Balancing work and parenting during the holidays

Top tips for working parents. How to get the work-life balance right during the summer break. 
The days are getting longer, and the schools will soon be closing for the summer holidays. Your kids are getting excited about the long, lazy days ahead. But you find yourself getting increasingly anxious. How will you keep your kids busy all summer while running a business? Where will you find extra childcare? How much will it all cost? 
School holidays can present business owners with a headache. But with a little planning and focus, you can stay productive. With some creativity, you can find solutions to fit your schedule and your budget. Here are some tips to help you get organised. 

Plan your child care 
Now is the time to start planning the summer months. Probably your biggest challenge is finding a minder for your kids during the regular school hours. Your existing minder may be able to increase their hours, or a family member may step in. But if not you will need to find some new solutions. 
You can start by talking to other working parents. What arrangements have they made? What child-minding solutions are available locally that you may not be aware of?
Think creatively about other solutions. Do you know any teenagers who would cover a few hours a day for a small fee?  Do you have a niece or nephew living abroad who would like to visit and look after their cousins? Is there a local language school? Investigate if you can host students in exchange for some child minding. If you have an extra room in your house, maybe a short-term au pair would solve the problem?
Find activities
Start booking camps and other activities early to avail of discounts. To find options suitable for your kids’ ages, ask parents with children a year or

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Dr. Naomi Mackle on building Adare Clinic

A one minute interview with Dr. Naomi Mackle, MD of the Adare Clinic. 
How did the company get its name?
Our first clinic is based in Adare, Co. Limerick, hence the name ‘The Adare Clinic’. 
How long have you been in business?
For just over six years.
Did you receive any supports when starting your business?
None, we got no support from any state agency. A small bank overdraft saw us through our first year in business.
What factors helped you grow?
The company grew organically over the last five years. With the opening of a clinic in Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin, we were able to find a niche market for dermatology in the Dublin region. Waiting lists in hospitals have helped us a lot as our SLA for appointments at the clinic is three weeks.  
What are your expansion plans? 
We are planning to relocate to a 4,000 sq. ft. premises in Dublin with the introduction of a further two treatment rooms. We are also hiring Dermatologists.
“There are little or no reliefs for the self-employed, and it is very tough for people to navigate through the first few years in business.”
What are your unique selling points? 
Personal service. We are good at this, and we have the highest of standards when dealing with people at out clinics. Even the basics like offering a tea or coffee or having the latest magazines and newspapers, make a huge difference.  
We have made significant investments in technology and provide the most recent laser treatments and mole mapping. 
Our people are very personable, making clients feel at ease when visiting our clinics.  
Are there any magazines, blogs, newsletters or brands on social media you read religiously?
Not really, social media is a bit alien to me. I leave this to others in the office. While I have Facebook accounts, I never access them and to be honest;

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Moocall – saving calves and saving farmers money

One definition of an entrepreneur is someone who develops a solution to an age-old problem and brings it to a global market. Emmet Savage and Niall Austin did it. This is the story of Moocall.
Emmet Savage’s first introduction to farming was working on a small local farm during his school holidays. In later life, he became an entrepreneur running businesses within both the construction and fashion industries.  
In 2010 he was approached by Niall Austin, a friend, and work colleague, about how losses during calving were having an impact on his family farm.
Austin had an idea. It was to do with a sensor attached to a cow’s tail that could act as an alert for farmers when a cow started to calve. The seed for an international business was sown. 

From a trauma to an idea 
Austin is a farmer’s son living in Offaly, with a lifetime’s experience of the calving season. He knew the rituals, the sleep-interrupted nights, checking on cows that are close to calving. 
Then, in 2010 he experienced the trauma of losing a cow and a calf. It was a significant loss, as the cow was worth over €1,000 and the calf worth half that. 
He went looking for solutions to alert farmers when cows were calving. However, the existing solutions were both expensive and intrusive, which meant that they were more likely to cause internal infection. 
Putting their heads together, Savage and Austin began developing what was later to become Moocall.
“I brought in Michael Stanley who is the chairman of Cairn homes as an investor at a very early stage.”
The right idea at the right time
“Timing was critical but having a really strong product, and proof of concept were equally so,” says Savage.
“It helped keep everyone focused and got us to where we ultimately are now.
“Niall started to research a non-invasive

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Seven startups ready to scale in America

Seven early stage Irish firms will take their places in startlab NYC, a free incubation space powered by Bank of Ireland.
BriteBiz, Glofox, LogoGrab, KONG Digital, Deposify, Pulsate and Axonista will set up shop in the free co-working space in New York for a 12 month period.
All the firms selected are in a position to enter the US market and significantly grow their businesses. 
In addition to the free office and meeting space in central New York, the firms will receive mentoring from Bank of Ireland’s innovation and corporate banking teams in both Ireland and the US to “help them develop, grow and scale their business”. 
“[This is] the perfect landing pad for the US right in the heart of its most vibrant city. We can just focus on building our US presence,” says Conor McLoughlin, CEO, GloFox.
“Glofox has seen rapid growth in the US over the past 12 months, accounting for over 50% of all new clients. The US accounts for 50% of the global software market, 40% of the global fitness market and given that it is a higher converting lower cost acquisition channel than any other territory it represents our primary market.”
High potential startups
The seven firms selected are high potential startups, and all have secured valuable deals to place them in prime position to grow in the enormous US market. 
• Axonista received a €1.7m grant from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Innovation in SMEs programme.
• Deposify already secured a banking partnership with People’s United Bank and raised €1.1m in funding.
• GloFox raised €2 million in a funding round with investors that included Enterprise Ireland.
• Pulsate recently landed $1.5 million in funding, with PayPal backing the round. 
• BriteBiz is currently based in the Bank of Ireland startlab in Galway and has a pipeline of clients in the USA and is looking

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Five little business ideas that became giants

Once upon a time these five companies were minnows. Now, they are giant killers, roaming the global markets. 
Starting small and growing is difficult. Just surviving the first few years can prove tricky, never mind disrupting a whole sector. Nevertheless, it can and has been done; here are five underdog brands that became giant killers.

Three years into its existence, Netflix was an unprofitable fringe movie rental service, sending its 300,000 subscribers DVDs through the post. When it approached Blockbuster that year, in the spring of 2000, and gave the video rental chain behemoth the opportunity to buy it out, Blockbuster laughed the company’s directors out of the room. Move forward to 2016, and Netflix has over 75 million subscribers worldwide with its innovative online model, while Blockbuster is long out of business. Not only has Netflix eclipsed the one time market leader, it had also raced past other media companies like HBO and YouTube in terms of subscriptions and web traffic respectively.
DOWNLOAD this brilliant business plan template and ignite your dream.

Ben & Jerry’s
Ben and Jerry’s battle with Haagen-Dazs is one of the classic David V Goliath stories in business. Starting out selling homemade ice cream from a petrol station, Ben & Jerry’s grew to the point where it was beginning to sell its product in supermarkets. Concerned that the rise of Ben & Jerry’s could hurt the sales of Haagen-Dazs, parent company Pillsbury gave distributors an ultimatum; drop Ben & Jerry’s or lose Haagen-Dazs. Being too small to sue the conglomerate, Ben & Jerry’s launched the “What’s the Doughboy afraid of?” campaign, taking out ads on buses, setting up a hotline and sending out t-shirts and bumper stickers to supporters. Suitably embarrassed, Pillsbury backed down and Ben & Jerry’s was able to grow into the thriving brand we know today. It was

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Moving to Ireland to start a business – the pros and cons?

What’s it like to move to Ireland, from another country, and set up a business? ThinkBusiness talked to three entrepreneurs who moved here to build their dreams. 
Andy Chen, Chopped (pictured above, right with business partner Brian Lee)
I moved from China to Ireland in July 2000. I’m a co-founder of Chopped, Ireland’s leading healthy fast food retailer.
How did I start this business? My business partner Brian Lee and I were both going to the gym a lot at the time but were frustrated at the lack of convenient and good value nutrition available to us. We talked about this, and the seeds of Chopped were sown.
Ireland is my second home, and I find the business environment to be excellent. I didn’t consider establishing my business anywhere else.
My first venture was selling imported goods from China to Irish market stalls around Dublin, with Brian, about six months after I came to Ireland. 
Soon after, I opened Ireland’s biggest internet café, ‘Five Star Internet Café’, on Talbot Street. I also opened the ‘Xtreme Internet And Gaming Centre’ on Lower Liffey Street. 
Around this time, Brian was running a property management company, and we were both eager to work together again, so we opened a convenience store near Connolly Station. It was at this time that the idea for Chopped came to us. 
We were both into fitness, and we wanted an option to eat healthy on the go. We established the healthy food company, Freshly Chopped, to meet this need and a few months after our first Chopped opened on Baggot St, we opened FIT Studios in Fairview. 
“Non-Irish nationals may struggle to reconcile Irish humour with the professional environment. It’s also not unusual to conduct business meetings outside of the office.”
Did you receive any supports regarding funding or advice when you started your business in Ireland? 

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Nine creative and quirky summer camps in Ireland

Here are nine creative and quirky camps operating in Ireland and a short guide on how to start your own summer camp business. 

Are you a business owner with children? Do you need to keep them busy over the summer holidays? Perhaps you want to start a summer camp?

As carefree as summer camps aim to be for young people, behind every good camp is a serious business. Here we look at some of the quirkier, less run-of-the-mill Irish summer camps, and how you might go about setting up your own. If you know of other really cool summer camps, let us know on our Facebook page.

Summer camp


With programmes on campuses right across Ireland, Whizzkids has established itself as the number one camp for kids and teenagers interested in tech. The week-long camps teach young people about coding, web design and much more.

More info here.

Wizard Academy 

If tech isn’t your child’s thing, perhaps witchcraft and wizardry could be more down their street? Modeling itself as Ireland’s answer to Hogwarts, this County Meath-based camp offers kids classes in potions, magical creatures, spells and more. 

More info here.

creative summer camps

Kids Army Bootcamp

Is it time your child learned some survival skills? Based in the wilds of Enniskerry, Basecamp East’s summer camp offers children a range of survival-style training, from air rifling to bushcraft. 

More info here.


For those looking for something more creative, Starcamp promises to boosts kids’ confidence through singing, acting, hip-hop and other performance activities. The camp caters for both boys and girls from the ages of four to fourteen with venues right across Dublin.  

More info here.

Fight Factory Pro Wrestling 

Time to trade in the football kit for spandex? Based in Bray, FFPW is Ireland’s number one pro wrestling school, with former trainees having gone on to superstardom in the WWE. Trainees must be at least 14 years of age. 

More info here.

Punch Lion

Specialising in family friendly comedy shows for children, Punch Lion Comedy Clubs also run comedy workshops for kids, teaching everything from improvisation and stand-up comedy. Different classes cater for ages ranging from 5-12, with workshops for teenagers also on offer.

More info here.

Run Away With the Circus

Juggling, unicycling, pyramid building, diablo, hat manipulation – these are just some of the skills being taught by Circus professionals during this week long summer camp in Cloughjordan this July. Suitable for over eights, with separate groups for teenagers. 

More info here.

summer camps4

Dig it Kids 

Dig it Kids works with teachers and early school practitioners to bring archaeology and history to life in the classroom (and out of it). The camp is tailored to meet the Aistear Programme and the School Curriculum.

“Our mission is to provide fun, hands-on learning for young archaeologists and historians, supporting the Irish curriculum,” says Stephen Mandal, co-founder. 

More info here.

creative summer camps ireland

Irish School of Archaeology

For more fun digging, the Irish School of Archaeology runs week-long camps over the summer in its Harold’s Cross and Malahide locations. The camps are aimed at youngsters aged between 7-12 and activities include a Viking house excavation, weaponry and combat, treasure hunts, and a real life archaeology dig. 

More info here.

Running a summer camp as a business 

Got an idea for an Irish summer camp? Here are a few things to consider before you get started. 

  1.    Scope

A summer camp is a business like any other, so before you get started you need to decide the scale of your operation and who you need to cater for. How many kids can you facilitate at a time, and for what age groups? Can you accommodate children with special needs? What kinds of activities will you offer, and what kind of facilities will you require? 

  1.    Business plan 

Once you know exactly what your camp will look like, it’s time to draft a business plan. A good business plan will help you secure investment, and will be a guide for developing your business. Download a great business plan template here.

  1.    Book the venue

Deciding on the venue requirements for your camp is an vital first step. Will you require playing fields, a computer room, or a theatre space? Figuring this out early is crucial, as community centres can get booked up quickly for the Summer months. 

  1.    Vetting

If you’re responsible for looking after kids, you’ll need to go through the Garda vetting process; as will the staff you employ at your camp. Hiring people who already have Garda clearance, like a teacher or Montessori employee on summer holidays, could save time. 

  1.    Health and safety and insurance

Meeting the appropriate health and safety requirements is a must, as well as getting public liability insurance. Make sure to shop around for the best quote. 

  1.    Marketing 

It’s time to fill those places. You need to decide on a budget and the strategy for your marketing. How are you going to differentiate yourself from other camps in the market? Will you place ads in local press or online? Do you have a social media strategy? Can your budget stretch to ads for the national newspapers, radio or TV? Sometimes it can be effective to contact local schools to ask about putting up posters or handing out fliers. Start planning, download a free marketing plan template here.  

Article by Peter Flanagan.

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From banking to dream building


Frank Kelly, a former banker, is now running an experiential luxury travel firm from Tipperary. His target audience is the ‘culturally curious’. 

frank kelly

My formative career was in banking in London with NatWest Bank. After “escaping” branch banking, I had a series of relationship management roles in franchise finance and international banking. I then moved into banking software sales with travel around African and Asia. Then, the entrepreneurial bug caught me, and I went into marketing consultancy and event management. 

What is Hennessy & Furlong?

Hennessy & Furlong, named after my godparents, specialises in experiential luxury travel. We offer customers exclusive access to private castles and historic homes. Guests are welcomed inside by the owners themselves, never an employee guide. Our guests enjoy the experience of being shown around special private homes by their owners. The magic is enjoying relaxed hospitality with their hosts. 

What prompted you to start the business?

There was no eureka moment as such. I know it’s a hackneyed phrase about following your passion, but I have always been excited by travel. Not just going to signature places but finding those places that are “behind the scenes” and not readily accessible. 

Living in London, I have the pleasure of a private tour of No. 10 during Tony Blair’s premiership, a reception at the Houses of Parliament and other exclusive experiences. The excitement of those private visits tour remained with me and is the benchmark when it echoes with the experiences for our guests

Also, when I travelled on business around Asia and Africa, I was often invited inside places that one would never read about online or in any guidebook. 

hennessy and furlong

How did you start the business? 

I was very fortunate to go to the UCD Innovation Academy to develop the concept during an intensive programme in “Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Enterprise”. 

It’s a “learning-by-doing” programme. It made me realise the importance and necessity of a diverse team to bring an idea to fruition. 

Explain more about teamwork and diversity

Through The UCD Innovation Academy, I met other students and alumni who recognised the potential for Hennessy & Furlong. One fellow student, Jason Cooke, came on board as our brand director. Likewise, David Keane, another alumnus, was setting up his website design consultancy, Inkstone. Keith Currams, a videographer, again an Academy graduate, was attracted by the potential to share the Hennessy & Furlong brand with engaging videography. Surrounding ourselves with others who have an entrepreneurial mind-set is vital. 

A broad range of skills and knowledge in the team is crucial to unleashing the value of our experiences to our prospective guests and stakeholders.  

hennesy and furlong

How supportive are state agencies?

Tipperary Local Enterprise Office was our first stop. They were encouraging with both seed funding, in-kind support with digital marketing and sales leads. 

Likewise, Fáilte Ireland was supportive with dedicated mentorship and group workshops with other businesses in the cultural tourism space. The development of the Ireland’s Ancient East branding was perfect timing for us. That new destination brand, aimed at the “culturally curious” aligns neatly with our brand message. 

What needs do you satisfy?

We all have a natural curiosity about people and places that may not be readily accessible. Through our network of contacts and careful relationship building, we can arrange access to places and people that would not be usually available. Indeed, Fáilte Ireland refers to our market as the “culturally curious”. 

hennessy and furlong

What trends do you see in the travel marketplace?

Authentic, local experiences are increasingly being sought by visitors. Indeed, there is an increasing demand for experiences as opposed to products and possessions. 

How do you find these people and places?

Meticulous research, leveraging our network and referrals from people “in the know”.

How did you validate your idea?

The UCD Innovation Academy mantra is “customer discovery”. In practice, that meant conducting “customer conversations” with visitors as they were leaving sites such as The Rock of Cashel and Bunratty Castle. We also listened carefully to others in the travel space: the five-star hotel managers, the premium tour operators and the travel writers. 

What is your key customer segment?

Our target guests are American visitors who are well-educated and for whom travel is part of their lifestyle. They value authentic experiences and love exclusivity. 

What is your focus at the moment?

•    Keeping our team focused, motivated and excited;

•    Sales and revenue – the heartbeat of any business;

•    Finding smart investors (as opposed to passive ones) who share our passion and want to be part of our future success, as well as earning a return on their investment.

Is the business scalable?

Good question. In our view, yes. We watch the evolution of the London-based premium home rental company ONEFINESTAY which is a “high-end AIRBNB” though with a concierge service. Likewise, in the United States, IFONLY sells excellent experiences. For us, scalability will be contingent on a mix of enthusiastic hosts, adequate capital and growing out a team of people. 


What is your ultimate ambition?

To be recognised as the go-to company for exclusive experiences; to attract people and partners who share our passion for unearthing unique, enriching and memorable experiences; to build a financially solid company that rewards our people, our hosts, and our investors. 

Any advice for other startups?

Keep focusing on the customers’ problem as much as possible before designing your solution. Surround yourself with a diverse and motivated team. Validate, iterate as needs be – and never, ever give up. 

Images © Stephanie Joy Photography; © Kees Van Seventer.


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Funds to help grow exports to the Eurozone

A new Eurozone strategy by Enterprise Ireland will make funds available to EI clients to increase their exports to the EU. 
Client companies of Enterprise Ireland (EI) had export sales of over €22bn in 2016. The UK market took €7.5bn of last year’s exports, while exports to the US/Canada were €3.7bn, up 19% year-on-year. 
The food sector is the largest player regarding total exports; more than €10bn of food products were shipped last year by EI client firms. 
“Companies cannot afford to wait until the Brexit negotiations conclude – they must act now.”
With this in mind, EI has launched a Eurozone strategy to help exporters in Ireland increase their sales to Eurozone countries by 50% by the end of 2020.
READ THIS: WebPort Global – find customers in international markets.
More funds and supports will be made available
Enterprise Ireland will raise the level of funding available to support clients to enter or scale in the Eurozone. These will include:

Eurozone market research and feasibility grants
Eurozone market access grants for market expansion
Business innovation/R&D grants for product localisation
A ‘Eurozone’ key manager grant
Management development training and access to language supports
An International Graduate Programme with Eurozone language skills
More funding for trade events in Eurozone countries

“The growth of exports to the UK has slowed [and this] suggests that the impact of Brexit on Irish companies has already started,” says Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland. 
“Companies cannot afford to wait until the Brexit negotiations conclude – they must act now. 
“While diversifying from the UK might have been a desirable objective for Irish companies in the past, Brexit means that it is now an urgent imperative.”

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My business is failing – what do I do?

One thing is nearly sure in business; there is going to come to a point where things go drastically wrong, and you will need help to survive. Here are three such stories.
The fifteenth mile of a marathon. Three days into redecorating the kitchen.
There are many times when we can feel like just throwing in the towel and giving up. This is especially true for entrepreneurs who are starting a business. The stages between establishing your company and becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg are some of the most stressful and challenging times in your life.
We spoke to three entrepreneurs who shared the most stressful moments they encountered while building their businesses.

Laurence Ridge – Splitter
Laurence Ridge, managing director, at Splitter HQ knows how things can change in a second. Tragically, in March 2016, his business partner and best friend passed away. Laurence was just about to take over 50% of the business but was relying heavily on the support of his partner. While he floundered in a state of shock and denial for a few months, Laurence eventually decided to take over 100% of the business in July 2016. But things were far from perfect.
What had happened?
By July 2016, a lot of things had expired – domain names, support systems, and even the website hosting. Due to this disruption, 80% of his customers had left. Splitter had lost some big accounts.
How did he fix it?
Laurence decided to refocus and restructure. He cut back on marketing spend, looked at where he could cut other costs, and perhaps most importantly, looked at where he could start to gain revenue. Fortunately, a Portuguese betting company signed with the company in September and Lidl Denmark joined in December 2016. These wins massively helped both the business and himself, get back on track.
He also reached out to successful entrepreneurs

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