The AIB Startup Academy visits the Sunny South East

The AIB Startup Academy in the Set Theatre in Kilkenny.

The Sky and the Ground Bar in Wexford was the venue for the latest AIB Start-up Academy night. Entrepreneurs from all over the sunny South East gathered for an informative and insightful night, with input from two excellent speakers and contributions from Wexford’s thriving start-up community.

Life at the chef’s table

Kevin Dundon, celebrity chef and owner of Wexford’s renowned Dunbrody Country House Hotel was the first expert speaker of the night. Kevin’s career as a chef has taken him across the globe, but he followed his life-long dream to open a Country House Hotel here in Ireland in 1997. Kevin told the aspiring entrepreneurs in the audience to grab the opportunity when it arises and not be afraid to make mistakes.

Building a business from the ground up

The second speaker of the night was Michael Kelly, founder of Grow It Yourself. Despite not having any background in nutrition or horticulture, Michael was inspired to start growing his own vegetables after noticing that garlic bought from his local supermarket was produced in China rather than Ireland. Since 2008, GIY’s network has grown to include 1,500 community groups across the country, with plans to expand to the UK. The success of GIY is testament to how one small idea can grow into something big.

Local business stories

Three Wexford-based start-ups were on hand to pitch their businesses to the audience and provide a snapshot of the business environment in the South East.

Christine Meehan and her family opened the Natural Health Store at a time when many businesses were leaving Wexford. The Natural Health Store has gone from strength to strength and is now an established presence in the town.

Natalie and Karen Keane of Bean & Goose Chocolate spoke about how they have developed and marketed a popular product which reflects the tastes of Irish consumers.

The final pitch was delivered by Ann-Marie Carty-Stuart of Stuart Design. Ann-Marie offers a comprehensive interior design service to clients and she is currently working on projects across the Leinster region.

The audience had their say

The night wrapped up with a lively Q&A session with Kevin Dundon and Michael Kelly, chaired by Gary Quinn of the Irish Times. Throughout the night, attendees were encouraged to vote on a number of business related questions. Encouragingly, 96% of the audience were optimistic for the future of Irish business.

Where to next?

The next AIB Start-up Academy night will take place in the Killarney Plaza Hotel in Killarney on October 14th. Registration for the event is free, but spaces are filling up fast.

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

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