Using Blockchain to help Ethiopian coffee farmers

Moyee is the world’s first FairChain coffee brand. Based in Amsterdam, Addis Ababa and now Dublin, the provocative coffee company is on a mission to transform global coffee to a fairer, more transparent industry. Shane Reilly, who brought Moyee to Ireland, talks to ThinkBusiness.


What does Moyee Coffee do that’s different? 

Most of the value-added aspects of Moyee’s coffee production take place in Ethiopia, including roasting, and because Moyee pays coffee farmers 20% above the market price, they have access to the country’s best coffee. The combination of premium coffee and a progressive social and economic agenda is behind the company’s tagline: ‘Radically good coffee with radical impact’. A cult coffee brand established in the Netherlands, Killian Stokes and I brought the FairChain movement to Ireland in late 2016.

“We see our social mission as being central to our business.”

Helping the coffee farmer

By roasting our coffee in Ethiopia, we ensure more of the value of coffee stays in the hands of those who contribute most to coffee production. Coffee production is notoriously complex and involves countless middlemen, each taking a piece of the pie along the way. Coffee farmers are always at the short end of the stick. Currently, only 2% of the added value of every cup of coffee ends up in the pockets of coffee producers.

In a similar way to other campaigning brands like Patagonia, we see our social mission as being central to our business. Customers want to know where their products are coming from and they are starting to see through corporate social responsibility box ticking. Our ultimate aim and brand promise is to create a true 50/50 partnership with coffee-producing countries like Ethiopia.

Why Ethiopia?

Ethiopia is the birthplace of Arabica coffee and grows some of the best coffee in the world. It’s also a symbol of many of the problems with the coffee industry.

Despite being Africa’s biggest coffee exported, Ethiopia makes just shy of €800 million per year. At the same time, it has to rely on nearly €3 billion in development aid from the international community. If Ethiopia exported roasted, branded speciality coffee – like Moyee has started to do – it would triple its income overnight and rapidly reduce its reliance on development aid in coffee-producing regions.

A major point we make, however, is that this trade should be based on quality not charity. This is why when we do a free tasting for a potential office customer, we always start with the flavour and taste of our coffee.

“All Moyee’s coffee will be fully blockchain-traceable from the washing station in Ethiopia to our retail and office customers in Europe.”

How does FairChain work?

Since early November, we have been running a pilot project in Ethiopia with blockchain pioneers bext360 and the FairChain Foundation to prove more than ever that coffee is capable of leading the way to a more honest, fairer society.

We’ve been following the progress of our coffee through the supply chain since November. The first step in the chain was real-time payments to Ethiopian farmers for their coffee cherries. This blockchain project will mean all Moyee’s coffee will be fully blockchain-traceable from the washing station in Ethiopia to our retail and office customers in Europe.

The next phase of this project is really exciting as you have the ability to use tokens to ‘Tip the farmer’ directly from a consumer to a farmer’s digital wallet in Ethiopia. This has the potential to connect customers and producers like never before.

“The average coffee farmer in Ethiopia earns about €480 a year, even with the premiums we pay, and we can start to have a radical impact in coffee-growing regions by increasing this to €1,000 per year.”

What is the USP?

A physical blockchain token – or a scannable code – on a coffee bag or on your take away cup would allow customers to see who their farmer was, what we paid them and how much added value we leave in Ethiopia by roasting there.

This allows a sceptical consumer to see that their coffee is actually fair, from where we said it was and in the top 5% of beans.

The average coffee farmer in Ethiopia earns about €480 per year, even with the premiums we pay, and we can start to have a radical impact in coffee-growing regions by increasing this to €1,000 per year. Being able to offer our customers blockchain tokens to crowdfund towards an infrastructure project or to help farmers upgrade equipment and improve yields is our ultimate aim and an important part of our FairChain principles.

“We’re on a mission to bring speciality coffee into the workplace.”


We’re on a mission to bring speciality coffee into the workplace and that’s our main channel for the company in the next year. We’ve had great success in 2018 with co-working spaces and recently became the coffee partner for both The Tara Building & DogpatchLabs in Dublin. We’ve had good traction with tech companies like Groupon, fellow social enterprise FoodCloud and as well as creative agencies.

With a new eCommerce site about to be launched, we’re also looking to bring on board more subscribers who join our FairChain Coffee Club and get a fresh coffee delivery each month.

Moyee is also launching a ‘One million cups revolution’ in May to show exactly the impact of one million cups of FairChain coffee would have in Ethiopia. We think this campaign will bring on board companies who want to contribute to this impact.

This post was originally published here - on

14 of the best startups in Ireland

Here are fourteen of the most promising new businesses to emerge from Ireland over the past few years.
The winners at the 2018 National Startup Awards, powered by Bank of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, represent some of the best new businesses in Ireland across thirteen categories including tech, retail, product and tourism.
Early stage startup Nova Leah won the Grand Prix Startup of the Year award and a €10,000 cash prize. 
Croí Valve, which won in the early stage startup category, received €5,000 to support the development of its business.
The 14 gold award winners are:

Croí Valve, the early stage startup winner, is developing a safe, effective and easy to deliver device to significantly reduce tricuspid regurgitation in high-risk patients
Nova Leah, the emerge-tech startup and Grand Prix winner is the first expert cybersecurity system for medical devices.
ID Pal, the fintech startup winner, provides a simple identity verification solution that allows businesses to onboard customers quickly and easily. 
Hexafly, the agritech startup winner is developing new material sources for the aqua feed, chitin and plant nutrition industries
Coindrum, the travel and tourism startup winner, provides airport self-service units that turn leftover coins into duty-free vouchers worth 110% of deposits. 
Strong Roots, the food and drink startup winner, is a food company ‘hell-bent on revolutionising frozen vegetables through innovation’.
myAccessHub, the social and sustainable startup winner, helps businesses become more accessible.
Nasal Medical, the product and manufacturing startup winner; designs nasal filters.
SalesOptimize, the eCommerce startup winner; provides eCommerce data science that can reveal an entire market. 
Ronocco Style, the retail and fashion startup winner, is a fashion business run by Pippa O’Connor and Brian Ormond.
iKydz, the tech startup winner, provides a variety of tools to help parents keep their children safe on the Internet.
Hooke Bio, the medtech startup winner, is a new company operating in the early stages of drug discovery. 
AudiosourceRE, is the

This post was originally published here - on thinkbusiness

Design Thinking is the heart of innovation

Denis Hayes is the MD of IRDG (Industry Research & Development Group). Ahead of the Design Thinking Ireland annual conference, he describes why Design Thinking is used by all of the world’s top firms to drive innovation.
What is the IRDG? 
The IRDG acts as the voice of industry RD&I in Ireland, it supports members to avail of relevant funding opportunities for innovation, brings companies together to share learning and experiences, promotes collaboration between industry partners and the third level sector and facilitates best practice learning and innovation capability in organisations. This is where the likes of Lean Product Development and Design Thinking fit in.
“It made me realise that design thinking could be used as a strategic means to stimulate innovation.”
Design Thinking has been a fundamental part of your agenda for many years, why are you ‘believers’?
My own awareness of Design Thinking really grew about five years ago when in Sydney attending the annual conference of the Hargraves Institute. Design Thinking was a dominant theme at that conference among manufacturers, insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies, all speaking about how they have integrated design thinking into their innovative approach. In particular, I met Darrell Mann who had been bringing this Design Thinking approach to many leading international companies. That experience made me realise that design thinking could be used as a strategic means to stimulate innovation. It was about using the approach and mindset of designers in the innovation process and how it could deliver powerful results.
Over 300 executives have been trained on the IRDG Design Thinking Programme / Masterclass which has been run twice per annum in partnership with Design Innovation Maynooth.
A special interest group (SIG) has been running for companies who are practising Design Thinking with visits to appropriate venues such as Airbnb, Dog Patch Labs, SAP, Fidelity Investments and later

This post was originally published here - on

Smart Sandyford – strategies for successful innovation

On Wednesday, May 23, the Smart Sandyford meetup will address how firms can increase agility, accuracy and responsiveness to rapidly changing market trends.

Businesses have never had more opportunities to harness breakthrough innovation, but in parallel, the risks of failure have increased. As technology underpins significant changes across biotech, medtech, fintech and many other industries, how can organisations plot a path to successfully navigate the development path of new products and services to stay ahead of the curve? Register now. 

The panel

Hosted by Smart Sandyford’s ‘Skills & innovation champion’, Eoin Costello, the panel of experts includes:

  • Paul Farnan – Microsoft
  • Jamie Tallon – ICON
  • Florence Irwin – SNP Communications
  • Bartley Doyle – Accenture

Who should attend? 

The meetup is free to attend and will be of particular interest to:

  • Business owner/managers
  • Coders/developers
  • Project managers
  • Product development teams
  • Innovation managers
  • IT staff

Space at this free event is limited, please register now. 

May Smart Sandyford meetup


Sandyford Smart Innovation Taskforce (an initiative of Sandyford BID) is committed to strengthening the digital community in Sandyford, helping business upskill for the capabilities needed in the smart era and helping companies in traditional sectors in the district leverage the benefits of digital transformation and collaborative innovation.

This post was originally published here - on


What does Donegal have to offer for businesses and startups and what business supports are available to entrepreneurs in this wonderful North West county? 


This post was originally published here - on thinkbusiness

Revenues of Irish tech firms to grow to €3.5bn

Lending to the Irish tech sector to increase as Bank of Ireland bolsters its technology sector team.
The Irish technology sector is one of the most dynamic areas of the economy. At a recent event hosted by Bank of Ireland and supported by Technology Ireland and Gartner, Adrian Mullett, head of the technology sector at Bank of Ireland said lending to the sector in 2017 grew by 150% supporting the growth of software and services companies, including, Propylon, vStream and Storm Technology.
“Projected revenues of indigenous tech firms are set to grow by 20% in 2018 to €3.5bn,” says Mullett.
A dedicated technology team
“Given this growth, we are expanding our dedicated technology team, with two key appointments, so we can continue to provide the right guidance to our customers,” says Mullett. “A larger technology team will help us to serve technology companies better and capitalise on the growth in lending we have delivered.”
The technology sector team in Bank of Ireland has a strong relationship with Gartner to glean deep regional and global insights into every significant business function of the market.
At the event, the keynote speaker Sandra Notardonato, research vice president with Gartner, gave a global market overview that included the paths for Irish firms that want to break into other markets.
“For the first time in nearly a decade we see worldwide end-user IT spending in the technology sector increasing,” says Notardonato.
“Our annual CIO survey shows an increase in IT budgets in 2018, of which 25% is dedicated to digital initiatives.”
The spend on IT services is showing healthy growth, especially in Europe with Ireland, Switzerland and Germany leading the way, followed by southern Europe where countries are playing catch up after years of underinvestment.
“Automation is the most meaningful change to the IT services business model since off-shoring,” explains Notardonato.
IT outsourcing is also showing

This post was originally published here - on

‘My wedding gift idea became a business’

Painted Clans founder Brendan McCarey makes family Coat of Arms and hand painted Heraldic products in a contemporary style. His business began when he designed a wedding present for a friend. 

The start
I started my design company five years ago. At the time a good friend of mine was getting married. I wanted to create a wedding gift like a modern family coat of arms. He was moving to Australia, and I wanted to give him something that would remind him of home. I started searching but I couldn’t find it, so I began to design it myself.
I started by setting up a Facebook page with the top ten modern Irish family coats of arms, and suddenly orders started coming in. I saw that there was potential to make quite a bit of money.
What is a coat of arms?
It is a heraldic depiction of your family history. It started in medieval times. They came to Ireland with the English. Most people in Ireland have a family coat of arms. I focus on the symbol within the coat of arms and strip away all the extravagance. I redesign it and create a series of stencils and finally paint the symbols in different layers. 
How did you fund the business?
I did a Kickstarter campaign at the very beginning which was more of a marketing programme. The beauty of the business is that my initial outlay was just the frames. I came from a design background, so I had a lot of equipment and office space and was ready to go.

What are your growth plans?
The business has been running three years. I am still trying to focus on America for growth. There are millions of Irish people in America. If we could get one percent of America, it would be amazing.
How many people work in

This post was originally published here - on thinkbusiness

Voinext helps online firms talk to customers

Brendan Farrell, the chairman of the board at Voinext, discusses the changing face on online customer service, growing a global business from Gorey and the importance of starting lean. 
My background
I come from a design and innovation background but have been involved in building new businesses for the last 35 years.
The idea and the service
Voinext CEO Jim Tracey came up with the original concept for Voinext. A simple way for online customers to connect to a ‘real salesperson’ who could make sure you got the right advice, the right product, the right deal and then close the sale.
So the rules for Jim were simple. Firstly contacting your online supplier should be for free. When you go to their store, they should be able to tell if you are a new or existing customer and serve you better. It all about the customer experience. Unlike the impersonal world of internet shopping that exists today. Jim wanted his online business to be customer-centric.
“The service allows your online customers call you for free, directly from your website to your phone.”
The value proposition 
We seem to have hit on a service that fits with just about any business with an online presence. Hotels, car hire, software, manufacturing, plant hire, property and finance companies, the list is endless and growing fast.
I suppose that it proves that, globally businesses still need to talk with their customers, and even in an online world voice is still the best for customer experiences for closing a sale.
“Who would have imagined that a Gorey based SaaS Company with its software team based in Minsk would be supplying free call service to a premier restaurant in Bali?”
The toughest part of starting a business
You need a ‘launch’ product. Any seasoned entrepreneur will tell you that the most important thing is to prove that your

This post was originally published here - on

How young farmers can grow their farms

We are entering an era where real farm expansion can be secured without the need to buy land. This is good news for young farmers. 

The upcoming review of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will, almost certainly, bring changes to the supports available to farmers across the European Union. More support will be given to farmers who are actively producing food.
This will give Irish farmers real business development opportunities. Adding to this, are the recent tax changes to facilitate the development of long-term, land leasing opportunities in Ireland.
“Young farmers may be particularly drawn to the possibility of forging a joint venture agreement with an older landowner.”
As a result, we are now entering an era where real expansion can be secured at individual farm level without the need to actually buy land.
The business options to make this happen are extremely diverse. Young farmers, for example, may be particularly drawn to the possibility of forging a joint venture agreement with an older landowner.
Proper planning is everything and the potential for new and flexible farm development programmes will be encouraged. 
A good farm adviser can work with a farmer to help them come up with the development opportunities that best suit their individual needs.
Having a viable business idea is one thing – actually putting into operation is something else entirely. So if you are committed to growing your own farm business, why not contact your local Bank of Ireland branch and let them help convert your plan into a profitable reality?

Related Resource

Need to expand, invest in new equipment or simply need development funding for your farm? 

This post was originally published here - on

Finalists named for One2Watch competition

FutureScope has announced its four finalists for this years One2Watch competition. 
FutureScope, Ireland’s only tech event dedicated to promoting collaboration and new business opportunities between start-ups, multinationals, innovative businesses and the research community, has announced the four finalists for One2Watch 2018.
The One2Watch competition seeks to find Ireland’s most scalable business idea and award the winning company with €2,000 and a platform to support its growth.
The finalists
CroíValve, an early stage medical device company, that has developed a device to treat a common heart valve disorder – tricuspid regurgitation (TR), without the need for surgery. With surgery performed in only 0.5% of cases, there is no current suitable treatment option for patients with TR, which significantly impacts survival and quality of life. CroíValve’s innovative device offers a simple, safe and effective solution to a common and serious health disorder.
Electrical Analytics has developed a novel power quality monitoring system, backed by a cloud-based data analysis platform that enables power grid operators to have complete visibility over their entire distribution network. The system can help network operators to plan upgrades, protect equipment from poor power quality, and develop usage analytics. Electrical Analytics Technology Ltd. is a spinout from the Applied Physics Research Group based in Trinity College Dublin.
BeSpoke Choice is an innovative sales platform that helps venues to increase their annual number of wedding bookings and the average revenue per wedding. Designed and built by wedding planning professionals, the application enables couples to build a unique package via an interactive journey of the services the venue has to offer. Once booked the software uses AI to maximise upsell revenue for the venue while also ensuring couples have the best wedding they can afford.
BuyMedia provides SMEs with a unique platform that enables them to better plan, purchase, manage and monitor their advertising across all

This post was originally published here - on thinkbusiness