The story of Kiki Moon

Keelin O’Keefe, founder of KiKi Moon, talks about her startup journey, the bumps along the way and how her products are now getting noticed in America.

Keelin O’Keefe, already a mother of one, got quite a surprise when she found out she was expecting her second baby, due on the same month she had planned to launch her first business.
“I had put so much work into research, planning and design that I couldn’t just quit. I decided to go on and launch the company. I just had to make it work.”
O’Keefe says there is no “perfect time” to launch a company, and most of her new business had been built before its inception. 
“I had a beautiful baby girl in March and in August of that year I launched the Kiki Moon online store.”
Kiki Moon is a platform that sells organic baby blankets in vibrant, fresh colours. 
“I had a strong vision of what I wanted to design, make and sell,” says O’Keefe. “That’s the most important thing, getting the products right. After that, it’s sheer hard work, organisation and determination.”
Quality of life
O’Keefe manufactures the Kiki Moon blankets in Portugal. “Everyone said I should go to the Far East to make the blankets, but that just wouldn’t work for me. I have two small children. I need to be able to hop on a plane and meet my suppliers within a few hours. I didn’t launch my business to detract from my quality of life. I want it to enhance my life and travelling all over the world won’t do that.”
Setting up the online store wasn’t the hardest part of O’Keefe’s startup journey. “I had to learn very quickly that social media, especially Facebook and Instagram, would play a huge part in our marketing strategy,” she says. 
“Setting up the online store wasn’t too difficult because we had

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Kiki Moon and the Kardashians

 
Keelin O’Keefe, founder of KiKi Moon, talks about her startup journey, the bumps along the way and how her products are now getting noticed in America.

Keelin O’Keefe, already a mother of one, got quite a surprise when she found out she was expecting her second baby, due on the same month she had planned to launch her first business.
“I had put so much work into research, planning and design that I couldn’t just quit. I decided to go on and launch the company. I just had to make it work.”
O’Keefe says there is no “perfect time” to launch a company, and most of her new business had been built before its inception. 
“I had a beautiful baby girl in March and in August of that year I launched the Kiki Moon online store.”
Kiki Moon is a platform that sells organic baby blankets in vibrant, fresh colours. 
“I had a strong vision of what I wanted to design, make and sell,” says O’Keefe. “That’s the most important thing, getting the products right. After that, it’s sheer hard work, organisation and determination.”

Quality of life
O’Keefe manufactures the Kiki Moon blankets in Portugal. “Everyone said I should go to the Far East to make the blankets, but that just wouldn’t work for me. I have two small children. I need to be able to hop on a plane and meet my suppliers within a few hours. I didn’t launch my business to detract from my quality of life. I want it to enhance my life and travelling all over the world won’t do that.”
Setting up the online store wasn’t the hardest part of O’Keefe’s startup journey. “I had to learn very quickly that social media, especially Facebook and Instagram, would play a huge part in our marketing strategy,” she says. 
“Setting up the online store wasn’t too difficult because we had

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/kiki-moon-and-the-kardashians/ on
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Is your firm entitled to €5 million in EU funding?

If you own an innovative SME, you can apply for very generous EU funding.
Innovative Irish SMEs can apply for EU funding of up to € 2.5 million (€5 million for health projects) to finance their “innovation activities”.
The money is from the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument.
Click here to apply.
19 Irish SMEs have landed the windfall 
Three Dublin-based SMEs recently landed the available grant money. 

   Artomatix Limited. Project: ArtomatixSuite – A 3D content generation solution for digital artists.
   Nuritas Ltd. Project: PeptiEUForce – PeptiEUForce: a game-changing ingredient for the pre-diabetic population.
   SiriusXT Ltd. Project: SMILE – Synchrotron Miniaturization enabling innovative laboratory equipment in soft x-ray tomography.

This brings the total to 19 Irish firms who have received this cash windfall. 

Apply for the next round of cash
If you think you have what it takes, you can apply now. The next cut-off for the SME instrument is 13 October 2016.
“The Horizon 2020 SME Instrument helps high-potential SMEs develop ground breaking ideas that are ready to face global markets,” says the EC. 
In two years, since the instruments were launched, 19,320 proposals have been received and funded 1,443 projects for a total amount of €527 million.
READ: There are 80 government grants and supports for Irish SMEs.

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Award winning entrepreneur Ray Rogers

Award winning entrepreneur Ray Rogers talks about starting and growing a successful company. ‘Too many business owners are great at their business but still fail because they don’t know how to keep their books organised.’

Surf Accounts is a cloud-based accounts and CRM system aimed at small and medium-sized businesses. You can access and update your accounts anytime, anywhere and on any device and working with your accountant becomes a seamless and real-time event.
Achievements 
There are some standout achievements for us to date. Surf Accounts was named Bank of Ireland Startup of the Year 2016. We have also won the ALPHA competition for Startups two years in a row, representing Ireland at the Collision Conference in Las Vegas and New Orleans.
And we have been awarded “ICAEW Accredited Software” status, one of only seven online financial products to have been accredited by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Low moments
There have been low moments. We once made a start on the product and realised after months of work that the look and feel would not fly so we went back to the drawing board, a large amount of cost and time we could have done without.  
How do I cope with setbacks? 
Dig deep and get things back on track. The creation of product, project or business will be bedevilled by delays, so expect them, try to anticipate as many as you can, and then you are only dealing with left-field stuff. Generally, left field stuff can be sorted.

“I am not a risk taker. Where something does have risk associated with it, I prefer it to be a risk that is within my control. ”

If I were to start again?
I’d get a great team from the outset and then get investment early into the project. We had to do it all on our own but sometimes

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Crowdfunding in Ireland

Crowdfunding in Ireland may sound like a new trend. In fact, it has been around for centuries.
Crowdfunding is a traditional way for small businesses to raise money. In the past, crowdfunding was called the cooperative movement. Collective groups, such as community or interest-based groups, pooled subscribed funds to develop new ideas, products and distribution channels. 
Today, it is by definition, “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.”
The Internet simply made crowdfunding available for more businesses and more investors.
What are some of the top crowdfunding sites?
There are crowdfunding platforms particular to the Irish market including: FundIt; SeedUps; iCrowdFund; iDonate.ie; and MoneyCrowd.
What are the risks?
According to Matheson, there is no legislation or regulations in Ireland specifically dealing with crowdfunding. It’s an unregulated industry. 

What is the state of crowdfunding in Ireland and Europe?
The Current State of Crowdfunding, a new report by CrowdfundingHub, shows that in almost all European countries volumes are rising quickly, but large differences between countries remain.
“We are happy to see that more countries are now adopting legislations for the industry, and we expect crowdfunding volumes to increase even further in the coming years,” says Ronald Kleverlaan, CEO of CrowdfundingHub.
The UK has the most mature alternative finance industry when it comes to volume as well as the ecosystem.
In the United Kingdom, more than 10% of businesses are funded through alternative investment and this percentage is growing.
“Equity-based crowdfunding for SMEs has tremendous potential in Ireland, but the Central Bank needs to be supportive of the process,” says Paddy Coyne of iDonate.ie. 
READ MORE: Simple ways to finance your business. 

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Pokémon Go is driving sales for SMEs

Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm. But its more than just a game; it could be a tool to drive sales for your small business.
Most savvy business owners know the value of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat to promote their services, but they may know of the phenomenon that is Pokémon Go.
Since its launch on July 7, the virtual reality gaming app has already overtaken the likes of Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat in terms of daily usage by people. Nintendo’s share price has skyrocketed accordingly. The craze has taken hold in Ireland since its recent launch. But what relevance is any of this to Irish SMEs, and what benefits could a video gaming app possibly bring to your small business? The answer lies in the nature of your company, and your willingness to engage with the world of Pokestops and Pikachus.
What is Pokémon Go?
Pokémon Go is a free to play ‘augmented reality’ video game that iPhone and Android users can download onto their phones. It is also highly addictive. What sets Pokémon Go apart from other video games is that is uses the real world as its backdrop; users move through ordinary streets, parks, shops and so forth on the hunt for Pokémon – digital creatures visible only through the user’s smartphone. Pokémon Go players are out roaming the streets interacting with the outside world, and clever retailers are beginning to attract the players to their stores.
Increased footfall
It’s important to understand that the game features two types of fixed locations; Pokestops (where players stock up on virtual supplies like potions) and Pokémon Gyms (where players battle their Pokémon against one another). These locations are often shops, coffee shops, and casual restaurants. Even if a business isn’t a designated Pokestop, there is probably one nearby and the players passing by this business on their way

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How to use Pokémon Go for business

Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm. But its more than just a game; it could be a tool to drive sales for your small business.
Most savvy business owners are probably aware by now of the benefits of using the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat to promote their services, but they may not have considered yet how to take advantage of the phenomenon that is Pokémon Go.
Since its launch on July 7, the virtual reality gaming app has already overtaken the likes of Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat in terms of daily usage by consumers and Nintendo’s share price has skyrocketed accordingly. The craze has taken hold in Ireland since its official launch here last weekend, and seems set to only grow in popularity. But what relevance is any of this to Irish SMEs, and what benefits could a video gaming app possibly bring to your business? The answer lies in the nature of your company, and your willingness to engage with the world of Pokestops and Pikachus.
What is Pokémon Go?
Pokémon Go is a free to play ‘augmented reality’ video game that iPhone and Android users can download onto their phones and is seemingly highly addictive. What sets Pokémon Go apart from other video games is that is uses the real world as its backdrop; users move through ordinary streets, parks, shops and so forth on the hunt for Pokémon- digital creatures visible only through the user’s smartphone. Where previously videogame addicts have been locked up in their rooms, with Pokémon Go players are out roaming the streets interacting with the outside world, and clever business people are finding ways to sell them their products.
Increased footfall
It’s important to understand that the game features two types fixed locations; Pokestops (where players stock up on virtual supplies like potions) and Pokémon

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Irish SMEs ‘the most innovative in Europe’

Irish SMEs, it appears, are the most innovative in Europe.
The European Commission has announced the results of its European Innovation Scoreboard for 2016, and Irish SMEs, it appears, are the most innovative in Europe.
Ireland was placed in the “Strong” category for innovation overall (the others being Leader, Moderate and Modest), but it was the Irish SME sector that stood out, coming first out of the EU’s 28 member states. 
“Ireland is the leader for innovation in small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) – followed by Germany, Luxembourg, France, and Austria. These countries are characterised by high shares of SMEs involved in innovation activities: they introduce more innovative products and generate more new jobs in fast-growing young companies,” says the EC. 
The annual scoreboard is designed to compare the performance of EU countries in the areas of innovation and research, and the 2016 scoreboard included a future-focused section on trends and expected changes for the first time. 
Innovation is part of SME life
Mark Fielding, CEO of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, says innovation is a crucial part of the success of an SME, though this may not always take the form of R&D as it does with larger firms. 
“We all know that the SME owner/manager is forever innovating, tinkering around in an incremental way in all areas of their business,” says Fielding. “Unlike large companies, where innovation is usually found in the R&D activity, with an SME innovation usually takes place in activities connected to the production line, such as the adaptation of outside technologies or the implementation of small technical improvements”. 
Indeed, while small and medium-sized businesses may not have the R&D budgets of larger firms, that does not mean that they are not creative in their approach to business. “The SME owner is always looking for ways to improve their bottom line

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Bottling customer loyalty – Craft Nation

Grainne Byrne explains why, with the revolution of craft beer brewing, customer loyalty is at a premium. A new app aims to help beer brewers to win customer loyalty in an interesting way.
If you’re like most new businesses, the one thing that’s on your mind is how you can gain as many new customers as quickly as possible. However, that focus on customer discovery is not the bottom line.
It’s a given that new customer acquisition is vital for new businesses, but obsession with constantly increasing sales can work against some sectors. 
Traditionally, there has been a preoccupation with acquiring new customers, often at the expense of nurturing loyal customers. 
Businesses must be aware of the rapid evolution of technology, how it’s changing the status quo and changing consumer behaviour. 
Knowing this can bring strategic advantages and growth opportunities.
Looking at the drinks industry, for example, the culture of beer drinking has been altered at the hand of the craft beer revolution. 
According to the head brewer of Wexford’s Yellow Belly craft brewery, Declan Nixon, drinking is now being treated as “more of a tasting experience than a getting tipsy experience”. 
Requests for anything more exotic than Guinness in pubs are no longer baulked at and today, bars and off­-licences stock an abundance of interesting choices.

Why do people buy craft rather than ‘domestic’?
For a twenty-­something, what is the primary motivator to buy a premium priced microbrew over a macrobrew? 
Perhaps it’s identity, buying a one­-of-­a-­kind craft beer to express their one-­of-­a-­kind personality?
Maybe it’s just down to people focusing on taste?
One thing’s for sure, the perceived authenticity of microbrews means brand attraction is more innate, at least for a while. 
As Irish business author, Bernadette Jiwa says, “Affinity that’s earned, not attention that is bought and paid for, is what’s powering business growth now.”
The craft beer industry is beginning to level out
Although the

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18 great business tools that save money

Cost effective and often free, here’s a list of great digital tools to help run your business.
Most small businesses don’t have the money to run their own IT department or a digital marketing division. If you are starting, running or growing a small business, you can still run the important ‘back end’ stuff for next to nothing. It just takes a little know how.
1: First step, buy a smartphone. It may seem obvious but this will be an essential business tool.
2: If you need a website, install WordPress. If you don’t want to do it yourself, don’t spend too much on a site. You can get a very good company website for less than you think.
3: If you want to sell online use services like Trafficattic or Shopify.
4: You don’t need a bulky email server cluttering up your office. Use Gmail from Google. Also, make sure your office accesses the Internet via Wi-Fi (using a password), it’ll be less hassle in the long run. Also, less nasty wires.
5: Why buy brand new computers when there are many high quality used laptops for sale? They will work very well, just make sure they are Wi-Fi enabled.
6: If you don’t want to pay for lots of software try Jolicloud OS. It’s an operating system that connects low cost computers to the cloud.
7: You can save a small fortune by using free online invoicing and free online accounting software from a great Irish company like Bullet.

8: You don’t need to buy hard disks to store your company data, just go online and into the cloud with Dropbox. Here you can store everything at an affordable price.
9: If you don’t want to pay Microsoft for its software you can use Google Docs or, for spread sheets, OpenOffice.
10: If you need a great project management tool, why

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