Business Irish

Saturday 19 January 2019

Forty under 40: the youngTurks and tycoons of tomorrow

The destruction of some of the country's best-known businesses during the economic carnage has led to new opportunities for young entrepreneurs and business visionaries. As the smoke clears, Harry Leech, Roisin Burke and Nick Webb look at some of the hottest young talent emerging in Irish business. These are the people who will dominate the headlines over the coming years

Social media

Stephen McIntyre (38)

Twitter

Former Fulbright scholar Stephen McIntyre has flown under the radar of the Irish business press, despite rapidly scaling the corporate ladder at some of the world's hottest tech companies.

An electronic engineering graduate from Trinity College, McIntyre also graduated with a master's in Engineering from prestigious US university Cornell before working for Nokia and Ericsson. After graduating with an MBA from Harvard, McIntyre joined Google's then fledgling Dublin operation, where he worked for seven years in a variety of senior roles.

McIntyre was headhunted earlier this year to become Twitter's Director of International Online Sales & Operations, heading up the company's new Dublin office.

RETAIL

Ramona Nicholas (35)

Cara Group

Pharmacy tycoon Ramona Nicholas, 35, is coming to a screen near you soon. A little screen anyway. She's taking part in RTE 1's Secret Millionaire series.

From humble beginnings, Ramona and her husband Canice have built up the Cara Pharmacy group into one of the biggest independent chains in the country. Not only have they won a gong as one of the Deloitte best-managed companies but the chain has been expanding fast. Last March it bought out a Killybegs pharmacy, bringing its footprint up to 12 branches in the north west. Retail is a tough, tough sector but Cara saw sales rocket to €24.6m last year with operating profits also rising.

SOFTWARE

Ray Smith (32) &

Connor Murphy (33)

Datahug

If you've ever wondered who you need to talk to in a company that you're pitching business to but you're not sure who you should ask, you probably need to talk to Connor Murphy, 33, or Ray Smith, 32, of Datahug.

The company's software automatically mines email traffic to build a social graph of relationships between individuals or organisations, which is a boon for any company involved in sales.

Silicon Valley is taking an interest, with the company getting $1.5m in seed investment last year from Bill McCabe's Oyster Technology Investments and Ron Conway who was an early investor in firms such as Twitter, Google and PayPal. Ex-Intel boss Jim O'Hara is also a board member.

SOFTWARE

Dualta Moore (37)

SAMI

Blackrock College old boy Dualta Moore set up Software Asset Management Ireland (SAMI) in 2003 with a simple idea -- sell and licence essential software from the likes of Microsoft and Adobe to schools and students at a massive discount.

Through its website software4students.ie, the company has grown to become one of the largest software resellers to the education and voluntary sector in Ireland and the UK. The company won the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Company Award for Ireland in 2010 and 2011.

It now employs 30 staff at its Dublin and Belfast offices and has its sights set on further expansion.

FUEL & RETAIL

Mark Stafford (37)

Lifestyle Sports

Mark Stafford's great granddaddy JJ Stafford was one of the great Wexford merchant princes. He built up Stafford Holdings into a ship-owning, fuel-importing and retailing empire.

Then in 2004, before he was even 30, Mark took over the reins of the family company. A year later it expanded with its biggest ever acquisition, taking out Lifestyle Sports for a cool €60m.

Mark helped diversify the business and reduced some of the property exposure and non-core shipping assets. Along with his 40-year-old wingman and finance chief Mark Carter, the duo has helped steady the company as the economy tanked.

Campus Oil, Stafford Fuels and Stafford shipping provide the va-va-voom in the empire's engine.

social media

Iain MacDonald (35)

Perlico

'Serial entrepreneur' is an oft-used phrase when former Perlico founder and CEO Iain MacDonald comes up in conversation -- and it's not an unfair description given the Dun Laoghaire resident's track record.

MacDonald was just 26 when he founded home phone and broadband supplier Perlico in 2003 and sold it to Vodafone four years later, in a deal which valued the company at €70m. MacDonald's latest venture is skillpages.com, a business network for people who want to share skills; everything from plumbing to graphic design. The site now has 6.6 million members around the world and employs 42 staff.

property

Jamie Rohan (37)

Rohan Holdings

Better known for his appearances in the social pages back in the boom, Jamie Rohan has settled seamlessly into his role as head of one of the country's largest commercial property firms, Rohan Holdings.

His father Ken Rohan made buckets of money developing office blocks and industrial parks around Dublin and the UK as property prices rose. Then they saw the clouds approaching and pulled in their horns well before most of their rivals.

Rohan Holdings went into debt paydown overdrive long before Irish banks got wobbly. This foresight and conservative management means that Rohan Holdings is in spectacularly good shape for a property company. Jamie's sister Ali works in Nama.

online media

Eamonn (35) and

Brian Fallon (30)

daft.ie

Eamonn Fallon and his brother Brian have become two of Ireland's top young businessmen on the back of a transition year project that was too cool for school.

Brian set up Daft when he was just 16 and with Eamonn's help it has gone on to become Ireland's top online property ad website, beating the pants off myhome.ie, for which The Irish Times paid €50m in 2006.

Daft.ie lists roughly 90-95 per cent of all properties available for sale or rent in Ireland. The brothers have diversified in recent years, taking a share in boards.ie and launching the online news aggregator thejournal.ie.

biotech

Dr Heinrich Anhold (31)

Epona

Dr Heinrich Anhold is a former international show jumper from Co Sligo. After hitting on an idea for a portable blood analyser for the equine industry, Anhold sold one of his best horses for seed capital and spent a year scouting out the market to assess financial and technical feasibility.

Epona was founded in 2008 and the company hopes to bring its portable blood analyser, complete with advanced lab-on-chip technology, to market later this year. If the product can live up to its ambitions, it would be a world first and should sell well in the multi-million euro equine industry.

telecoms sofware

Cyril Murphy (38)

Equiendo

Former telecoms engineer Cyril Murphy, 38, spent three years with Esat Digifone in the late Nineties before jumping ship to then new player O2. He later worked for Nokia.

He struck out on his own in 2004 to set up telecoms software group Equiendo with ex-Meteor product manager Barry Cullen.

The company has developed a suite of intelligent software which allows telecoms companies to maximise the traffic on their networks and to monitor and manage networks from the cloud.

advertising

Emma Sharkey (31) and

Ray Swan (34)

McCann Worldwide

Emma Sharkey and Ray Swan announced their appointment as joint creative directors at top ad agency McCann Dublin in irreverent fashion -- the pair were pictured on the company website covered in blood, holding a large knife and the severed head of their former boss. We're assured the picture was photoshopped. You decide.

Sharkey & Swan have been making ads for top clients such as 3 mobile, Tayto, Dairygold and Lucozade for more than a decade and their 'Live Every Last Drop' campaign for Heineken is arguably the last good TV campaign the beer brand did in Ireland.

The team has won a hatful of awards for the campaigns, including an international Shark award for work on Lucozade.

dental outlets

Emmet O'Neill (33)

Smiles

Emmet O'Neill says that he got the inspiration for Smiles Dental Care after a trip to Florida with an "orthodontist who was dating my mother". When the first clinic opened in 2005 on South Anne Street in Dublin, the concept was of a high-end tooth whitening service provided by dentists in a contemporary setting.

O'Neill quickly realised that there was a gap in the market not just for tooth whitening, but for all dental services and since 2006 he has opened 17 clinics nationwide.

The company now employs over 60 dentists across the practices and a team of 100 nurses and admin staff.

software

Clare Dillon (38)

Microsoft

Clare Dillon may be one of Microsoft Ireland's head honchos, but it seems she originally considered becoming a teacher. Dillon graduated with a pure maths degree from Trinity College in 1996 and was awarded an H. Dip in Education a year later.

She joined Microsoft in 2003 from the young upstart company Havok, which provides interactive software and services for the movie and video-games industries.

Dillon currently heads up Microsoft Ireland's developer and platform group which works with Microsoft customers, partners, local software firms and the developer community to help them get the most out of Microsoft's latest technologies.

animation

Andrew Kavanagh (39)

Kavaleer

The animation sector is one of Ireland's lesser known but thriving industries. Cathal Gaffney's Brown Bag is making major waves in the US and Andrew Kavanagh's Kavaleer is behind some of the slickest productions to come out of Ireland including Garth & Bev and Bedheads.

Kavanagh set up Kavaleer back in 2001 and the company is creaking under the weight of its wards and gongs -- including an IFTA.

Kavanagh owns Kavaleer with business partner Gary Timpson. Moves into apps, e-learning and other interactive products have also paid off handsomely for the animation firm based in Dublin's Digital Hub.

social media

Colm Long (36)

Facebook

Derry native Colm Long has one of the most important roles at Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook and is something of a protege of Sheryl Sandberg, the company's high-profile chief operations officer.

The father of three spent five years at Google where he held several senior roles, including director of online sales and operations for northern Europe and director of sales operations for emerging markets.

In 2009, shortly after Sandberg left Google, Long also joined Facebook to establish their EMEA headquarters in Dublin before moving into his current role as head of Global User Operations based in Menlo Park, California.

advertising

Rory Hamilton (35) and

Pat Stephenson (36)

Boys and Girls

Rory Hamilton, 35, credits "being lost as a child and raised by magpies" for his love of shiny things like advertising awards, but having picked up a few for some of the country's top ad agencies he wanted some for himself.

Three years ago Hamilton, along with former McConnell's deputy MD Pat Stephenson, 36, and four other ad execs, set up the ad agency Boys and Girls. It was a brave move as the agency didn't have a single client when it opened its doors but it has clearly paid off -- the upstart agency has built a portfolio of clients large and small, including Digicel, Pernod Ricard and Danone.

online music video

Stephen O'Regan (29)

Balcony TV

Balcony TV is an incredibly simple concept, but then again the best ideas always are. Founded in 2006 by Stephen O'Regan, 29, and two friends, the idea was to get bands to do a short interview and play live on the balcony of their Dublin apartment and then put the footage online.

The format has now been licensed and has proved to be a big hit online, with Balcony TV affiliates broadcasting from 30 countries around the world.

Just a few months ago the company got a $750,000 investment from three US venture capital companies following a start-up boot camp in Copenhagen, which values the company at about $3m.

networking

Paddy Cosgrave (29)

Websummit

Wicklow's consummate networker Paddy Cosgrave should have the best rolodex in town. Except the rolodex was long extinct before Cosgrave started to get to know people in the loop.

His Websummit is the 'must attend' get-together for anyone working in the technology sector and Cosgrave is able to bring together some of the biggest names in global business to do their thing.

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey is just one of Cosgrave's loyal followers.

booze

Jack Teeling (35)

Cooley Whiskey

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Jack's dad, John Teeling is one of the best-known entrepreneurs in the country with interests spreading from mining for diamonds in West Africa to whiskey in Cooley.

Last year he sold his Cooley distillery to US spirits giant Beam for a neat €73m. Jack has stayed on with the business and is spearheading major expansion plans as Cooley prepares to go toe-to-toe with some of the big players.

discount supermarkets

Donald Mackay (39)

Aldi

The third secret of Fatima is more likely to be revealed than the inner workings of Aldi. The German discount retailer is notoriously media shy -- but, boy, is it a smooth-running operation.

Scot Mackay is at the helm of one of the biggest retail expansion programmes ever seen. One might even describe it as a blitzkrieg. Aldi has seen its market share jump by an unprecedented 25 per cent over the summer and now has a 5.7 per cent share of our €9bn grocery market.

Discount retailers are making hay as consumers switch from well-known brands to cheaper lesser-known ones. Aldi has 70 stores across Ireland and is opening more.

online payments

Patrick (23) and

John Collison (21)

Stripe

It's safe to say that Patrick Collison, 23, is the most successful winner of the ESB Young Scientist award. Collison won the award in 2005 and went on to found start-up Shuppa with his brother John Collison, 21.

Having failed to get Enterprise Ireland support, the pair merged with another company and the new entity later sold for $5m in 2008, making the then teenage brothers overnight millionaires.

The Collisons' latest venture, Stripe, could see them make a whole lot more if it works out. Stripe has the potential to completely revolutionise the online payments sector.

recruitment

Lynda Barnes (33)

360 Search

Lynda Barnes took an interesting path to her current position as managing director of recruitment specialists 360 Search. Lynda started her career as an insurance underwriter, where she says she developed "a good understanding of equating risk".

She took a risk setting up 360 Search in 2010 but the gamble seems to have paid off and the company has been used by a number of firms to find the right candidate for their job. 360's projects have ranged from helping international start-ups identify and recruit the best talent to helping firms such as FBD recruit execs to senior roles. Risk, it would seem, is relative.

SPORTS MANAGEMENT

Conor Ridge (36)

Horizon

Conor Ridge is probably sick of the Jerry Maguire references, but when a young guy decides to strike out on his own and set up a sports management company, he's got to expect someone to shout "show me the money!" at him every now and then.

Ridge set up Horizon Sports Management is 2005 with Colin Morrissey, but the agency had no major stars until it enticed Graeme McDowell from Chubby Chandler's ISM in 2007.

Success breeds success and Horizon's handling of G-Mac led to a plethora of top names heading to Horizon's doors, including Rory McIlroy, Ross Fisher, Shane Lowry and Michael Hoey. Ridge can get Tom Cruise to play him in the film of his life.

GAMBLING

William Reeve (39)

Paddy Power

The newly-appointed head of operations at Paddy Power has had an interesting career path. Oxford-educated William Reeve was a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Company before he co-founded Fletcher Research in 1997.

The company went on to become the UK's largest internet research firm and was subsequently acquired by Forrester Research. Reeve then went on to co-found LoveFilm, the UK online movie rental company which was later acquired by Amazon.

He is also chairman of Graze.com and has served as a non-executive director of a number of high-growth internet companies, including Zoopla and Secret Escapes.

bread & waste

Alan Walsh (35)

One51

Heading up a highly diversified investment firm with turnover of €421m is impressive by any standard. Alan Walsh, 35, managed to do this a little over a decade after graduating from UCD with a degree in International Commerce, when he was given the top job at troubled waste-to-bread group One51.

It was a massive vote of confidence for Walsh who had previously worked at solicitor super-firm Matheson Ormsby Prentice and reinsurance group AXIS Capital, and who qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG. Turning around One51 is a big ask, but the early signs are positive for the business prodigy.

industry

Fergal Naughton (37)

Glen Dimplex

Fergal Naughton is deputy CEO of Glen Dimplex, the company founded by his father Martin in 1973. Getting into the family business wasn't inevitable, however -- the elder Naughton once told us that if one of his children wanted to take over "they must want to do it and they must be able to do it".

Thankfully Fergal seems to have both, along with a BA from Trinity, an MSc in Engineering from Stanford and an MBA from Harvard. Glen Dimplex has an annual turnover in excess of €1.5bn and is the largest electrical heating manufacturers in the world, employing 8,500 in Europe, the US, Canada, China, Japan and New Zealand.

gaming

Dylan Collins (33)

Jolt

Already one of Europe's top internet entrepreneurs, Dylan Collins, 33, has founded three top games companies and flipped them successfully.

His first company, Phorest, was sold in an MBO in 2002. In 2003 he founded DemonWare whose technology was used to connect millions of players on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 and in 2007 it was acquired by NYSE-quoted Activision, the world's biggest video games publisher.

In 2007 Dylan founded Jolt Online Gaming, one of the pioneering social games publishers in Europe, and it was acquired by GameStop in 2009. Collins is executive chairman of Fight My Monster, the leading online games network in Europe for boys.

online video

Grainne Barron (37)

Foxframe

Grainne Barron set up her corporate video production company Foxframe in 2010 after 15 years working in the film industry for companies including Windmill Lane, Midas and NBC.

Foxframe allows businesses to 'self-create' professional company videos online using its Content-as-a-Service (CaaS) software application which automates the entire video production and distribution process.

It's a great idea for small companies who want to create corporate videos for presentations and Foxframe is already turning heads -- it beat off some strong competition to win the PwC-run Bolton Trust Incubator Programme in 2011, with a prize of €10,000.

online training

Geoff Beggs (33)

Front Square

Geoff Beggs spent five years working in tech areas for the Ford motor company and later worked as a consultant and trainer with clients like Pfizer, Diageo, Irish Life & Permanent and O2.

In 2010 Beggs co-founded Front Square with Brian McDonnell and Sean Blanchfield. The company produces tailormade computer games to train employees in large companies, which solves a difficult education-delivery problem for large enterprises.

As well as a good idea, Beggs has a proven track record in his partners -- Blanchfield co-founded Demonware with Dylan Collins and has been involved in numerous successful tech start-ups.

ONLINE RETAIL

Ronan O'Brien (29)

Zatori

O'Brien is an unstoppable retail machine and knows how to sell stuff online.

The Laois-based entrepreneur is building up quite a retail presence on the internet under the umbrella of his Zatori Results operation. His sales come through the likes of TheCostumeShop.ie, TheBikiniShop.ie, MarineElectronics.eu, BuyTophies.ie and TheMobilityShop.ie.

By last year, he'd already hit revenues of €2m.

security software

Mark Sugrue (32) and

Sarah Doyle (33)

Kinesense

Sarah Doyle and Mark Sugrue are CEO and CTO respectively of Kinesense. The company develops CCTV video search, analysis and reporting solutions for the law enforcement and security markets.

Kinesense specialises in Video Content Analytics (VCA) technology which enables the automatic detection of events in video, allowing law enforcement and security agencies eliminate the time taken to watch and sift through hours of video for key events.

It's the sort of technology that could save lives in an emergency when every second counts and is another great example of an Irish company that plans to go global.

social media

Sonia Flynn (37)

Facebook

Sonia Flynn was appointed as EMEA director for user operations at Facebook in 2009 and more recently was given the nod as Facebook Ireland's head of office.

It's the second major worldwide tech giant at which Flynn has worked as she was part of the team that established Google's European headquarters in Dublin.

She held a number of senior roles at Google, including Head of Site for Google Wroclaw and Director of User Operations. Before she joined Google, Sonia worked at ModusLink, a global leader in supply chain manufacturing and at the Irish-owned company, Taxback.com.

video recruitment

Edward Hendricks (30)

Sonru

Interestingly for a techie, Hendricks studied agribusiness and rural development in college. He is chairman of Sonru, the online virtual recruitment technology company he founded.

Sonru's technology is used by giant corporations such as Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Ebay, giving them a way to interview prospective employees via online video.

It only started up in 2009 but Hendricks' company has had a fairly meteoric rise in popularity. It now has offices in London and Singapore.

stockflow software

Alan Scroope (39)

Freeflow

Microsoft, Apple and more are among the 2,000 clients worldwide signed up with the company which Alan Scroope founded in the upstairs bedroom of his mother-in-law's house.

Located in Tralee and with a big office in San Jose, California, FreeFlow provides stock and inventory managing technology to big companies. Scroope started the business 10 years ago in the midst of the dotcom bust and is CEO.

Revenues for the year up to May 2012 were €30m, up a nice healthy €10m on previous results.

online entertainment

Orla Sheridan (39)

Microsoft

Orla Sheridan joined Microsoft in 200, nabbing every geek's dream job -- creating and running its entertainment and devices division in Ireland -- ie, being in charge of the marketing of Microsoft's computer game stuff, including its flagship Xbox products. Now she's director of its entire Irish consumer division.

From Granard, Co Longford, she started her career in Galway, spent a few years in Germany and Switzerland and worked with PC maker Gateway before joining Microsoft.

industry

Michael Leonard (38)

Ardagh

The Ardagh Glass executive's star could rise along with his employer's. Ardagh is poised to float on the Nasdaq sometime in the coming months.

The company is heading towards a likely €4bn in revenues for this year and is one of the top three glass and metal container manufacturers in Europe.

At a relatively young age, Leonard is a director of several offshoot Ardagh businesses. The company recently announced another major acquisition, paying €721m for a Florida company that will give it a major boost in the US.

software

Shane Curran (12)

Libramatic

Babyfaced-CEO Curran started up Libramatic, a smartphone and computer-based library system that helps librarians manage books much more quickly than the existing systems out there

He's been honing his techie genius for many years, having learned to build a website at just four or five and how to programme at just six years of age. He taught himself HTML so he could set up computer game cheat websites.

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