Turtle Bunbury and the business of History

Entrepreneurs come in all guises. Turtle Bunbury’s business, his product as such, is History. This is his fascinating story.

Turtle Bunbury pictured at his home in Oldfort, Tobinstown, County Carlow.

Some years ago, Turtle Bunbury, the well-known historian and author, took part in a mentoring programme at Trinity College Dublin, which was aimed at advising history students on how to make the most of their degree. He spoke about how a broad skill-set can help provide the freedom and financial independence, to work as a freelance historian. He has worked in a wide variety of areas as a TV presenter and radio guest; genealogist; public speaker and interviewer; travel writer, tour guide, film scriptwriter and festival organiser and takes us back to Co. Carlow, where his interest in history, first began.

“As a child, I was absorbed by historical swashbuckling movies and biblical epics.”

What inspires you to write on the topics you write about?

I grew up at Lisnavagh House in County Carlow, the walls of which were lined with scary portraits of ancestors from the 18th and 19th century. As a child, I was absorbed by historical swashbuckling movies and biblical epics. I also had an excellent history teacher at school called Charles Shiffner who showed us how the history of one part of the world, was so often influenced by what was going on in another. All up, I was a historical nerd by the time I was a teenager.

The topics I pursue tend to be quite broad – old people’s reflections on their life, big events like the Easter Rising and WW1, family histories, Irish pubs – but I am always interested in the experience of people, and how they reacted to the events and circumstances they found themselves living through. For instance, my recent book ‘1847 – A Chronicle of Genius, Generosity and Savagery’ has a strong focus on how different people responded to the crisis of the Great Famine in Ireland.

“My career is varied, and as the wonderful writer Peter Somerville Large once said to me, ‘your life shall never be dull’.”

Who is your target audience?

I have a pretty wide net really, so the most likely answer is ‘general readers’. My greatest hope is that I can hook people who had little or no interest in history and to make them excited by it. I want to bring the past to life for them, so it is not just a dull list of dates, dates, and dates. I want to show them that history has the juiciest plots, the greatest twists, the richest characters, the best lines – and ideally, I want them to consider their family origins and try to work out where they fit into it all.

“There is a perception that being a historian is not a real career or that it’s a glorified hobby.”

What aspect of Irish history excites you most?

I’m pretty interested in the whole spectrum, but I am presently homing in on the Georgian Age, which I find a fascinating era, especially when the principles of the American Revolution began to influence the debate in the time of Grattan’s Parliament.

I love stories that put Ireland in its global context. My ‘1847’ book is replete with tales of Irishmen who served in faraway wars, as well as women who made a major impact on the world stage. I’m particularly excited by the links between Ireland and the Americas in the Tudor and Stuart period, not least because the brother of the first ‘Irish’ Bunbury emigrated to Virginia in 1660.

“As a freelance historian, I am marketing what is essentially a luxury commodity.”

What obstacles do you encounter in your career?

Focusing on history has been a two-edged sword. I’ve always loved it, but I was not a professional historian. I earned a BA degree from Trinity in history (after initially starting a law degree), but I suspected it would be challenging to make a career out of it. There is a perception that being a historian is not a real career or that it’s a glorified hobby, which can be reflected in the pay packages on offer. I did not want to be a teacher although I do enjoy giving lectures on historical subjects, which I now do quite regularly. I started out being a travel writer but then realised it was vital that I establish historical credibility if I was to be taken seriously with works such as my World War One book ‘The Glorious Madness’ or my 1916 book, ‘Easter Dawn’.

As a freelance historian, I am marketing what is essentially a luxury commodity. Although history is not that high on the radar, I passionately believe the past should be much more important than it is, and it is my hope that comes through in my writing.

I’ve found it necessary to wear many historical hats over the years, and some of them are starting to fit quite comfortably at this stage. From writing books to giving talks, presenting TV shows to historical consultancy to writing private family histories … my career is varied, and as the wonderful writer Peter Somerville Large once said to me, “your life shall never be dull”.

“I think you need to have that combination of persistence, optimism, and humour along with a generous dollop of luck.”

Turtle Bunbury pictured at his home in Oldfort, Tobinstown, County Carlow.

What advice would you give someone wishing to publish a book?

I self-published my first two books in 2004 and 2005, and that was a very useful exercise. It gave me an insight into how the publishing industry works from the inside out and taught me how to reach my target audience. I learned that if a book is ‘face out’ in a bookshop, its chances of selling are greatly better than if the book is on its spine. I learned that if you’re going on the radio to talk about your book, you have to let the book trade know in advance and then they will make sure your book is ‘face out’. When the opportunity arises, it is certainly an easier ride to go with a publisher, particularly regarding distribution.

I recently visited the Eason’s warehouse to sign books and saw the hundreds of thousands of books stacked up there. It made me feel very fortunate that my books have somehow stood out amongst such a vast number. It also highlighted the challenge of focusing on specialist subjects. Regarding making it all happen, I think you need to have that combination of persistence, optimism, and humour along with a generous dollop of luck.

The future

My present focus is on getting myself into a broader market, primarily in the UK and USA. I’ve also moved deeper into fiction, conceptualising historical films and TV series, as well as a novel. The bottom line is, if you want to make it as a freelance historian, you’ve got to go at it, hammer and tongs, full steam ahead, and be prepared to become a jack of many historical trades.

Interview by Brendan Byrne. 

Photos by Dylan Vaughan.

Related Resource

Ten ideas, conceived in Ireland, that went on to leave an indelible mark on human history. 

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/turtle-bunbury-and-the-business-of-history/ on
thinkbusiness

Wicklow startup leading the bedding industry

White&Green was set up by mum Sari and her two daughters Rebecca and Danielle, and has grown to become a very successful bedding company. Rebecca talks to ThinkBusiness about the journey of White&Green to date.

How did White&Green come about?

As an interior designer, Sari was becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of quality bed sheets on the market. Shopping for bed linen for her clients involved traipsing through large department stores, swamped by endless shelves of bed linen in fancy packaging that didn’t necessarily translate to high quality products. So, she set about creating a range of really high-quality bedding that consumers could trust and that didn’t cost the earth.

Running a family business has its dangers, how did you each of you come about to create the company?

Sari pitched the idea for White&Green to us as she saw it as an opportunity for myself and Danielle to build careers in the areas we are passionate about. We decided to make our production 100% certified organic and Fairtrade and that I would take the reins on this, and that our products would be cleverly designed so they are luxury quality, but classic (they won’t go out of fashion) and durable, for the busy consumer. Danielle and Sari decided to take the reins on product development. Certainly, running a family company is difficult as it crosses the natural boundaries of family relationships. Thankfully, we have learnt to divide up certain areas of the company based on our passions.

“(We) set about creating a range of really high-quality bedding that consumers could trust and that didn’t cost the earth.”

 

In a competitive market, how do you make the company stand out?

No doubt about it, bed linen is not the most innovative product in the world. Yet, ask any consumer their favourite brand of bed linen, and most wouldn’t be able to answer. That was our goal – to create one range of high-quality, affordable bed linen that consumers could trust. The quality of our product speaks for itself and we’ve had zero returns in a year and a half of trading.

What’s your USP?

Our USP definitely is the family aspect of our brand. In the era of globalisation, commercialisation and huge faceless brands with questionable supply chain management, consumers are ever searching for smaller brands with a story they can relate to.

“The quality of our product speaks for itself and we’ve had zero returns in a year and a half of trading.”

 

What impact did appearing on Dragon’s Den give the brand?

We were really sceptical about appearing on Dragon’s Den and we had very heated discussions about it. We were nervous about putting ourselves out there so publically but we are really happy that we did it in the end. We had nothing but a positive experience and it was a fantastic marketing platform for us.

Social media has a massive influence on your brand, how did you grow this? 

Danielle and I both attended various digital media courses but in the end, we learnt the most by getting stuck in ourselves and figuring things out by trial and error. The content we share is very natural and I must admit that we probably should plan more than we do. Really eye-catching imagery is probably our most important social media asset.

Do you think Brexit will have any influence on your business?

We are still unsure as to how Brexit will specifically affect us. Our company is heavily reliant on working with the UK for a number of reasons as we share the same language and the same bed sizes. Right now, we are forging ahead with marketing in the UK and we’ll make back up plans should the need arise down the line. 

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/wicklow-startup-bedding-industry/ on
thinkbusiness

How to get paid on time

Here are five tips to help you get paid on time.

Chasing invoices and trying to get paid is one of the biggest issues small business owners face. However, you can minimise the risks of not getting paid on time. You need a plan. 

Five tips – how to get paid on time

1: Make sure you have proper credit management practices in place that increase cash flow into your business and minimise the risks of not getting paid. 

2: Ensure that you have sale and supply contracts in writing with your customers and suppliers that have fair and realistic payment terms (14-30 days). 

3: Keep on top of your invoicing, be efficient and prompt. Don’t let invoicing slide. Send invoices on the same day to the same client every month. It’s important that your customers know when to expect invoices from you. When you sign a contract with a new customer make sure they know that you will be sending them an invoice on (for example) the last day of the month, every month. That way there will be no surprises.

4: Always know who owes you what. You can avail of free invoicing services like Bullet to keep on top of things.

5: Implement a late fee. Don’t be scared to do this. The best way to ensure prompt payment is to institute a late fee ‘penalty’. Have the details of your invoice and the client’s contract when you sign it. Fair is fair. Late payments can cripple your small business. Don’t apologise for being ‘tough’ with late payers. Be open, be fair and be honest with your clients and expect the same from your suppliers.

cash flow issues ireland

There is legislation but it’s not much use

There is prompt payments legislation in Ireland, the Prompt Payment of Account Act, 1997, but talk to any small business owner, and they will say the legislation has little or no impact on getting paid promptly.

Businesses in Ireland are supposed to be paid in 30 days. While large firms can contract out chasing invoices, smaller businesses are on the back foot, dealing with 60, 90, 120-day waits and sometimes longer. This has a very bad effect on their relationship with their customers and with their creditors. It’s also bad for their relationship with their bank. 

There is a Prompt Payment Code and it would do your business no harm to support it.

Related Resource

GUIDE: How to fix cash flow issues. 

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/how-to-get-paid-on-time/ on
thinkbusiness

Thinking business with Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan is a director with WP Engine in Limerick and also a community leader within Limerick. Here he talks about space exploration, ancient stone circles and the transformation of the city he loves. 

What’s your role?

I’m the director of technical support at WP Engine’s office in Limerick. As a leader within WP Engine, my role far exceeds the boundaries of the title. True to one of our core values, I aspire to lead and am committed to giving back, as such I’m an ambassador for WP Engine in Limerick and for Limerick on a local and global scale. Equally, as a startup location, it’s not unusual to see me cleaning up the coffee station or with some power tools to do the needful in setting up the new office. We all play our part.

“I cannot get over the energy and sense of unified forward movement we are seeing emerge in Limerick.”

What are you most interested in?

I’m a technologist who is passionate about people. I love driving continuous change, never remaining stagnant, always looking for a new angle, seeking technology and service improvements for our customers.

On a more personal level, my absolute passion is in human space exploration. For the past number of years through various events, I’ve brought the astronaut experiences to over 1,000 school kids in Limerick city and county. I volunteer at Lough Gur, home to Ireland’s largest stone circle and a Science Foundation Ireland accredited site, through their Science Group projects where we blend multiple STEM disciplines which make up the 6,000-year story of human development at the site. We are currently closing out a two-year study of light pollution at Lough Gur to attain much coveted ‘Dark Sky’ status.

“Like many I meandered through my 20s and early 30s, amassing skills but not knowing how to apply them.”

What are your ambitions?

That has to be the toughest questions to answer. I have a set of skills, and I simply want to put them to work for me and the community around me.

Privately, between you, me and the readers, I’d love to help inspire and drive Ireland’s place in space exploration. We have a national heritage of successfully taking on challenges which are far greater than the sum of our parts, why sit back and watch the rest of the world do it?

What drives you?

Building a better future. Like many I meandered through my 20s and early 30s, amassing skills but not knowing how to apply them. In 2010 following the birth of our second child, I had a personal setback, and while staring at the ceiling in intensive care, I distinctly recall asking myself, “What difference am I making?”

Now with three children, my drive and passion for Limerick are about building a future for them. I can’t fix substantial global issues, but I can have a positive impact on how Limerick develops as a city and region.

“In the past five years, Limerick has transformed itself. Many would naively sit back and say, “job done” but Limerick continues to transform.”

Who do you admire in business?

I would look to be a lesser known US businessman, Jack Bader. Jack is a St. Louis businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, investor, fellow space-geek, and friend. 

Jack follows his passions, which coincidently are very similar to my own – startups, space exploration, giving back, philanthropic efforts and family. He continuously strives to take small steps (and some quite large) to improve his community in St. Louis and beyond. He’s the founder of NetEffect, Chairman of 1904labs and member of the XPrize board of directors.

What are people doing well in Limerick?

In the past five years, Limerick has transformed itself. Many would naively sit back and say, “job done” but Limerick continues to transform and build a unified offering for families, communities, and businesses. What was once a grey, harbour town at the mouth of the Shannon is now a colourful and inclusive city. I cannot get over the energy and sense of unified forward movement we are seeing emerge in Limerick. The Limerick City and County Council, flanked by the IDA and Enterprise Ireland, locked together with community and businesses is a force to rival Munster Ruby’s front row.

“Where else can you be leading a company delivery amazing digital experiences in the 21st century and fifteen minutes later sit in the tranquillity of a stone circle build in Ireland before the Egyptians build the pyramids of Giza.”

What way could the city improve?

Back to one of my early career lessons, in short, we must build a city that the people want. It cannot be just a location or collection of buildings it has to be a lifestyle where I can live, do business, have fun and don’t have to compromise on my quality of life. Limerick has to continue to promote and deliver on that vision. As a county Limerick man, I’d love to see infrastructure and public services extend beyond the boundaries of Castletroy, Raheen, Dooradoyle, and Caherdavin. But equally, right now as a city and indeed country, we’re not at a scale to realistically achieve that. As we continue to compete in a global 24×7 market, we have to realise that we cannot adhere to traditional 9-to-5 thinking in what people want and what we each must offer.

What makes Limerick unique?

For over 800 years Limerick has been a stronghold as a city, it’s a city where worlds blend. Where else can you be leading a company delivery amazing digital experiences in the 21st century and fifteen minutes later sit in the tranquillity of a stone circle build in Ireland before the Egyptians build the pyramids of Giza. Or visit a bar the likes of Nancy Blakes where Irish traditions and music, meets and blends with the youthful world of upbeat music and energy. The richness of our culture and ability to be adaptable to new cultures can be seen in our restaurants, shops, and people.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/paul-ryan-wp-engine-limerick/ on
thinkbusiness

Leaving Google to open a dog-friendly café

Having previously worked for Google, Ella Wallace along with her partner Paul Froggatt opened Pupp, a dog-friendly café, on Dublin’s Clanbrassil Street in the south inner city. 

The obvious question is why? Why open a dog-friendly café? 

We wanted to start a business long before we opened (in early 2016), though we weren’t sure what form it would take. Ella was keen on creating a food business, though it was only when we were finding it difficult to bring our dog Toby around with us that the idea for a dog-friendly restaurant started to take shape.

“When doing your business plan ask someone who runs a restaurant to look over your cost estimates. There are an enormous amount of fees, charges, and bills.”

Why did you want to move into such as radically different industry?
(Ella left to run the restaurant, Paul still works at Google). 

Ella was keen to try something new, develop a community, and face the challenge of running a small business. It wasn’t a case of looking to leave the tech industry, just to take advantage of the opportunity of something different while it was available.

Pupp dog-friendly restaurant

Is it true that people can pay what they want? 

We have one item on the menu (porridge with homemade fruit compote) that is pay what you want. 

Pupp is about community, and we wanted to offer something that was accessible to everyone, so we chose to allow people to price the dish at whatever they thought was a fair value. The results have been really strong, though may not be viable for higher cost items or an entire menu.

“We founded the Dog-Friendly Association of Ireland to help other businesses become dog-friendly and now have over 100 business members.”

What is it about your restaurant that makes you stand out from the crowd, apart from being dog-friendly? 

Our team. We’ve been really lucky with the people that have joined Pupp, and for small businesses, it’s often the most important part of the customer experience. A particular shout-out to our restaurant director Esther who has done a phenomenal job developing the team and is the first face most customers see.

Pupp dog-friendly restaurant

You have leveraged social media very well. What works best for restaurants? 

Facebook offers us the greatest reach, and we currently have about 10,000 followers. It’s great for competitions and announcements. However, Instagram is an essential channel for sharing the goings-on within the restaurant. We love to laugh and share some of the personality of the characters within the team. You can find us at Facebook.com/PuppIreland or as PuppIreland on Instagram.

“The food industry has very tight margins so make sure you’re doing it for passion rather than to become a millionaire.”

You’re famously a dog-friendly restaurant. Do you see this as a rising trend in Ireland? 

This is core to the Pupp proposition and has seen a huge amount of exposure since we opened. It was also part of the reason we began in the first place. At the time there wasn’t anywhere actively promoting it, and we wanted to encourage a more open discussion about dog-friendly environments. We were also keen to set the standard so people could see you can have a lovely cosy restaurant for everyone while also allowing people to bring their dogs. We founded the Dog-Friendly Association of Ireland to help other businesses become dog-friendly and now have over 100 member businesses.

What advise would you give to someone thinking of going into the business? 

When doing your business plan ask someone who runs a restaurant currently to look over the cost estimates. There are an enormous amount of fees, charges, and bills (e.g., water charges, accountant fees, music licenses, insurance, building rates, staff holiday pay, equipment repairs) that are easy to overlook. It’s worth ensuring your business model is resilient enough to compensate for the costs of actually running a restaurant. 

The food industry has very tight margins so make sure you’re doing it for passion rather than to become a millionaire.

Pupp dog-friendly restaurant

How long did you spend on your business plan before you launched? 

We were looking for suitable premises for a few months before finding our current spot and were also developing the business plan at the same time. When we took on the building, it also needed a lot of renovation, so we had six months of planning time before we opened the doors.



If you could, what would you do to encourage more entrepreneurship in Ireland?


Develop a marketplace of people wanting to buy and sell small businesses. We started from scratch, but it would have been so much easier if we took an existing restaurant and transformed it into Pupp. Especially in the restaurant industry which has such high turnover, people want to enter and exit the market all the time but often don’t have the contacts to hit the ground running.



Is there a business or café that inspires you?

The Happy Pear have done a great job scaling their business while maintaining their founding values – we met up with them before we launched to get some advice. They have a great business and are great founders.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/pupp-cafe-dublin-dog-friendly-interview/ on
thinkbusiness

The Empower Programme

The Empower Programme is a new entrepreneur programme run by the GMIT Innovation Hub. It is for female entrepreneurs in the West of Ireland.  

The Empower Programme has been set up to assist female-led businesses to “overcome challenges and fast track their business for success”.

The founder and CEO of Complete Laboratory Solutions (CLS), Evelyn O’Toole (above), will speak at the Female Empower Programme’s launch on September 13 at the Connacht Hotel, Galway.

Complete Laboratory Solutions (CLS) was set up by O’Toole in 1994 and has two facilities in Galway – CLS in Ros Muc, Connemara and CLS MedPharma on the Tuam Road. The business employs 140 staff. It is also the largest privately owned contract laboratory in Ireland.

“The Empower Programme is targeted at aspiring female entrepreneurs and women in business so [it’s great] to have Evelyn as one of our key speakers to share her entrepreneurial expertise,” says Maria Staunton, manager of the GMIT Innovation Hub. 

Other speakers will include Chanelle McCoy of Chanelle Pharmaceuticals and Dragon’s Den, and Breege O’Donoghue, former director of Primark and Chair of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland.

For more information and to register visit www.empowerher.ie.

DOWNLOAD: A brilliant business plan template to kick start your dream.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/the-empower-programme/ on
thinkbusiness

Five ways to be productive after a holiday

Are you returning from a holiday, back to a hectic schedule at work and at home? Here’s how to ‘land gently’ and get back to your productive best. 

The week before a holiday is often the busiest week of the year. We become super-productive as we crack through our to do list in an attempt to clear everything before we leave. We want to make sure that we have communicated with everyone and tied up any loose ends.

The post holiday blues 

In contrast, the first few days back from holiday can often be our least productive days. We can feel demotivated. We often don’t feel ready to resume our normal hectic pace. We can find it hard to get back into “work mode”. All the details that were so clear before we left can seem very blurred on our return. So, how can we take control and be productive after our holiday?

“Maintain some of your holiday buzz by doing something you enjoy like a cinema trip, a spa treatment or a meal out.”

1. Prepare the ground before you leave 

The trick is to spend time planning the first days back before you finish up. At this point, you are tuned into the finer details of every project or issue, so this is the best time to record as much detail as you can. Prepare notes for upcoming meetings, jot down key points for reports, make draft plans for things you need to tackle that first week back. Expect to (temporarily) forget most of the knowledge in your head, as that is the purpose of your holiday after all.

be productive moira dunne

2. Be strategic with your return schedule 

Some people like to ease back into things with a low-key schedule, but I find the opposite works best for me. I arrange a couple of key meetings so that I have to get back into a productive mode quickly. I don’t welcome this on my first morning back, but by the end of the day, I am glad.

Consider what works best for you, your role and your environment. But be prepared to challenge yourself if you need to.

3. Make the most of your relaxed mind

If you have successfully switched off during your holiday, your account will probably be free from all the usual stress and clutter. Some of the best ideas come to mind when you can see things more clearly and objectively. So use this rare state of mind to do some creative thinking and planning. But be careful; you can sometimes be too free-thinking and unrestrained that first day back. Make sure you don’t upset anyone by speaking too openly or honestly.

“If you usually exercise regularly try to resume this on your first day back.”

4. Resume your routines that work 

It can take some time to get back into productive habits when you first return. If you usually exercise regularly try to resume this on your first day back. Enable your healthy eating habits by building in time to visit the supermarket before you go back to work so you can set yourself up for a healthy week.

5. Be nice to yourself 

If you have the flexibility, reward yourself for being productive with an early finish time those first few days back. Maintain some of your holiday buzz by doing something you enjoy like a cinema trip, a spa treatment or a meal out.

So have a great holiday and let me know if any of these tips work for you. 

Article by Moira Dunne, BeProductive.ie. 

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/returning-to-work-after-holiday/ on
thinkbusiness

Firemole – a Cork invention that went viral

Corkman Sean O’Tuama’s invention Firemole can save lives by alerting people to electronic devices that are overheating. 

sean firemole

Describe your invention, what’s its USP?

Firemole is a patent pending, first of its kind, safety-tech gadget that can be attached to various electrical and electronic devices such as chargers, phones and plug tops. Once the Firemole detects a temperature of 54ºC, it sounds an in-built alarm, alerting users to the high temperatures. Firemole will sound the alarm way before a fire breaks out, making it a very valuable product to the user.

“I began by contacting Genesis Circuits in Cork. Frank and Tom were a tremendous help in streamlining the design and the electronics.”

How did you come up with the idea?

I worked as an electrician for years and came across numerous fires caused by faulty, ageing or counterfeit electrical devices. It was only after a close call in my own home, that got me thinking about developing the Firemole device. It makes sense to try and detect rising temperatures before a fire starts.

“Firemole went completely viral on Twitter with nearly two million impressions over a 24-hour period.”

How did you get it made, what was that process like?

Like any startup, it has been an uphill battle, but we have made significant progress over the last year. I began by contacting Genesis Circuits in Cork. Frank and Tom were a tremendous help in streamlining the design and the electronics. Once we were happy with that, I went to MAAS Engineering (also in Cork), and they made the tool for the plastic housing and metal base. By keeping everything local, it taught me an enormous amount about the manufacturing industry as I was able to call out to both Genesis and MAAS to see what was going on. 

We were then accepted onto Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers Phase Two program in the Rubicon Centre, and that gave some much-needed funding along with a feasibility study grant which the Cork City Local Enterprise Office gave me. 

We are now market ready and plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

“With Firemole being a brand new type of product, it will take a lot of education and testing to figure out what are the best channels to market.”

The press picked up on the story and you were flooded with orders. How did that happen?

Firemole won the ‘Most Innovative Product’ award from the New Frontiers Phase Two program so I decided to send out a press release thinking that maybe my local newspaper might pick up on it. Well, they didn’t, but nearly every other major news outlet in the country did including The Journal, The Independent, The Daily Mail and various radio stations. Firemole went completely viral on Twitter with nearly two million impressions over a 24-hour period. All of this attention gave the company some great validation as pre-orders started rolling in on the Firemole.com website (which luckily I had set up the night before).

“We’ve already been contacted by distributors, so it looks like international expansion will occur quickly.”

What’s your marketing strategy for the future?

With Firemole being a brand new type of product, it will take a lot of education and testing to figure out what are the best channels to market. We are not just trying to sell people a product; we want to build a community around Firemole who want to come on the start-up journey with us and be part of this new age of safety-tech. We will be doing weekly vlogs (video blogs), so people can see what is going on in the background of the company and plan to push out as much content as possible through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin and YouTube.

What are your international expansion plans?

With our crowdfunding campaign, we will be selling to Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We have already been contacted by major distributors who want to carry the Firemole device, so it looks like international expansion will occur quickly. Dealing with scaling the company efficiently will be the biggest challenge for this year.

“There has been a lot of Googling and awkward meetings when I was way over my head, but I think that is why I have learnt so much.”

Describe setting up your business, what curve balls and lessons have you encountered?

Getting involved in product development and manufacturing has been a very steep but enjoyable learning curve. The last year has been filled with very ‘high highs’ and crushing lows, but I suppose that is an integral part of a start-up. There has been a lot of Googling and awkward meetings when I was way over my head, but I think that is why I have learnt so much. I believe that it is essential to throw yourself in at the deep end because that way, you have to learn quickly.

If there is one thing I wish I could tell myself this time last year, it would be to ensure you have a plan B and C lined up for when A fails, as plan A will fail more times than you like. 

Relying on specific sources of finance was another big mistake I made. Never believe a word until the contracts are signed, and the money is in the bank.

What supports have you received?

To date I have received €15,000 from the New Frontiers Program, €15,000 in feasibility funding from the Cork City Local Enterprise Offices and a €5,000 innovation voucher from Enterprise Ireland.

“Many companies expect to get every ounce of work they can get out of their employees, and it leads to burn out and depression very quickly.”

What do you need now?

I am currently looking to raise €400k. There needs to be a significant marketing budget for Firemole as it is not a product people will be specifically looking for. I also need to build a team. I have a few guys who do some work on the side, and it would be great to get a full-time team in place.

If you were ‘ruler for the day’. What would you do to change Ireland’s business culture?

I think Ireland’s business culture is beginning to change, but there is still a lot that can be done. I hear stories from friends that it is frowned upon to leave their office before 7 pm, even though they are not being paid for it. Many companies expect to get every ounce of work they can get out of their employees, and it leads to burn out and depression very quickly. I think if I were ruler for the day, I would try to shift the working culture for these companies from quantity to quality, as this would lead to a happier workplace.

DOWNLOAD: A brilliant business plan template.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/firemole-overheating-plugs-prevention/ on
thinkbusiness

Thinking business with Tom Keogh

Tom Keogh, founder of Keogh’s crisps talks to ThinkBusiness about spuds, social media and storytelling.

 Why did you start this business?

We literally re-invented the potato. In-depth market research led to a number of consumer insights which resulted in fundamental changes to our business. We recreated our brand. We were living the brand we just needed to tell our story. 

 

How long have you been in business?

Our family has been growing Irish potatoes in this area for over 200 years. My dad, Peter and Uncle Tony, own PKS Farms, a potato growing business I’ve grown up with and worked in from a young age.

 

How did the company go about getting funding when it first started?

We were lucky in that we had founder savings, family BES, and support from the Local Enterprise board when launching Keogh’s Crisps back in 2011. 

 

How did the company get its big break?

Between 2002 and 2011 the consumption of potatoes had almost halved in Ireland, so we knew we had to start innovating. We decided to launched Keogh’s Crisps, the only hand cooked crisps in Ireland. Now five years on we have eight flavours on the market and no signs of stopping. 

 

What sets your brand and products apart; in an incredibly competitive market?

It’s our religious attention to quality combined with the rich fertile soils of Fingal which result in great tasting quality products that our consumers can trust and enjoy. 

 

If you had unlimited funds what areas of the business would you hire for?

I’m proud of everything this business has achieved from selling our first box of crisps to now seeing our product on the shelves of stores in China, Dubai, Germany … the list goes on. We started with one employee and we now have 33 working for Keogh’s Crisps. 

 

Do you do use social media? What do you find works best?

Social media is a great way for us to tell our story. We are very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s a fun way of getting involved with our customers. 

 

What was your first job? What was the biggest lesson you learnt in that job?

I’ve always worked in the family business. What’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned? Work somewhere else first. 

 

What is your ‘death row’ meal?

Steak and spuds of course. 

 

For more information, check out Keogh’s.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/thinking-business-with-tom-keogh/ on
thinkbusiness

Thinking business with Tom Keogh

Tom Keogh, founder of Keogh’s crisps talks to ThinkBusiness about spuds, social media and storytelling.

How did you start your business?

We literally re-invented the potato. We had to. In-depth market research led to a number of consumer insights that resulted in fundamental changes to our business. We recreated our brand. We moved from selling spuds to crisps. At the start we were living the brand we just needed to tell our story. 

How long have you been in business?

Our family has been growing Irish potatoes in this area for over 200 years. My dad, Peter, and Uncle Tony, own PKS Farms, a potato growing business I’ve worked in from a young age.

Did you raise funds to start?

We were lucky in that we had founder savings, family BES, and support from the Local Enterprise Board when launching Keogh’s Crisps back in 2011. 

How did the company get its big break?

Between 2002 and 2011 the consumption of potatoes had almost halved in Ireland, so we knew we had to start innovating. We decided to launched Keogh’s Crisps, the only hand-cooked crisps in Ireland. Now five years on we have eight flavours on the market and no signs of stopping. 

What sets your brand and products apart in an incredibly competitive market?

It’s our religious attention to quality combined with the rich fertile soils of Fingal which result in great tasting quality products that our consumers can trust and enjoy. 

What are you proud of?

I’m proud of everything this business has achieved from selling our first box of crisps to now seeing our product on the shelves of stores in China, Dubai, Germany … the list goes on. We started with one employee and we now have 33 working for Keogh’s Crisps. 

Do you do use social media to promote your products? What works best?

Social media is a great way for us to tell our story. We are very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s a fun way of getting involved with our customers. 

What was your first job? What was the biggest lesson you learnt in that job?

I’ve always worked in the family business. What’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned? Work somewhere else first. 

What is your ‘death row’ meal?

Steak and spuds of course. 

A MUST READ: Inside the mind of Pat McDonagh, the founder of Supermac’s.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/tom-keogh-founder-of-keoghs-crisps/ on
thinkbusiness