Mayo were well represented at the national final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition on Sunday the 15th of September.


Sean McGarry of ShowerGem from Westport won the Best-Established Business category and Brendan Maloney of Skillko from Westport also came runner up in the Best Start Up business category. Both companies are supported by Local Enterprise Office Mayo.

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From left to right; Minister Heather Humphreys, Sean McGarry, Winner of Best Established Business category, John Magee, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Mayo

Sean McGarry’s Showergem was an invention borne out of gap in the bathroom fixture market.  Showergem is a shower caddy that attaches to shower walls to hold bottles and razors, using a durable glue that ensures no suction or drilling issues.  A recent participant on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, Sean received investment from three of the Dragons to help their continued growth.


Skillko was founded by Brendan Maloney and the business focuses on simplifying the training requirements of other businesses from a multitude of sectors. It has built a unique training platform, creating an open marketplace for businesses and training suppliers to connect and transact in a smart and efficient way, saving both parties time and money. Their target markets are the utilities, construction, rail and manufacturing sectors.


John Magee, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Mayo congratulated Brendan and Sean on their success at the national final; “Brendan and Sean have been exceptional entrepreneurs to work with right through the IBYE process.  They have an excellent attitude to furthering their businesses and that makes our job a lot easier.  They are credit to Mayo and a further example of how the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the region. We look forward to continuing to work with them beyond the Final to help them grow their business.”   


The programme, which is run by the network of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in local authorities nationwide, funded by the Government of Ireland and supported by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland, attracted over 1,600 applicants in 2019 with an investment fund of €2million.  Already through the programme, 186 entrants have secured investments of between €3,000 and €15,000 each. 


Sharon Cunningham, co-founder of Shorla Pharma, who are supported by Local Enterprise Office Tipperary, took home the top award at the event after also winning her national category Best Start-Up Business and securing a total investment fund of €40,000


Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, T.D., made the announcement in front of 360 guests at the IBYE National Final, held at Google’s European Headquarters in Dublin.


Sharon Cunningham, a Waterford native, started Shorla Pharma with her former EirGen colleague Orlaith Ryan based out of Tipperary.  A qualified chartered account, Cunningham founded Shorla in 2018 after identifying a significant issue in the pharmaceutical industry.  The company focuses on improving existing treatments for children’s and women’s cancers making them more user friendly.  Their first product is the redevelopment of a children’s cancer drug from a difficult to swallow capsule, into an oral solution. 


The other IBYE National Final category winners were Martin O’Reilly of Output Sports (Local Enterprise Office Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown) who won the Best Business Idea category.


Martin O’Reilly’s Output Sports, who are supported by Enterprise Ireland, are working with professional athletes around the world, including Leinster’s Adam Byrne and Kilkenny hurler Cillian Buckley.  They are developing a sensor system that streamlines off-field performance optimisation, testing speed and strength offering unrivalled accuracy in exercise analysis.     


The runners-up in each of the categories were Elizabeth McGloughlin of Tympany Medical (Local Enterprise Office Galway) in the Best Business Idea category and Devan Hughes of Buymie (Local Enterprise Office Dublin City) in the Best-Established Business category.  The winner of the Google Best Online Promotion of Business Award was Devan Hughes and Buymie.  


Minster for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, T.D., said; “Irish entrepreneurs are among the very best in the world. That’s because we have huge talent in every region and community in Ireland. Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur is about celebrating that talent. The €2 million investment by Government in the competition has ensured that 185 entrepreneurs have not only received investment, but also mentoring, advice and peer-to-peer learning. 


“This year’s winners and wider group of finalists are the cream of the crop. They are our future business leaders, and I am delighted that we are celebrating and supporting them through the competition. They are also central to the success of Future Jobs Ireland, our whole-of-Government plan to prepare our businesses and workers for the future.”


Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen T.D., said;

These entrepreneurs represent the very best of talent that exists within Ireland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Many of today’s finalists have developed businesses that are already well known.  The others, no doubt, will be the stars of the future.  Getting to today’s final is validation for all of finalists that they are following the right path.  For our winners, we congratulate them.  Today is a day to celebrate with their family and friends, but from tomorrow onwards, they can apply the valuable experience that participation in IBYE has given them to bring their businesses to even greater heights. They can be assured that my Department will be there to support them every step of the way on their entrepreneurial journey.”


The judging panel for this year’s Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur was co-chaired by Paddy Flynn, Director of Trust and Safety, Google and Brian Crowley, Founder of TTM Group.  The other members of the panel were Thomas Murray, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Eoghan Hanrahan, Enterprise Ireland, Louise Ward, LEO Roscommon and Sarah Doyle, CEO of Kinesense, while broadcaster Claire Byrne was the Awards host.


The winners of the 2018 Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur awards were former Connacht rugby player Conor O’Loughlin of Glofox who won the Best-Established Business and the overall IBYE Award for 2018.  Alan Hickey of Vromo (formerly WeBringg) in Fingal, Dublin was the Best Start Up Business winner, while Brendan Boland of Loci Orthopaedics in Galway won the Best Business Idea for 2018.  For more information on the competition go to and for additional information on Local Enterprise Office supports and programmes go to  

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From left to right; Minister Heather Humphreys, Brendan Maloney of Skillko, Runner Up in the Best Start Up Business category, John Magee, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Mayo

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 from left to right; Peter Hynes, Chief Executive of Mayo County Council, John Magee, Head of Enterprise of Local Enterprise Office Mayo, Sean McGarry of ShowerGem, Minister Heather Humphreys, Brendan Maloney of Skillko, Cathaoirleach Brendan Mulroy, Elaine Moyles, Local Enterprise Office Mayo