Mayo entrepreneurs reach final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur

The National Final of the €2million IBYE competition will take place on 4th March in Dublin.

Mayo Finalists

Local Enterprise Office Mayo has confirmed that John McNicholas of Inspire Tiles & Stone and Daniel Loftus of UrbanFox have both clinched a place in the national final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition in Dublin this March. This is the first year that Mayo will have had two national finalists.

John is competing in the Best Start-Up Business category and Daniel is competing in the Best Established Business category. The local entrepreneurs now have the opportunity, along with 22 other national finalists, to become Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur and share in a €100,000 winners’ investment fund.

The winners across three categories who will go forward to the National Final were announced at the West Regional Final at the Clayton Hotel in Galway on the 17th of January. The other National Finalist who was selected by the judging panel was Dr. Brendan Boland of Loci Orthopaedics in the Best Business Idea category.

John Magee, the Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Mayo, congratulated the local entrepreneurs, saying: “We started the search to find and support Ireland’s best young entrepreneurs in September last year, and after a very successful bootcamp, County Final and now Regional Final, the county will be proudly represented in the ultimate stage of the competition – the IBYE National Final in March. We look forward to working with John & Daniel to prepare for the National Final”.

Director of Services for Planning, Economic & Community Development for Mayo County Council Catherine McConnell was also in attendance to support and congratulate all Mayo finalists for their achievements to date at reaching the Regional Final of the competition.

National judging takes place in early March and each finalist will have the opportunity to pitch their business plan to the judging panel. They will be assessed on criteria such as the level of innovation in their business, the potential for future job creation and their leadership skills.

John McNicholas of Inspire Tiles & Stone states that his business is “a new ultra-modern and design lead tile, wood flooring and sanitary wear business 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”.

Daniel Loftus of UrbanFox describes his business as one that has created “artificial intelligence technology that can reduce the rate of online fraud by up to 96% and is four times more effective than other solutions currently available.”

2018 will be a big year for Daniel and UrbanFox as the business plans to open its first US office in San Francisco, in the heart of Silicon Valley.  
At the regional final in Galway, Daniel and John were also joined by another aspiring Mayo entrepreneur, Cathal Mac Reamoinn of Refocus Technologies, who was competing in the Best Business Idea category.

Cathal aims to create the technology to replicate the natural refocusing ability of your eye for the film industry, solving a problem for the 22,000 video companies and freelancers in Ireland and the UK alone that cannot afford a second person to carry this out for them on additional equipment.
Although unsuccessful in the Regional Final Cathal will now focus on using the investment he received at the Mayo County Final to further develop his business proposition, with continuing support from Local Enterprise Office Mayo.

The standard of applications Local Enterprise Office Mayo received for the competition this year was exceptionally high and reflected the innovative and enterprising entrepreneurs that are in the county.

Aimed at 18 to 35-year-olds, the IBYE initiative is run by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) nationwide, and supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland. The investment awards will be used by the young entrepreneurs to help fund business start-ups, create new jobs locally and help develop new products for international markets.

Any type of business or business idea can enter the competition, as outlined by the diverse array of entrepreneurs who won prize funds at county and regional level.