AIB Start-up Academy visits the Kingdom of Kerry

The AIB Start Up Academy road show took place in the Killarney Plaza hotel Killarney Co Kerry. Pictured on the night - Brian Nolan of Nobo Ice Cream Dublin, Birgitta Curtin of Burren Smokehouse and Colm Healy of Skelligs Chocolate Kerry.

There was a fantastic turnout for the latest AIB Start-up Academy night as entrepreneurs from across the South-West flocked to the Killarney Plaza Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry for a night full of great advice and networking opportunities.

Celebrating Irish Produce

With all of our speakers on the night being involved in the production of food, it was great to have Artie Clifford, Chairman of Blas na hEireann, in attendance. From a standing start 8 years ago, Blas na hEireann is now an internationally recognised food award, showcasing the very finest of Irish ingredients and innovation.

The Elevator Pitches

The first pitch of the night was delivered by Ruth Ormiston of Cornude Artisan Popcorn. What started as a simple idea, has grown into an award winning product. Ruth has worked hard to get her business of the ground and we congratulate her on her recent success at Blas na hEireann.

Seamus Tighe, an AIB Start-up Academy finalist, and founder of Everest Granola, spoke about the success of his business over the past year and has exciting plans to expand into the UK market within the next two years.

Finding a gap in the market

Brian Nolan of Nobó was our first expert speaker of the night. Brian’s dairy free ice-cream has proved to be extremely popular and the product will launch in the UK in the coming weeks. Brian’s key advice to entrepreneurs was to get customers talking about the product as they can be valuable advocates for the business.

Knowing your market

Birgitta Curtin delivered a fascinating talk to the audience, highlighting the importance of branding and marketing to a business. Birgitta has run the Burren Smokehouse with her husband Peter for 26 years. Due to the huge numbers of tourists who visit the region each year, the Burren Smokehouse sell their product to people all over the world. Recognising the importance of an online presence, Birgitta first set up a website for her business in 1996 and has kept improving it to the present day.

Facing challenges head-on

Colm Healy followed his gut instinct and bought Skelligs Chocolate in 2004. Disaster struck in 2010 when Skelligs’ factory was severely damaged in a fire. With no means of production, Colm vowed to have a new factory up and running within a year. He succeeded with a week to spare. He told the audience not to be dissuaded by the challenges and setbacks that businesses face.

Killarney speaks!

The evening wrapped up with a Q&A session, chaired by Gary Quinn of the Irish Times. As usual, the audience had some thoughtful questions for the expert speakers. The discussion focused on mentorship, funding and even how to dress when meeting a bank manager! Throughout the evening, our live interactive polling app let the audience participate on the night and on Twitter.

Where next?

The AIB Startup Academy will visit The Set Theatre in Langton House Hotel in Kilkenny on October 28th. Spaces are limited so be sure to register early.

Want the opportunity to learn how to grow your Start-up business?Submit your applicationnow for a chance to win a place in the next AIB Start-Up Academy.

Check out more on how We’re Backing Brave, follow us on Twitter@AIBBizor check out the conversation at #backedbyAIB.