Bringing the wild boar back to Ireland

Is this the most innovative farm in Ireland? If not, it’s undoubtedly one of the most adventurous.
Over 30 years ago, Pat and Miriam Mulcahy purchased Ballinwillin House, a historic building with 14 acres of land, located close to the town of Mitchelstown in Co. Cork. Their dream was to reintroduce wild boar back into Ireland, and Ballinwillin farm has since become a specialist breeder of organic deer, wild boar and goats. It’s a tale of how a farming family, with limited land resources, pioneered and developed a unique and award-winning artisan food and agritourism business.
“The reintroduction of wild boar to Ireland is something we are quite proud of and passionate about.”
Thinking differently
We started off with a dry stock enterprise at Ballinwillin in 1985. I had a real passion to do something different with the land, and after the first year, we sold off the cattle and began sourcing and importing deer from abroad. The reintroduction of wild boar to Ireland is something we are quite proud of and passionate about. We had succeeded in bringing together on our farm, the first two animals initially consumed as food, by our ancient ancestors; and what’s also unique about our enterprise is that we are – the only organic deer and wild boar farm, across the whole of Britain and Ireland.

Deer and wild boar farming
We went around the world researching deer carcase sizes. We initially bought deer in England and Scotland, but the carcase sizes were too small to be commercially viable. We then travelled to New Zealand and discovered that they had sourced all their deer in Hungary – and that’s what took us to Hungary. The deer we sourced in Hungary in 1985 were the breeding stock for the herd of Hungarian Red deer that we have today on our farm

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CivicQ and the way we view public opinions

Vanessa Liston from CivicQ was the recent winner of the Enterprise Ireland HPSU Sprint Programme pitch competition held at the Guinness Enterprise Centre. The aim of SPRINT is to help founders develop the skills needed to build a successful business.
CivicQ is a startup that looks at new ways to structure and visualise public opinion. The service can improve engagement between voters, governments and organisations on public issues.
Vanessa Liston holds a PhD in Political Science from Trinity College Dublin. Her research interests are democratic theory, Web 2.0 and emerging technologies for enabling innovations in political systems. 
CiviQ’s products and services are based on “recent ground-breaking innovations in deliberative democratic theory”.
Clients of CivicQ include the European Commission; Cork City Council; the Department of Health; Innovate Dublin and Irish Water.
Below is a video of Vanessa Liston presenting to the World Forum for Democracy.

Related Resource

To find out more about the HPSU SPRINT programme go here.

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Thinking business with Brendan Kenny

Brendan Kenny says the entrepreneurial culture in Galway is second to none. 
What’s your role?
I am the owner and managing director of BK Marketing – a new creative agency with offices in Galway and Berlin.  
What are you most interested in? 
I’m interested in developing and executing genuinely creative marketing communication plans using visual and audio to target specific audiences. I’m also fascinated by the challenge of building brands with personality – to deliver results by fusing creativity with business.  
What are your ambitions? 
Our vision is to make BK Marketing one of the leading creative agencies in Ireland and Germany.
What drives you? 
I’m really driven by new experiences in all aspects of work and life. Variety and travel have taught me that new experiences really are the fuel that drives creativity – in life and in business.
“On the back of the entrepreneurial culture, there is now a genuine community spirit in the business community which can be seen across all aspects of life in Galway.”
Who do you admire in business? 
I have a lot of admiration for Gary Vaynerchuk, Pat McDonagh, Tim Ferriss, Arianna Huffington and Richard Branson – five business people who stamp personality and creativity on their own businesses, and deliver results time after time after time.   
What are we doing well in Galway?
After decades of going about our business a little too quietly, Galway and its inhabitants (blow-ins and Galwegians alike) have done a great job over the past number of years in finally blowing our own trumpet – much to the envy of many outsiders. I believe that the city is finally beginning to maximise its potential as a centre for tourism, business (particularly as a tech hub), sport and ultimately, a brilliant place to live.  
This exposure can be seen in all aspects of life here. In business, the SME and startup scene has never been brighter, and we continue to

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Thinking business with Colm O’Brien

Colm O’Brien is the founder of Carambola, amongst other things. He believes Limerick is edgy and that the city and region needs to embrace that edginess and market it to the world.

What’s your role?
Founder and MD of Carambola a school meals business that is 14 years in existence, with 130 staff, and a €8.5m annual turnover. I’m also the founder of The Sounding Board – helping SMEs and business owners scale sustainably and profitably; the owner of Colm O’Brien Motivation, inspirational after dinner and general motivation speaker for the Business Community; a volunteer chairman of the Board Lime Tree Theatre; and a volunteer board member of the Irish Chamber Orchestra. 
What are you most interested in?
I am most interested in leadership. Leadership is an attitude, not a position. I regularly speak to groups ranging from 10 to 12-year-olds (5th/6th class) through to senior execs and SME owners and motivate them to get better, to lead by example. Our businesses can never outgrow us.
What are your ambitions?
To build something significant. Significant in terms of scale. Significant in terms of impact. Significant in terms of revenues. Significant in terms of Limerick and the Midwest. Significant regarding Ireland Inc.
“Leadership is an attitude, not a position.”
What drives you?
Contribution. We all have talents. I believe we should all use what we have. The world will be a poorer place if we hide our gifts and think small. I believe if we do the right job right long enough the rewards (including the few bob) follow.
Who do you admire in business?
Sir Richard Branson – he portrays himself as the epitome of casual success and seems to effortlessly attract and retain great business deals, by attracting and retaining great people. Also, the Collison brothers, Limerick boys playing on a global stage and JP McManus and Chuck Feeney. I

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‘We have sold over 500,000 fairy doors’

The Irish Fairy Door Company was started four years ago when two married couples, sat around a kitchen table, suddenly had an idea. Co-founder Niamh Sherwin Barry talks to ThinkBusiness about growing a business in the face of adversity.
How did the business come about?
The Irish Fairy Door Company started as a wonderful idea but with absolutely no money to make it happen. Having been hit incredibly hard by the recession, we were all facing imminent emigration. We knew that our idea was good but there was simply no capital to invest. That is when my mother stepped in and gave us €8,500. Apart from really wanting me to stay in the country, she also believed that we had a really great idea and wanted to be part of it. The business was launched on Facebook in August 2013 and we have not looked back since. We have sold over 500,000 Fairy Door products in Ireland and around the world. We have distributors in Australia, the U.K., Mexico and North America.
“In my opinion it’s all about making the emotional connection with your customer.”

How long did it take from having the idea to selling the first fairy door?
The idea is quite simple, but I think that is the charm of it. The original idea was in June 2013 and we sold our first fairy door on August 28, 2013. Very quick really. Just shows what you can do when you really need to make money.
Looking back, would you change anything about setting up the company or bringing the idea to market? 
Not really. But I suppose knowing the difference between an ‘eager amateur’ and an actual expert would have helped along the way. Lots of people contacted us telling us what they could bring to the table. Some were fantastic, while others weren’t so great.
You have a huge social media

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Is this Ireland’s next great inventor?

Aaron Hannon (19) is an inventor. He invented EnableArm, a shaving device for people with limited hand dexterity. He’s also part of the Williams Formula One Engineering Academy. Here he talks about his first steps into business life. 
How did your idea emerge?
The project is very much family inspired. My late grandfather Joe, an active man who took great pride in his appearance, suffered a stroke in late 2003, causing paralysis in his left side. His abilities to perform even the most personal and most basic tasks were eroded – such as his ability to shave. It was very difficult for me to watch his frustration and upset, and so I wanted to create a device which would help people in this situation.
How does it work?
The device automatically shaves the user’s face, which removes the need for users to have the hand control required to shave one’s face. The device can be controlled by voice commands from a mobile phone app, which connects to the device via Bluetooth, allowing the user to have complete control over their shaving routine without outside assistance. The device sits on the user’s head like a pair of headphones and has a visor which can move on-axis through the ear up and down around the user’s face.
“I relish the technical challenge of expanding my work on the shaving device into a whole range of new applications.”
It seems like a very complex invention?
It was certainly a huge challenge, especially considering I didn’t actually know how to code at the start of the project. I literally started the software aspect of the design by learning how to make LEDs blink. While there were certainly moments where I was tearing my hair out, it wasn’t all about the difficulty. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the design process.


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‘The future is bright for female-led tech companies’

Claire McHugh, the CEO of Axonista, recently won an IMAGE Magazine Businesswoman of the Year award and believes female-led tech firms across Ireland are set to shine.

In 2010 Claire McHugh co-founded Axonista with Daragh Ward. Their company builds interactive, personalised video experiences for brands and media firms.
Before starting her own business, McHugh was part of the core team that established and managed the Setanta Sports channels in Ireland and the UK.
“I am honoured to receive this recognition from IMAGE magazine. I hope that my win shines a light for future female founders who might be considering starting a business,” says McHugh.
“There are shining examples of female-led technology businesses right across the country.”
As well as being CEO of a digital media company in growth, McHugh is a thought leader and speaker at global industry events and a trusted advisor to numerous startup communities. She is a mentor for Startup Boost Ireland; an ambassador for the Silicon Valley-based accelerator Blackbox Connect, and for the Irish female entrepreneur programme Going for Growth.
“The future looks very bright for Irish female-led tech companies. There are shining examples of female-led technology businesses right across the country at, Soapbox Labs, Tandem HR, Restored Hearing, ShowHouz, and Glissed, to name but a few.”
“We couldn’t have done this without startlab.”

McHugh and the team at Axonista were one of the first Irish firms to take up residence in startlab New York, powered by Bank of Ireland. They have just hired their first vice president of sales who will work out of New York. “We couldn’t have done this without startlab,” says McHugh.
“2017 has been a wonderful year for growth at Axonista. We opened our New York office with the support of startlab, we received the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Innovation in SMEs programme funding, added several new members to our team,

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The archaeologist who grew a podcasting business

This is Fin Dwyer, an archaeologist who overcame adversity to start and grow a podcast business. Here he explains how to make money from podcasting and why passions can become businesses. 

The combined impact of recession and illness left Kilkenny-based archaeologist, Fin Dwyer with time on his hands and a need for something to do. His hobbies of listening to podcasts and history encouraged the creation of his own podcast, called ‘Irish History Podcast’, back in 2009. He recounts how his hobby has since transformed into a thriving podcast business –currently with over three million downloads, across the world.
The idea
I wanted to make Irish history engaging for people who had little if any prior knowledge, on a historical subject or topic. The aim was to create a podcast that was interesting, accessible as well as relating more to the stories of particular individuals – rather than the more traditional focus of dates and numbers. When I began, most people didn’t know what a podcast was, but that has changed.
“At the moment it provides an income stream of $2,000 per month and is growing at the rate of €100-$200 per month.”
Audience feedback
The first podcast that I released was on ‘Life in the Early Middle Ages’, and it took some months to finish and put together. In the first year, the audience grew rapidly as the format proved very successful. Initially, I found it a little daunting, getting used to the sound of my voice but I received very positive audience feedback which was encouraging and gratifying. Audience numbers are driven by content, and this became more evident when I began to cover major topics such as the ‘Great Famine’ which drew in new audiences from America.
“People tend to find out about the podcast by word of mouth or as a personal recommendation.”

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‘Our aim is to plant one million trees in five years’

Ireland was once so covered in trees that a squirrel could travel from Malin to Mizen head without ever touching the ground. This Irish social enterprise aims to plant one million trees, all with the help of Ireland’s school children. 
Teacher Orla Farrell is the brains behind EasyTreesie, an environmentally-friendly social enterprise that aims to plant one million trees, with the help of school children, on the island of Ireland over the next five years. 
How did this all begin?
I remember celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Independence of Ireland as a six-year-old in first class; our teacher told us the story of how our native forest cover had been reduced to one percent. Ireland was once so covered in trees that a squirrel could travel from Malin to Mizen head without ever touching the ground.
The new State had made a start, but tree cover had not even gone up to four percent in that year. I also found it extraordinary to hear that Ireland was seven times better at growing trees than Scandinavia yet our teacher held up a wooden clothes hanger that said: A tSualainn Tír a dhéanta – Made in Sweden.
“Planting the first thousand trees was the hardest. We made lots of mistakes and are thinking of making a film called ’50 Ways to Kill a Tree’.”

And now you want to plant one million trees?
Yes. My husband was helping out a group called Conservation Volunteers who came to schools and helped plant trees. I had just moved to job share in a school on the Baldoyle Estuary, and we had lots of space. The team arrived, and we planted a native hedgerow and a stand of trees, over 200 in all. The children had so much fun, but best of all, the school started to benefit in

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One week, four provinces, hundreds of business opportunities

Are you interested in growing your business and finding new customers? Ireland’s National Enterprise Week is about to kick off.

National Enterprise Week, the national business development week, which runs from November 17-24 in towns all across Ireland is designed with one thing in mind – to support SMEs and startups in driving the country forward.
The principal theme of this year’s National Enterprise Week is ‘Scaling your business’.
Raising money, growing and winning
To learn more about raising finance, hiring people, exporting to new markets, increasing sales, business sectors on the rise, how to deal with Brexit, and how to win new customers check out the full list of events here.

Well-known speakers at the various nationwide events include Helen Carroll, ‘Ear to the Ground’; Bobby Kerr; Gavin Duffy; Anton Savage; Joe Healy, the IFA; and Martin Shannan, CEO, IDA.
Registration is free of charge and events will be taking place over the week in numerous venues across Leinster, Connaught, Munster, and Ulster.
National Enterprise Week is also one of the best business networking opportunities in Ireland, so make sure you take full advantage of what’s on offer.

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