Smart Storage goes for international growth

Prompted by the growing ‘shoe crisis’ in their own home, husband and wife team and qualified engineers, Paul and Clodagh Jacob developed Smart Storage, a range of under stairs storage solutions.


What is Smart Storage?
Smart Storage was established in Ireland in 2011 and specialises in discrete home storage solutions. Designed to fit under the main stairwell or attic space, the goal was to maximise storage by installing slide-out drawers. The units fold into the wall without having drawer handles obstructing the hallway or room. Headquartered in Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow, we expanded into the UK market shortly after establishing.
Our storage units are made in our manufacturing facility in Carrick-On-Suir, Co Tipperary, ensuring we control the quality of the units from start to finish. We currently install under stairs and loft storage units in both private homes and residential developments throughout the UK and Ireland.
“70% of people say a lack of storage space is a key factor in their decisions to move home.”
Unique selling point
The unique selling point for Smart Storage is that we allow homeowners to maximise space without increasing the footprint of their properties. Interestingly, new home buyers are more interested in storage space than they are with kitchen fittings. 70% of people say a lack of storage space is a key factor in their decisions to move home.
We also work with leading developers across the UK and Ireland to install our under stairs storage units as standard in new residential developments. This helps to differentiate new developments and provides them with a unique selling point.
“We allow people to maximise space without increasing the footprint of their homes.”
Big break
Smart Storage took off when Paul appeared on the 2012 season of Dragon’s Den’ and received an investment from entrepreneur magnate Norah Casey.
Our storage units have since been showcased on popular television shows

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Can Blockchain help the dairy industry?

A valuable application of the Blockchain is its ability to tell the ‘farm to fork’ story in great detail. Here’s how it can help the Irish dairy sector on the global stage. 

Claru is a Cork-based company using Blockchain technology to bring transparency to the food supply chain, specifically within the Irish dairy sector.
Consumers appear more discerning, more willing to pay a premium for healthy, environmentally-friendly and ethically produced food. Transparency is predicted to become the largest differentiator for food brands in the near future.
Claru’s CEO John O’Reilly explains how the Blockchain can benefit the Irish dairy sector.
What’s your value proposition? 
We’re providing transparency to the food supply chain using Blockchain technology. Food and dairy producers can share an end-to-end view of the product’s journey from farm to fork; all in great detail. 
At its simplest what is the Blockchain?
The Blockchain is a distributed digital ledger; it is particularly useful in tracking value as a product moves between independent parties in a supply chain. The data it holds is public and immutable.
“Consumers no longer trust product claims or labelling. ”
Are you fixing a problem? Is the problem urgent?
Yes. Today’s consumer is much more discerning. It’s no longer just about cost or brand; there are factors such as dietary considerations, sustainability, ethical production approach and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Traditionally the producer would address these concerns with new product labelling, but research shows that consumers no longer trust product claims or labelling. People want access to the product’s data – what field it came from, the name of the farmer. 
In parallel, the food production sector is becoming much more regulated and similar to the pharmaceutical sector regarding tracking and traceability. 
“They are guaranteeing future business and avoiding price wars with lower cost brands.”
Why is using the Blockchain better than existing solutions?
The Blockchain can generate a holistic view of

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Foróige entrepreneurship programme in Cork

A network for teaching entrepreneurship programme (NFTE) has been launched for the young people of Cork.
The Foróige NFTE programme in Cork is a youth entrepreneurship programme, which aims to improve the business, academic and life skills of young people.
The programme is currently in operation in ten other counties in Ireland.
“They receive a seed grant to start their business, and engage with entrepreneurs and community leaders.”
“This programme has multiple positive impacts on the young people who take part in it. From business acumen to leadership skills, confidence and better communication, it encourages young people to think big, aim high and most of all believe in their ability to achieve great things,” says Declan O’Leary, Foróige area manager, Cork.

“NFTE is special because it provides the young people involved with so many opportunities. They receive a seed grant to start their business; visit wholesalers; engage with entrepreneurs and community leaders; work with corporate business mentors; sell their products at trade fairs; prepare a business plan and present it to judges at competitions,” says Sandara Kelso-Robb, executive director at basis.point, who provide the funds for the programme.
The Foróige NFTE programme is made possible through the support of basis.point – an initiative of the Irish Funds Industry.

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The official launch of Hatch Lab in Wexford

Eight months after opening its doors to some of the South-East’s brightest entrepreneurs, Hatch Lab officially launches. 
The Hatch Lab is a tech incubator space located in Gorey, Co. Wexford where people can set up their own businesses, experimenting at an early stage whether their concept is viable or not. It’s also designed for IT companies that may be growing who can use the space to continue their growth.
Over 150 people have used Hatch Lab since opening last September with 20 full-time residents and 60 people using hot-desks at the moment. The building has also hosted more than 40 events including the popular Founder Friday evenings where successful entrepreneurs come in and chat with the residents about the trials and tribulations they faced.
Partnered with Bank of Ireland, Hatch Lab came about largely thanks to Tom Enright, CEO on Wexford County Council, who was instrumental in its establishment. He conducted research with Maynooth University which showed that over one thousand people were leaving Gorey every day to work in Dublin in the ICT sector.
“From an entrepreneur’s point of view, setting up a business can be a very lonely road.”
“With Tom’s research, the obvious thing to do was to build an ICT hub for those people commuting up to Dublin,” says John O’Connor, manager of Hatch Lab.
“The Redmonds, who own Amber Springs Hotel next door were looking to build a commercial space and the council backed them with the build and the idea of having it as an incubation space made it attractive as it could pull investors into the area,” adds O’Connor.
MC for the day of the official launch was Noel Davidson from the Entrepreneurs Academy. “From an entrepreneur’s point of view, setting up a business can be a very lonely road. An incubation space like the Hatch Lab is

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What does County Wexford have to offer startups and what supports are available to entrepreneurs in the Model County? 

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A look back on FutureScope 2018

FutureScope 2018 came to Dublin’s Convention Centre this week and is Ireland’s only conference that promotes collaboration between the entrepreneurial community and multinationals. Here’s how the conference went.

DublinBIC’s annual FutureScope conference took place this week in Dublin with entrepreneurs and leaders from all over the business world coming together to share perspectives on emerging technologies and how they will shape our future world, providing valuable insights to businesses at all stages of the innovation lifecycle.
FutureScope has become a must-attend event for those most active in Ireland’s vibrant technology ecosystem, including start-ups, scale-ups, multinational companies, innovative Irish enterprises, the research community, investors, academia and state agencies.
Five years on from being founded, FutureScope was born out of the strong desire of firms like Google and IBM to provide the forum, the opportunity for the MNCs and the startup community to really start to engage in a meaningful way. In its first year, roughly 150 attended the event, and yesterday’s event was attended by more than one thousand people.
The key themes for FutureScope 2018 included the Internet of Things, data analytics and AI, the business applications of VR/AR, digital transformation and technologies driving the future world.
With 120 speakers spread across four stages – insights, collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship – there was something for everyone.
“The central premise of the event is to create a platform for global multinationals, large innovative Irish companies and successful entrepreneurs to explore business opportunities,” says Michael Culligan, CEO, Dublin BIC.
The event also hosts the One2Watch competition which seeks to find Ireland’s most scalable business idea. Bespoke Choice, the interactive wedding venue booking sales platform, won the prestigious competition. Bespoke Choice will receive a €2,000 cash prize, space in Dublin BIC’s award winning Guinness Enterprise Centre and a range of consultancy services from Dublin BIC to support

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The Entrepreneur Experience 2018

The Cork BIC Entrepreneur Experience took place over 24 hours in Ballymaloe, Co. Cork on Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th of May 2018. The experience offered 24 of Ireland’s most promising, emerging entrepreneurs advice and mentoring from 24 of Ireland’s most successful entrepreneurs.
The entrepreneurs who took part in the event fell into three distinct groups:

Early stage startups – entrepreneurs with a new idea, business plan and strategy roadmap but not yet ready for investment.
Entrepreneurs with an investor ready proposition.
Entrepreneurs with an established business that are looking to scale.

The 24-hour event gave a chance for these businesses to learn from people who have been there, done that and grown a successful business. This year’s seasoned entrepreneurs included Larry Bass, founder of ShinAwil, who said, ‘This event is the best event of its kind in the country – you get to share war stories with people who have all the same bruises you have’.

Spending 24 hours with a successful mentor can transform an early-stage business. The budding founders left the Entrepreneur Experience feeling energised and motivated with a focused set of goals and practical advice on how to take their business further and for the seasoned entrepreneurs; this is an opportunity to give back.

Bank of Ireland is the proud lead sponsor of the Cork BIC Entrepreneur Experience. David Tighe, head of enterprise and innovation, at Bank of Ireland said, ‘I’ve never been at an event like this before. I’m totally blown away. This event is really focused on how people interact and connect together, how they talk to each other and support each other and how they were really willing to open up and have that conversation.’
The Entrepreneur Experience began in 2011. Since then, over 170 emerging entrepreneurs from over 10 countries have taken part. 80 seasoned entrepreneurs have also attended. The

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14 of the best startups in Ireland

Here are fourteen of the most promising new businesses to emerge from Ireland over the past few years.
The winners at the 2018 National Startup Awards, powered by Bank of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, represent some of the best new businesses in Ireland across thirteen categories including tech, retail, product and tourism.
Early stage startup Nova Leah won the Grand Prix Startup of the Year award and a €10,000 cash prize. 
Croí Valve, which won in the early stage startup category, received €5,000 to support the development of its business.
The 14 gold award winners are:

Croí Valve, the early stage startup winner, is developing a safe, effective and easy to deliver device to significantly reduce tricuspid regurgitation in high-risk patients
Nova Leah, the emerge-tech startup and Grand Prix winner is the first expert cybersecurity system for medical devices.
ID Pal, the fintech startup winner, provides a simple identity verification solution that allows businesses to onboard customers quickly and easily. 
Hexafly, the agritech startup winner is developing new material sources for the aqua feed, chitin and plant nutrition industries
Coindrum, the travel and tourism startup winner, provides airport self-service units that turn leftover coins into duty-free vouchers worth 110% of deposits. 
Strong Roots, the food and drink startup winner, is a food company ‘hell-bent on revolutionising frozen vegetables through innovation’.
myAccessHub, the social and sustainable startup winner, helps businesses become more accessible.
Nasal Medical, the product and manufacturing startup winner; designs nasal filters.
SalesOptimize, the eCommerce startup winner; provides eCommerce data science that can reveal an entire market. 
Ronocco Style, the retail and fashion startup winner, is a fashion business run by Pippa O’Connor and Brian Ormond.
iKydz, the tech startup winner, provides a variety of tools to help parents keep their children safe on the Internet.
Hooke Bio, the medtech startup winner, is a new company operating in the early stages of drug discovery. 
AudiosourceRE, is the

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What does Donegal have to offer for businesses and startups and what business supports are available to entrepreneurs in this wonderful North West county? 


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‘My wedding gift idea became a business’

Painted Clans founder Brendan McCarey makes family Coat of Arms and hand painted Heraldic products in a contemporary style. His business began when he designed a wedding present for a friend. 

The start
I started my design company five years ago. At the time a good friend of mine was getting married. I wanted to create a wedding gift like a modern family coat of arms. He was moving to Australia, and I wanted to give him something that would remind him of home. I started searching but I couldn’t find it, so I began to design it myself.
I started by setting up a Facebook page with the top ten modern Irish family coats of arms, and suddenly orders started coming in. I saw that there was potential to make quite a bit of money.
What is a coat of arms?
It is a heraldic depiction of your family history. It started in medieval times. They came to Ireland with the English. Most people in Ireland have a family coat of arms. I focus on the symbol within the coat of arms and strip away all the extravagance. I redesign it and create a series of stencils and finally paint the symbols in different layers. 
How did you fund the business?
I did a Kickstarter campaign at the very beginning which was more of a marketing programme. The beauty of the business is that my initial outlay was just the frames. I came from a design background, so I had a lot of equipment and office space and was ready to go.

What are your growth plans?
The business has been running three years. I am still trying to focus on America for growth. There are millions of Irish people in America. If we could get one percent of America, it would be amazing.
How many people work in

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