Two Tipperary businessmen have won a place at the first-ever national final of ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ competition, for a chance to share a €100,000 investment fund.
Philip Martin of Clonmel-based Blanco Nino and Tom Ryan of Nenagh-based Adsmart & TownSmart will represent the region in the ‘Best New Idea’ and ‘Best Established Business With New Add On’ categories respectively at the national final in Dublin on December 6th.
The two young entrepreneurs have already won a combined investment of €30,000 from the Local Enterprise Office Tipperary having being named category winners in the Tipperary heat of the competition last month.
Launched by the Government earlier this year, Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition is a core part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2014, and is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through the 31 Local Enterprise Offices around the country.
At a regional awards ceremony held in Limerick last evening, three local business owners and new start-ups from Tipperary, all under the age of 30, went head-to-head with other county winners from Clare, Kerry and Limerick. Tipperary was also represented by Chris Shanahan from Chris IT who was shortlisted in the ‘Best Start Up’ category, which was won by Paddy Finn of Limerick-based Electricity Exchange.
The nominees were interviewed by a three-member judging panel and had to deliver a business pitch, live. Assessed on criteria such as business innovation, job creation potential and financial planning, the announcement of the national finalists was made at an evening reception held in the Castletroy Park Hotel.
Congratulating the finalists, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D. said: “Central to our plans for jobs and growth is supporting more businesses to start-up. Part of this plan is also fostering a stronger culture of entrepreneurship and promoting start-up business as a career option for young people. That is what is behind this new competition to find the best young entrepreneur in the region also ultimately Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur.”
The local winners now face tough competition from 23 other finalists, emerging from eight regional finals.
The €100,000 investment fund in December is divided up across four prizes: namely Best New Idea (€20,000 investment), Best Start Up (€30,000 investment), Best Established Business, with New Add On (€30,000 investment), and Overall Winner of ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ (an additional €20,000 investment).
Over 400 business owners and start-ups from around the country, including 13 from Tipperary, have benefitted from intensive business bootcamps and mentoring programmes at local level, as part of the competition.
Head of Enterprise with the Local Enterprise Office Tipperary, Rita Guinan said: “We are very proud and honoured to have two representatives at the national final in December, as over 1,000 businesses entered from every county in Ireland and competition for every place was intense.”
“Tom and Philip now have a chance of being crowned ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ and to win additional investment of up to €50,000 in their respective businesses. We’d also like to congratulate all our other nominees and entrants, who ‘flew the flag’ for us at the county and regional finals and we look forward to supporting their businesses into the future,” stated Mr. Ryan.
Nenagh-based Tom Ryan’s Townsmart product is a new add-on to his Adsmart technology platform which is geared towards providing individual Micro & Small businesses with their own platform. Users can avail of professionally designed templates to create campaigns across print, digital, social and mobile media at a price they can afford.
Philip Martin’s Blanco Nino concept is aimed at producing corn based tortillas for the food service market. The products, including soft corn tortillas, frying tortillas and uncooked chips, will be manufactured using a traditional Mexican process and then frozen for sale into the food service market via a range of distributors targeting restaurants/cafes/Mexican eateries.
In all, eight regional finals are due to take place during November:
– Carlow, Wicklow, Wexford and Kilkenny
– Dublin City, Fingal, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Dublin South
– Kildare, Laois, Offaly and Westmeath
– Louth, Meath, Cavan and Monaghan
– Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and Longford
– Galway, Mayo and Roscommon
– Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Tipperary
– Cork City, South Cork, Cork North and West and Waterford