Thinking business with Sara Kavanagh

Former model turned entrepreneur Sara Kavanagh talks about building a brand in the competitive beauty business.

When did you first have the idea for MudPie Beauty?
When I left school, I studied and worked as a beauty therapist for many years. I’ve always had a love for the beauty industry. I knew that one day I would love to open my own business and in 2011 I found the perfect location for the business model I had in mind. The location and serene setting went hand in hand with the ideas I had to design and brand the business.
How much time did you spend business planning before you opened?
Too much. Probably a year or more. I was working day and night. 
What makes you stand out from your competitors?
Our brand identity stands out. My goal was to be different from the rest. Our setting and interior is very different to what you would find in most beauty salons. We’ve created a warm and welcoming environment in a cosy and quaint surrounding amidst the hustle and bustle of Dundrum Town Centre. Our staff is also key to our business. They’re highly professional, helpful and happy, and in turn customers see the quality of treatments and respect the advice they give. 
“Determination is key. If you’re not willing to sacrifice your time your business won’t work.”
What are you most proud of since MudPie Beauty opened? 
It has to be winning Retailer of the Year in Dundrum Town Centre for 2016/2017. It is based on reports from secret shoppers. I couldn’t be happier. I still can’t wipe the smile off my face. 
What is the toughest part of running a business? 
The toughest part is the work load. I work constantly but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I thrive on being busy and building the business. 
You’ve leveraged your own personal brand and the

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/sara-kavanagh-mudpie/ on thinkbusiness

Thinking business with Sara Kavanagh

Former model turned entrepreneur Sara Kavanagh talks about building a brand in the competitive beauty business.

When did you first have the idea for MudPie Beauty?
When I left school, I studied and worked as a beauty therapist for many years. I’ve always had a love for the beauty industry. I knew that one day I would love to open my own business and in 2011 I found the perfect location for the business model I had in mind. The location and serene setting went hand in hand with the ideas I had to design and brand the business.
How much time did you spend business planning before you opened?
Too much. Probably a year or more. I was working day and night. 
What makes you stand out from your competitors?
Our brand identity stands out. My goal was to be different from the rest. Our setting and interior is very different to what you would find in most beauty salons. We’ve created a warm and welcoming environment in a cosy and quaint surrounding amidst the hustle and bustle of Dundrum Town Centre. Our staff is also key to our business. They’re highly professional, helpful and happy, and in turn customers see the quality of treatments and respect the advice they give. 
“Determination is key. If you’re not willing to sacrifice your time your business won’t work.”
What are you most proud of since MudPie Beauty opened? 
It has to be winning Retailer of the Year in Dundrum Town Centre for 2016/2017. It is based on reports from secret shoppers. I couldn’t be happier. I still can’t wipe the smile off my face. 
What is the toughest part of running a business? 
The toughest part is the work load. I work constantly but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I thrive on being busy and building the business. 
You’ve leveraged your own personal brand and the

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/sara-kavanagh-mud-pie/ on thinkbusiness

The Empower Programme

The Empower Programme is a new entrepreneur programme run by the GMIT Innovation Hub. It is for female entrepreneurs in the West of Ireland.  

The Empower Programme has been set up to assist female-led businesses to “overcome challenges and fast track their business for success”.

The founder and CEO of Complete Laboratory Solutions (CLS), Evelyn O’Toole (above), will speak at the Female Empower Programme’s launch on September 13 at the Connacht Hotel, Galway.

Complete Laboratory Solutions (CLS) was set up by O’Toole in 1994 and has two facilities in Galway – CLS in Ros Muc, Connemara and CLS MedPharma on the Tuam Road. The business employs 140 staff. It is also the largest privately owned contract laboratory in Ireland.

“The Empower Programme is targeted at aspiring female entrepreneurs and women in business so [it’s great] to have Evelyn as one of our key speakers to share her entrepreneurial expertise,” says Maria Staunton, manager of the GMIT Innovation Hub. 

Other speakers will include Chanelle McCoy of Chanelle Pharmaceuticals and Dragon’s Den, and Breege O’Donoghue, former director of Primark and Chair of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland.

For more information and to register visit www.empowerher.ie.

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This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/the-empower-programme/ on
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Thinking business with Keith Costello, founder of The Loft

Rural towns in Ireland have a lot to gain from coworking spaces, and Tuam is about to see if one man’s vision can lift its entrepreneurial spirit.

My name is Keith Costello, and I run a business called Irish Wholesale Flags. We are based in the N17 Business Park in Tuam. We have a 2,200 sq. ft. facility and I want to transform the first floor into a coworking space, and a have a local space for local enterprise.
I’m calling it ‘The Loft’. The idea is that local business people become active in designing it and setting it up. I want local business people to be involved from the start and grow it organically. There will be office spaces available for local businesses to rent and The Loft will be a centre point, a meeting place for enterprise events and cultural activities.
The idea came about because I felt Tuam needed a focal point, a central place where business people can meet. When I look at larger towns like Galway, I see how business people band together and support each other. 
“This is where The Loft can come in. It can act as a haven for people who want to talk about the challenges of business with other business people.”
In major towns there are networking and business events nearly every night of the week. The business community and the cultural community in cities meet regularly to share ideas, best practice and contacts. I think all towns should do this and The Loft is designed as a venue for such meetings.
I’m not actively looking for funding. I want The Loft to grow organically. I want to see it as a space used for local events and networking. The idea is simple. Create a space where like-minded people can gather and share ideas and best practice.
I

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/the-loft-tuam-coworking-space/ on
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DUC bags – helping the children of Ho Chi Minh

Anne Marie Green and her business partner Ian Kelly have launched a range of school and sports bags to help improve the lives of the children of Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam.
Anne Marie Greene (28) and her business partner Ian Kelly (26), who are both from Bray, launched DUC, a range of colourful junior bags, school bags and sports kit bags with the aim of creating opportunities for vulnerable Vietnamese children. 
Working in partnership with the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, DUC – a shortened version of the Vietnamese word for education, giáo duc – is a one-for-one business model that pays for vaccinations, school kits, and local swimming lessons.
Drowning is one of the leading causes of death among children in Vietnam with 32 children dying from drowning every day in the country. 

What inspired you to launch DUC? 
Ian and I are both Irish, Christina Noble herself is Irish too, so naturally, it grew organically from here. 
Was it difficult to get retailers to support your idea?
No, it wasn’t, retailers like Arnotts and Mira Mira, have a tremendous sense of corporate social responsibility and our business model fit in with their CSR ethos. Of course, the fact that DUC doesn’t just donate a profit percentage to a charity but gives an actual tangible product to a child in Vietnam made it a no-brainer for a lot of the companies we approached. They have all been incredibly supportive of our venture and have become as passionate about the brand as we are.
“Nothing can be achieved without education; it is the most powerful tool.”
What was it like visiting Vietnam for the first time? 
Vietnam is such an incredible country, outside the city, the countryside is stunningly beautiful, and the cities themselves are vibrant and bustling. What I was unprepared for, was the level of poverty that exists. In the

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/duc-bags-vietnam-christina-noble/ on
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The Freebird Club – champions of the ‘caring economy’

Often described as ‘travel Tinder’ for the over 50s, The Freebird Club wants to start a seniors movement and become the world leader in social travel for the over 50s market. ThinkBusiness spoke with founder Peter Mangan. 

How long have you been up and running?
I have been working on developing The Freebird Club for over two years. However for the first year or so I was still in a full-time job in UCD, so it was a case of moonlighting evenings and weekends – developing the business plan, prototyping and conducting a pilot project. Once we completed a successful live pilot, it was time to leave the day job and embark on this full-time. 
“It makes no sense to me that there are so many of our elders struggling with loneliness and isolation. We want to do something about that.”
Where did the idea come from?
It was inspired by my Dad. I have a holiday home in my native Kerry, which I rent out on various accommodation websites. My father (who is a widower and semi-retired) was doing a lot of the meeting and greeting on my behalf, as I was based in Dublin. This was a positive and enjoyable experience for him, meeting new people. However, when some older guests came to stay, the level of social interaction was significantly greater. He would take them to the local pub or sightseeing; they might have dinner together or perhaps a game of golf. This all happened very naturally. Not only did he get great enjoyment from this, but the reviews from these ‘senior guests’ were exceptional, mentioning this social interaction as a highlight of their trip. In a rapidly ageing society, where the prevalence of loneliness and isolation among older adults is well known, it struck me that the new peer-to-peer ‘sharing economy’, and the Airbnb led boom

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/freebird-club-over50s-travel-club/ on thinkbusiness

Scholarship desks in Republic of Work and Boxworks

Are you working on a business idea? Are you looking for a work space in Cork or Waterford? Then read on.
Bank of Ireland is offering scholarship desks in the much sought-after coworking spaces the Republic of Work, in Cork and Boxworks in Waterford.
The scholarship desks will house startups, researchers, and NGOs as well as people from multinationals looking to set up operations in the region. 
The aim of the scholarships is simple – to give those in need a desk in a vibrant coworking space while they tackle a specific business goal.  
There are some terms and conditions but nothing extraordinary. To apply for the scholarship, you should have a “time bound goal”, and you must follow the rules of the coworking space. Read more and apply here. And best of luck. 
 

Related Resource

A list of over 60 coworking spaces in Ireland. 

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/scholarship-desks-in-republic-of-work-and-boxworks/ on thinkbusiness

ToyPing wants to change the way we buy toys

Selecting toys can sometimes feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. ToyPing aims to be the solution to that struggle.
Ciaran Sheridan, CEO and one of the founders of Galway firm, ToyPing, outlines his vision to revolutionise toy buying by empowering parents “to quickly and confidently make informed toy purchases from the most comprehensive product portfolio, based on their child’s interests, age and stage of development”.
“We’re all familiar with the parental frustration of time and money invested in a toy, which is discarded after only one play. In today’s information overloaded world, customers deserve an individualised toy search service to enable fast discovery and certain purchases that will delight and develop their kids,” said Ciaran.
“If ToyPing became a verb for the term used when someone wants to quickly discover a toy, then we have succeeded. It’s that simple.”
Three simple steps
ToyPing has developed an intuitive user experience, underpinned by a suite of smart search algorithms to instantly give customers a personalised and constantly evolving curated selection from over 1.2 million toys on Amazon. 

In three simple steps, customers are presented with a curated list of up to 18 toys to match their child’s interests, age and price criteria. Clicking on one of the toys will take customers directly to the Amazon website, where they can securely and “confidently” complete their purchase.
“We decided from the outset that we would invest in developing deep learning technology and customer acquisition channels, rather than in owning the stock. We secured an affiliate partnership with Amazon, the best global fulfilment company in the world, and this gave us access to the most comprehensive product range.”
“Toyping plans to launch in the US at the start of  2018, and it has already lined up the Amazon.com US affiliate partnership.”
Deep learning capabilities
The company website launched in May 2017, and it

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/toyping-buy-toys-amazon/ on thinkbusiness

Five ways to be productive after a holiday

Are you returning from a holiday, back to a hectic schedule at work and at home? Here’s how to ‘land gently’ and get back to your productive best. 

The week before a holiday is often the busiest week of the year. We become super-productive as we crack through our to do list in an attempt to clear everything before we leave. We want to make sure that we have communicated with everyone and tied up any loose ends.

The post holiday blues 

In contrast, the first few days back from holiday can often be our least productive days. We can feel demotivated. We often don’t feel ready to resume our normal hectic pace. We can find it hard to get back into “work mode”. All the details that were so clear before we left can seem very blurred on our return. So, how can we take control and be productive after our holiday?

“Maintain some of your holiday buzz by doing something you enjoy like a cinema trip, a spa treatment or a meal out.”

1. Prepare the ground before you leave 

The trick is to spend time planning the first days back before you finish up. At this point, you are tuned into the finer details of every project or issue, so this is the best time to record as much detail as you can. Prepare notes for upcoming meetings, jot down key points for reports, make draft plans for things you need to tackle that first week back. Expect to (temporarily) forget most of the knowledge in your head, as that is the purpose of your holiday after all.

be productive moira dunne

2. Be strategic with your return schedule 

Some people like to ease back into things with a low-key schedule, but I find the opposite works best for me. I arrange a couple of key meetings so that I have to get back into a productive mode quickly. I don’t welcome this on my first morning back, but by the end of the day, I am glad.

Consider what works best for you, your role and your environment. But be prepared to challenge yourself if you need to.

3. Make the most of your relaxed mind

If you have successfully switched off during your holiday, your account will probably be free from all the usual stress and clutter. Some of the best ideas come to mind when you can see things more clearly and objectively. So use this rare state of mind to do some creative thinking and planning. But be careful; you can sometimes be too free-thinking and unrestrained that first day back. Make sure you don’t upset anyone by speaking too openly or honestly.

“If you usually exercise regularly try to resume this on your first day back.”

4. Resume your routines that work 

It can take some time to get back into productive habits when you first return. If you usually exercise regularly try to resume this on your first day back. Enable your healthy eating habits by building in time to visit the supermarket before you go back to work so you can set yourself up for a healthy week.

5. Be nice to yourself 

If you have the flexibility, reward yourself for being productive with an early finish time those first few days back. Maintain some of your holiday buzz by doing something you enjoy like a cinema trip, a spa treatment or a meal out.

So have a great holiday and let me know if any of these tips work for you. 

Article by Moira Dunne, BeProductive.ie. 

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/returning-to-work-after-holiday/ on
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Firemole – a Cork invention that went viral

Corkman Sean O’Tuama’s invention Firemole can save lives by alerting people to electronic devices that are overheating. 

sean firemole

Describe your invention, what’s its USP?

Firemole is a patent pending, first of its kind, safety-tech gadget that can be attached to various electrical and electronic devices such as chargers, phones and plug tops. Once the Firemole detects a temperature of 54ºC, it sounds an in-built alarm, alerting users to the high temperatures. Firemole will sound the alarm way before a fire breaks out, making it a very valuable product to the user.

“I began by contacting Genesis Circuits in Cork. Frank and Tom were a tremendous help in streamlining the design and the electronics.”

How did you come up with the idea?

I worked as an electrician for years and came across numerous fires caused by faulty, ageing or counterfeit electrical devices. It was only after a close call in my own home, that got me thinking about developing the Firemole device. It makes sense to try and detect rising temperatures before a fire starts.

“Firemole went completely viral on Twitter with nearly two million impressions over a 24-hour period.”

How did you get it made, what was that process like?

Like any startup, it has been an uphill battle, but we have made significant progress over the last year. I began by contacting Genesis Circuits in Cork. Frank and Tom were a tremendous help in streamlining the design and the electronics. Once we were happy with that, I went to MAAS Engineering (also in Cork), and they made the tool for the plastic housing and metal base. By keeping everything local, it taught me an enormous amount about the manufacturing industry as I was able to call out to both Genesis and MAAS to see what was going on. 

We were then accepted onto Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers Phase Two program in the Rubicon Centre, and that gave some much-needed funding along with a feasibility study grant which the Cork City Local Enterprise Office gave me. 

We are now market ready and plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

“With Firemole being a brand new type of product, it will take a lot of education and testing to figure out what are the best channels to market.”

The press picked up on the story and you were flooded with orders. How did that happen?

Firemole won the ‘Most Innovative Product’ award from the New Frontiers Phase Two program so I decided to send out a press release thinking that maybe my local newspaper might pick up on it. Well, they didn’t, but nearly every other major news outlet in the country did including The Journal, The Independent, The Daily Mail and various radio stations. Firemole went completely viral on Twitter with nearly two million impressions over a 24-hour period. All of this attention gave the company some great validation as pre-orders started rolling in on the Firemole.com website (which luckily I had set up the night before).

“We’ve already been contacted by distributors, so it looks like international expansion will occur quickly.”

What’s your marketing strategy for the future?

With Firemole being a brand new type of product, it will take a lot of education and testing to figure out what are the best channels to market. We are not just trying to sell people a product; we want to build a community around Firemole who want to come on the start-up journey with us and be part of this new age of safety-tech. We will be doing weekly vlogs (video blogs), so people can see what is going on in the background of the company and plan to push out as much content as possible through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin and YouTube.

What are your international expansion plans?

With our crowdfunding campaign, we will be selling to Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We have already been contacted by major distributors who want to carry the Firemole device, so it looks like international expansion will occur quickly. Dealing with scaling the company efficiently will be the biggest challenge for this year.

“There has been a lot of Googling and awkward meetings when I was way over my head, but I think that is why I have learnt so much.”

Describe setting up your business, what curve balls and lessons have you encountered?

Getting involved in product development and manufacturing has been a very steep but enjoyable learning curve. The last year has been filled with very ‘high highs’ and crushing lows, but I suppose that is an integral part of a start-up. There has been a lot of Googling and awkward meetings when I was way over my head, but I think that is why I have learnt so much. I believe that it is essential to throw yourself in at the deep end because that way, you have to learn quickly.

If there is one thing I wish I could tell myself this time last year, it would be to ensure you have a plan B and C lined up for when A fails, as plan A will fail more times than you like. 

Relying on specific sources of finance was another big mistake I made. Never believe a word until the contracts are signed, and the money is in the bank.

What supports have you received?

To date I have received €15,000 from the New Frontiers Program, €15,000 in feasibility funding from the Cork City Local Enterprise Offices and a €5,000 innovation voucher from Enterprise Ireland.

“Many companies expect to get every ounce of work they can get out of their employees, and it leads to burn out and depression very quickly.”

What do you need now?

I am currently looking to raise €400k. There needs to be a significant marketing budget for Firemole as it is not a product people will be specifically looking for. I also need to build a team. I have a few guys who do some work on the side, and it would be great to get a full-time team in place.

If you were ‘ruler for the day’. What would you do to change Ireland’s business culture?

I think Ireland’s business culture is beginning to change, but there is still a lot that can be done. I hear stories from friends that it is frowned upon to leave their office before 7 pm, even though they are not being paid for it. Many companies expect to get every ounce of work they can get out of their employees, and it leads to burn out and depression very quickly. I think if I were ruler for the day, I would try to shift the working culture for these companies from quantity to quality, as this would lead to a happier workplace.

DOWNLOAD: A brilliant business plan template.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/firemole-overheating-plugs-prevention/ on
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