Local Enterprise Office announces Offaly’s Best Young Entrepreneurs sharing €50,000 Investment Fund

Young entrepreneurs win places at Regional Finals


Offaly’s “Best Young Entrepreneurs” for 2019 and €50,000 investment fund winners were announced at an awards ceremony hosted by Local Enterprise Office Offaly this week.

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 a shortlist of 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, run by the Local Enterprise Offices and supported by Enterprise Ireland and local authorities.

The county final was hosted by LEO Offaly. Among the special guests at the awards ceremony were Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council Cllr. Danny Owens and Barry Cowen TD for Offaly and a number of Offaly County Councillors.

The ‘Best New Idea’ category, with a €7,000 investment fund, was won by Brian Darby, aged 33, founder of "Little Champions" School lunches in Geashill. Little Champions will deliver healthy school lunches to primary schools each morning. The runner-up award and €3,000 investment fund went to Martin McGuinness, aged 30, of ACM Energy in Edenderry.

The winner of the ‘Best Start-Up Business’ category and the €15,000 investment fund was Christina McLoughlin, aged 31, founder of Vove Media in Tullamore. Vove Media is a digital marketing agency specialising in social media management, content creation, website design and brand design for small to medium sized businesses. The runner-up in this category, collecting a €5,000 investment fund, was Conor Scally, aged 27, of S13 Ireland in Tullamore.

Meanwhile, the title of ‘Best Established Business’, with an investment fund of €15,000, went to Emma-Rose Conroy, aged 34, founder of Euro Stallions (Ireland) Ltd in Durrow, Tullamore. Euro Stallions is the first EU approved embryo collection centre in Ireland.The company also provides breeder and veterinary supplies for equine reproduction including their own in-house developed fertility supplement. The runner-up in this category,  scooping a €5,000 investment fund, was Mark Feely, aged 35, of Carpentry Works in Daingean.

Emma-Rose Conroy was also awarded the title of ‘Best Young Entrepreneur’ for Offaly.

There were 40 entrants to the Offaly’s “2019 Best Young Entrepreneurs” Competition with  15 entrepreneurs reaching the Offaly County Final. Each finalist received targeted business supports through Local Enterprise Office Offaly. 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 Offaly.  They also faced the judges at a “Dragons Den” style pitch. The businesses were judged under a number of category headings including the Quality of Application and Business Plan, Entrepreneurial Capability, Market Opportunity and Innovation.

The Local Enterprise Office Offaly would like to commend and thank the three judges, Evelyn Reddin – LEO Laois, Liam Holton – Future Ticketing and James Maloney – Enterprise Ireland, for their time and the effort involved in reviewing the business plans and listening to the pitches.

Orla Martin, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Offaly said: “As our winners clearly demonstrate, youth entrepreneurship is thriving here in Offaly. IBYE is about discovering local potential and nurturing that talent through financial supports, mentoring, training and networking opportunities. In 2019, Local Enterprise Office Offaly supported forty young entrepreneurs through the IBYE competition and over 150  young entrepreneurs in total, since the competition began in 2014. We want to build on that success by supportting Offaly young entrepreneurs today and into the future.”

Cathaoirleach Cllr. Danny Owens commended all of the winners and finalists. He encouraged all the participants to continue to work with the Local Enterprise Office, and to avail of the many supports available to them.

The county winners from Offaly will now progress to the regional finals, which take place on 12th June.  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.

Finalists – Best Business Idea Category

  • Brian Darby - Provides healthy school lunches to primary schools. (Winner)
  • Martin McGuinness – Uses the latest technology to dramatically increase efficiency and reduce the cost of insulating homes. (Runner Up)
  • Karl Dunne
  • Fionn O'Carroll
  • Deirdre O’Leary
  • Jack Pilkington

Finalists – Best Start-Up Business Category

  • Christina McLoughlin - Vove Media-Digital marketing agency specialising in social media management, content creation, website design and brand design. (Winner)
  • Conor Scally - S13 Ireland - Irish clothing brand that specialises in premium street wear apparel selling online and in wholesale. (Runner Up)
  • Ronan Coughlan - KO Kombucha – Produces a raw fermented Tea packed full of beneficial bacteria, enzymes and acids.
  • Darragh Egan - Ballyealan Engineering Ltd T/A Blue Bull Machinery - Manufactures feeding & forage handling equipment with products for farmers.
  • Edward Scully - ProActive Health – They are a performance and injury clinic. They specialise in progressive rehabilitation programs for musculoskeletal injuries.

Finalists – Best Established Business Category

  • Emma-Rose Conroy - Euro Stallions Ireland Ltd– They are the first EU approved embryo collection centre in Ireland. They also provide a provision of breeder and veterinary supplies for equine reproduction (Winner)
  • Mark Feely - CarpentryWorks.ie – They are a one stop carpentry service that provide all carpentry from your finished timber floors to the roof of the building. (Runner Up)
  • Carla Mooney - Cardel Entertainment Ltd – They provide a full production services in the audiovisual industry. Produces productions e.g. music videos, commercials, films.
  • Emmet Nolan - Request It - They supply to the hospitality and residential sectors. Providing Lighting, FF&E, Stone and Flooring. They offer a fully bespoke service.

Offaly’s Best Young Entrepreneur Winner

  • Emma-Rose Conroy - Euro Stallions Ireland Ltd

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

Check out our Facebook page where all the photographs for the event have been posted.