The most exciting Irish business stars under 30
We profile the country's most talented business people and hear their remarkable ideas and plans for the future.
Luke Mackey (23) and Alan Haverty (23), Bamboo
Hate queuing? Want to walk into the cafe, grab your morning coffee and run? Luke Mackey and Adrian Haverty have the answer for you.
Their Bamboo app is changing the nature of ordering, paying and transactions in cafes across Dublin city, allowing you to order and pay in advance.
The company has 70 outlets signed up around the capital and is set to expand to Cork in October.
The whole idea is to cut the time-consuming transaction process out in store and Mackey says that the app is unashamedly aimed at his own millennial generation.
“We have become used to ordering via nmobile from the likes of Hailo, Just Eat and Deliveroo so it is becoming more and more natural for us to pay for what we want like this.
“Using our app allows businesses to have
more customers and higher throughput and delivers a better experience for the customers,” he says.
Daryl O’Regan (29),
GALWAY-BORN software developer Daryl O’Regan’s early-stage company Paybolt began as a final-year project for her Dublin Institute of Technology business computing degree, but the idea was always too good an idea to die with the college term.
The concept for a wearable payment method — for example, a wristband — is flexible and can be used at all sorts of large events from business conferences to music festivals such as Electric Picnic, which first sparked the idea.
“It’s a cashless platform that event organisers can use to improve the experience and it provides them with analytics of who is spending what and where. Depending on the type of event I can add different types of features,” says O’Reagan.
NDRC has invested €30,000, with Enterprise Ireland adding a further €50,000, helping O’Regan turn Paybolt from idea to business: “It is really early-stage but I guess they see the potential. I am not building this just for the Irish market but for the international market,” she says.
Christine (20) and Bridget Butler (28),
WHO doesn’t like marshmallows? Who doesn’t like a gin & tonic? It takes a certain type of genius to put two of life’s great pleasures together but that is exactly what Wexford sisters Christine and Bridget Butler have done. Their gin & tonic flavoured marshmallow is the real hit for their company, Marsh Sisters. Other interesting flavours, available in a growing number of stockists, include mojito, pistachio & rosewater and even plain old vanilla. Bridget — a graphic designer — has designed all the packaging.
“We love baking together,” says 20-year-old Christine, a second-year science student. “I’ve been making marshmallows for as long as I can remember.
“I dedicate my week to college and then the weekend to the business. I really am enjoying learning about business.”
She keeps an open mind on how far the business can go, but for now the focus is on expanding the number of stockists around Ireland and, as well as developing the Marsh Sisters internet shop.
Garret Flowers (28),
Parkpnp & Krust Bakery
FINDING a parking spot is one of those modern day problems that afflicts everyone from time to time. Not anymore. Or at least not for those who have downloaded Garret Flowers’s Parkpnp app. It provides a marketplace that allows people to list, advertise and then generate income from their unused or underutilized parking spaces, allowing drivers to find guaranteed parking on their PC or smartphone.
“People can list their parking spot per hour, per day, per week, whatever,” says the Longford native, who also set up a successful bakery distribution business called Krust. “When Dublin Airport was packed in July people were renting out their driveways close by. Some of them were then even dropping people up to the airport so it became like a cross between Airbnb and Uber.”
So successful has ParkPnP proven in Ireland that it is now set to expand into Europe, signing its first license agreement in the Netherlands and beginning the process of raising €3m through private investors on top of an initial €500,000 investment from Enterprise Ireland.
Ciara O’Doherty (28),
Taylor & Rose
FASHION has definitely gone to Ciara
O’Doherty’s head. The Blanchardstown native is a freelance TV presenter, fashion writer, stylist, and one of Ireland’s most recognised fashion bloggers.
But her latest venture may be her most unique one yet. She has just launched her formal accessory brand — Taylor & Rose — a collection of couture-inspired headpieces, crowns and hair accessories. She enjoys the world of business but says no one should underestimate how tough — but ultimately rewarding — it is to set up your own company
“In this day and age there are so many resources available but being in business is a very personal thing,” she says.
“I was very slow to call myself a businesswoman or an entrepreneur. I suffer from what I call imposter syndrome!”
But, she says, in the end it is all about having conviction and ambition and “getting it right in your own head”.
“Once you have that it drives you on,” she says.
James Galvin (28),
Shoot Cut Grade
ABSURDIST horror is not a genre that you come across too often but film producer James Galvin is hoping to win big at the Cannes Short Film Festival with an offering in the genre — zombie-style flick They Make You Grow a Beard.
Galvin’s production company Shoot Cut Grade — which he founded in 2015 — has also become the first Irish movie house accepted for the LA Screen festival.
“Cannes was a big surprise,” says Galvin. “It’s huge. We are filmmakers first, then business people. But this gives our clients confidence when we say we are off to Cannes that not only do we know what we’re doing but others agree. Aristotle said ‘do your work with passion and the work becomes perfection’. That’s what we aim for.”
His first love is filmmaking but his bread and butter is corporate work for a host of big Irish and international brands.
But, he says, the secret of success is to bring a filmmaking aesthetic to every job and that makes all the difference.
Richard Whelan (27) and Gavin Hayes (27),
WHEN Richard Whelan and Gavin Hayes were studying in UCD they had their first startup, StudyBuddy. It was designed as a way for students to keep themselves off social media at study time: “Because it was very much aimed at students, we couldn’t make money from it. But we learned lots of lessons,” says Whelan.
The pair then built Popdeem — a platform to help brands “become part of the conversation rather than just disrupting it,” and “to turn people into brand ambassadors online.”
Such is Popdeem’s success it has raised well over €1m in funding. The US is the company’s biggest market, with major deals with a coffee chain in Kentucky and one of the major US loyalty vendors. But despite the growing success, Whelan knows of the challenges.
“Just stick at it,” he says. “It is a rollercoaster; you can have months of nothing going your way. The startups we have seen become successful are those with a strong vision, who just stuck with it during the tough times.”
Oisin Carroll (20) and Uzair Qureshi (19),
TRINITY engineering students Oisin Carroll and Uzair Qureshi, inspired by the Nepal earthquake, developed a way to treble the life of bamboo as a building material.
Their project, which won international innovation awards, pumps pesticide through the inner core of the plant to replace the sap beloved by termites. That allows the material to be used as a quick medium-term housing solution in areas that have suffered disaster.
Carroll, who in his spare time is Ireland’s top juggler, also has other balls in the air in terms of business. A talented programmer, he has developed a way to use smartphones to estimate someone’s clothes size to within a centimetre. Online clothing retailers will be able to use the technology for size recommendations to prospective customers.
“I spend lots of time getting really good at arbitrary things,” says Carroll. So where does he see himself in ten years? “Probably focused on artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning. I will be building our robotic overlords.”
Indy Power (23),
The Little Green Spoon
INDY POWER is very much of her generation: she has taken something wonderful — tasty, healthy food — and married it to the incredible power of the internet. With a popular blog called The Little Green Spoon, tens of thousands of followers on Instagram, TV appearances, tie-ins with food businesses and, now, her very own cookbook, she is very much the young blood of the celebrity food world.
Like all great business ideas Power’s online foodie empire has grown directly out of her own life experience.
“We’re a foodie family. My mom, Laura, is a fantastic cook. Her mother, my granny, was Japanese so I learnt a lot from them. We’d visit her each year when she’d cook up these amazing feasts.”
Power originally planned to become a vet but changed her mind at the last minute to study business at Trinity College before going on to study Nutrition and Health Coaching.
Just like in business, Power is not one for hanging about in her personal life either and she has just gotten married in recent weeks.
Maurice Sheehy (28),
MAURICE Sheehy launched his peer-to-peer car rental platform Fleet during the summer and aims to become the Airbnb of the car rental market. The Dublin-based company facilitates car owners to rent out their vehicles to other users, of which there are now at least 5,000.
Sheehy’s first foray into business was when he sold a horse he had reared and bought a house and two gyms from the proceeds.
The sale of all three financed the early stages of Fleet, which is an Enterprise Ireland high-
potential startup. Sheehy is now looking to raise €1m to expand into Britain in 2018 to add to an initial private investment of €210,000.
“I sold my house and put a further €250,000 in myself,” he said. “I moved home because I believe in the product so I think it was a risk worth taking. People don’t know where this market is going. Do you really want to spend €10,000 a year on owning a car you only use half the time? And if you are going to own a car, why not utilise it rather than it burning a hole in your pocket?”
Devan Hughes (29),
DEVAN Hughes has based his business not so much on a simple idea, but on what he believes is a revolution sweeping through the retail sector.
Buymie is an on-demand grocery delivery platform that allows consumers to order grocery and household items from a variety of large and local stores, while having them delivered store to door in as little as an hour.
Hughes has signed up more than 50 retailers as partners in Ireland and is hatching plans to expand into the UK. “In the last couple of years convenience has become one of the main priorities for consumers as a way to supplement busy lifestyles,” he said. This is creating opportunities for companies to create a more dynamic infrastructure: “What we are starting to see is a shift from the organisational economy of the 20th century, which was dominated by large organisations, to a market- based, peer-to-peer economy.”
Hughes is also co-founder of Ireland’s digital platform trade association Sharing Economy Ireland, representing members such as AirBnB, UrbanVolt, Deliveroo, Stripe and Uber.
Fiona Edwards Murphy (26),
THERE are very few things on the planet quite as important as bees which pollinate much of our fruit and veg. Caring for a thriving hive is difficult and skilled but Cork student Fiona Edwards Murphy has built technology that now makes it just a little bit easier.
“My background is engineering and the Internet of Things is my area,” she says. After completing a degree in electrical engineering in UCC, Edwards Murphy spoke to her supervisor in college, who had once kept bees. She was inspired to apply her knowledge and technical skills to solving an increasingly difficult problem for farmers around the globe.
ApisProtect has gone on to develop a unique system of hive monitoring using sensors that brings keepers up to date on the health and productivity of the hive. The project has received international recognition, including at least eight academic publications, awards from the Irish Research Council, IBM, The Irish Laboratory Awards, and Google.
Andrew O’Neill (29),
Dry & Fly
ANDREW O’Neill has established his trendy new Dry & Fly salon as a place to get a blow-dry or beauty treatment in a sociable, fun environment. The concept is inspired by the “fast beauty” revolution becoming increasingly popular in Britain and America. Arrive with a gang of friends as the first stop on a night out, have a gin and tonic, relax and — oh yeah — get your mop blow-dried.
“I saw a gap to create a high-quality service in a sociable environment that was different from the traditional salon for the busy modern woman,” says O’Neill, who co-founded Dry & Fly with business partner Geoff Walker. “We wanted to create a sociable space. Women can come here before or during work or in the evening with friends and enjoy a complimentary drink before dinner or a date.”
O’Neill worked in the super-yacht industry across the world for six years. His duties included navigation, operations and project management for what he describes as some of Forbes’ top 10 wealthiest individuals.
Jennifer Hourihane (30),
THE dusty world of legal documents is not one often associated with innovation but solicitor Jennifer Hourihane believes that her new startup company, Oathello, will prove to be the Uber of the legal world.
Cork woman Hourihane trained with Byrne Wallace and worked for A&L Goodbody.
She loved her time as a practising solicitor but it taught her too that the system is full of delays, not least for companies looking to have crucial documents witnessed and notarised.
That is where Oathello comes in. It is an app that allows you to book and pay for a junior solicitor in your area to come to you and sign those crucial forms, bringing speed, efficiency and convenience to a sometimes tortuous legal process.
“It was such a big jump to go out into business but we are now in thick of it and just about ready to launch the app, just in time for the busiest few months of the legal calendar,” she says.
Finn Murphy (25),
iDly Systems and now Plynk
FINN Murphy was the co-founder of iDly Systems, a software platform for digitising ID cards and other products for the education, healthcare and sport sectors. After building his team to six, Finn negotiated an opportunity for the team to join financial payments startup Plynk just after its own €25m Series A funding round. Now settled into Plynk, Murphy is heading up their growth operation as they prepare to penetrate the Irish market and begin entering multiple European countries.
“Plynk’s goal is to become a verb in every language,” says Murphy, who is working to build the team of engineers, marketers and designers to make that happen.
He is not, however, the first person in his family to make a bit of a splash. Murphy also manages his sister, Olympic Silver medallist Annalise Murphy. He was also a Washington Ireland Program class member working in the US Senate in 2015 and is a graduate of Mechanical Engineering from Trinity College.
Shane Curran (17),
THE Founder of qCrypt and winner of this year’s Young Scientist Exhibition, Shane Curran, is not intimidated by the fast-paced tech business world in which he is a rapidly rising star: “I’m 6 foot 4 — that helps”.
The software provides security for documents that is verifiably secure for life, says Curran. It could safely store personal documents like wills but, he says, it is secure enough for governments to use for national security level documents because he has added ‘post quantum security’. It also secures files in a way that “is independent from adverse judicial decisions or government input”.
The fintech and technology sector is particularly keen. “It is strange going from talking to my school friends, to business meetings with people three times my age. “But I’ve been doing this since I was 13 or 14. Back then credibility was a problem but not so much anymore.” For now, the Leaving Cert remains the priority and revenue funds the business. “After I finish school I will probably look at raising Series A funding,” he says.
Ailbhe Keane (24),
founder, Izzy Wheels
IZZY WHEELS was set up a year ago by designer Ailbhe Keane as a way for people to express their sense of style through their wheelchair.
“The idea was inspired by my sister, Izzy, who was born with spina bifida and is paralysed from the waist down,” she says. “Growing up she found it frustrating that her wheelchair was always with her but didn’t reflect her own style or personality. It made people feel sorry for her. But anyone who knows Izzy knows she is funny, bubbly and definitely doesn’t want people to feel sorry for her. She has a great relationship with her chair because it enables her and that’s the case for other people too.”
While at the National College of Art & Design, Keane sold wheel covers created through collaborations with famous Irish and international designers and graffiti artists. A percentage of sales go to charities and 80pc of sales come from the US, driven by social media exposure. One video had 11m views and it was the first Irish firm to feature as the main story on Instagram’s homepage.
Alvan Hunt and John Lynam (both 26),
FANCY some extra insect protein in your daily diet? Alvan Hunt, along with Hexafly co-founder John Lynam, has developed technology to breed flies on an industrial scale for use as animal feed.
The insect protein, when turned into a liquid or powder, is used as a food source for the animal feed industry and can also be used for human consumption — as a main ingredient in bars or cakes. The Ashbourne, Co Meath-based start-up company uses cutting-edge biotechnology to “bring an insect farming revolution to the world and find smart ways to feed the planet”, says Hunt.
Hunt and Lynam had looked at ways of innovating in the ag-tech sector to find a sustainable raw material. Lynam’s interest in fly fishing led them to the Black Soldier Fly.
“Agriculture is crucial to the Irish economy, so it makes a lot of sense to innovate,” says Hunt.
The company raised €1m last year to develop its Meath facility and also plans international expansion as it secures orders from animal feed companies.
Aoibheann O’Daly (30),
Love & Robots
AOIBHEANN O’Daly is the co-founder of Love & Robots, a jewellery and accessories manufacturing company with a difference.
The company, founded by Aoibheann and her two sisters, Emer and Kate, combines cutting-edge design with 3D printing to create highly customisable products made in a range of materials, from nylon to precious metals, which are 3D-printed in the UK and the Netherlands.
“We design everything ourselves in Dublin but we can send the file for any piece anywhere in the world to be 3D-printed,” says O’Daly, who studied for a Masters in interactive digital media.
“Stockists in Australia can 3D-print our designs and save shipping costs. 3D-printing allows for a distributed manufacturing model, rather than a centralised one. In the past we would have a mould manufactured in China to produce 100,000 identical products. Theoretically every file we design can be different: a stockist in Sligo can have a slightly different version to one in Dublin.”
Kevin Glynn (27),
KEVIN Glynn quit his job as a trader with Goldman Sachs to set up Butternut Box, which now delivers specially tailored meals to dogs right across Britain. He joined forces with a fellow ex-Goldman trader David Nolan to establish the company in London to target pet owners looking for high quality meals for pets.
“People view dogs as part of the family, but often, diet-wise, pets get left behind,” Glynn has said. “Pet owners are left choosing their dog food in an aisle cluttered with washing powder and bin bags and dominated by a few unhealthy choices. Butternut Box makes it easy and convenient to ensure dogs get the very best diet tailored for each individual.”
In July the company announced a £1m seed round of investment from London early stage investor Passion Capital. Butternut Box is looking to capitalise on the massive £3.1bn annual market in Britain alone for dog and cat food snacks, which is dominated by two companies which have an estimated 77pc share of the UK market.
Kyrill (22) and Artyom (21) Zorin,
WHEN brothers Artyom and Kyrill Zorin were 12 and 14 they came across the Linux operating system. They loved many things about it compared to Windows or Mac but could not understand why someone had not created a more user friendly version that would attract people who were not technology oriented. So they decided, with no formal programming experience, to do exactly that themselves on the computer in the bedroom of their Dublin 8 home.
Encouraged by their dad, a translator who had moved to Dublin from Ukraine, they set about designing a system that looked and felt like Windows but retained all the things Linux users love. Now, seven years later, Zorin OS is an open source secure operating system that has been downloaded 18 million times.
“We were both pretty passionate about technology and Linux,” Kyrill previously told online publication Irish Tech News. “We both thought, ‘why wait? Why not work right now? The both of us.’ We’ve continued since.”
Ryan Scott (27), Sam O'Byrne (26) and Roman Grogan (25),
DROPCHEF is a healthy meal-kit delivery service founded by sailing buddies Ryan Scott, Sam O'Byrne and Roman Grogan.
Launched at the end of 2014 it has a growing list of subscribers, as well as a special hub for staff at Google’s European headquarters in Dublin.
Customers can sign up online and pick meals from healthy menus created using ingredients from artisan suppliers.
A weekly subscription costs €29 a week for one person for three meals, while family plans start at €83.
The meals are prepared from the company’s facility in Dublin’s IFSC and delivered nationwide by courier.
DropChef has raised about €100,000, with backing from Enterprise Ireland.
The company also describes itself as a social enterprise due to its “cook-one-feed-one” programme through which it donates a meal to a child via Irish charity Valid Nutrition every time a customer makes a purchase on its site.
Briony Somers (24),
WHO in their right mind would go into publishing? Briony Somers for one. The Trinity College history student, successful model and London Fashion Week veteran launched trendy Franc magazine in 2015 to immediate success. The magazine, published both online and in that ancient technology, print, takes a wide angle, beautifully-presented view of fashion and the arts and shows what can be achieved with imagination, talent and flair.
Franc aims to be more than just another throwaway fashion publication with high minded ideals: “Franc has established an innovative mode of engagement with an industry often dismissed as superficial, winning the warm embrace of industry insiders and a cultured and engaged readership that reaches beyond the traditional fashion audience,” it says as a mission statement.
During the coming autumn FRANC will launch its fourth issue, to coincide with an expanded product offering and newly-launched online store.
David Greene (29),
Farfetch Hong Kong
FINGLAS native David Greene exploded on to the fashion scene in 2010, when he won TV3’s Style Wars and was named Ireland’s next best-stylist.
One of seven kids, David studied building surveying and design, but his real talent always lay in fashion.
Shortly after he won Style Wars he decided to make the move to London, and hasn’t looked back. He quickly rose through the ranks after a self-modelled drag editorial for Vogue Italia — which he also styled — received international praise from industry experts.
Then came gigs with pop princess Rihanna and editorial spreads in magazines including Harper’s Bazaar, l’Officiel and Elle Russia.
David now heads the styling team at luxury e-commerce supergiant Farfetch in Hong Kong.
He also counts Net-a-Porter, Frieze Art Fair and I.T Hong Kong amongst his top clients.
His ultimate goal (for now) is fashion director at Farfetch, and to work with British fashion photographer Tim Walker.
Ciara Clancy (27),
Chief executive, Beats Medical
CIARA Clancy, a 27-year-old physiotherapist from Dún Laoghaire in Dublin, developed the Beats Medical app after witnessing the difficulties experienced by people suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
The aim of the app is to use technology to provide individually-tailored therapy and exercises to help sufferers of the neurological condition with mobility, speech and dexterity to give them greater independence.
The company now has clinics in Dublin and London’s Harley Street and the app is transforming the lives of thousands of people around the world who suffer from Parkinson’s disease.
Earlier this year Clancy was named Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur in a competition run by the country’s Local Enterprise Offices, winning a €45,000 investment for the company.
Experienced entrepreneur Sean Melly came on board as chairman of the Beats Medical board, further underlining the potential of the business.
Matt Hanbury (29),
PROSPECTIVE entrepreneurs are always seeking that lightbulb moment, but Matt Hanbury has taken it to a different level.
“Our ultra-thin LED light source module enables luminaire manufacturers and lighting designers to create exceptional experiences with light,” he says.
Before going out on his own, Hanbury worked for two of the world’s biggest electronics companies, Philips — where he worked on OLED technology — and Apple’s Japanese operation, where he worked on the iPhone 6.
Originally from the UK, Hanbury moved to Ireland when his wife joined Twitter’s operation here. “Dublin is better known for software and social media-type start-ups than hardware,” he says. “The costs involved in establishing a manufacturing operation can sometimes surprise potential backers. But I’ve had great support for the idea.”The company has just completed a pre-seed round of €100,000 and is looking to raise €600,000 this year.
Iseult Ward (26),
chief executive and founder, FoodCloud
ULTIMATELY, most entrepreneurs are in it for themselves and that’s OK. Not so Iseult Ward, who styles herself as that rare breed, a social entrepreneur.
Ward, who is from Phibsborough in Dublin is co-founder and chief executive of FoodCloud, which matches businesses with leftover food with local charities in need.
The company uses an innovative but simple app to tackle the issues of both food waste and food poverty. It is having a big impact in Ward’s native city and facilitates the donation of more than a tonne of surplus food every day to the people who need it, which translates to a staggering 20 million meals in total.
In 2014 the Trinity College business and economics graduate was named on TIME magazine’s prestigious ‘Next Generation Leaders’ list after founding the non-profit company with Aoibheann O’Brien in 2013. It has since been named by the Guardian as the third-most important app globally for tackling food waste.
Ali Delaney (25),
Custom Vintage, Dublin
ALI Delaney is determined the key ingredients of her one-woman online fashion hit, Custom Vintage Dublin, is not lost as it grows.
The now five-year-old online clothing retailer, which specialises in customised and made-to-order items, is growing at close to 100pc every year.
“It’s still small, still just me, and I’m not interested in it becoming just another shop. I’m happy to stay online, because that’s the future.”
Nevertheless, the brand has caught on and she now regularly does special in-store events with brands such as Primark, Top Shop and Pretty Little Thing. Delaney began the business five years ago while studying costume design in IADT. She sent 20 pairs of customised denim shorts to friends and the next batch to various reality TV stars, such as Kylie Jenner. The business exploded.
“It opened up to a very wide audience. Growth has been very organic. I never paid for advertising or had a business plan. But I have the flexibility to move with trends I see and work closely with individual customers and I don’t want to lose that.”
Richard Malone (28),
IT has been a big weekend for Richard Malone, even by his high standards. On Friday the fashion designer from Ardcavan, Co Wexford, opened London Fashion Week at MoMa. The institution’s first fashion exhibition in 70 years documents pivotal fashion moments. Malone’s piece features in the workwear section. Sustainability is key for Malone. He sources plant-based natural dyes and materials such as recycled stretch yarn and organic cotton.
Long before graduating with a fashion degree from London’s Central St Martins, Malone was making waves. Brown Thomas bought his entire first collection and he was selected by the BBC as one of the best young artists under 25 working in the UK — the only fashion designer in the selection.
Malone showed for three seasons with Fashion East, before moving to the British Fashion Council’s NewGen scheme. This year, Malone was nominated for the LVMH prize, and design of the year with the Design Museum.
Seán William McLoughlin (27),
YouTube sensation Jacksepticeye
“TOP of the mornin’ to ya laddies! My name is Jacksepticeye!” announces YouTube sensation Sean William McLoughlin at the start of all his hugely-popular video game commentary posts on YouTube.
The green-haired internet personality from Athlone, Co Westmeath has phenomenal reach. His YouTube channel Let’s Play has more than 16.5 million subscribers and close to eight billion views. A recent 12-second video he posted of himself playing the drums on Twitter was liked almost 50,000 times in just days — an engagement level that would please even Donald Trump.
Earlier this year McLoughlin, now based in Brighton in the UK, was signed up by Polaris, a division of Disney for a Disney XD TV show.
“Really, I just got into it because I like games and I wanted to feel like I was being a bit more productive with my time than just sitting around playing them,” he has said.
Sunday Indo Business