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Axonista CEO Claire McHugh on Women in Tech
Claire McHugh, the CEO of Axonista has risen to the top of the tech start-up game, leading a company that makes television and video more interactive and lists media giants MTV, ESPN, and QVC among their clients.
Claire didn't follow a traditional path into Silicon Valley, having attended Ballyfermot Art College's Rock School and studied communications at DIT, before eventually co-founding Axonista in 2010 with former colleague Daragh Ward.
"If you look back to when the iPhone came out, that was a pivotal moment for me, it was probably the founding vision of our company. I think Daragh showed me an episode of Family Guy on my mobile phone and I remember thinking this is the future - you can actually watch video on your mobile phone, what does this mean for the future of video? So, that's what Axonista do. We help brands navigate that whole new era of television that is online and has leaped off the TV set in the living room and is now on all these different smart devices."
"Previously, I worked in sports TV - in Setanta, which was also a really cool start-up. I knew back then that the market was shifting and going through phenomenal change. TV definitely isn't dead but it's evolving into a two-way interactive system with audiences. Our company name Axonista means 'revolutionary thinking' which comes from the word 'axon' which is the cell that processes and transmits information travelling through your brain."
"Starting out, we got a Horizon 2020 grant for 2 million Euro. We also raised seed capital from Enterprise Ireland and from some angel investors, but we always reinvest back into the business and into research and development. We have about 20 people in the company now but there's no school that teaches you how to be the CEO of company - you just have to do it. Being a female CEO in a tech industry I try to be approachable and visible so that young women can see me and say 'ok she doesn't have a strictly tech background but she's making it and maybe that's something I could do', I try to put myself out there."
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