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

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Kinsale Food Tours – an adventure in business

Suzanne Burns’  journey to self-employment and entrepreneurship is an interesting one. From New Zealand to Canada to the Wild Atlantic Way, her adventure is only starting.

When did you start your business, what was your first tour?
I started my coastal guiding business MOPTOG (My Own Private Tour Guide) in April 2016. My first official tour was to Sheep’s Head with a group of seven, hiking around the peninsula on a gorgeous sunny day. We even saw two lizards.
What were the first few tours like, how did you get traction?
The first tours were walking tours around the West Cork region. I used Meetup, Facebook and my network to attract people. I also ran free tours for a few months to generate interest in what I was doing and become a ‘known entity’.
These are real ‘tours of nature’. What can your guests expect?
I started my career as a zoologist and progressed to wildlife guiding over my ten-year stint living in New Zealand. This knowledge has carried through here. I showcase local flora and fauna, archaeology, history and myths and legends. Alongside the walking tours, I link in with whale watching and night kayaking operators.

You say the food tours have taken off. What can guests expect on these?
The Kinsale Food Tours run like a walking meal. We go to four venues for food. The first two stops incorporate lighter fare, followed by a main and sweet stop to round off the tour. As we go from place to place, the group learns about the food culture and fascinating stories and the people in Kinsale. I also do slighter longer tours which involve going to the coast foraging for wild shellfish, seaweed and plants. We go to the coast half way through the tour and have a picnic after foraging if weather permits. We then

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The ISAX Smart Ageing Awards 2017

Has your business designed and developed a product or a service that enhances the lives of people over the age of 50? 
The Smart Ageing Awards aim to recognise and celebrate businesses that create products, services or technologies that can enhance the lives of people over 50.
For full details, and to enter, simply visit the ISAX website.
“There are so many business opportunities to target people aged over 50 and many startups in the smart ageing space,” said Bobby Kerr at the launch of the awards. “It is great to see an awards platform designed to reward those in the smart ageing economy and to ensure quality businesses are recognised.”
Rewarding talent 
“We are looking forward to seeing entries from a broad range of firms and to showcase the talent in this growing sector,” says Anne Connolly, CEO, ISAX.
Pictured are Bobby Kerr; Anne Connolly, CEO, ISAX; Michael Murphy, founder, ProU; and David Tighe, head of innovation at Bank of Ireland, sponsor of the 2017 ISAX Smart Ageing Innovation Awards 2017.
READ MORE: ProU is the first product of its kind in Britain and Ireland to combine high levels of calcium, protein and vitamin D. It mitigates against the impact of osteoporosis and sarcopenia. Here is the full story.

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How to win international tenders

International tendering is an enormous business opportunity for Irish SMEs. What is Ireland doing and can we do more to help Irish firms win international tenders?
Seamus McCann (above right), chairman of ConsultingIreland, wants to encourage more Irish SMEs to tender for global projects.
The projects are paid for by international bodies such as the European Commission, the UN and the World Bank and, in many cases, 60% of the project value is paid upfront to the business that wins the tender.
Below, McCann outlines the reasons why Ireland needs to allocate additional resources to compete and win in an area with such massive potential. 
Did you know? 
•    On a daily basis, there are 200,000 projects put out to tender by International Financial Institutions (IFIs) such as the EU and World Bank. Two hundred thousand. 
•    IFI global tenders have an eye-watering market value of €1 trillion-plus per annum. 
•    Irish organisations and SMEs have excellent international reputations, built up over many years.
•    EU and World Bank (and other ‘service and supply’) tenders are available across sectors such as transport, water, energy, ICT, agriculture, health, and education. 
•    Many of our more established European partners (e.g. France and Germany) are already engaging, highly trained Irish experts, for International (IFI) assignments – in part, because of their English language skills. 
•    Significantly, English is also the language of choice for most global (IFI) tenders.  
•    In many cases, company cash flows can benefit from advances of up to 60% and payments are generally prompt.
•    In emerging markets, public sector activity is also a prelude to private sector involvement.
•    UK political uncertainty, fanned by Brexit, may present significant opportunities for Ireland.
So, there you have it. Tendering for international projects can be very lucrative. 
“Denmark, a country very similar to Ireland, is winning

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‘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,

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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.
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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

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