the selection process. Furthermore, feedback from the independent panel of judges was that “it would be helpful to see the applicants’ engagement and enthusiasm.”
“We were really pleased with both innovations to this year’s Fund. The Video Interview was always on a trial basis, if it didn’t work we wouldn’t run it again but we were delighted with how it worked and it’s here to stay. The public voting also exceeded our expectations and we were delighted that the message was getting out there.” – Donal O’Nuallain, Head of Promotions, PR & Marketing
The 32 shortlisted companies were asked for a short introduction to themselves and why the public should vote them which was disseminated online and across social media, they were also asked to promote the voting links themselves. 10 winners were selected from the public vote while the judging panel selected an additional five winners based on the Video Interview.
Better Winners Selected
Applicants More Engaged
Excellent Client Support
Some of the Highlights
O’Nuallain maintains that the Fund is all about helping people with passion who might not have the resources to develop their online presence. Video Interviewing enabled the shortlisted companies to convey in greater detail what the fund would do for them.
“The Video Interview allowed the shortlisted companies to add passion and integrity to their application. It was really useful to hear winners talk in their own words, rather than a paper application.” – Donal O’Nuallain, Head of Promotions, PR & Marketing
“It gave real insight into how serious applicants were about the process and insight also into their passion for their business. Great to see the face behind a name.” – Alan Sherlock, OPTIMISE Judging Panel
“We got a different perspective on the applicants – if they and their businesses appeared credible and whether they would make good ambassadors for the awards.” – Conall O’Móráin, Chairman OPTIMISE Judging Panel
O’Nuallain is convinced that video interviewing ‘lifted’ the application process and that this year’s shortlisted companies were definitely more engaged in the Fund: “Our applicants are so focused on running their businesses that they don’t have time to take step back and pitch. The Video Interview definitely helped – the level of engagement with the winners has gone up this year.” Conall O Móráin agrees: “Though it was a longer process we did get a better feel for the companies.”
The judges also agreed that Video Interviewing was “very useful” and added “a layer of transparency” to the judging process.
“The companies are more involved in the process compared to just completing an online form. They’ve put time into how this can help their business and it has helped them to structure their thinking and hone their strategies.” – Donal O’Nuallain, IEDR
“The video applications on Sonru were very useful when discussing the merits of each company with the other judges.” – Ronan Smith, OPTIMISE Judging Panel
Despite a few companies having initial reservations about the video interview, O’Nuallain maintains that “once they sat down to do it, they all embraced it. From watching the videos, they weren’t nervous and were well able to sell themselves. The Fund is aimed at business owners and if they can’t sell themselves, then they are in trouble.”
All judges agree that better winners were selected since using video interviewing in the process.
Sharing the winners’ video interviews has enabled the two service providers, Elucidate and Software Design, to get an idea of the winning companies before they meet.
“First time doing an online interview. Interesting experience and definitely the way to go.”
“Excellent – very easy to operate, great tutorial.”
“A positive experience. As a first time user, I was happy with the process and preparation.”
“It was great to just go in and do it when I wanted as it very time sensitive – getting the invites out to shortlist in time, to allow us to pick winners in couple of weeks, it was great to turn it around so quickly.
When you’re using a new piece of software, you want someone to answer your questions when you need it. Any time there was issue, it was resolved immediately, fantastic service.
Sometimes these things can take a steep learning curve but Sonru was so easy and intuitive, anybody could do it!”
Donal O’Nuallain, Head of Promotions, PR & Marketing