Danu Agency LTD

Danu LogoDanu founder RoannDanu Founder Sean

DANU, a creative marketing agency specializes in Irish heritage and culture. Founded in 2023 by Roann Byrne and Sean Breen, the team, who have a wealth of experience in the food and drink industry, offer a wide range of services including product development, branding and storytelling, creative marketing campaigns and bespoke tours and events.

Danu’s Co-founder, Roann, has a deeply rooted passion for food that dates back to her grandmother Polly teaching her to bake as a child. Her journey began at TU Dublin, where she earned her BSc in Baking and Pastry Arts. This ignited a desire to delve deeper into the culinary world, leading her to work in a restaurant and study the art of food preparation at its most fundamental level. The pursuit of her passion didn't stop there, as she went on to complete her BA in Culinary Arts and then an MA in Gastronomy and Food Studies.

Meanwhile, Sean's story was unfolding on a different track. His background is richly steeped in technology, having started his journey in E-Sports. He pursued his BSc in Computer Science at TU Dublin, where he discovered a passion for Social Enterprises through his involvement in Enactus Ireland. His dedication and drive took him all the way to the National Finals, earning a commendable third-place finish.

“Danu, is a remarkable story about the transformation of the Irish food industry. With the use of innovative technology, we are on a mission to rewrite the narrative around food in Ireland.”

It was at the intriguing intersection of these two disparate worlds, where food meets technology, that the idea for Danu was conceived. The vision was to create a bridge between these two domains, leveraging their combined strengths to redefine and propel the Irish food industry forward. Thus, Danu was brought to life.

Becoming Self Employed

“Both of us have always harboured an entrepreneurial spirit, constantly exploring new ideas. In January, we conceived the concept of marrying Irish history with food tourism destinations. Although it initially began as a project, a mentor in our industry inspired us to think bigger. This encouragement ignited our transition into self-employment, and we evolved our project into a more expansive vision, which we now know as Danu.” Roann tells us.

An Ocean’s 11 of Irish Storytellers

“While Ireland stands as a global leader in tech and innovation, its food industry often lags behind in these sectors. This is where Danu distinguishes itself.

Our deep, hands-on experience with various Irish producers sets us apart. We utilise cutting edge technology and innovative strategies to bring their visions to life, which is why we describe our team as "Ireland's Storytellers."”

Danu’s business model takes inspiration from Edwin Herbert Land, the founder of Polaroid, who valued outside perspectives for driving change. He hired art history students who offered fresh insights, despite not being directly related to his field.

“Emulating this approach, we've assembled a team that's akin to a creative 'Ocean's 11.' We've brought together some of the country's best product designers, developers, artists, and writers, each passionate about contributing their unique skills to drive innovation in the industry. This diversity in our team is a key differentiator for Danu.”

Challenges & Opportunities

For Roann and Sean, the most significant challenge they’ve faced so far has been balancing their full-time employment with their entrepreneurial aspirations.

“This was particularly challenging because we were aware of the immense potential of our venture, but time constraints often limited our ability to devote as much energy as we would have liked.

However, every challenge presents an opportunity. Our most substantial opportunity to date has been the launch of our inaugural campaign, an art print series featuring Irish food figures, producers, growers, and chefs. This initiative was designed to bridge the gap between consumers and their food source using a visually engaging medium.

We've also had the privilege of participating in the GoFuthr founder’s day and coworking at the GEC. These experiences have been incredibly enriching and have significantly contributed to our business growth.”

Adapting to the Needs of Their Market

Initially, Danu’s business model focused on leveraging Irish history academically to uplift brands. However, as they have evolved and matured, they found themselves gradually shifting towards their grander vision of 'Changing the Face of Irish Food.'

“This pivot was spurred by a realisation: the importance of staying connected to the people we serve. We learned not to become overly engrossed in our own ideas. After all, a successful business is one that effectively caters to its customers' needs, and to do that, we had to truly listen and respond to their feedback.

Embracing this change, we adapted our business model to align more closely with the actual needs of our market. By remaining open to change and focusing on what our customers truly need, we've taken significant strides towards achieving success.”

Stand Out Moment

For the Danu team, there have been several moments that have reinforced their conviction that they’re on the right track.

 “One stands out vividly; the overwhelming reaction we received when we unveiled the first producer in our art series. The joy and appreciation on their face reminded us why we do what we do. Any time we make a positive impact on someone's life, it serves as a potent affirmation of our mission.

Many of these hardworking individuals work in rural areas, undertaking labour-intensive tasks in all weather conditions to put food on our tables. They're often unseen and unappreciated, and we believe it's time to shed light on their incredible work. After all, food is a universal element that connects all of humanity. Such moments of affirmation have not only validated our approach but also inspired us to stay true to our mission and strategy.”

LEO Supports

Danu has availed of many of the LEO Dublin City training supports, including the Start Your Own Business Course and mentoring with Michael Gough.

“Our journey with LEO, has been a tremendously enriching experience that I would wholeheartedly recommend to any aspiring entrepreneur.

We started the 'Start Your Own Business' (SYOB) Course in February 2023, and it has proven to be invaluable. The weekly sessions provided a structured pathway to transform our ideas into a tangible reality. Each mentor, being an expert in their respective field, was able to answer every question we had. A particular session on business formation significantly influenced our decision to shift from a partnership model to a limited company.

One of the understated benefits of the SYOB course was its social aspect. Entrepreneurship can be an emotional roller-coaster, especially in the early stages, and having a supportive cohort who shared our aspirations was incredibly reassuring. It was a great platform to start pitching early and forge lasting friendships.

The mentorship program, too, has been phenomenal. We've had access to seasoned consultants at an extremely affordable cost. I distinctly remember one occasion when we were struggling with the process of forming a limited company. We registered for mentorship on a Monday evening, and by Tuesday morning, the amazing Michael Gough was guiding us through each step. The mentorship offered by LEO is a vital resource that can empower anyone to start their own business.

Lastly, I must commend the local LEO representatives for their unwavering support and guidance. Their sincere desire to see us succeed was evident in every interaction we had. They're an incredible resource and a testament to LEO's commitment to fostering entrepreneurship.”

The Future

Danu’s future plans are firmly rooted in their mission to propel innovation within the Irish food industry. Their aim is to scale up their teams and continue generating fresh perspectives to keep driving their venture forward.

“We’re also in the process of developing a range of workshops. These will include topics such as personal branding for Irish food entrepreneurs and fostering a neurodivergent-friendly workplace. We are enthusiastic about the potential of these workshops to further empower individuals in the food industry and to cultivate inclusive environments.”

Advice For New Entrepreneurs

“Firstly, step outside your mental bubble. Engage directly with the people whose lives you aspire to impact. Communicate, share your passion, and refine your pitch through these interactions. Remember, entrepreneurship is as much about connecting with others as it is about innovating.

Secondly, don't allow yourself to get overwhelmed by the formalities at the beginning. There's a long journey ahead, and every big venture starts with small, simple steps. Pen, paper, and a splash of creativity can be the perfect starting point.

Lastly, but most importantly, remember to prioritise your well-being. Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint, so make sure to take at least two days off every week to rest and recharge. Maintaining a healthy balance is crucial, as it not only protects you from burnout but also keeps your mind sharp and ready for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

 Danu ProductDanu Product 2

This product is the first in Danu's series of prints surrounding the producers of the Boyne Valley. This is Danu’s inaugural project, where they aim to bridge the gap between people and their food sources through a visual medium, art.
This is Maria Flynn, of Ballymakenny Farm Spud Shack, an incredible Irish producer, known for her purple spuds and drive through ‘Spud Chats’.
A portion of each prints sales will go to a charity of Maria’s choice. They are available now at  www.mydanu.com


Email: info@mydanu.com