‘I built my business around something I love’

Brian Waring left the corporate world to create Craft Editions, a platform that sells ‘beautiful things made by hand’. This is his journey so far. 
What was your journey – how and why did you set up Craft Editions?
After 25 years working at a senior level for companies including Virgin and Starbucks I was looking for a new challenge. I have always had a passion for crafts and beautiful things made by hand. On a trip to South Africa in 2015, I decided to launch Craft Editions and build a business around something that I love. 
You have a section called ‘Featured Makers’. This is a nice blend of content and commerce, is this the way you see the development of the platform?
Yes absolutely. A fundamental part of Craft Editions is to tell the story behind the makers of the pieces that we will sell. I think in an era of mass production people increasingly want to find and acquire beautiful things that are individual and to understand the story behind the person who made it and how it is made. 

How do you ‘source’ the craftspeople and their wares?
Over the last year, I have travelled throughout Ireland, the UK and South Africa meeting talented makers and visiting craft exhibitions. I have immersed myself in the world of craft. I have met many wonderful people and have shared many of these stories via the Craft Editions website. For our Curated Editions, I choose a selection of craftspeople whom I have met and whose work I love, and I collaborate with them to create beautiful works for people to collect.
What’s your ambition for the platform?
My ambition is to grow Craft Editions organically to a size that feels manageable. I want a business that stays true to the personal connection with each of the makers.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/brian-warring-craft-editions/ on

The gift of foresight

Sophia McHugh is the co-founder of oodlique.com, an online personalised gifts marketplace. This is her experience of setting up a fast growing eCommerce platform. 

Our background is in eCommerce and web design. However, the idea for oodlique.com came from our previous business which was an online marketplace for independent retailers.  
Running the last business for two years, Brendan and I discovered that the majority of our sales and web search queries were for one particular area – personalised gifts. We saw an opportunity. 
After months of research, we discovered two major pain points for gift makers and gift buyers. 
The gift makers couldn’t afford to launch eCommerce platforms, and the gift buyers couldn’t find what they wanted. 
70% of the people we interviewed said they found it extremely time-consuming and frustrating to find a really “unique personalised gift” online. 
We launched oodlique.com in October 2016 to meet these needs. 
“Building a full-fledged platform from scratch without knowing your customer can be a real waste of money and time.”
If someone is interested in eCommerce, is there any advice you’d give? 
Our advice to anyone considering building an eCommerce platform would be to get an MVP (minimal viable product) up and running as soon as possible.
Even if you don’t have all the bells and whistles, it’s important to see if there is an appetite for your business model and see how users interact with the platform. 
Once you have gathered data over a few months, you will then have a much better view of your customers and improve the website to meet their needs. 
“We are excited to be receiving such traction with a month-on-month growth rate of 100%.”
Your growth rate is impressive, what marketing do you employ?
The key to our growth rate is by focusing on a niche area such as “unique personalised gifts”. 
If you have to market everything for everyone,

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/oodlique-gifts-online/ on

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;

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/dr-naomi-mackle/ on

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

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/moocall-saving-calves/ on

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

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/seven-for-startlab-nyc/ on

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.
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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

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/five-great-business-ideas/ on

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.”

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/eurozone-export-strategy-funds/ on

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

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/im-failing-what-do-i-do/ on

Make money from unused spaces

Parkpnp helps car parks, businesses and homeowners make money from their empty parking spaces. 
Parkpnp was founded by Irish entrepreneurs Garret Flower and Daniel Paul in 2016.
The firm recently secured seed funding of €500,000 from investors including Powerscourt Capital and Enterprise Ireland.
“Getting started with Parkpnp is easy. All you have to do is download the app for iOS or Android or register online,” says Flower. For more details, watch the video below. 

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/parkpnp-rent-car-spaces/ on

From farmer to international businessman

‘If you can figure out very early on, what you enjoy doing – life and business can be a heck of a lot easier.’
Helping international agri manufacturers get their products to farmers. It’s a simple idea and one that Noel Kelly of Creva Agri International is growing. 
Kelly grew up on a pedigree dairy farm (Creva Herd) near Athenry in Co. Galway. He trained in dairy management in the UK and worked in farm software and international sales before returning home in 2010 to combine his twin passions of dairy farming and global agribusiness.

My story
I trained to be a farmer for the first part of my life. I also gained experience working in sales in the mid-90s, selling farm software while also working on the family farm. Then in 1999, I undertook a dairy herd management course in the UK, followed by work experience on farms in England, Canada, and Holland. In 2009, I also graduated from UCD Smurfit School with a Diploma in Sales Management (Honours).  
“Farming is not just a job – it is a significant global business.”
Going to college in England gave me a flavour for international trade. During my studies, I met Bill Knox, the editor of Hoard’s Dairyman, which is the leading dairy magazine in the US and he offered some advice.
He was the first person that said to me: ‘You are all farmer’s sons, but think outside the farm gate. Farming is not just a job – it is a significant global business’. His advice connected with me and got me thinking.
“I was responsible for multimillions in sales, but my farm was losing money.”
It was in 2010 when things were changing, and I always knew I’d like to set up my own business. As much as I love dairying, I always had aspirations for my own

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/cow-comfort-creva-international/ on