What led you to starting your business?
Newmarket Kitchen was founded by Shane Bonner in 2014. At the time, Shane was working with his friend Dave from Sayfish who operated in Dublin’s lunchtime markets. Dave needed kitchen space to prep and Shane set about searching for a suitable unit. It soon became apparent that not only was space in Dublin hard to find, existing space was deemed unsuitable. Dave needed the kitchen for only a few days a week. High rents, compounded by costs for unused facility overheads made the existing options prohibitive. On his journey to finding kitchen space, Shane met a whole load of other folks having the exact same problem.
Some kind of light bulb went off that day and Shane decided he was going to build his own kitchen to house all these great folks with awesome products. The problem was – building a large kitchen can be expensive and finding a quality space was challenging. So a lot of time was wasted trying to solve both these issues until Shane found a fantastic unit in Bray, Co. Wicklow that ticked the MR boxes.
We now have 3 businesses operating from our awesome space here. Our slogan is – “A space made by us for us. A platform to create the community we want to live in. The status quo catalyses our innovation. JOIN. GROW. GAIN.”
How did you raise the start-up funds you needed?
Initially, I received some grant funding for the Feasibility of the project for a unit in Dublin City. On finding our unit in Bray, we decided to create a MVP to test the market. At a stage when we can prove all the awesomeness of our value added activities we will apply for grant funding – we’re just not quite at that stage yet.
What was the most significant lesson you learned in starting your business?
People put you down – block those guys out. An “x” on their head works well.
Benchmark where you can – turns out this is a performance measurement. People would be more familiar with “copying”. Unfortunately, no one told me during my school days that this was a skill which otherwise may have got me into trouble. Go find a business to benchmark and talk to them. Then find some more businesses and keep talking and benchmarking. Reach out - you never know where it might lead. Some great examples of this are where you measure your process performance with processes employed in different industries and sectors.
Try to avoid taking on too much debt with a financial institution and avoid direct debits where at all possible. Be in control of your cashflow timings.
What’s the best business book you’ve ever read – if any (doesn’t have to be a business book, maybe a fictional story that inspired you in your business).
Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results, by Charles Paul. The idea is to make work fun. I worked in places that were the complete opposite – toxic energy dumps. Life’s just way too short for that.
The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhig. If anything this book will make you analyse your life patterns that you thought had no control of – everything we do involves habits. Controlling them can lead to business success and happiness.
Who is the entrepreneur you admire the most?
Probably my Dad. Columba Bonner ran a successful construction firm up until the crash in 2009. Instead of becoming insolvent, Columba ensured all staff were paid their statutory redundancy having given in most cases a year’s notice as the business wound down. That afforded our staff time to re-train and find new positions where possible. This reduced the impact of losing their jobs giving them time to prepare.
Construction is taking off again, but there remains difficulties for sub-contractors within the existing pricing framework. Projects are broken into phases where a percentage of each phase is dispersed. The remainder is always withheld for long periods and usually negotiated leaving cashflow pitfalls for the sub-contractor. Given their highest cost is labour and the current rates remaining low, this can lead to dangerous financial positions for the Contractor. In some circumstances, that position is off-set by measures such as tax evasion or minimal safety practices to reduce costs. Columba decided that the current project associated risks aren’t worth entering the market again.
What have been the biggest challenges in your business to date?
There exists a lot of regulation in Ireland – regulation comes from the EU. But, somewhere along the way it is over-complicated and over-interpreted. What’s left is a myriad of regulation and guidance that fails to serve the purpose it exists for.
Dealing with every service provider out there. Unfortunately, Ireland is a rip-off for those starting a business. The transparency afforded by the current US$/EUR€ rate highlights this point from my perspective. I can offer countless examples. Additionally, the high GB£ rate now offers little flexibility for Irish businesses when purchasing. Combined, both highlight and exasperate the cost of doing business in Ireland.
What has been the proudest moment in your business so far – your proudest achievement, or moment of significance to you?
Definitely, the look on people’s faces when they see our Space. It’s like a weight is lifted from their shoulders. All micro businesses have the weight of normal business functions to deal with but not everybody can be good at everything, right? My main job is to identify any weaknesses in each micro business and try help it out. When people appreciate this – that’s moment of most significance for me.
Some smaller achievements are things like actually having an internet connection. Turning the printer on for the first time. Stuff – people in jobs would probably take for granted. Everyday has to have a private win!
What was the best piece of business advice you ever got?
Just go out, innovate and create.
Can you recommend a good time management technique for other entrepreneurs out there?
Lists, lists, lists – what gets measured gets done!!, right? After that you can start thinking of ways of prioritising those lists – I use highlighters or colour code in Excel. Get to a stage where you can start thinking about performance management. When you do – it’ll mean you’re definitely in control of your time.
What magazine do you never miss each month?
I don’t read magazines – but I generally flick through the Business section of the Irish Times daily, even if it’s just the headlines. What you’re doing is sub-consciously following stories so you can actually talk about a trending story (e.g.: like sale of Aer Lingus) more than somebody who has read a one-off article on the topic. Saves time and makes you seem clever!
What is your favourite film?
Big Lebowski. Although, a recent film – The Captive will send you home freaked out.
What is your favourite ad – on TV, radio or viral?
The guy from Spotify – you can’t ever let him annoy you. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying for your music. Treat him like an old friend and you can enjoy free music all the time. They probably should make him more annoying.
What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs thinking of starting a business?
See what’s trending and go for it. Look to the U.S./UK/Germany.
What do you like to do when you’re not running your business? Any hobbies?
Cooking, talking about joining gyms or exercise in general. Spending time with Jade, my wonderful girlfriend.
Have you found the self-employed formula for a work/life balance? What is it?!
Turn your computer off when your girlfriend says so – or get into a routine of shutting down at a time in the evening. Don’t get hooked on Social Media – set out a time for each platform (during work hours).
What’s your website? Tell us your address.
Do you have a Facebook page? Let us know what it is.
Are you on Twitter? Share your profile if you like.
@NewmarktKitchen (the first “e” is dropped because the wording was too long – same with Instagram)
How has LEO Wicklow helped you and/or your business?
Louise has promised me referrals – and if she doesn’t I’m calling back to Wicklow LEO.
If you could start up all over again, would you do anything differently?
No regrets – what’s the point. Keep looking forward.