High Flyers: Joe grew up learning the value of hard work and good customer service

In the High Flyers spotlight this week is Joe McKevitt, co-founder and director of engineering at Uptime Labs in Newry.

Joe McKevitt, co-founder and director of engineering at Uptime Labs.
Joe McKevitt, co-founder and director of engineering at Uptime Labs.

What was your first job?

I worked at my dad’s petrol station in Newry. That’s where I learned customer service. There was a sign in the petrol station that read ‘if you don’t look after your customers, someone else will’. I have never forgot that.

I also worked on my uncle’s dairy farm throughout my teenage summers. My uncle, to this day, works seven days a week. That is the type of life lesson which you never forget. If I am off on a Sunday, I immediately think they're still working and its hard to shake the feeling I should be too. In fact, my love for technology is partly due to these early jobs. I built a herdbook for my daddy at 16. I created a simplified way to track things around the farm. The satisfaction from seeing him use it for years still resonates with me today.

What qualifications do you have?

I went to Queens University to study Computer Science and received a Masters, or MEng. During that time, I did a year's placement at Intel.

What do you attribute your success to?

My work ethic. I also enjoy working with people. The relationships I make stick. I met Hamed, my business partner, when he was my boss. Many of our early clients were old colleagues.

My love of technology is also crucial. Its never been work for me, its always been fun.

How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?

Driven, personable and family-orientated.

Who do you look up to in business?

Brian Conlon, the founder of First Derivative, and the two founders of Stat Sports, Alan Clark and Sean O'Connor. These are two of the most established companies from Newry. I want to replicate that process.

How do you get the best out of people who work for you?

I create an environment where people can be themselves, where they have the space and time to master the craft. We set and agree challenging goals.

If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?

I think Northern Ireland is a fantastic place to start a business. There is such a culture of community and support here. It is a brilliant incubator for growing a start up.

The one thing I would change is to inspire more entrepreneurs. It is lonely being a founder of a start up here. Compare that to places like Silicon Valley, you see the community of ambitious entrepreneurs and how that fosters innovation.

What website or app could you not do without?

Youtube. Any DIY job I have, I check on Youtube. You have this massive library of educators. It's also my kid's favourite channel. I don’t think they will ever watch TV, or even Netflix, in the way we do.

What was the last book you read?

It’s a book by Enda McNulty on leadership titled ‘Commit 2 Lead!: Unlock your true leadership potential’.

What car do you drive?

A rusty Volkswagen Golf. It's got 170,000 miles and it has served my family well.

Tell us something interesting about yourself?

I’ve run ten marathons all over the world.

What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?

So family is my big thing, I have a big family, four boys and a little girl. But outside of that its running or music. I’ve been listening to a lot of Rory Gallagher recently.