Monkey Cups

The Prestart Story of Monkey Cups

Entrepreneur: Mailo Power

Local Enterprise Office Supports: Feasibility, Priming, TAME, Mentoring, Training


With twenty-five years’ experience in the hospitality industry, the growth of Ireland’s coffee culture and the popularity of coffee “on the go”, combined with the growing green wave sweeping the country, inspired Waterford woman, Mailo Power, to establish Monkey Cups in 2018.

Monkey Cups is a new concept in Irish designed barista standard reusable coffee cups. Durable, versatile and environmentally friendly Monkey Cups is turning the tide on single-use plastic waste that is invading the environment.

 Monkey Cups - Case study1

Monkey Cups began with a sketch at Mailo’s kitchen table, who at the time wasn’t thinking of starting a business, but simply wanted to come up with a solution to this growing environmental crisis. However, spurred on by support from her family, friends and the Local Enterprise Office Waterford, the Monkey Cups journey started in earnest.

Although there were hurdles along the way, particularly with prototype functionality testing, which took longer than anticipated, this proved to be a blessing in disguise.  Further research led Mailo to begin collaborating with a local injection mould company that enabled production to be moved to Waterford from China, which was not only a boost to the local economy, it allowed Mailo to work face to face with the production team.

Approaching Local Enterprise Office Waterford, Mailo was met with nothing but positivity and support.  “When I discussed my idea with LEO Waterford, I got great advice about applying for a feasibility grant and put in touch with some excellent mentors who were invaluable in advising me how to take Monkey Cups to the next level.”

Along with mentoring and grant assistance, LEO Waterford put Monkey Cups forward for Showcase Ireland, this gave Mailo a priceless platform to launch her product to both national and international buyers.

“The advantage of attending Showcase Ireland is you get really focused on getting your product ready for market. The mentoring we received from LEO Waterford prior to the show was so beneficial. We hit the ground running and were able to comfortably and confidently talk to people knowing what information decision-makers required in advance.”

 Monkey Cups - Case Study2

Mailo’s company now has its sights set on export markets. “Our research has helped us identify our customers and develop a sales strategy that suits our company’s identity and business model. Initially we are focusing on the Irish market, however, we have plans to move into the UK and Sweden.”

In Sweden, Fika is regarded as a social institution, in fact, a way of life.  Getting together with family, friends or business colleagues over a coffee, is a huge part of Swedes daily regime and Mailo has identified the potential for Monkey Cups to help reduce single-use plastic cup waste.

For anyone thinking of starting a business, Mailo advises, “Work on your business, not in your business. Every minute spent on tasks that can be delegated is a minute spent not planning, strategising and building the best possible business.”

From her own enterprising journey, Mailo is aware of the obstacles that must be overcome, but also of the help that is available.  “If there is an area you are inexperienced in, ask for help! Find a mentor who is an expert in that field. Their experience can save you time and money, both of which are often in short supply for start-ups.”

There are exciting times ahead for this innovative young company, as it not only provides a highly stylish and durable reusable coffee cup but also a solution to a very pressing problem.  By changing from disposable to reusable Monkey Cups can help us make a real difference!