Sunday 21 January 2018

My big idea: 'I went from investment banking to healthy eating'

Dermot Hanly
Dermot Hanly

DUBLIN-born investment banker Dermot Hanly (49) did what most people only dream of – abandoned the rat race to start his own company. His start-up Nusli – a health-oriented muesli product – now sells to supermarkets around the country and Dermot has ambitious plans for growth.

"I spent most of my career in North America working in investment banking with companies like Citibank, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan. I moved back to Ireland five years ago to take on a role with Barclays, but made the decision to leave three years in and embark on something I have always dreamed about.

"I'm a big foodie and passionate about healthy, whole foods – particularly as your health tends to suffer in a field as demanding as investment banking. I dipped my toes in the water with a diploma in specialty food from University College Cork and then just decided to go for it.

"My product is based on Bircher Muesli, an amazing recipe created by a Swiss physician in the 1990s that's very difficult to get here. It's a chilled mixture of unfiltered apple juice, fruit, oats, yogurt, nuts and other healthy things and keeps you going all day. Extensive research went into its design; a team at UCC developed a technique that ensures the oats never go soggy, even though we don't bake them like our competitors.

All of the ingredients are very high quality and the majority are Irish produced – we use Flahavan oats, for example, and Killoren yogurt. Killoren look after our manufacturing and distribution now. Ireland should be a world leader when it comes to food, we have some of the best produce in the world.

"The product launched in February and is already available in most main Irish grocers – SuperValu, Spar, Centra, Applegreen, Dunnes and Londis to name a few. We have a good relationship with Musgrave which has really helped. I'm ambitious and already thinking of expanding overseas, starting in the UK and Europe. We have trademark protection in the EU and US.

"It has been hugely rewarding so far, I'm absolutely loving the switch from running with the wolves of Wall Street to the cows in Wexford. I particularly like the slower pace, being my own boss and being able to go for a sneaky windsurf at lunchtime if I want to."

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