Mark Ro­den crowned as Ire­land’s top go-get­ter

Ding, Ro­den’s mo­bile pay­ments firm, has grown 3,600% and em­ploys 200 peo­ple Spe­cial award goes to Peter Suther­land for his ‘pro­found con­tri­bu­tion’ to Ire­land

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - ANNUAL AWARD - PAMELA NEWENHAM

Mark Ro­den, founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of mo­bile pay­ments firm Ding, was last night named the EY En­tre­pre­neur of the Year 2014 at a gala awards cer­e­mony in Dublin.

More than 1,400 peo­ple at­tended the event at Ci­ty­west ho­tel, with 24 busi­nesses short­listed for awards.

Head­quar­tered in Dublin, Ding en­ables mi­grant work­ers to support fam­ily back home by fa­cil­i­tat­ing the in­stant trans­fer of credit top-up to any mo­bile phone any­where in the world.

The company has grown 3,600 per cent in the past five years and cur­rently trans­fers almost $1 mil­lion daily di­rectly to mo­bile phones across all emerg­ing mar­kets.

With rev­enues of ¤200 mil­lion-plus and of­fices in Mi­ami, Dubai, San Sal­vador, Bucharest and Dhaka, Ding cur­rently em­ploys 200 peo­ple and has users in over 130 coun­tries.

In 1991, De­nis O’Brien asked Mr Ro­den to join him in es­tab­lish­ingg a com­peti­tor to Tele­com Éire ann, Esat Tele­com. He worked in sev­eral roles in Esat and ul­ti­mately led com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions un­til 1997.

In 1998, Mr Ro­den es­tab­lished a call­ing card company, Torc Tele­com. Fol­low­ing rapid ex­pan­sion, Torc ac­quired the much larger World Tele­com, which ul­ti­mately led to the re­ceiver­ship of both com­pa­nies in April 2001.

A few months later, Mr Ro­den es­tab­lished Easy­cash, which in­tro­duced in-store cash ATMs in Ire­land. He signed agree­ments with Esso and Spar, in­stalling 500 ATMs na­tion­wide. In 2004, Ul­ster Bank/RBS ac­quired Easy­cash.

In 2006 Mr Ro­den founded Ding.com (for­merly Eze­top).

Power of the mo­bile

“Ding has been able to pos­i­tively im­pact the daily lives of mil­lions of peo­ple in a mean­ing­ful way by lever­ag­ing the power and reach of the mo­bile phone,” said Frank O’Ke­effe, part­ner-in-charge of EY En­tre­pre­neur of the Year.

“In just eight years, Mark has suc­ceeded in cre­at­ing a global company here in Dublin that is ide­ally placed to be­come one of Ire­land’s lead­ing tech­nol­ogy multi­na­tion­als.”

The youngest of 11 chil­dren, a “com­pletely over­whelmed” Mr Ro­den thanked all his sib­lings for their support.

After re­ceiv­ing his award, he wel­comed the “fan­tas­tic stamp of ap­proval” and said the company was so far “only scratch­ing the sur­face”.

Giv­ing ad­vice to as­pir­ing en­trepreneurs, he said there will be ups and downs, fol­lowed by more ups and downs but you have to keep go­ing.

Fi­nal­ists roll call

The other fi­nal­ists in the in­ter­na­tional cat­e­gory were Brian Comer and Luke Comer of Comer Group; Stu­art Dob­son of Elm­grove Foods; Der­mot Smur­fit of Game Ac­count Net­work; Brian Crow­ley of TTM Group; George Mullan of SIS Group; Gabriel Moy­nagh of Sys­net Global So­lu­tions; and Mike Stack of Tri­cel.

Mr Ro­den will go on to rep­re­sent Ire­land at the World En­tre­pre­neur of the Year awards in Monte Carlo next June, where he will com­pete with more than 60 lead­ing en­trepreneurs from across the globe.

The win­ners were se­lected by an in­de­pen­dent panel of judges chaired by Padraig Ó Céidigh. The panel in­cluded pre­vi­ous EY En­tre­pre­neur of the Year win­ners De­nis O’Brien, Anne Her­aty, Michael Carey, Liam Casey, Jerry Ken­nelly, Ed Harty, Brian Long and Pat McDon­agh, as well as rep­re­sen­ta­tives from En­ter­prise Ire­land, In­terTradeIre­land and Invest North­ern Ire­land.

For­mer at­tor­ney gen­eral Peter Suther­land, chair­man of Gold­man Sachs In­ter­na­tional, re­ceived this year’s Spe­cial Award for mak­ing “a pro­found con­tri­bu­tion to the is­land of Ire­land through his en­tre­pre­neur­ial vi­sion, in­no­va­tion and com­mit­ment to ex­cel­lence”.

Ac­cept­ing the award, Mr Suther­land said that from abroad Ire­land of­ten seems to be more in­volved in den­i­gra­tion than cel­e­bra­tion, adding that we as a coun­try have rea­son to cel­e­brate.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: MAXWELL

Part­ner-in-Charge of EY En­tre­pre­neur of the Year Frank O’Ke­effe; spe­cial award win­ner Peter Suther­land, emerg­ing win­ner Terry Fox; over­all win­ner Mark Ro­den, in­dus­try win­ner John Purdy; man­ag­ing part­ner of EY Ire­land Mike McK­err; and Min­is­ter for Jobs, En­ter­prise and In­no­va­tion Richard Bru­ton TD.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: MAXWELL

Lilly McMullen with Elaine and Grace Dob­son at­tend the gala din­ner at the Ci­ty­west Ho­tel last night.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: NICK BRADSHAW

PHO­TO­GRAPH: NICK BRADSHAW

Peter Suther­land won the Spe­cial Award in recog­ni­tion of his pro­found con­tri­bu­tion to the coun­try.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: MAXWELL

Dr Jean Van Sin­deren-Law of UCC and Katie Tsouros of Art­fetch at the awards cer­e­mony.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: NICK BRADSHAW

EY En­tre­pre­neur of the Year awards hosts Mark Lit­tle and Kathryn Thomas.

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