REVEALED: Kilkenny’s ‘Best Young Entrepreneurs’ for 2019
THE city and county’s ‘Best Young Entrepreneurs’ for 2019 – along with a €50,000 investment fund for winners – were announced at an awards ceremony hosted by Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny last night.
The initiative is part a nationwide search launched by Minister Heather Humphreys and Minister Pat Breen to find Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneurs (IBYE) for 2019.
The six winners and runners-up were chosen from 15 local finalists and will now share a €50,000 investment fund.
IBYE, now in its fifth year, is a nationwide youth enterprise initiative to help 18-to-35 year olds with an innovative business idea, new start-up or established business.
This year a total of 1,644 young entrepreneurs entered IBYE, which is an initiative of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and supported by Enterprise Ireland and local authorities.
The county final was hosted by Fiona Deegan, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny.
Local TD and Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan, presented the awards to last night’s winners.
Other special guests included Colette Byrne, Kilkenny Local Authority chief executive and Leas Cathaoirleach Cllr Andrew McGuinness, together with friends and family members of the participating IBYE finalists.
The ‘Best New Idea’ category, with a €7,000 investment fund, was won by John Duggan (33), from Tullought, Piltown who is the founder of Loanit, an innovative and disruptive new technology that will optimise customer choice by creating a credit marketplace. John was also named Kilkenny’s ‘Best Young Entrepreneur’.
The runner-up award and €3,000 investment fund went to Clare Allen, of I-AM, described as a sort of “Tinder for short term recruitment”.
The winner of the ‘Best Start-Up Business’ category and the €15,000 investment fund was Jens Kopke (28), founder of Motoklik, which aims to improve the performance and safety of off-road motorcyclists. The runner-up in this category, collecting a €5,000 investment fund, was Christopher Shum, of Motus Learning.
Meanwhile, the title of ‘Best Established Business’, with an investment fund of €15,000, went to Cakeface founder Rory Gonnon (34). The runner-up in this category, scooping a €5,000 investment fund, was Richard Connolly of TJ Reid Health & Fitness based at Cillin Hill, Kilkenny. The business has a state-of-the-art gym facility in Kilkenny and recently expanded with a boutique-style facility in Galway.
In the lead-up to the county final, each finalist received targeted business supports through Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny. They attended an intensive Business Boot Camp, receiving mentoring and support on their business plans, pitch training as well as getting the opportunity to connect with other young entrepreneurs from County Kilkenny and Carlow.
Minister Phelan praised “the hard work and dedication shown by these inspiring and ambitious young entrepreneurs.”
He added: “The government continues to fully support Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur initiative, the aim of which, is to support a culture of entrepreneurship among young people both here in Kilkenny and nationally.”
Fiona Deegan, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny, said: “As our winners clearly demonstrate, youth entrepreneurship is thriving here in County Kilkenny.
“IBYE is about discovering local potential and nurturing that talent through financial supports, mentoring, training and networking opportunities. In 2019, Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny supported 30 young entrepreneurs through the IBYE competition and over 140 young entrepreneurs in total, since the competition began in 2014. We want to build on that success by supporting County Kilkenny’s young entrepreneurs today and into the future.”
The county winners from County Kilkenny will now progress to the regional finals, which take place on June 19, Step House Hotel, Carlow. In all, 24 national finalists will be selected at regional finals across the country to compete for the overall title of ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’.
For more details on the competition and supports available to young entrepreneurs, log on to: www.localenterprise.ie and www.ibye.ie