Wicklow’s Best Young Entrepreneur Announced!
At an exciting awards ceremony held on Thursday night in Wicklow County Campus, Shane Byrne and Philip Kirwan were crowned as Wicklow’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2014. The competition, with a total prize fund of €50,000 was organised by the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Wicklow as part of the National Irelands Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) initiative.
Beating off stiff competition in their Best Established Business category, Philip and Shane from Showoff are developing a unique offering aimed at supporting independent living, health and well-being through the use of mobile and wearable technologies. Shane and Philip won a beautiful hand crafted trophy of granite and sculpted ancient bog oak, made by local entrepreneur and craftsman Eamonn Heffernan. They also win a business investment from LEO Wicklow of €20,000 and will go on to represent County Wicklow in the regional heats of the IBYE competition next month.
There were two other category winners who also went home with an Eamonn Heffernan creation and their own amazing prize fund. David Costello of Better Talk won the Best New Idea Category with his business idea for a mobile based application which provides a platform that will change the way people discuss subjects online and allow businesses to more directly and effectively target their customers. The prize fund of €10,000 for the Best Idea will be used by David to bring his offering to market launch.
In the highly contested Start Up category, Michael Noble of Noble Education won the award and investment from LEO Wicklow of €20,000 for his internationally traded service, which develops mutually rewarding collaborations between European and South East Asian Higher Education Institutions.
The judges, Sheelagh Daly Head of Local Enterprise, Frank D’Arcy CEO of County Wicklow Partnership and Lisa Cunningham of Vogue Business Development had an extremely difficult job to do. The 15 finalists were selected from over 60 entries to the competition and each of the finalists participated in an intensive 3- day boot camp in August, which was followed up by rigorous mentoring sessions with renowned business expert and author Blaise Brosnan. Each finalist then submitted a full business plan as part of the competition, made a five minute pitch to the judges on Thursday and were quizzed by each of the judges on many aspects of their business. Competition was of a very high quality in each category, something County Wicklow can be very proud of.
Speaking at the ceremony, Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council Eddie Sheehy said, “The aim of the IBYE initiative is to encourage and support a culture of entrepreneurship among young people in Ireland, to promote entrepreneurship as a career choice, and to encourage the establishment and development of new innovative businesses by Ireland’s young entrepreneurs.” He went on to say, “We in Wicklow County Council, through our new Local Enterprise Office, are committed to doing all we can to support the development of enterprise in County Wicklow. This is hugely important for job-creation as two thirds of all new jobs are generated by businesses in the first five years of existence – more start-ups and a thriving entrepreneurial culture will lead to more jobs being created.”
The Regional heats for Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur will be held in Carlow in October, with the National Final being held in Dublin in December.