Jerry Kennelly is undoubtedly one of Ireland's best-known and most successful young entrepreneurs. His is a success story of a new generation of business leaders who had the passion and the drive to take risks and achieve great accomplishments in the world of business. He took a simple concept and executed it exceptionally well, and within ten years of establishing his own company, he wrote himself into the business history books.
Jerry Kennelly began his career in Kerry in 1981 as a photojournalist syndicating press photography to regional, national and international newspapers. In 1996, he founded Stockbyte, a company that supplied stock photographs in digital form to newspapers and magazines around the world. By enthusiastically embracing new technology as it emerged, Kennelly developed a delivery system for high-quality digital imagery. In 2005, Kennelly founded Stockdisc to cater for the volume end of the creative market. By 2006, Stockbyte and Stockdisc had captured ten percent of the global, royalty-free stock photography market.
Jerry Kennelly developed his business from concept to opportunity to world-class brand. He considered technology as a core tool for his company and central to daily challenges like quality control and customer experiences on his website. Another key ingredient of his success was his attention to customer service and his willingness to continue to learn. Every customer who licensed an image from Stockbyte received an email with Jerry Kennelly's direct contact details and an invitation to "tell the guy who started the company what you think about it."
Having spent the previous ten years building a hugely profitable business, Kennelly began to consider the future of the stock photo industry. He followed his instinct that conditions outside of his control were about to change the landscape of the digital photography business and his instinct was on the mark - in April 2006, both companies were sold to Getty Images for over €110 million. Kennelly's companies produced the highest pro-rata profit and profitability per employee in this worldwide industry.
We are not the first to honour this exceptional businessman. Jerry Kennelly has been highlighted by the Deloitte Fast 50 Awards and was selected as the Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005. His company Stockbyte is a former winner of the DHL Exporter of the Year Award.
Jerry Kennelly's contribution to Irish life is not confined to the realm of business. He has collaborated with the poverty relief agency GOAL and the Press Photographers Association of Ireland in documenting their work abroad and using those creative images to spread their messages through the media, exhibitions and calendars.
In addition to his phenomenal business success, we celebrate today two distinct characteristics of Jerry Kennelly. The first is his determination to foster, support and encourage other young Irish entrepreneurs, and the second is his loyalty to and belief in his home county of Kerry. As co-founder of the Kennelly Archive, Jerry has ensured that the legacy of over 50 years of photographic and video documentation of the people and landscape of Kerry will be preserved for future generations. This beautiful archive represents a lifetime of work by Jerry's parents, Padraig and Joan Kennelly, who, in the late 1950s, opened a photographic studio in Tralee and established Kerry's Eye, Ireland's leading independently-owned local newspaper. Jerry has always maintained a steadfast loyalty to his native county and has been quoted as saying: "There is no question that the intellect, tenacity, integrity and immeasurable native cunning that exists in Kerry will serve to build wealth and prosperity in the future".
It is in his home county that Jerry continues to inspire a growing generation of young, energetic and self-reliant business people who are more than willing to dream and gamble that their ventures will bear fruit. Jerry Kennelly actively embraces the idea that entrepreneurship is a viable career path and fosters it through his involvement with the Young Entrepreneur Programme in conjunction with the Institute of Technology Tralee and Shannon Development. The Young Entrepreneur Programme (YEP) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to encouraging entrepreneurship as a career choice. Its mission is to help identify, inform, recognise and celebrate the next generation of business leaders as well as their educators. Jerry has spearheaded the Young Entrepreneur Programme since the concept was first mooted in 2006 and remains actively involved each year. In 2009-2010, the University of Limerick, together with its Shannon Consortium partners, extended the programme to schools in Limerick City and County. To date, 1,600 young people have benefited from both the programme and the experience of face-to-face contact with some of the world's leading entrepreneurs. The Young Entrepreneur Programme starts a primary school pilot in the next academic year and a summer school aimed at continuing the development of the YEP alumni.
In 2009, Jerry and the YEP executive broadened their reach to launch Endeavour, an adult entrepreneur fast-track programme that aims to match innovators with some of Ireland's leading entrepreneurs. Already a number of those start-up companies are trading successfully, having raised funding of €1.5 million before the programme ended in May 2010.
In 2010, Jerry has set his sights on the world of design and print with the launch of Tweak.com. This project is the result of research with teams in Ireland and around the globe and is yet another exciting step in Jerry's journey of innovation and discovery.
Entrepreneur John C Maxwell said that: "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way". That can most assuredly be said of Jerry Kennelly.