How to deal with Brexit risks

In this useful guide, Denis Casey examines Brexit in the context of risk; specifically when it comes to customers, suppliers, and logistics. 

1. Customer risks
Let’s start by looking at customer related risks. When assessing this, you will need to consider risks posed by your customers’ customers and perhaps your customers’ customers’ customers. You need to look for risks as far up the supply chain as is necessary. For instance, if all your direct sales are to Irish based customers, but they in turn export say 50% to the UK, then your business is exposed to risk.
When you have exposure by having customers in the UK, your action plans should include the following:
i) Liaise closely with your customers to understand their Brexit challenges and action plans – then assess how severe an impact their plans will have on your business. Now you can base your risk assessment and action plans on facts rather than speculation. Where possible try to agree on some joint actions to address their challenges. However, in addition to any collective actions agreed, you should develop additional action items focused on your own needs.
ii) If you don’t already know, find out how price sensitive your customers are. It may be possible to pass on some price increases. This will depend on the competitive landscape and whether you have UK based competitors. For instance, if all your competitors are based outside the UK, then you should start to condition your customers to expect price increases. It’s unlikely that the full Brexit cost impact can be passed on to customers, but even small price increases will make the challenge a little smaller.
iii) If your UK customer base is significant, you will need to investigate the costs and feasibility of setting up an operation in the UK. This will help to overcome

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Carlow’s world-renowned classical guitar maker

Not many people know this, but one of the best classical guitar makers in the world is based just outside Carlow town.
Father and son team, Michael and Alec O’Leary have combined their unique set of talents – as a luthier and accomplished classical guitarist – to make guitars, which are in demand by the world’s top performing artists, including the internationally recognised Berta Rojas from Paraguay.
For almost 30 years, Michael O’Leary had operated as production manager at Lapple in Carlow, responsible for the supply of steel panels to the European motor industry. In 2002, he was offered a redundancy package, which he accepted with a mixture of some relief and uncertainty about what the future might hold. It’s a compelling story about adapting to change; using the resources to hand, and developing a very successful niche business while acquiring world-famous artists as customers.

Why classical guitars?
I suppose there was a pattern to it. We all play music, and I learned to play, without any formal training. My father played guitar, and we had a traditional band in Graiguenamanagh, Co.Kilkenny back in the 60s.
In turn, I introduced my son Alec to the Spanish (or classical guitar). Alec then went on to study for a performance degree under virtuoso John Feely, who was in charge of the guitar faculty in DIT at the time. I suppose that’s what sparked my interest. While Alec was attending DIT, we were buying guitars, and as he progressed, he was always seeking to play a better quality classical guitar instrument.
What motivated you to make your first classical guitar?
At the time, I was looking for something to do. Alec was also looking for a guitar, with sufficient sweetness and volume, but was unable to find one that suited his needs. I set about making a guitar, researched from

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Weight loss tech firm breaks crowdfunding record

This weight loss ‘miracle’ tech firm from Northern Ireland has broken a crowdfunding record. 

Neurovalens, the Belfast-based startup previously featured on ThinkBusiness, has raised almost £1.2 million during its 60 day IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign. It is the most successful fund-raising campaign ever run by a Northern Ireland company on the IndieGoGo platform.
The campaign, which raised money from more than 4,000 crowd funders across 84 countries, has been hailed as an “outstanding success” by Neurovalens’ early investor – Techstart NI. 
The original target for Modius was overwhelmingly surpassed which meant the company can expand its team and start exporting products worldwide.
“We know we can help adults with weight-loss.”
 A significant market opportunity
“Neurovalens exists to improve lives through neuroscience, and for our first product to receive such an overwhelming response from around the world tells us we have a significant market opportunity, and that people want wearables which actively help them,” says Neurovalens CEO, Jason McKeown.
“We see Modius as the first generation of ‘careable technology,’ in our case helping people get lean through stimulation of the vestibular nerve – we know we can help adults with weight-loss. We think we’re in the foothills of a neuroscience-led revolution in global health.”
The Modius headset remains available for sale on the IndieGoGo website.

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How we started Simply Fit Food

Co-founder of Simply Fit Food (SFF) Evelyn Garland spoke to ThinkBusiness about the highs and lows of starting a food business in Ireland. 
Simply Fit Food (SFF) was set up by sports-mad couple Evelyn Garland (23) and Luke Judge (25) after Luke was diagnosed with a heart condition in January 2016.
With degrees in food and agribusiness management from UCD and health and physical activity from DKIT, they made the jump into business life and started an online meal delivery company.
The idea behind SFF came from personal experience when both realised the difficulties of maintaining a healthy diet while training, whether it be with their respective GAA clubs, or following sessions at the gym.
“We know how hard it can be to eat healthily and stay on track when time isn’t on our side. With both of us working and training and with very little time to cook, we figured more people like us must feel the same way. So we thought why not provide a simple, convenient way of eating healthy, delicious food five days a week while staying on track.”
“Most people, if not everyone, thought we were absolutely insane starting a business, especially as a couple.”
Local, healthy, quick
SFF delivers healthy meals and snacks using locally-sourced ingredients straight to your home, and the company offers quicker delivery times than their competitors in the market.
“Local ingredients in our food are extremely important to us as we can track exactly what’s in our meals. Our customers only have to ever wait three working days for a delivery of fresh food. Customers who order from other companies in Ireland with a similar model have to wait over a week for their delivery if they order after the deadline.”
It wasn’t easy
Starting SFF proved a difficult process for the young couple, as they decided to fund their

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The best new inventions from Northern Ireland

The Invent Awards recognise the best new inventions emerging from Northern Ireland each year. 
The 2017 Invent Awards winners have been announced. Held at the Waterfront Conference Centre in Belfast, the annual awards recognise Northern Ireland’s latest breakthrough inventions.
The overall winner of Invent 2017 went to Phion Therapeutics developed by Dr. Helen McCarthy (pictured above centre). Dr. McCarthy won a prize package worth £13,000 and one of the sought after spaces on the NI Tech Mission to California in January 2018.
Phion Therapeutics aims to revolutionise how drugs are delivered to parts of the human body.
“Phion has been able to concentrate various anionic drugs into tumours while preventing delivery to normal or healthy tissue and cells. This is potentially revolutionary for the treatment of cancer,” says Professor Helen McCarthy from the School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast. “The list of potential applications is almost limitless.”
The other winners on the night
The five category winners, who received £3,000 and a place on the NI Tech Mission were:

KegoMatic, the brainchild of six electrical engineering students from Queen’s University Belfast – Connor McGurk, Connor Carville, Donovan Campbell, Patrick Devlin, Bryan Murphy and Aaron Rath – is an automated beer keg solution.
Evy, a smart tracking bag, was created by Queen’s University Belfast students Niamh Tohill, Andrew Cunningham, Vincent Kearney, Nathan Steenson and Matthew Whiteside.
Seatview, founded by Graham Little, Andrew Murray, and Stuart Ogg and provides customers with a 360-degree virtual reality view from their allocated seats.
Uleska, founded by experienced entrepreneur Gary Robinson builds cybersecurity into web applications while they are being built.
Hug, created by product designer Fiona Bennington, is a wearable heat pack.

For more information on Invent 2017 visit The awards are sponsored by Bank of Ireland and Connect at Catalyst Inc. 

Related Resource

Ten Irish inventions that changed the world. 

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Six places for tech firms available in startlab Galway

Are you tech startup with the potential to scale? Are you interested in an incubation workspace and programme in Galway? startlab Galway is now open for applications. 
There are six places now available at startlab Galway, powered by Bank of Ireland.
There are a few things to consider about Galway. First, it is a great city for startups. Second, it was recently voted the ‘World’s friendliest city’. Third, the cost of living in Galway is 22% cheaper than Dublin.
It’s a great place and, startlab is based in a custom-designed building on Mainguard Street, literally in the heart of Galway city.
Successful applicants will benefit from a range of facilities, including desk space, high-speed wifi, conference rooms, as well as one-on-one sessions with essential coaches and mentors. Participants will also get introductions to investors and support from Bank of Ireland’s innovation team.

“The ongoing collaboration with expert mentors and access to the bank’s vast network helped us immensely when honing our offering, scaling the business globally, getting funding and attracting talent to work with us,” says Brian O’Rourke, CEO of City Swifter, a recent ‘graduate’ of startlab Galway. “Galway is a fantastic place to start a business. The startup community here is thriving.”
Applications are open until October 31, 2017.

Related Resource

100 tools to help your startup grow. 

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This is how Foreign Exchange works [Video]

Currency fluctuations can be good news or bad news for Irish businesses. These short videos explain what you need to know, especially in light of Brexit. Currency moves are not predictable so it’s important to plan ahead.  

Related Resource

Here’s a template to help you prepare for market changes in uncertain times and you can download this brief guide to creating an FX policy.

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Don’t sit back – prepare for Brexit

In this period of uncertainty, it is tempting to adopt a “wait and see” approach to Brexit. However, now is not the time to sit back. 
If your business is importing from, or exporting to the UK, you must consider the implications Brexit will have on your business, particularly when it comes to fluctuations between the Euro and the Pound.
Have you started planning? What’s your exposure? What level of currency risk can your business tolerate? Have you considered dual invoicing? What about ‘Forward Contracts’, are these the solution? Do you have a foreign currency account and should you have one? Have you spoken to someone who can advise you?
A six-step guide
Download this six-step Brexit guide that explains how your business can reduce currency risk as the repercussions around Brexit continue.
A good example of how currency risk can impact a business:
1. You are a manufacturer selling goods to the UK. The currency exchange rate is €1 =£0.90 (one Euro will purchase 90 pence Sterling.).
2. You purchase £10,000 worth of raw material from the UK at this exchange rate, so will have to pay €11,111.11 for the materials.
3. You sell the finished goods in the UK for €20,000, receiving payment in Euro.
4. Your profit in euro is €8,888.11. In Sterling your profit is €8,888.11 * (0.90) = £7,999.30.
If the Euro falls in value against sterling by 15%, which means that a Euro is now worth only £0.7650, what is the impact on your business profitability?

1. Your costs increase to €13,071.90 in Euro terms (i.e., £10,000/£0.7650) from €11,111.11, an increase of €1,960.79.
2. Your Euro profit falls from €8,888.11 to €6,928.01 a reduction of around 22%.
As you can see, any fluctuations in currency can have serious consequences for your bottom line. 

Related Resource

For a comprehensive list of resources and Brexit advice, visit the Brexit

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Three straight-A students build an Edtech business

ExamLearn, which was founded by three secondary school friends, is a fascinating new Irish Edtech startup. Here, one of the founders – Jack Manning – talks about building a business based on a big gap in the market. 

How and why did you start? 
ExamLearn was initially called JC-Learn. Me and two friends, Johnnie Bell and Eamonn Flannery, set it up shortly after getting our Junior Cert results (where we achieved a combined 30 As). We felt there was a lack of technology around the school study process. We also wanted to combat the need for expensive grinds and revision books so that anyone in Ireland could achieve a high grade, regardless of how much money they had to spend on education. We set about outlining all the most important features of an effective study plan: subject notes, A-grade past exam answers and expert study advice.
“Many older Edtech companies are behind the times when it comes to content and user experience”
How long did you spend on your business plan before your launch?
We initially didn’t spend any time on a business plan as we just got straight to work. We were completely inexperienced when it came to planning a  business model. However, after working on ExamLearn for a few weeks we became aware of the Student Enterprise Awards run by the Local Enterprise Offices. When we entered, we had to form a business plan and were given guidelines and workshops on how to do so. This provided some direction for our fledgeling business and allowed us to think about the more long-term business goals.
“We know exactly what students want because we are students ourselves.”
What is Examlearn’s USP?
The Irish ed-tech market is quite open. This has allowed a young startup like us to grasp a serious chunk of the market. Many older Edtech companies are behind the times

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Do you have a great Fintech idea?

If you have an idea for a Fintech startup, wouldn’t it be great if you could test it and validate it before you start building it? Now you can.
If you have a very early-stage digital business idea with a financial services focus, and you want to validate it, then you are in luck.
NDRC, in partnership with Bank of Ireland, is looking for people with very early-stage digital business ideas with a financial services focus to join a new, part-time Fintech programme.
The closing date for applications is October 19.
What kind of ideas is the NDRC looking for?
NDRC is looking for people and teams who have a business idea in the following areas:
• Banking
• Fintech
• Enterprise solutions
• Funds administration
• Insurtech
• Payments
• Regtech
• Cybersecurity
• New solutions that use technologies such as Blockchain, IoT, AI and data intelligence.
The ideas with the most potential will be considered for investment by NDRC after the programme is completed.

Who can apply?
The idea owners who are looking to check the validity and strength of their idea. You can apply here.
Who else can apply? People who have specialist skills – creatives, customer experience experts, and business professionals – who would like to volunteer their time to help get a new Fintech venture off the ground.
What will I achieve if I take part?
Firstly, you will get to hone and test your idea in an intense pre-accelerator programme. You will also get to meet and learn from a host of mentors who have created and launched successful startups. And, you will get access to tools and expertise in areas such as technology, business development, design, and commercialisation.
Become a ‘pitch master’ 
Importantly, you will create a stronger and more refined pitch to help you land future investment. This pre-accelerator can also act as a stepping-stone to other NDRC investment programmes.
So, what are you

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