The AIB Start-Up Academy visits Letterkenny on its latest stop

Gary Quinn, Irish Times, Austin Duignan, Donegal Rapeseed Oil, and Peter Casey at the AIB Start Up Academy, Letterkenny Event.

Having already visited Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Galway, AIB’s Start-Up Academy’s latest stop was Donegal. The wonderful House Wine and Tap Bar in Letterkenny played host to entrepreneurs and innovators from across Donegal and further afield for another fun AIB Start-Up Academy evening.

Who was speaking?

Peter Casey, CEO and Chairman of Claddagh Resources but perhaps best known from the TV programme ‘Dragon’s Den’, engaged the audience with entertaining anecdotes from his vast experience in business, explaining that failure in business can teach many valuable lessons. Indeed Peter’s single biggest piece of advice for the start-ups gathered was to think big and not fear failure.

Austin Duignan from Donegal Rapeseed Oil provided the audience with an interesting insight into how the Donegal Rapeseed Oil product developed, explaining that Donegal’s unique soil and microclimate make it the perfect location for the cultivation of rapeseed. Austin explained how the business has grown by expanding its product range and exporting to markets outside of Ireland.

The AIB Start-Up Academy visits Letterkenny on its latest stop

Keeping it Local

Three local businesses also took to the stage in Letterkenny to pitch their businesses. First up was Neil Barrett from Fit-Hub Ireland, the largest standalone fitness facility in Ulster. Fit-Hub aims to provide a holistic approach to fitness, health and wellbeing for people of all ages and fitness levels.

Next up were Sean Coll and Helen Haworth, pitching Portsalon Luxury Camping. They had the audience dreaming of their holidays with beautiful photographs of their luxurious camping yurts that include king size beds and wood burning stoves located in beautiful and picturesque Portsalon in northern Donegal.

The final pitchers of the night were Jason and Gareth Devenney who pitched Farmflo, a farmer-friendly cloud based, tech solution designed to assist farmers in managing their farms.

The AIB Start-Up Academy visits Letterkenny on its latest stop

Story Telling

There was a lively and interesting Q&A session on the night, moderated by Gary Quinn from the Irish Times, which gave the audience an opportunity to share their stories. For Clare McCarron from Elite Dance Academy, this was her first start-up event. Clare shared her inspiring story which began when she started running dance lessons from her parents’ garage aged just 12! Through her own passion, hard work and dedication she has gone on to open the Elite Dance Academy in Buncrana and we wish her and her dancers the best of luck as they represent Ireland in the World Hip Hop Championships this year.

The start-ups present also shared their views through live voting which provided some interesting insights. In a positive sign for Irish start-ups, 92% of start-ups on the night said they intend to invest in their business over the next 12 – 18 months.

One for everyone in the audience

As well as enjoying a night out and networking with other start-ups, the audience did not go away empty handed! Peter Casey provided a copy of his book ‘Tata: The World’s Greatest Company’, while one lucky winner walked away with a wonderful hamper packed with Donegal Rapeseed Oil products.

Tell me more

Our next stop is the Sheraton Hotel in Athlone, taking place on Wednesday September 16th. Don’t miss out, it’s free and places are limited. Register now!

View our recap video of the AIB Start Up Academy Letterkenny event below.

Find out more about the AIB Start-up Academy.