Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneurs Finalists from Mayo Meet Taoiseach

Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneurs Finalists from Mayo Meet Taoiseach and Minister Humphreys

The Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) National Finalists from LEO Mayo, Daniel Loftus and John McNicholas, were in Dublin last week to meet with An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, T.D., and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, T.D. They were joined by the rest of the 24 Finalists at Government Buildings in the lead up to the IBYE National Final.

The finalists had the opportunity to discuss their businesses and ideas with An Taoiseach and Minister Humphreys ahead of the IBYE Final which will take place on 4th March. The IBYE programme is run by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) with the support of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland.

The 24 entrepreneurs also attended a training day at Google HQ in Dublin where they were given extensive pitch training and they had the chance to meet their fellow finalists for the first time.

Best Start up Business

John McNicholas of Inspire Tiles & Stone, who will be competing in the Best Start Up Business category, states that his business is “a new ultra-modern and design leading tile, wood flooring and sanitary wear specialists based in Claremorris, Co. Mayo. We provide a wide range of quality products, using the finest materials and leading manufacturers, whilst ensuring value for money for our customers”.

JohnMcN and taoiseach

Best Established Business 

Daniel Loftus, who will be competing in the Best Established Business category, of UrbanFox describes his business as one that has created “artificial intelligence technology that can reduce the rate of fraud by up to 96% and is four times more effective than other solutions currently available.”

Daniel Loftus and taoiseach

John Magee, Head of Enterprise at Local Enterprise Office Mayo wished John and Daniel the best ahead of the final; “John and Daniel are exceptional entrepreneurs to work with right through the IBYE process. They have an excellent attitude to furthering their business and that makes our job a lot easier. They are credit to LEO Mayo and a further example of how the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the region. We wish them the very best of luck in the National Final and we look forward to continuing to work with them beyond the Final to help them grow their business.”

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, T.D., said: “The Government is committed to supporting and fostering the ambition of our new and aspiring entrepreneurs, and helping them to compete on a global scale. The IBYE programme is the first step on that road for many businesses and the range of innovative projects put forward by this year's finalists illustrates the wealth of talent and creativity in this country. The competition is really worthwhile for all involved; last year 180 young entrepreneurs secured funding for their businesses through the IBYE process, giving them the chance to grow their ideas and continue on their path. I would like to congratulate each of the 24 finalists for making it this far. This is not only a great achievement for each of them individually, but the quality of their ideas assures me that the future of Irish entrepreneurship is in safe hands.”

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, T.D., said: “The IBYE programme is a vital stepping stone for the country’s best young business minds. Over the past 4 years it has attracted over 5,700 applicants, of whom many may never have even dreamed of starting a business. While many have gone on to receive funding, for others it’s simply the process that has been the most rewarding for them. The opportunity to network with their peers and to receive mentoring and intensive enterprise bootcamp training that help them to grow their ideas and develop their businesses has helped many companies get their feet off the ground. For our 24 finalists this as the opportunity to enjoy the IBYE process and absorb everything from this experience and I wish them all the best for the final and in their careers.”

Sheelagh Daly, Chair of the Network of Local Enterprise Offices, said; “The IBYE programme offers a snapshot of what Local Enterprise Offices provide in 31 locations every day across the country. We get the opportunity to work with entrepreneurs every day who are dreaming of setting up and scaling their businesses. To see these 24 finalists is a testament to the hard work of the LEO Network who have helped produce this calibre of entrepreneur for the 2018 IBYE Final. The 24 finalists come from 19 Local Enterprise Offices so it’s great to see that the entrepreneurial spirit is wide spread across the country. I have no doubt that each of these Finalists will go from strength to strength following their participation in this year’s programme.”

The 24 IBYE Finalists for 2018 will be competing for a €100,000 fund across the three categories. The winner of the Best Business Idea will receive a €15,000 investment with the runner up securing a €5,000 investment. The Best Start-Up Business and Best Established Business winners will receive a €25,000 investment each with the runners up in those categories receiving a €5,000 investment, while the 2018 Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur selected from the three category winners will receive an additional €20,000 investment.

This year’s IBYE finalists show a huge diversity of ideas, which include a self learning anti-fraud software solution, an app that solves the issue of secure transactions with strangers when selling online, a peer to peer car rental platform, a solution to the compilation, visualisation and relay of IoT (Internet of Things) data, a company guaranteeing 90-minute deliveries, a former Connacht rugby player revolutionising the future of gyms, a virtual power plant and a John Rocha protege bringing catwalk style to Irish cyclists.

The winners of the 2017 Irish Best Young Entrepreneur Awards were Ciara Clancy of Beats Medical who won the Best Established Business and the overall IBYE Award for 2017. Samuel Dennigan of Strong Roots in Dublin was the Best Start Up Business winner, while Alvan Hunt of Hexafly in Meath won the Best Business Idea for 2017.

JohnMcN and staff

From left to right: Martin Corry, Enterprise Ireland, Minister Heather Humphreys, John McNicholas of Inspire Tiles and Stone, Sheelagh Daly, Chair of the Network of Local Enterprise Offices  

Daniel Loftus and staff

From left to right: Martin Corry, Enterprise Ireland, Minister Heather Humphries, Daniel Loftus of UrbanFox, Sheelagh Daly, Chair of the Network of Local Enterprise Offices