Local Enterprise Office announces County Kilkenny’s Best Young Entrepreneurs and €50,000 investment fund winners

Young entrepreneurs from County Kilkenny win places at Regional Finals

IBYE Category Winners & Runner Up


County Kilkenny ’s “Best Young Entrepreneurs” for 2019 and €50,000 investment fund winners were announced at an awards ceremony hosted by Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny on Tuesday evening 30th April. As part of a nationwide search launched by Minister Heather Humphreys and Minister Pat Breen to find Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneurs (IBYE) for 2019, the six winners and runners-up were chosen from fifteen local finalists and will now share a €50,000 investment fund.


IBYE, now in its fifth year, is a nationwide youth enterprise initiative to help 18-to-35 year olds with an innovative business idea, new start-up or established business. In 2019, 1,644 young entrepreneurs entered IBYE, which is an initiative of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and supported by Enterprise Ireland and local authorities.


The county final was hosted by Fiona Deegan, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny and the Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan, TD, was also in attendance to present the awards. Among the special guests at the awards ceremony were Chief Executive Colette Byrne, Kilkenny Local Authority and Leas Cathaoirleach Cllr Andrew McGuinness together with friends and family members of the participating IBYE finalists.


The ‘Best New Idea’ category, with a €7,000 investment fund, was won by John Duggan, Loanit, aged 33 from Tullought, Piltown and founder of Loanit.  Loanitt is an innovative and disruptive new technology, which will optimise customer choice by creating a credit marketplace. The runner-up award and €3,000 investment fund went to Clare Allen, of I-AM. The business idea is described by the promoter Clare as the Tinder for short term recruitment. I-Am aims to revolutionise the CV process by means of a 30 second video of the job seeker and employer. John Duggan, Promoter of Loanit was also awarded the title of ‘Best Young Entrepreneur’ for County Kilkenny.


The winner of the ‘Best Start-Up Business’ category and the €15,000 investment fund was Jens Kopke, aged 28, founder of Motoklik. Motoklik aims to improve the performance and safety of off-road motorcyclists through it's USP, automated suspension set-up. Primary market research shows that 90% of riders don't know how to set-up their suspension, but know it should be done. Motoklik is the only product in motorsports to offer this service, and plans to become an OEM supplier have the device fitted to the bike straight from the factory. The runner-up in this category, collecting a €5,000 investment fund, was Christopher Shum, of Motus Learning. Motus Learning carries out research based mental health programs in primary schools.


Meanwhile, the title of ‘Best Established Business’, with an investment fund of €15,000, went to Rory Gonnon, aged 34, founder of Cakeface. Cakeface is part of the food company owned and operated by Rory and Laura Gannon. It was established in 2016 with a view to building and expanding a premium food group within the Irish market.  Third Course Ltd is the parent company that currently operates out of two high street locations, “Cakeface - Patisserie” and “Cakeface - the lab”, with a view to opening “Face” a third in August 2019. Rory is an internationally trained, highly experienced chefs with a passion for creating unique and exciting food experiences with different emphasis depending on the location. The runner-up in this category,  scooping a €5,000 investment fund, was Richard Connolly of TJ Reid Fitness based at Cillin Hill, Kilkenny. The business has a state of the art gym facility in Kilkenny and has expanded with a boutique style facility in Galway.


 In the lead-up to the county final, each finalist received targeted business supports through Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny. They attended an intensive Business Boot Camp, receiving mentoring and support on their business plans, pitch training as well as getting the opportunity to connect with other young entrepreneurs from County Kilkenny and Carlow.


Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan, TD, whilst attending the awards ceremony acknowledged, “the hard work and dedication shown by these inspiring and ambitious young entrepreneurs.  The government continues to fully support Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur initiative, the aim of which, is to support a culture of entrepreneurship among young people both here in Kilkenny and nationally”.  The Minister concluded by wishing all finalists well in their future careers.


Fiona Deegan, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny said: “As our winners clearly demonstrate, youth entrepreneurship is thriving here in County Kilkenny. IBYE is about discovering local potential and nurturing that talent through financial supports, mentoring, training and networking opportunities. In 2019, Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny supported 30 young entrepreneurs through the IBYE competition and over 140 young entrepreneurs in total, since the competition began in 2014. We want to build on that success by supporting County Kilkenny’s young entrepreneurs today and into the future.”


 The county winners from County Kilkenny will now progress to the regional finals, which take place on 19th June, Step House Hotel, Carlow.  In all, 24 national finalists will be selected at regional finals across the country to compete for the overall title of “Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur.” At the IBYE national final on Sunday 15th September, which takes place at Google’s European Headquarters in Dublin, a €100,000 investment fund will be awarded to winners.

IBYE County Kilkenny Finalists 2019


Further details on the competition and supports available to young entrepreneurs are available through www.localenterprise.ie and www.ibye.ie .


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In this section, the Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny will advertise opportunities to register for our soft supports panels - i.e. mentoring, training programmes, etc.