Thirty under 30 - it's a whole new generation shaping the future of business
Published 04/10/2015 | 16:00
They are the young turks who will be shaping the future in coming decades. Scattered around the globe, these 30 super smart men and women are brimming with ideas to disrupt old industries or create market-changing new businesses.
While many of them are active in the technology sector, others are set to make their fortunes in industries ranging from media to property development and high finance to bio-tech. There could be a Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Page in here, write Sarah McCabe, Gavin McLoughlin, Adrian Weckler and Nick Webb
Conor Nolan (21) & Conor McGowan (22) Technology
The two Conors are the founders of WattSpot - a one-year-old business that makes tabletop mobile phone chargers for places like restaurants and cafes. Their clients include Insomnia, Topaz, William Hill, the Shelbourne Hotel, and many Irish universities. They have also just signed a deal with Ladbrokes Ireland.
Now Nolan (pictured above) and McGowan are turning their attention towards wireless charging - aiming to be 'truly wireless' before 2018.
"We have very ambitious plans going forward, leading the charging industry into what will be an incredibly exiting period and turning WattSpot into a household name. Wireless charging for all devices will become as abundant as WiFi and we will wonder how we ever lived without it," Nolan told the Sunday Independent.
Andrew Lynch (29) Recruitment
Lynch is the founder of executive recruitment business Mason Alexander. His team recruits senior hires for some of the biggest banks, private equity funds, law firms and professional services businesses in Ireland and the UK.
His three-year-old company is centred around personal relationships and networking, finding the best candidates through contacts and market intelligence. Entrepreneur and private equity veteran Pierce Casey is chairman of its board, while Ireland rugby star Rob Kearney is an investor and non-executive director.
Lynch eschewed the university route and went straight into business after finishing his Leaving Certificate at Clongowes Wood College, where he is still involved in the student's union.
Eimear O'Carroll (25) & Rhona Togher (24) Health
This is the duo behind Restored Hearing, whose products treat tinnitus. They went to secondary school together and their company was born out of a Young Scientist project.
Their first product was a therapy for tinnitus sufferers. Now they are working on a new type of hearing protection. Instead of using the traditional material, foam, which blocks out speech, they are using smart materials that allow users to block out unwanted sound while still facilitating communication.
The inspiration for the new product came from tinnitus sufferers the duo had worked with. Many had suffered hearing damage due to poor hearing protection.
Niall Horgan (29) Social Media
Horgan is Twitter's brightest Irish spark under 30. As head of the social network's sales partnership for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, his job is to look after large advertisers and revenue across more than 30 countries.
That means a lot of travel - he has visited more than 20 countries and taken 150 flights in the last 12 months, examining how everyone from start-ups in Sweden to rural villages in Kenya use Twitter.
The University College Cork graduate's previous roles include stints at Thomas Crosbie Holdings and Sky.
He joined Twitter in 2012 just as it was opening its European operations, when it had only 10 employees and no sales team.
Donal O'Sullivan (28) Corporate Finance
At the tender age of 28, O'Sullivan is director of mergers and acquisitions at Eli Global, the US investment company, heading up a team of 150 people across its UK and Ireland offices.
At Eli he has worked on the acquisition of Helix Health and Socrates Healthcare, two of the biggest providers of software for the healthcare industry in Europe.
O'Sullivan joined Eli 18 months ago from Cathal Friel's Raglan Capital, where he sat on the opposite side of the table, selling Irish businesses to US companies.
The largest deal he worked on at Raglan was the sale of Gerry Barry's Fintrax for €170m to a UK private equity fund. He left an accounting traineeship at KPMG for Raglan and before that, studied for a masters in accounting at UCD's Smurfit Business School.
Lauren Boyle (10) Coding
Dubliner Boyle is Europe's 'Digital Girl of the Year'. At the tender age of ten she has already built created a handful of websites, developed an app and taught the Taoiseach about coding.
She learned her trade at CoderDojo, James Whelton's vast network of coding classes for kids. Since then she has built sites on healthy eating, arts and crafts and on coding itself. She also plays violin in two different orchestras, including the DIT Sinfonia, and speaks some mandarin Chinese.
Over the summer she was invited to visit the Irish bases for Google, Twitter and LinkedIn and is just back from San Francisco where she spoke at a technology conference alongside CoderDojo boss Mary Moloney.
Jennifer McKeever (28) Venture Capital
McKeever is a senior investment analyst at Seroba Kernel, the life sciences investment fund she joined from college in 2011.
After an undergraduate degree in pharmacology at UCD she took a route less travelled, a brand new Masters in biotechnology and business, where McKeever met Seroba Kernel's Alan O'Connell, a partner at the fund.
In her four years at the company she has worked on several high-profile deals, including an investment in Heart Metabolics, a therapeutics company building an orphan disease to treat Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. The Cabinteely, Dublin native also occasionally teaches at universities around the country.
Jonny Campbell (29) Technology
Campbell is creative lead and cofounder of Brewbot, one of the country's coolest start-ups combining craft beer and technology.
Brewbot recently opened its new European headquarters which doubles as a trendy bar on Belfast's Ormeau Road, with developers and craftsmen upstairs - including recent hires from the likes of Apple, Dyson, Caterpillar, IDEO, Zero Motorcycles, IBM, and Tesla. Brewbot is backed by the same investors who invested in Uber, Fitbit and Makerbot.
A University of Ulster graduate, Campbell's previous jobs include a lead designer role at mobile app development agency Ecliptic labs which works with companies like Mail Chimp and eHarmony.
He is no stranger to publicity either. In 2011 he hit the headlines after announcing on Twitter he had won an internship with Charlie Sheen, even managing to convince local media with his claims. The stunt was orchestrated to demonstrate how difficult it is to verify claims on social media.
Ben McRedmond (22) Technology
Intercom is one of Ireland's hottest tech start-ups and recently raised €35m from world-famous investors, including Mark Zuckerberg.
McRedmond, son of TV3 chief executvie David McRedmond, was Intercom's first employee, joining in January 2012 as a software engineer straight out of school after receiving his Leaving Certificate from Gonzaga College. While still in school, he created WePredict, a software programme which could forecast which music would top the charts and detect other trends by analysing social media. It won The Google Award and its category at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2010.
An earlier app he developed at 16, PicoMarks, was nominated for an Irish Web Award for best new web application in 2009.
Simon Higgins (27) Food
Higgins is chief executive and founder of Fighter Foods, which is capitalising on two of the biggest trends in food in the past few years, healthy eating and meal deliveries.
The Malahide-based business makes 900 meal deliveries a week around Dublin to everyone from busy professionals looking to stay healthy to professional athletes like Robbie Keane.
A trained chef, Higgins has worked in Michelin- starred kitchens in London, Dublin and Lyon, including Patrick Guilbaud and Michel Roux's Le Gavroche.
Fighter Foods came about as a result of his passion for UFC, after he agreed to make meals in return for training from pro fighters Conor McGregor, Chris Fields, Cathal Pendred, Paddy Holohan and Gunnar Nelson. His sister Lucy is his business partner.
Katie McGlade (28) Retail
McGlade is part-owner and general manager of Therapie Clinics, the country's largest laser and skin clinic, about to open its fourteenth outlet in Tallaght.
She and her brother Philip have built the business up from one store, opened by their father on Dublin's Molesworth street, to a nationwide empire. They also own and run Optilase, the laser eye surgery company.
McGlade studied business at Dublin Institute of Technology, but the call of industry proved too strong; she left mid-way through her degree to grow Therapie full time.
"I dropped out of college as I saw huge potential in the growth of Therapie. If you're prepared to work hard, put in the long hours and have a targeted customer focus, it's one of the most rewarding areas in which to work.
"People can dismiss the beauty industry as flaky but believe me, it's a privilege to see how treatments can transform the lives of women by making them feel more confident, both on the outside and on the inside," she said.
Dr Joseph Roche (30) Astrophysics
Roche is an astrophysicist and assistant professor at Trinity, where he coordinates a Google-founded postgrad course in 21st century teaching. Previous employers include Nasa, where he used the Hubble Space Telescope to observe symbiotic stars at the Goddard Space Flight Centre.
One of his favourite research areas is the flaws in Hubble's planned replacement.
Roche almost made it into space; earlier this year he reached the final 100 in the running for the world-famous Mars One mission, battling more than 200,000 other applicants for a place on a one-way trip to the red planet.
The mission plans to establish a human colony on Mars with new humans arriving there every two years. But Roche left the programme after speaking out against its selection process, which he didn't feel upheld scientific standards.
Zach Desmond (28) Events
Desmond is the son of MCD supremos Caroline Downey and Denis Desmond. He works as a music promoter booking headline shows that have included Sigur Ros, Kasabian, and the recently announced Foals concert.
"Obviously ther are times when you bump heads, like anybody would with their family," Desmond told the Sunday Independent about working with his parents.
"But I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons. It makes life easier in that I can probably say things to them that others can't."
Mark T Burke (28) Millinery
From his millinery in Dublin's Fitzwilliam Square, Burke builds piece de resistances for Europe's most glamorous women. His creations have even made it to royal weddings - Chanelle McCoy, wife of top Irish jockey Tony McCoy, wore one of Mark's hats to the wedding of the queen's eldest granddaughter Zara Phillips to English rugby star Mike Tindall.
He always knew he wanted to work in fashion and trained in textile printing at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology.
In his fourth year, he travelled to London to complete an internship with legendary Irish milliner Philip Treacy and soon after won the Accessory Designer of the Year prize at the Fashion Innovation Awards.
Outside of his flagship Dublin store, he keeps a small studio in Galway and is stocked in select boutiques around the country while hosting the occasional seasonal pop-up outfit in larger stores like Brown Thomas. He plans to widen his company's product range and ultimately create a full-suite luxury lifestyle brand.
Alister Musgrave (29) Financial
A member of the Musgrave supermarket dynasty, Alister eschewed the family business to make it big on his own terms.
Musgrave is managing director and co-founder of MoneyHero, Hong Kong's biggest online comparison site for financial products.
The company has just raised $40m from Goldman Sachs, Jardine Pacific, Route 66, Nova Founders Capital and internet entrepreneurs Mark Pincus (Zynga founder) and Owen van Natta (former Facebook chief operations officer). Alister runs its Hong Kong division.
Before that, he spent four years in London at Morgan Stanley as an associate in equity sales. Originally from Cork, he studied economics at Trinity.
Philip Martin (27) Food
Burritos have exploded in popularity in recent years and Martin is one of the reasons why. Born and raised in Dublin, he is the brains behind the Little Ass Burrito Bar, which has two (soon to be three) locations in Dublin.
He's also behind Blanco Nino, a tortilleria based in Clonmel which is exporting to the UK and Europe and is the product of a successful crowdfunding campaign. That project won him the 'Best New Idea' category in the Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur Competition last year.
Kate Madden (15) & Annie Madden (13) Science
These sisters from Meath are the brains behind Fenuhealth, a product designed to get ailing horses back on their feed. They're selling it in Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands - and have already sold 1,000 units to Qatar.
They were prizewinners at last year's Young Scientist competition and now are trying to see if their product can help cure horses' stomach ulcers. Annie is focusing on that end for next year's Young Scientist, and Katie is working on a separate project on sport and people with disabilities.
Alltech founder Pearse Lyons helped out in the early days of the business. "The first time he rang me I was at soccer training so I missed his call," Annie Madden told the Sunday Independent. "Then he rang me again but this time I was swimming, so again I couldn't take his call. Eventually I rang him back and we talked and he was really nice.
"He gave us a lot of advice. He said that if we trusted him he would be able to give us a way to cut 90pc of our costs. "So we said: 'Okay we trust you' - and it did!"
Lukas Decker (27) Vouchering
Hamburg native Decker is the brains behind Coindrum - a clever machine that converts your loose change into shopping vouchers. His key backer is aviation tycoon Declan Ryan.
"The guys in UCD kindly offered me a scholarship so I came here for that. While I was doing that I had the idea for Coindrum and sort of got stuck!" Decker said.
His inspiration was his experience travelling between Hamburg and London. "I have a very international background. I went to boarding school in London and I always had euro coins when I was trying to pay for a sandwich or a newspaper. So I was very aware of the problem.
"The solution really came to me when I was paying my motorway toll. I wound down the window of the car and chucked the coins into this machine to make the barrier go up, and I just thought, this is how easy I want it to be to get rid of my coins in an airport.
"Declan Ryan was my angel investor in the early days, was with me from day one, is a director in the business. And then he followed on his money later on and now we are about to do a third round where again he is following his money, so that has been absolutely brilliant."
The company has had a successful trial in Dublin Airport, and Decker says it has a healthy pipeline going forward.
Julian Shovlin (24) Smartphones
This is the man to go to if you want to trick out your iPhone. Shovlin's business is iSmash - a personalisation and repair service for handheld devices. The first store opened in Dublin and since then he's opened a heap in the UK. "We do quite a few things now, we do repairs for smartphones, tablet computers, we have accessories for all of those, we source our own insurance product, we sell refurbished devices, we do a trade-in programme for devices, and we do tech support," he told the Sunday Independent in a recent interview.
He studied BESS in Trinity College Dublin and opened the first store with funds he made from running the business out of a back office. Later, he raised £900,000 (€1.3m) from angel investors and a relative and recently he closed a £1.5m (€2.2m) funding round. Shovlin's father is property developer Paddy Shovlin.
Niamh O'Neill (29) Fashion
O'Neill is an up-and-coming fashion designer who won 'Fashion Designer of the Year' at the Irish Fashion Innovation Awards in 2013.
An NCAD graduate, she completed internships in New York and Paris with major international design houses before striking out on her own in 2012.
"I am in 10 exclusive stockists in Ireland and we have just launched our export strategy into the UK market, so we hope to be in the UK soon. I'm working on growing the product range and carefully expanding our stockists.
"It is womenswear and it kinds of fills a niche. It is for women who want to dress up for an occasion, but it's quite unusual pieces. They are very much focused on shape and cut and colour, and it is not exactly the occasion wear in the way we think of occasion wear. It is slightly more contemporary."
Rabbit Hole (under 25) Branding
Rabbit Hole is a "creative guerrilla movement" that doesn't like to pigeonhole itself in any particular niche. The company is involved in advertising and branding and is behind a number of vibrant mural ads you may have seen painted on Dublin walls.
The company does not want any of its principals to be named, saying it is about a movement rather than individuals. Everyone involved is under 25. Their managing director is a 24-year-old man who dropped out of college after three months because he didn't find it conducive to creativity, and didn't think he would implement anything he learned in the real world. He tried a couple of ventures - but Rabbit Hole was the one that picked up steam.
A visit to Rabbit Hole's website will tells you that the company is changing, and to "be ready".
"Coming into 2016 we hope to expand what it is that we offer, and the manner in which we offer it," Rabbit Hole said.
"Because, fortunately, we never got any investment capital… it has always been literally going from project to project and the sole focus of Rabbit Hole since its incorporation has been client work. We have never had a moment to sit back and think about who we are and what it is we want to do with the brand.
"In January, we are going to completely shut down the business and revise everything that we do. All of our operations, our processes, and basically our brand. And then we are going to expand based on those facts. In the first half of 2016, our plan is to really solidify our position in the Irish market, and build a very solid foundation.
"Then, in the second half of 2016, we hope to implement that foundation in the UK, Europe and the US."
Paddy Finn (29) Energy
This fellow helps to keep the lights on. Ballinasloe native Finn is co-founder of Electricity Exchange. His service monitors electricity demand at businesses around the country and triggers backup generators, or automatically reduces their electricity consumption temporarily, if Eirgrid has a shortage of power.
He studied electronic engineering at University of Limerick and spotted a gap in the market for these 'demand side units'.
"Demand-side units became an emerging space. New market rules allowed independent companies to set up what are often known as 'virtual power plants'. I was actually then approached by a company in the States that was looking for me to go over there and help them set up these types of businesses," Finn said.
"But when I looked at the market in Ireland, the market opportunity was better and there was actually more need for it."
The company is expanding into Northern Ireland and developing a new technology to detect faults on the electricity system within milliseconds of their occurrence.
Finn wants rapid expansion and is in talks with a number of potential investors. His business partner is Duncan O'Toole.
Jamie White (28) Online Publishing
The Dubliner is founder of Youth Nation, an online publishing business whose four titles reach a massive 150m young people every week. Sites like Teentimes.com spot talented online bloggers and vloggers before they hit the big time and pushes their content to a massive audience.
White also owns Leading Social, an outsourced media marketing company which works with companies like Enterprise Ireland and Wolf of Wall Street Jordan Belfort - the same Wolf that White brought to Dublin last year.
The serial entrepreneur's career began while he was still at UCD. Dissatisfied with the college experience he began running his own nights and was soon hosting 30 student-oriented gigs a week around the country, later morphing his various ventures into the two ventures he runs today. White's business went through a turbulent patch earlier this year but after a restructuring process it is firmly back in growth mode. Tobi
Lukaschek (28) Food
Lukaschek's first ever job was on the floor at the Eddie Rocket's on South Anne Street. Now he works on business development at Rocket Restaurants, the company behind that brand.
"At the moment we are quite happy where we are. We have got three brands in the Irish market: Eddie Rocket's, The Counter, and Rocket's," Lukaschek said.
"As a company, we came through the recession well and ever since we've been lucky enough with year-on-year growth from not only sales, but we have also opened up quite a few restaurants.
"What we are looking to do is grow further. Certainly Ireland is the domestic market but at some stage, we are looking at taking our brands further afield, that could be Germany, that could well be in the UK.
"We are currently scoping out those opportunities. I'm sure that in 2016 we will have news of us going abroad."
Brought up in Bremen, Lukaschek's mother is from Greystones. He did a Master's in business at UCD.
Keith Craddock (29) Property
Craddock is one of the top youngsters in the Irish property scene - definitely a chap to watch.
An asset manager at Green REIT (which has a near-€1bn portfolio) he is involved in everything from acquisitions to retail and strategy.
Craddock did property studies at GMIT and previously worked at commercial property consultant Bannon.
Tim Arnold (28) Technology
Arnold is the general manager of taxi app Hailo in Ireland. He has been with the company since the very beginning and was its first full time employee in this country.
"I was hired originally as an operations manager for the launch in Dublin by Colm O'Cuilleanain, who was involved in the early stages of Hailo," Arnold said.
"The plan was for him to hire a general manager as well but once I had launched the market here and he saw I had everything under control, he hired me as general manager.
"In that time Ireland has become Hailo's most successful market globally."
Arnold studied BESS in Trinity and then went to work for Enterprise Ireland in Dubai.
"Having worked with a lot of Irish entrepreneurs and businesses there I wanted to join something early-stage," he said.
Conor Twomey (30) Technology
This guy has a stellar CV. A vice-president at Newry-based First Derivatives, he joined the company while he was completing a Master's thesis. After five weeks in First Derivatives he was sent to Citigroup in London and later worked at Goldman Sachs and Nomura.
He is the global head of operations for the company's KDB+ product - a super-fast data processing technology used by major banks and stock exchanges.
He has had a paper published in the Journal of Physics, is Dublin's outgoing curator of a World Economic Forum initiative called 'global shapers' and is a power forward for the Newry Flyers basketball team.
Catherine O'Neill (26) Engineering
O'Neill set up her civil engineering firm, Amelio, in 2012 while she was still studying at university.
She was recently nominated for an EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award, becoming the youngest woman to ever be shortlisted.
"I graduated from Queen's University Belfast at the height of the recession, when there were zero graduate jobs in civil engineering," she said. "Most of my classmates left Ireland. They went to Dubai or Australia, where there was work. But that was not an option for me, I just did not want to move.
"So I decided to become my own employer. I started my business, originally named One Environment, in my parents' house.
"In the beginning it was just me, a classmate and a small piece of equipment. We did anything that we could find, even if it was not the type of work I was looking to do - no job was too small."
In the four years since, Amelio has grown to more than 50 people, with a turnover of €3m.
David Coallier (29) Online Security
Start-up veteran David Coallier set up one of the Ireland's most talked about online security firms - Cork-based Barricade.io - and an initial €1m in funding is expected to be bolstered by more on the way soon.
Coallier has just begun to hire what he says is a recruitment drive of 35 people. Some of these are big industry names, including the former chief security officer of Rackspace, Jeff Reich.
Coallier is no stranger to profitable startups, either as a lead actor or investor. He was co-founder of Orchestra, which sold to EngineYard where he subsequently served as director of engineering.
He also cofounded Kwikdesk and was one of the first investors in Intercom and Trustev, among other startups.
Investors in Barricade include Dublin-based venture capital firms Frontline Ventures and Tribal Ventures as well as an Australian early- stage fund called Business Switch. Coallier's Orchestra co-founder, Eamon Leonard, is also an investor. Other private investors include US tech entrepreneur Jonathan Siegel, Lovin Dublin founder Niall Harbison, Max Claussen and Dave Concannon.
Dean Gammell (28) Ecommerce
This fellow thought he'd end up working in construction - but that's not how it has worked out.
His firm is DG Ventures, an "entrepreneur- driven" company with a variety of online brands. One is Group System - a piece of software that streamlines group bookings. Gammell said this one has the most potential.
"While I was in college I was always playing around with websites and kind of doing different things online trying to make a few euro. When I got out of college I got a job as a project manager, and on the side I started a website doing stag parties and it kind of took off from there."
Last year, Gammell won 'Best Established Business with Add On' at the Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur competition. His company has got money from Enterprise Ireland.
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