READY BUSINESS PODCAST: ‘I’m still a farmer, not an entrepreneur’ Ed O’Donnell on his crisp-making adventure
"Being the 7th generation farmer, you learn a lot growing up on a farm," explains Ed O'Donnell.
"There's a poetry and romance to it that you can't explain - you have to love it, and it’s a privilege to be born into it."
But his parents still encouraged him to spread his wings and look to other interests and so he went to college in the UK to study engineering.
After graduating, Ed gravitated back to agriculture and was managing farms in the UK when he saw the incredible consumer products that were being made by English farmers, from cheese to cider and crisps.
"I sensed there was a huge opportunity for launching something in Ireland. We have the best land in Ireland, though it's not about what we can produce on a farm but what the consumer wants and what we can deliver to them."
"I felt there was a need for Irish hand-cooked, gourmet crisps. In the UK there are about 30 different brands and I felt there was an opportunity for that in Ireland which would also have export potential. I came home then making a go of it with the cows on the farm and with this idea in the back of my head."
After doing his market research in shops around the country, the more Ed was convinced there was a market for his product.
With Leader funding, help from Enterprise Ireland and even two weeks in crisp college in the United States, O'Donnells Crisps was born in 2010 and hasn't looked back since.
"It was a lot of hard work," says Ed. "I was on the road for three years going from shop to shop to shop, a lot of whom I had met already when I was doing my market research. But launching a product you have to put your heart in it."
You can check out the full Ready Business Podcast series here.