Young entrepreneurs from Ballina and Wesport win places at regional finals

At Mayo's Best Young Entrepreneur awards were from left to right:  Brendan Maloney of Skillko (Best Start Up Business winner and Mayo’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2019), Sean McGarry (Best Established Business winner), David Hannon (representing his son Aaron Hannon who won the Best Business Idea category) and John Magee (Head of Enterprise) Photo: Alison Laredo

At Mayo's Best Young Entrepreneur awards were from left to right: Brendan Maloney of Skillko (Best Start Up Business winner and Mayo’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2019), Sean McGarry (Best Established Business winner), David Hannon (representing his son Aaron Hannon who won the Best Business Idea category) and John Magee (Head of Enterprise) Photo: Alison Laredo

Mayo’s Best Young Entrepreneurs for 2019 and €50,000 investment fund winners were announced at an awards ceremony hosted by Local Enterprise Office Mayo earlier this month.

As part of 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 14 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. In 2019, 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.

Among the special guests at the awards ceremony were Cathaoirleach Blackie Gavin, chief executive of Mayo County Council Peter Hynes and director of services for planning, economic and community development in Mayo County Council, Catherine McConnell - who had a special word of thanks on the evening for the judges, Tom Canavan and Catherine O’Grady-Powers, who kindly adjudicated the competition this year, with a gift from Foxford Woollen Mills as acknowledgement of this.

The best new idea category, with a €7,000 investment fund, was won by Aaron Hannon, founder of Lily Devices. Aaron is originally from Ballina. Lily Devices aims to eliminate chemotherapy induced hair loss with a novel electrical stimulation treatment that is comfortable, portable and wearable.

The runner-up award and €3,000 investment fund went to Ferdia Kenny of Placemate in Castlebar. Placemate is an innovative recruitment website that streamlines the process of hiring interns and recent graduates, allowing IT companies to easily source talent before their competitors' hiring process.

The winner of the best start-up business category and the €15,000 investment fund was Brendan Maloney, founder of Skillko Ltd in Westport. Skillko Ltd is a SaaS company with a next generation training platform.

They create an open marketplace for businesses and training suppliers to connect, network and transact in a smart, efficient way, saving both parties time and money. Skillko Ltd removes 85 per cent of training administration and ensures compliance through a dedicated app. The runner-up in this category, collecting a €5,000 investment fund, was Niamh Ryan of Ella & Jo Cosmetics in Ballina.

The business currently has two products currently on the market, Squeaky Clean Make Up Brush Cleanser and their innovative 3-in-1 Hyaluronic Skin Mist, available to purchase in pharmacies and skin clinics across Ireland and shipping worldwide via their website.

Meanwhile, the title of best established business, with an investment fund of €15,000, went to Sean McGarry, founder of ShowerGem. The ShowerGem shower caddy is the place to store all of your shower essentials. Attach it to your tiles using an easy-use, transparent glue that has been designed for wet shower environments, so no more screws, suction cups or drilling.

The runner-up in this category, scooping a €5,000 investment fund, was Mary Murphy of Make a Mark in Ardagh. Make a Mark eliminates all problems farmers encounter while marking sheep. Their product is a single handed gun for applying marking fluid to sheep. It is designed with a screw in refill cartridge and two separate application nozzles.

Brendan Maloney was also awarded the title of Best Young Entrepreneur for Mayo.

In the lead-up to the county final, each finalist received targeted business supports through Local Enterprise Office Mayo. 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 Mayo.

The county winners from Mayo will now progress to the regional finals, which take place on June 12. 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. At the IBYE national final on Sunday, September 15, which takes place at Google’s European Headquarters in Dublin, a €100,000 investment fund will be awarded to winners.

Further details on the competition and supports available to young entrepreneurs are available through www.localenterprise.ie and www.ibye.ie

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