Founder Friday hits Gorey this March

Founder Friday returns to The Hatch Lab on March 29th with Mark Kellett the special guest for the evening.
Founder Friday is a free monthly networking meet-up for founders, innovators and the wider business community over drinks and nibbles. The event is an opportunity to wrap up the week with networking and an inspiring fireside chat with an established entrepreneur from Leinster.
Who will be there?
The guest for the evening will be Mark Kellett, of Magnet Networks. Mark Kellett is an internationally recognised CEO with vast experience across technology, software, telecoms and media with firms such as Yahoo!, Network Appliance, Sun Microsystems and Aer Lingus globally. He is heavily involved with Enterprise Ireland and sits on their start-up advisory panel.
As CEO of Magnet Networks, Mark has grown his company from its Irish roots as a dedicated telecoms company into a developing global company that is fast becoming a leader in the connectivity IoT and Smart City solutions arena and now operates across five continents. Mark drives Magnet Networks’ challenger thinking, which has led to the brand being the trusted choice of some of the world’s biggest companies. Mark continues to push the boundaries of traditional telecoms thinking, and his achievements outside of the office include climbing Mount Everest and swimming the English Channel. Hatch Lab resident, Sarah Jane Vincent of Miss Content Creative, will be MC for the evening.
How to register
Founder Friday is run by Bank of Ireland in partnership with Wexford County Council, and will be hosted by Emer Cooney, community enterprise manager with Bank of Ireland as well as John O’Connor, The Hatch Lab manager.  To register for the event, visit the registration page here.
If you have any further queries, please contact John O’Connor at or Tina Coleman at

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A Tipperary farm where hens go out to graze

Kylie and Billy Magner produce pasture-raised eggs and pasture-raised chicken. Kylie provides some background to starting a poultry enterprise, and producing an award-winning chicken bone broth.

How did you start farming?
I grew up on a farm in Australia and Billy’s background has been in the equine industry in Ireland. In 2016, Billy and I took the decision to leave Australia, along with our four children, to return to Ireland to a small farm, that we previously purchased back in 2004. We started out with some sheep and cattle and hens, but we soon began to focus on the hens as an enterprise. Hens return cash on a weekly basis, which as you can imagine is not the case with cattle or sheep.
We began by selling eggs from the few hens that we had; and my son Finn, who was eight years of age at the time, was soon onboard with the enterprise. We kept the money in a jar and when we had enough money to buy more hens; we bought more hens and it just really all developed from there. In October 2017 we started in earnest, buying 150 commercial laying hens from James Ryan, a breeder from Cork. James gave us some great advice on infrastructure and how to manage the hens and we started off selling at farmer markets.
We didn’t have any experience in poultry management, so we possibly approached things slightly differently. We allowed our hens out on grass where they ‘creep graze’ like cattle or sheep, topping up on fresh vegetation and natural food from the soil during the day. Soon our eggs began getting really good reviews and lots of people began buying on a regular basis.
Last June we bought another 300 hens and again our markets continued to grow. We sell our eggs,

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Take your financial healthcheck today

You can take a healthcheck for your business by clicking here.

Is your business in good shape financially? Take two minutes to check your financial health and learn how to improve it.


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“I found my true core values and vowed to live by these”

Gill Carroll’s journey in business has seen many setbacks, but each time she got back up and turned things around. Here’s her remarkable story.
Everybody loves a success story – especially one that strikes just the right balance of determination, passion, values, and dedication. Gill Carroll, the proud owner of 37 West and 56 Central, two unique restaurants in Galway city, is living proof of entrepreneurship done right. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, she talks about the importance of continuous improvement, the meaning of giving to the community, and the changing culture in a male-dominated industry.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in the restaurant industry?
I grew up surrounded by business. My father is the creator and owner of Zhivago music shop in Galway city. My mother is a nurse. The combination of the two led me into the hospitality industry. I had a burning desire to add value to people’s lives.
I studied business and hotel management in GMIT. While doing my degree, I also did a certificate in human resources. From an early age, I knew I needed to have a broad education. I invest in my education every year through courses, talks, books, podcasts, masterminds and people. Anywhere I can learn, I am there.
I got my first taste of being a business owner at 26 in Edinburgh when I was approached by my boss at the time to open a Gastro Bar with him. Wow, what an experience! Two years of insane work, I made so many mistakes. The bar became successful, but I didn’t as a human. I was looking at it all the wrong way around. Partnerships are so hard. After two years and a broken heart from a breakup, I returned home to Ireland.
It took me a while to get back on track.

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Relentless hunger pays off for beauty entrepreneur

Beauty entrepreneur Debbie Mulhall talks about starting her company from nothing, the importance of constant learning and following your passion.
“Success didn’t come without its challenges and my greatest lessons were not easily learned,” says Debbie Mulhall, owner of Urba Skin Clinic in Athlone and Dollface Brows in Tullamore. She talks to Think Business about starting a company from nothing, the importance of constant learning, hard work, and following your passion.
You are the owner of two successful beauty salons, what inspired you to get into the industry?
I lived in New York for nine years and opened my first business there when I was 26. Most people are quite surprised to learn that my first venture was an American sports bar and grill and not at all beauty or skincare related. I had my daughter in 2011 and returned home to raise her in Ireland. This was a challenging time in Ireland as we were in the depth of the recession. I was in a financial bind and realised quickly that I needed a plan and the bar and restaurant industry in Ireland didn’t quite have the same sparkle as the New York scene.
I realised it was time to follow my passion for beauty and skincare and I started very small with a very basic skill set and grew from there. I started my career freelancing with a set of brushes and a two-week makeup course certificate under my belt. I worked two bar jobs to support me while I honed my skills and got my name out there. The success came from relentless hunger and passion.
What do you consider as your biggest professional success so far?
My biggest professional success would have to be opening the door to a single treatment room in 2013, without any budget or even signage or new

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The ingredients for building a business empire

Supermac’s co-owner Una McDonagh shares her secret formula to building Ireland’s largest and fastest-growing indigenous fast food restaurant group.
When a young Leaving Certificate student with her heart set on becoming a garda was too young to begin training, she instead started working part-time at a local fast food restaurant in Ballinasloe, County Galway. Now, over 40 years later Una McDonagh is the co-owner of Supermacs, Ireland’s largest and fastest-growing indigenous fast food group, with over 116 restaurants across the country and employing over 4,000 staff, including franchises.
She puts the success of the chain down to hard work, good personal relationships with staff and staying ahead of the curve.
“Our success has come from hard work and from the great people we have working for us,” says Una. “Some of those people are with us for 35 years. Pat (husband and Supermac’s founder) opened his first shop in Ballinasloe in June 1978, I started working there part-time two weeks after my Leaving Cert. Going back 35 years, we had a good few people at a young age working for us, going to college to get their degree and coming back to us. One of our operations managers did engineering in college, he was working with us part-time and stayed on. Now he is one of the key people in the building of the new units. There are many more staff like that, who did accountancy or business and are still with us.
“We are very hands-on; we know a lot of the staff. We would try to visit every shop at least once a month and the franchisees three or four times a year. It’s very important to be able to put faces to names. The fact that we are known to staff makes them more loyal, rather than a faceless company,” she adds.
“ It’s very

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Women have unique abilities which can be applied to business

Vanessa Creaven, who co-founded Spotlight Whitening with her sister, says women have unique abilities which makes for great entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurial success isn’t about “any special talents or intellect but about hard work and determination”, says Vanessa Creaven, a dentist, who along with her sister Lisa, founded Spotlight Whitening, a revolutionary range for safe and effective teeth whitening at home. Spotlight has not only become a household name in Ireland but now it is also available in eight countries, across 7,000 retailers.

You and your sister, Lisa, run two successful businesses – your dental clinic and Spotlight Whitening. How do you juggle between the two?
Juggle is a very good word to describe it, it is a bit of a juggle. Myself and Lisa are dentists so we run a practice called Quay Dental. That’s where we work for let’s say a part of the week and before Spotlight was formed we were both full-time on the practice. Looking at it, the practice gives us a lot of ideas for when we form our products for the Spotlight.
For example, what we saw was that a lot of our patients didn’t have a real alternative to teeth whitening other than the whitening that we provided in the practice, which is a little bit of an investment as it costs around 300 euros. So we decided to come up with a product that could be used over the counter, that it would be available in a pharmacy, through a retailer, that would give a good result, wouldn’t cause sensitivity and would be a little more affordable. And that’s how we came up with Spotlight Whitening.
I think we are quite diligent with our time, we spend time in the afternoon touching base with the Spotlight team and how they are getting on. I also think we are very focused

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Acres Machinery – thinking differently through design

Acres Machinery is an award-winning agri-machinery design and engineering company, based in Co. Roscommon. Here, CEO David Doran outlines some of the significant progress being made by this innovative agtech startup.
Recent developments
One of our latest developments is the Supercrop 1 crop conditioner. It’s a machine designed to reduce both the time and costs involved in the wilting of silage and hay and targeted at both silage contractors and large-scale farmers. Wilting grass reduces the moisture content of the crop in the field and plays a vital role in the process of quality silage and hay preservation, prior to it being baled or placed in the silage pit. The machine is now for sale worldwide across sixty countries in cooperation with leading Italian agri machinery manufacturer Sitrex. Recently, we were also delighted to have been selected as an Enterprise Ireland-backed HPSU company.
How does the machine work in practice?
Supercrop 1’s innovative design eliminates the need for three separate machines – the rake, conditioner and tedder, combining all three functions into a single machine. This design combination brings greater efficiencies such as the ability to simultaneously rake and condition altogether, in one go. This is quite a compelling proposition and means that you get better-quality forage, higher dry matter digestibility, better formed bales, eliminating at least one field pass, along with the ability to get your crop off the ground a day earlier.
“Supercrop 1’s innovative design eliminates the need for three separate machines – the rake, conditioner and tedder, combining all three functions into a single machine.”
What problems do you solve for the contractor?
The silage contractor gets paid per bale or per acre and looks to get in and out of the field as quickly and efficiently as possible. Most contractors don’t get paid for raking, which they carry out for their own

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Farm Tours becoming more popular in Ireland

Farm Tours Ireland was set up in 2012, by long established Louth-based agricultural advisors, dad Gerry and son Aonghus Giggins. Here, Aonghus gives some background to the story of operating in what is a niche but burgeoning marketplace.
What is your target market?
We concentrate on incoming visitor trips to Ireland which generally makes up ninety-nine per cent of our business. Internationally, Ireland is known as the Food Island and our initial focus has been on the technical agricultural-tour sector, hosting international farm discussion groups, producer groups, veterinarian groups and university groups that wish to visit Ireland.

What has been a key factor in helping you grow?
Getting the word out to potential clients and creating awareness that our company exists has been key to both our commercial success and our on-going growth. We operate in a specialist sector with farmers travelling to Ireland from a range of continents and countries from across the globe. We have a limited marketing budget and tend to use the strategy of social media and word of mouth to get the message out there. In September, we were lucky to be selected to be the Louth Local Enterprise Office representative in the L.E.O. Village at the Ploughing Championships which proved very successful in helping promote our brand within Ireland.
“It’s quite a unique offering, visiting a real-life working farm, talking to the farmer and engaging with local communities to experience the real Ireland.”
How many work in the company?
There are three of us altogether – myself, my father Gerry and last year we were joined in the company by my sister Siobhan. Siobhan had been working in tax consultation in Dublin and since she returned home to join us, she has been a great addition to the family business.
What’s unique about your company?
We feel we are offering a different type of

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Startup Weekend coming back to Gorey

Techstars Startup Weekend will return to the Hatch Lab in Gorey in March and is open to anyone to come along.
The Hatch Lab in Gorey will host its second Techstars Startup Weekend from 1 to 3 March 2019, in partnership with Wexford LEO and Bank of Ireland.
Participants will have the opportunity to explore and develop new business ideas in a fun and inclusive environment.
Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event, where attendees pitch ideas, form teams and start companies. The weekend is community focused and provides a place for entrepreneurs to find co-founders, mentors and the momentum needed for their ideas.
In addition to developing their own ideas, participants will also be tasked with coming up with solutions for challenges relevant to Gorey, the surrounding region, and beyond. The goal of the weekend is to create an environment where passionate people can come together to get things done; to learn, network, bridge the gap between trades, expose potential weaknesses in their business models and see actual results.
Participants can bring their ideas to the next level and connect with like-minded people. Last year’s event saw 35 participants, and some Startup Weekend graduates, such as Vicki O’Donnell of Wilder Wander have turned their Startup Weekend idea into self-sustaining businesses operating from the Hatch Lab.
Some of the experts who will be in attendance over the weekend include Colin Keogh, a mechanical engineer and designer, who featured on the Forbes 30 under 30 list in 2016 and was one of the JCIs Ten Outstanding Young People in 2017, Cyril Byrne, a software innovator and mentor and Szilvia Szabo, CEO of Impacter.
The event is open for anyone to attend and you can book your place here. Alternatively you can email or

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