The AIB Start-up Academy visits Kilkenny, the Marble City.

The AIB Startup Academy in the Set Theatre in Kilkenny.

The AIB Start-up Academy was on the road again, this time visiting the magnificent Set Theatre in Kilkenny for our 9th event. Entrepreneurs from Kilkenny and beyond were in attendance to receive expert business advice and network with other start-ups.

The Elevator Pitches

Three businesses were invited to make elevator pitches to the audience. Niall Rhatigan of EcoCool was the first up on stage. EcoCool provide energy-efficient refrigeration systems to a broad range of clients in the pharmaceutical, hospitality and retail sectors. Niall spoke about how EcoCool’s innovative approach can reduce the energy used by a client’s refrigeration system by up to 50%.

Gerald Costello is a brewer who recently founded his own business, Costello’s Brewing Co. He is passionate about ‘keeping it local’, sourcing all the ingredients for his craft beer in Kilkenny and supplying the finished product to local publicans. Due to the popularity of the beer, Gerald recently launched a bottled beer to meet demand.

Shane Lynn was a finalist at the 2015 AIB Start-up Academy with his app KillBiller. The app provides free, independent advice to users on which mobile phone tariff is most suitable to them. KillBiller has been used 45,000 times since the app was launched last December. Shane will be launching KillBiller in the UK next month and plans to launch in Canada and mainland Europe in the near future.

Going Global

Our first expert speaker of the night was Gerry Sherrin, Managing Director of Cartoon Saloon, the Kilkenny based animation studio. Cartoon Saloon gained international recognition in 2010 when ‘The Book of Kells’ was nominated for an Academy Award, a testament to the creative talent and business expertise of those involved with Cartoon Saloon.

Gerry spoke about the importance of remaining confident and passionate about the work his studio does as projects can take years to complete, with no guarantee of commercial success. It is an approach which has served Cartoon Saloon well as their latest production ‘Puffin Rock’ recently debuted on Netflix. Another production, ‘The Breadwinner’, is due to be released in 2017.

Building a Brand

Local man Bobby Kerr was the second expert speaker of the night and gave the audience an insight into how he built one of Ireland’s most recognisable brands, Insomnia Coffee. Starting off with just one shop on Grafton Street in 1999, Insomnia now has over 300 outlets across Ireland and recently opened its first shop in the United Kingdom.

Bobby believes that by embracing innovation, Insomnia has been able to establish itself as Ireland’s leading independent coffee chain. He advised those wishing to start their own businesses not to be afraid of making mistakes and to surround themselves with positive people.

Question Time

The night wrapped up with a Q&A session chaired by Gary Quinn of the Irish Times. Bobby, Gerry and Shane were on hand to answer questions from the audience and via Twitter. Attendees were also encouraged to take part in a live-poll on a number of business-related questions.

Where Next?

The next AIB Start-up Academy night will take place in Belfast on 18th November. Registration for the event is free, but be sure to sign up early as spaces are limited.

Want the opportunity to learn how to grow your Start-up business in the company of like-minded entrepreneurs? Submit your application now for a chance to win a place in the next AIB Start-up Academy.

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