“Never wait for someone to do it for you. You need to do it for yourself.”

Winner of the Local Enterprise Office Cork City’s Best Established category was Darren Hickey of D&D Detailing, which developed The Cleaner Car brand, a range of products specifically designed using a safe to use chemical for the car care industry. Darren told us what he learned from his IBYE experience…


Why did you enter IBYE?
To help launch our safe to use car care brand to world and get it the exposure it needed.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned from your IBYE experience?
That I can’t do every little thing myself, and that I need to link up with likeminded people that can help make our business grow.

How do you plan to use the investment you won?
By hiring more staff in 2017 and pushing our brand to max over the next three years.

Any advice to other young entrepreneurs?
Never wait for someone to do it for you. You need to do it for yourself.

“It is so valuable and worthwhile to meet with your peers and to discuss each other’s businesses.”

Paul Moore from Rebel Chilli walked away with the title of Best Start Up Business from the Local Enterprise Office Cork City, and is now gearing up for the IBYE Regional Final this Thursday. We chatted to him to find out how IBYE has benefited him so far…

CORK City Best Start Up Paul Moore Rebel Chilli 1.JPG

Why did you enter IBYE?
I entered IBYE for two reasons. The first was for the chance to win some funds to propel the business even further, as well as the exposure that comes with being in the competition. The second was to compete against the best young entrepreneurs in the country to see how I compare, to meet and chat with them, and to share experiences. We all have very different businesses, but we share the same problems.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned from your IBYE experience?
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that it is so valuable and worthwhile to meet with your peers and to discuss each other’s businesses. This way, you see how people overcame problems and issues, and how you could apply this to your own business. Entrepreneurship can be quite isolating, so it’s good to have a good network of people that you can talk to.

How do you plan to use the investment you won?
Ideally, I will use the investment to hire someone part-time, with a view to making them full-time. I need to fully pin down the job description and responsibilities before advertising! Other than that, there are a lot of trade shows and events that can be quite expensive to attend, so I will use the funds to book into some of these. Also, the money will allow us to bulk buy raw materials, which will reduce the burden on the business.

Any advice to other young entrepreneurs?
Talk and talk and talk to other entrepreneurs if you have an idea or are just looking for advice. You will learn so much for free. I’m always willing to talk to anyone, and I know the other participants are the same. Also, if you have an idea and want to give it a go, do it. The worst thing that will happen is it doesn’t work out, but at least you tried.

“I am delighted to say that we have already allocated a large portion of the investment towards our first hire!”

Ahead of the IBYE Regional Final which takes place on Thursday, January 19th we asked the Cork winners to share their IBYE experience. First up is Michael Sheehan from Milis Bio

Michael won the Best New Idea category from LEO Cork City competition, receiving an investment of €7,000 in his company. Michael also walked away with the title of ‘Best Young Entrepreneur’ for the Cork City region.

Michael’s business Milis Bio is making novel proteins to act as healthy flavouring ingredients for the food and beverage industry, starting with a sin-free sweetener.


So Michael, why did you enter IBYE?
IBYE was recommended to us by some friends in the startup environment in Cork, and we then stumbled across the application again when looking through the Local Enterprise Office website.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned from your IBYE experience?
The most valuable thing that we have learned I think would be an updated and more advanced understanding of the business model canvas, as well as how to tackle some of the trickier elements of a business plan such as financial assumptions and projections. These can be notoriously difficult for a young startup without experience of our own to draw upon, so the mentorship that came hand in hand with our involvement in IBYE was invaluable and will undoubtedly pay further dividends in future as we look to grow and raise funding.

How do you plan to use the investment you won?
I am delighted to say that we have already allocated a large portion of the investment towards our first hire! Mr Diarmuid Cahill has joined our business development team to help bring the company into our first round of funding smoothly. While the position is at present an operations internship role, we all hope that this will develop into a full time COO role provided the internship goes to plan. The rest of the funding will go towards Intellectual property protection, again a crucial expense for a biotech company such as ours.

Any advice to other young entrepreneurs?
Go for it! I fully believe that there is no greater way to capitalise on your position as a young Irish person than to pursue that great idea you’ve been sitting on, with support from world-leading initiatives such as IBYE and the fantastic people at your LEO who are dying to help you make it a reality.

“The IBYE process makes for a great experience in many aspects of forming a start-up and running your own business”


Jack Crotty, founder and owner of The Rocket Man won Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur “Best Existing Business” category from the Local Enterprise Office Cork City in 2015. He told us a little about how his business has grown and what’s next….

The Rocket Man Food Company will celebrate its 5th birthday in March 2017. What started as a farmers market stall has grown to a company employing 15, many of whom are full time and has a network of up to 40 local producers on our books.

Our second Cork City location E A S T is almost a year old and trade is great.

Our next moves are as usual a big secret, but for the time being focuses are being put on our existing outlets to polish and reinvent some of our offerings.

IBYE is not only a great chance for financial assistance, the process also makes for a great experience and vital training in many aspects of forming a start-up and running your own business. I couldn’t recommend it more.



Just do it, like… Ciara Crossan, founder of WeddingDates

We asked a number of established Cork entrepreneurs to share their gems of wisdom and advice with young entrepreneurs in the region.

First up is Ciara Crossan, founder of WeddingDates. Ciara Crossan

Tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to start your own business?
After completing a BIS degree in UCC I took off travelling for a few years. I ended up going into an IT recruitment firm in Melbourne to see if they could help find me an IT job. As it turned out, all of their clients wanted someone who already had IT experience but the recruitment agency themselves liked me and offered me a job with them!

When I moved back home to Ireland I stayed in the recruitment field but went in-house to the HR department for Apple. When my contract ended I moved to Abbot Vascular in Clonmel, again in the HR department recruiting 450 production operators.  Moving into a medical device company was a big change for me with all of the corporate structure and processes and procedures.  I then took 3 months out and travelled solo to Ghana to volunteer in a small school there. While in Ghana I really had time to reflect on my life, the path I was taking and what I wanted for the future. It was there that I made the decision that I didn’t want to work in a corporate environment anymore, I wanted to do something that would challenge me creatively and test all of my skills.

My family background is in the hotel industry, so like a lot of new business ideas, the concept of WeddingDates was developed around the kitchen table. At that stage, 7 years ago you could easily book a hotel bedroom online in a couple of clicks but if you wanted to book your wedding there was no easy way to do it. I knew instinctively that the modern couples planning their wedding would want a more efficient way to find out this information and so – WeddingDates.ie was born.  Newly engaged couples log onto the website and can search hundreds of hotels, venues and suppliers that have availability on their chosen wedding date.

How did you get your business off the ground and what supports did you avail of?
I started the business in a home office with a small start-up business loan from Bank of Ireland in February 2008. I had meetings with the Local Enterprise Offices in Cork City and South Cork, and was appointed a Mentor by LEO South Cork (formerly SCEB). Colette Quinn, a market research expert was assigned to me and was a massive help in scoping out the market for my idea and doing the initial research. I applied for the Genesis Programme in April 2008 and was delighted to get a place on the programme. The Genesis program enabled me to avail of free office space for 1 year in the Rubicon and participate in intensive training and seminars with various experts over a year long period. It also opened the door to Enterprise Ireland and apply for CORD funding which contributed to my salary in year 2.

Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
Probably not, any mistakes I made I learned from along the way.

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering starting a business, what would it be?
Reach out for help straight away. There are fantastic supports available through the local enterprise offices to help get you started. Research your idea extensively before you start – particularly your revenue model. You might have a great idea for a service that lots of people would use but if no one will actually pay for it then you probably don’t have a feasible business.

Anything else you would like to add?
It is never too early to start selling.  Too many entrepreneurs wait till their product/ service is “perfect” before talking to potential customers but the truth is, it will never be perfect and you can get fantastic insights and feedback from prospective customers even before you launch. The hoteliers that I did my initial research with on my early concept before www.WeddingDates.ie was even live turned out to be my first customers, and 7 years later they are my most loyal customers and advocates.

To any budding entrepreneurs out there I would say “Just Do It, Like!” – IBYE could be the ideal launch pad for your business.

2014 Best New Idea LEO Cork City winner Darren Hayes tells us about his IBYE experience

Darren Hayes won the Best New Idea category in the LEO Cork City competition 2014. Darren received €10,000 investment in his company, D.A. Renewable Energy. The business goal of this renewable energy company is to remove fossil fuels in applications which can be replaced by a renewable energy source, whether wind, wave, tidal or solar.

Darren Hayes, D.A. Renewable Energy pictured with former County Mayor, Cllr Mary Shields and Adrienne Rodgers, Head of Local Enterprise, LEO Cork City at the 2014 regional final.

How did winning Cork’s IBYE competition help you and your business?
Taking part in IBYE 2014 put me in touch with the Local Enterprise Office Cork City which continues to support me as my business idea becomes a reality.

Throughout the competition I made many contacts, met great like-minded friends, and also got great publicity for the business. I learned a whole lot more about business and start-ups through the boot camps, mentoring, and experience of people involved. Making it to the National Finals was personally a really proud achievement, and I relished in having my friends and LEO Cork City there supporting me and the business. As a result of all this, I have the confidence in myself to make this business a success.

What was your biggest learning from the boot camp and mentoring you received?
Learn how to tell your story. A clear memory I have from the boot camp was ‘it’s not what you do but why you do it’. Tell your story in terms of why you are doing what you are doing. What is getting you out of bed in the morning? What are you passionate about? There are all kinds of supports out there for people looking to develop their ideas or start a business, if you’re able to succinctly explain who you are, where you have come from, and where you want to go, it becomes inherently easier to draw all kinds of support from people and organisations.

The mentoring that was provided by the LEOs was hugely powerful and effective for me. My natural preference is for this type of engagement – one to one conversations as opposed to workshops. My mentor provided a perfect balance of empowerment, enabling, and challenge, to really help me take my mind-set, and my business plan to the next level.

What advice would you offer someone considering applying this year?
Get that application in by the July 31st deadline. I spent a few weeks deciding whether I would apply in the first place, and what a mistake it would have been had I not! If your business plan or idea isn’t developed enough, spend some time thinking about some of the key areas that should be in the business plan. What problem are you solving? What is your market? Who are your customers? There is time to do detailed research later, for now think on some of the high level points, and see how it fits together, refine, and hit apply!

If you are in the ‘Not Yet Trading’ category, then its natural you won’t be as advanced or developed as the ‘Established’ categories. Identify the gaps in your plan, and look at how you will address them – whether it’s the where you will get your funding from, shortages in the team, or unknown market size. It’s all about having a logical plan to address these unknowns in order to achieve the goals of the business.

Throughout the various stages of the competition I was given great advice ranging from feedback from judges, the LEOs, mentors, and even the other participants. No matter what your business is, it likely has similar slips, trips and falls experienced by others before you. Take time to listen to these experiences and learn from them – hopefully will help you avoid making the same.

What’s next for you?
Having been juggling this business, and a full time job for the past few months, I am now in a position to enter the business full time this month. I am hugely excited for this as it’s a key milestone I set out for myself a long time ago; however I was determined I would only do it when the time was right, and finally that time is now. It’s the result of a lot of planning, research and testing from when I developed on an idea one night – this is the next step in making that idea a reality.

Anything else you would like to add?
I’ll just finish by saying that this year has been an experience like no other. It’s been immensely hard work but with hugely satisfying outcomes as we achieve one milestone after another from the business plan. For anyone entering this year’s competition, I wish them the best of luck, and can only hope the year ahead will be as rewarding as my own was.

Parting thought – be confident in yourself, be realistic in your plans, and just do it like!