Two young entrepreneurs from Co. Wicklow were the toast of the south east as they claimed top spot in their respective categories at the Regional Final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition, which took place in Wexford County Council on January 31st in Wexford.
Cathal O’Sullivan, age 24 of GameX, Greystones, Co.Wicklow won the Best Business Idea and Shane Bonner, age 34 of Newmarket Kitchen, Bray, Co Wicklow was awarded the title of Best Start Up Business. Both beat off stiff competition from County finalists from Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny to claim the Regional titles.
The profile of the winning entries demonstrates the breadth of entrepreneurial talent in County Wicklow: Cathal O Sullivan’s GameX is a cross-platform game discovery engine. It helps gamers find the perfect game and developers find the perfect gamer. It is a knowledge centre that learns through interaction while Shane Bonner’s Newmarket Kitchen is a shared kitchen space and a one-stop-shop offering a number of different services to food entrepreneurs including tasting events, distribution, marketing consultancy service and office space. Ken & Janet Carey, age 35 of Discount Supplements Ltd, Kilcoole, Co Wicklow also represented the County in the Best Established Business Category. Their company is one of Ireland’s largest suppliers of sports nutrition and health foods who also have their own range of Sports Nutrition products.
Commenting on the success of the Wicklow participants, Bryan Doyle, Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council stated:
“I would like to congratulate award winners Shane Bonner and Cathal O’Sullivan who together with Ken and Janet Carey epitomise the vibrant entrepreneurship culture that exists in County Wicklow. We recognise that our young entrepreneurs will play a key role in the development of enterprise and employment in our county into the future. The winners represent the wealth of young talent that exists in Wicklow which we are committed to supporting in order to bring new and exciting business ideas to fruition.”
So far, 180 talented entrepreneurs across every county in Ireland, aged between 18 and 35, have been awarded a total of €1.5 million in investment funding through the Local Enterprise Offices, after winning or becoming runners-up in IBYE County Finals.
This initiative for young entrepreneurs is run by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) nationwide, and supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland. The investment awards will be used by the young entrepreneurs to help fund business start-ups, create new jobs locally or to help develop new products for international markets.
As part of the supports on offer through the competition, more than 400 young entrepreneurs around the country benefited from boot-camp training sessions in which they were put through their paces in every aspect of how to start and develop a business.
Speaking about the Competition, Chairman of Wicklow County Council Pat Fitzgerald said
“As Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council I was delighted to be present at the Regional final of the Irelands Best Young Entrepreneur Competition and wish to congratulate our three outstanding participants in the finals, Cathal O Sullivan and Shane Bonner who were chosen as regional winners and Ken and Carey who just narrowly missed out.”
The Cathaoirleach also commended the staff of the Local Enterprise Office for their assistance to all participants over the course of the competition echoing the sentiment of the winners who also acknowledged the support received from the LEO staff.
The competition attracted a record number of entries, with 1,842 applying nationally and 208 applying from the region. Sheelagh Daly, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Wicklow, congratulated the winners on their success, adding:
“We see the IBYE initiative as an important springboard for our young entrepreneurs who want to start or expand a business. The 180 entrepreneurs across every county in Ireland who share €1.5 million in investment funding, which include our County Winners and Runners-up, can now make their business ideas and expansion plans a reality in 2017. It’s also about nurturing entrepreneurs through bootcamps, training, networking and mentoring, with job creation benefits throughout the region.”
The Regional winners will now proceed to the National Final of the competition which will take place In March. Wicklow has previously won the national title when James Keogh of Rathwood clinched the title of ‘Best Established Business’ in 2015.