September 09, 2016

Access More Areas

The song says there's three steps to heaven, but what if you're unable to take even those few steps to enjoy the heavenly coffee or food in that highly-recommended café? Or what if you've travelled half-way around the world on wheels only to find the bathroom in your luxury hotel-room wheelchair inaccessible? For many of us who enjoy access all areas on our travels, it's easy to forget that for many of those wishing to visit with us some places remain out of bounds thanks to short-sighted or thoughtless design.

Big Steps For Change

When software engineer Matt McCann was visiting London in 2012, he chose a hotel that claimed to be accessible for his rollator. On arrival however, he found the only access to his hotel was up three steps, and the doorway to his bedroom was too narrow to gain entry.

Matt, our featured guest on the last Kickstart Your Business in our series, decided to fix the problem of travel for himself and others like him, by setting up Access Earth to provide up to the minute information and ratings on accessible services across the world. Launched earlier this year in Dublin and Chicago, Access Earth has already seen hundreds of venues and places of interest tagged and rated in the two cities.

Have App, Will Travel

Mick Clifford, our stand-in host on The Right Hook, marvelled that no-one else had seen the need and opportunity to serve this significant and often ignored group of visitors.

I suggested that as both a user of Access Earth and the entrepreneur behind it, Matt is uniquely placed to reach out to representative and advocacy groups, and appeal to their members to get rating the various venues in their local areas.

I also noted that the soul of hospitality is our ability to welcome in strangers and make them feel at ease, and a venue that opens its doors to all visitors is likely to enjoy significant advantage over those that don't in terms of building customer loyalty.

Your Entry Here

How do you suggest that Matt make the business of travel access more areas for more and more of those travelling?

Listen back to Kickstart Your Business and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

September 02, 2016

Indicators On For Great Parking

Ever been tempted to knock on a stranger's door and ask if you can park in their vacant driveway for a couple of hours whilst you do your shopping? Or wondered who owns the reserved but always-empty space in the busy office park? For many of us, particularly those whose car journeys regularly take us into congested parts of the business and retail centres of our cities and towns, the vacant space seems to cry out for an occupant. But who to ask?

Space, The Final Frontier

Whilst home for Christmas in 2011, English language teacher Liam Farrell found the shopping centre car parks full up, and noticed lots of empty driveways where he could easily have parked for a few hours if he only knew who to ask. Having used AirBnB on his travels, he decided to set up a similar service for parking, that would enable owners to easily lease their space and drivers to just as easily rent it, whether for a few hours, a few days or on a more permanent basis.

Liam, our featured guest this week on Kickstart Your Business, launched in Ireland in 2015, and plans to roll out his online booking engine in cities across the world later this year.

On Air Space

Our host this week, Bobby Kerr immediately warmed to the notion of a readymade parking solution for travelling fans heading to Dublin's Croke Park this Sunday to cheer on his beloved Kilkenny, and thinks that Liam is on to a winner.

Meanwhile, I suggested that Liam has very smartly parked his idea on a proven model, and is likely to motor past many of the mistakes that pioneers of the peer-to-peer commercial model, such as AirBnB, have made. At the same time, I stressed the importance of carving out that space for ParkingMotel on an international level as soon as possible, before one of the giants in peer-to-peer solutions reverses into Liam's great idea.

Park Your Views Here

How do you suggest Liam get car drivers everywhere parking quickly and without fuss using Parking Motel?

Listen back to Kickstart Your Business and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast at 6.25pm every Thursday on The Right Hook on Newstalk, and is available immediately afterwards on playback on

August 26, 2016

New Entry For Pre-Schoolers

With many small children spending a great part of their day in the care of others, particularly in the pre-school environment, out of sight shouldn't necessarily mean out of mind and unrecorded. For many pre-school teachers, the challenge though is in relating what's happened in the child's daily life to parents in a practical way. Hurried notes, and an even more hurried handover at the crowded end of the day, means that many of the milestone moments in the child's life pass unremarked.

Dear (But Not Costly) Diary

With a background as a pre-school carer, Vanessa Bileu understands the importance for both child and parent of regular updates on progress from the classroom. When she and her partner Joao moved to Ireland from their native Portugal, they pooled their respective talents to develop the ChildDiary software that enables carers to quickly and easily update parents in real time throughout the day.

Vanessa joined our host Tara Duggan and me on Kickstart Your Business this week to tell us about how her new enterprise was helping carers and parents to keep updated on the essential goings-on in the classroom.

Early Language Skills

Our host Tara and me, both parents with memories of the rushed handover at the end of the busy day, immediately warmed to the idea of a dynamic journal where essential details could be recorded throughout the child's time in pre-school.

I suggested that Vanessa and Joao might reflect the key triangle of child, carer and parent better throughout their promotional resources, in particular their website. They appeal separately to carers and parents, but need to begin the conversation squarely in the space shared by the three from the homepage onwards. This picture from elsewhere in their websites is a great example of how this triangular relationship can be illustrated effectively.

Time To Make Your Mark On ChildDiary

How do you suggest Vanessa and Joao get the whole pre-school world recording the essential details of the child's classroom life in ChildDiary?

Listen back to Kickstart Your Business and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast at 6.25pm every Thursday on The Right Hook on Newstalk, and is available immediately afterwards on playback on

August 19, 2016

Making A Dent In The Market

You know it shouldn't hurt but somehow it does. That crushing disappointment as you notice the dent in your pride and joy in the carpark is nothing like the dent in your wallet you fear it will take to fix it. Not to mention the time your beloved transport will be off-road for repair. And so you resolve to take the hit to your pride, and hope that in time you won't notice it anymore. Or pretend you don't, but of course you do.

A Shiny New Business

With a background in IT, this week's guest on Kickstart Your Business, Wayne O'Sullivan of DentPro, spotted a gap in the market for a service that would fix dents easily, without the traditional fuss and cost associated with the service.

He set up DentPro, which is available at a growing number of sites around Dublin (with plans to extend the network across Ireland, and then the world), or at your home or office thanks to their new mobile service. DentPro provides a ready quotation via their mobile app, and Wayne estimates that in addition to saving motorists time, his service offers savings of up to 90% on the usual costs.

Making A Dent In A Shiny Market

Mick Clifford, this week's host of Kickstart Your Business, applauded the simplicity and directness of Wayne's new offering. DentPro brings something new to the market without hitting new customers in the pocket.

Meanwhile, I admired Wayne's comprehensive offering. His range of packages means that any motorist or company with a car or fleet of cars is likely to find an offer that appeals, whether that's a once-off fix or an annual protection package.

Make Your Point

How do you suggest that Wayne make a real dent in the worldwide market?

Listen back to Wayne on Kickstart Your Business, and let us know what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business features on Newstalk each Thursday at 6.25pm and is available immediately afterwards on Playback at

August 12, 2016

I Spy With My Butterfly

As any parent of young children will tell you, the great challenge is in prompting good behaviour without resorting to the threat of punishment. Left unchecked, minor transgressions such as a refusal to go to bed at the appointed time, flat rejection of any vegetable that's even faintly green, or drop-to-the-floor tantrums at the supermarket, can become real threats to family harmony, leaving parents and children alike frazzled and resentful. So what's a parent to do, to stop behavioural molehills turning into mountains?

Something Beginning With Good

Enter Butterfly Spy, the brainchild of Jane Wherity, our featured guest on Kickstart Your Business. As a mother of three young boys, Jane struggled to manage their behaviour without resorting to the threat of the wooden spoon. Over time, through the trial and error that parents everywhere will recognise, she devised a butterfly figure to perch on the shelf, watching over her potential miscreants, and rewarding them for good behaviour in the form of stars on their very own personal Butterfly Spy Card (and the prospect of a treat on achieving bronze, silver or gold status).

Someone's Been A Very Good Entrepreneur!

The eye's of this week's host, Jonathan Healy, himself a father of three young and, by his own account, unruly children, lit up when he saw Jane's Butterfly Spy kit and heard how her ingenious system might help curb his youngster's enthusiasm for mischief.

Meanwhile, I suggested that Jane needs to make much more of her Butterfly Spy figure on her website and the Sibling Packs, which are available for brothers and sisters who already have a Butterfly Spy in the family. Whilst the monarch butterfly, selected by Jane because they are local to countries all over the world, does feature in her logo, the brightly coloured figure really comes into its own in the form of the figurine.

A simple image showing the butterfly on its perch, keeping a watchful eye on the playing children, would be very appealing whilst immediately showing how it works.

Cast Your Own Eye Over Butterfly Spy

How do you suggest Jane get her Butterfly Spy flying high over households across the world?

Listen back to Jane on Kickstart Your Business, and let us know what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business features on Newstalk each Thursday at 6.25pm and is available immediately afterwards on Playback at

August 08, 2016

He Shoots, ClubApp Scores

In a world where sports fans can follow professional big match action from anywhere across the globe, followers of local, amateur games are left short-changed. And yet the goal-mouth action or leap-frogging leaderboard on the local field of play may be even more important to them than those games being played out under a global gaze. The dedicated follower of the unfashionable who's unable to follow the action live is typically consigned to phoning in to a friend on the sideline to keep them updated.

Dedicated Follower Of Local Sport

When local sports fan Barry Nestor, our guest on Kickstart Your Business, grew frustrated at not being able to find up to the minute results for his favourite local sports competitions, he resolved to design and develop a service to deliver just that.

ClubApp offers sports clubs and competition organisers the facility to update followers on key events and action from the field of play via their mobile devices, and promises to bring the up-to-the-minute coverage that's typical of professional sports to the local playing pitch.

Local Heroes

As perhaps Ireland's greatest local sports fan, George was understandably excited about what ClubApp might offer him in terms of following his beloved 'Pres College' in Cork, whilst also enabling him to follow the leaderboard at golfing competitions at his own club, Milltown.

Meanwhile, I suggested that although they may see themselves in a different league, amateur sports do compete with professional outfits for the eyes and ears of sports fans. ClubApp is a real game-changer, and the benefits are likely to be obvious to local sports clubs and organisers across the world.

However, like many emerging entrepreneurs, Barry is a little reluctant to ask for the sale early in his sales pitch. On their website, for example, a lot of energy is expended introducing the various features and benefits, rather than offering the readily-won over visitor the option to 'Buy Now'.

Standing By For Your Report

What advice would you offer Barry and his colleagues at ClubApp to get sports fans all over the world following their favourite, local club in real time?

Listen back to Barry on Kickstart Your Business (July 28) and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business broadcasts every Thursday at 6.25pm GMT on Newstalk, and is available for playback immediately afterwards on

August 05, 2016

A World Of Play

Primary school education packs in a lot of essential learning about how the world works, much of it textbook rather than hands-on. And yet we know from experience that we learn best when we can step into the real world and try it for ourselves, rather than try to work it out in our own heads or on paper. 

Teachers meanwhile are under-resourced when it comes to making classes practical rather than theoretical. As a result, many of us emerge from primary school with only the vaguest idea of how the world works, and typically unable to relate our textbook learning to the practical challenges we face everyday.

Do It Yourself

Primary school teacher, Colm Ó hAnluain, our featured guest on Kickstart Your Business, always liked to make his classrooms lively and stimulating. However, he struggled to find the teaching aids he needed to bring maths, physics and technical literacy to life. And so he decided to design and build his own.

Through his new enterprise, Cog & Axle, Colm offers Henry's Piano, a construction model (or Lévó) and storybook, featuring Henry and the practical challenges he faces when trying to move a piano (a big cumbersome object that children can readily relate to). Henry's Piano can be used by teachers right through primary school (whilst teachers in other parts of Europe are using it for some of their secondary school classes).

Leveraging The Power Of Gaming

Our host, Simon Delaney, and I were both delighted with Colm's invention. Simon, the father of four young boys, immediately saw the benefits for his budding engineers. 

Meanwhile, I was prompted to describe what Colm has devised as a game rather than a resource (which can have rather dry and worthy connotations). Henry's Piano is so beautifully crafted that it immediately invites the child in us to pick it up and start playing with it, so Colm might usefully explore some of this more immediate language that conveys the appeal of his invention.

Your Turn!

How do you suggest that Colm get more and more of tomorrow's engineers playing Henry's Piano?

Listen back to Colm on Kickstart Your Business and let us know what you think.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm and is available for playback immediately afterwards on

July 22, 2016

Standing Out From The Crowd

"I was there'. That's a phrase we hear time and time again from fans of music and sport all around the world. It's one of the many pleasures of attending an exciting event or festival, knowing we were in that crowd on that day, part of the unmissable experience.

So how can fans capture that feeling and share it with friends and family on social media? And for the sponsors of the event, how can they bring their customers closer in a way that reflects the tribal nature of their brand?

A Huge Hug For All Of You

How powerful it would be if someone could take a picture of the crowd that it would enable someone who was in the crowd to zoom into the photo, tag themselves and send their image to family and friends via social media. Everyone likes to stand out from the crowd in some way and be, even briefly, the centre of attention.

And that's exactly what our featured guest on Kickstart Your Business Mike Sikorski is doing through his business Huggity . Big brands commission Huggity to deliver a service using amazing technology that enables fans to zoom in on their own image whilst enabling the brand to 'tag' the content with their own branded messages.

Close Up And Personal

Mike enables brands to customise the individual fan experience, allowing them to engage with fans and potential customers in a personal and unforgettable way. 'I was there' becomes 'We were there together'.

As Gerard said during the show, with the modern user and fan's endless appetite for reliving the moment and sharing those images on social media, Huggity is addressing this need in a very effective way.

The Next Big Hug

What events do you suggest Mike might target over the coming year?

Listen back to Mike on Kickstart Your Business and let us know what you think.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm and is available for playback immediately afterwards on

July 15, 2016

I'd Rather Be...... Camping

For those that love the outdoors, camping is one of life's pure pleasures; sleeping
under the stars, at one with nature, far from the bright lights and endless distractions of urban living.

A hugely popular holiday choice, it is estimated that by 2020, one billion campsite nights will be booked worldwide. With a bewildering choice of sites to pick from, for many avid camping lovers, finding the right campsite to book is far from an easy task.

A Site For Sore Eyes

When it comes to researching hotels, there are an endless amount of websites out there offering to help us make the right choice. If only there was such a website dedicated to campsites.....sigh!

Lucky for us, our featured guest this week on Kickstart Your Business Finán O'Donoghue has created which currently covers over 1,300 sites in Ireland and the UK. A camping enthusiast  himself, Finán started the business to cater for the thousands of families, like his own, that wanted to book the perfect camping holiday without spending hours trawling the internet to find it.

Pitch It And They Will Come

Overall the website is very straightforward and easy to visit but I did suggest to Finán that the pin drops representing the different regions should also reflect the amount of campsites available in that area.

We were delighted to hear that Finán is planning to introduce a 'Campsite of the Week' feature on the site which will bring that all important social interaction which fuels a business like that is built on relationship. Already he has built a strong relationship with campsite owners here in Ireland and now is looking to build relationships with his fellow campers.

A Camping We Will Go

What do you suggest Finán might do to build on those all important relationships through the website?

Listen back to Finán on Kickstart Your Business and let us know what you think.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm and is available for playback immediately afterwards on

July 08, 2016

The Story Of Me

Mothers and fathers around the world know that nothing delights the young child more than a story where they get to play the hero. So much so that, come bedtime, the skilful storyteller often takes a classic tale and weaves into the standard text the story of you, which for the enraptured child becomes the most powerful story of all, the story of me.

Putting A Face To A Name

Smart publishers have taken advantage of advanced printing technologies to personalise storybooks with your child's name, but now one Irish publisher is taking this a step further.

When Eoin Heverin, our featured guest on Kickstart Your Business, was reading a personalised storybook to his niece, he thought 'Wouldn't it be a great idea if the princess in this story also had little Toni Pia's head superimposed on pictures of the heroine?'. Within two years, he set up Tell My Story Book, offering even more personalised storybooks for children.

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

George warmed to the idea immediately, wondering just how far a publisher might take personalisation. For example, could other characters in the book also feature the images of grandparents, uncles etc?

I suggested that Eoin needs to work very hard in a market that's over supplied to establish Tell My Story Book as the leader in this space. He needs to tackle his brand identity in particular, which is currently quite generic and unlikely to stand out in the market and stand up to competitors.

I also suggested that he might personalise testimonials on his website in the same way as he personalises the storybook. A proud grandfather like our George is much more likely to share a testimonial when he's presented, for example, as his saintly namesake boldly slaying the dragon. Nothing advertises a technology better than the practical application of the technology itself.

What's The Story?

What do you suggest Eoin might do to get the whole world telling personalised stories to their children?

Listen back to Eoin on Kickstart Your Business and let us know what you think.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm and is available for playback immediately afterwards on

July 01, 2016

Someone To Watch Over Me

Although falling crime figures often suggest that the world is a safer place, it sometimes doesn't feel that way. When you're alone in a poorly-lit or isolated place, walking the last leg of your journey after the last bus home for example, it's easy to feel threatened and afraid. That group of drunken youths, this man behind who seems to quicken his step as you nervously lengthen your stride, even the darkened corner underneath the broken street-light, all appear to menace you, leaving you feeling very alone and afraid.

More Than A Number

When members of Paul Price's teenage family were in danger whilst out and about, he found that trying to help them over the phone was ineffective and hugely stressful for all concerned. He decided to develop a one-touch phone application that immediately connects you to a trained team who can provide all the support someone in trouble requires.

We featured Paul and Big Red Button on Kickstart Your Business, and learned that in addition to connecting you to someone who can immediately lend a helping hand, the team at Big Red Button can also patch in a call to the police or a family member or friend as appropriate. Even when the danger is real, an assailant is less likely to act when it becomes apparent that their quarry is much less isolated and vulnerable than they first appeared.

In The Company Of Angels

Grandfather George immediately warmed to a service that protects members of family who naturally seek independence but still need to feel safe and protected from harm. He mused that his eldest grandchild soon turns teenage, and suggested that a €9.99 Annual Subscription was a great value gift from a loving grandparent.

I remarked on the very impressive and informative video which Paul has made. This cleverly presents a scenario where someone under threat presses the Big Red Button, and is soon flanked by the protective figures of the Big Red Button team, as well as a family member and a police officer. Faced with this phalanx of guardians, the would-be assailant fades away into the shadows.

However, I suggested that it's not evident from the Play Video button on the Big Red Button website that this really is a must-watch video. This is a common fault with video screen grabs and calls to action on many websites, so Paul is not alone, but his is a video which really does say it all neatly and effectively so it's hugely important that visitors are encouraged to view it.

At The Touch Of A Button

What do you suggest Paul might do to get Big Red Button watching over us and keeping us safe through phones across Ireland?

Listen back to Paul on Kickstart Your Business and let us know what you think.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm and is available for playback immediately afterwards on

June 17, 2016

To Hold You Soft And Near

Surgery of any kind can leave us feeling raw and vulnerable; this is after all an attack on the body, albeit well-intentioned. For the breast cancer survivor, this sense of rawness isn't helped by the limited range of supports available post-surgery. Adapting to the changes that have been made to the dy, with post-surgery sites typically still painful and sensitive, just isn't easy.

An Underwear Hero

When lingerie retailer Ciara Donlon noticed how breast cancer survivors were so poorly served by existing brands, she set out to research what they wanted in a bra in particular, and designed the Theya Healthcare range, pretty, feminine and designed to the highest eco standards.

This week's Kickstart Your Business featured guest consulted directly with over 80 survivors to tailor garments that are made from bamboo (which produces the softest cloth) and feature no tags or seams, all designed to minimise irritation on the tender post-operation skin.

Underwear That Hugs Rather Than Strangles

George was immediately struck by the extraordinary depth of research which Ciara had conducted in order to bring her range to market. I agreed that Ciara's dedication is highly unusual, and had been rewarded with extraordinary loyalty and gratitude from a market that has been largely ignored, if the many testimonials on are anything to go by.

I commented that these testimonials, whilst impressive, are often quite lengthy, and suggested that Ciara extract some of the neater expressions of gratitude, and make them available on the homepage in order to encourage prospective customers that they have come to the right place. For example, "I was looking for underwear that hugs rather than strangles" captures brilliantly the immediate benefit Theya offers.

Add Your Words Of Support

Can you suggest how Ciara might continue to grow her Theya Healthcare brand from strength to strength?

Listen back to Ciara on Kickstart Your Business and let us know what you think.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm and is available for playback immediately afterwards on

June 10, 2016

A Pocketful Of Squares

They say great style never goes out of fashion, but it's taken the rise to prominence of slick dresser Conor McGregor, and the popularity of TV programmes such as Peaky Blinders and Mad Men to turn a whole new generation on to the appeal of such fashion items as the traditional waistcoat, three-piece suit and all the trimmings.

Mainstream brands such as Ted Baker, Paul Smith and our own Louis Copeland have played their part too, but the dedicated follower of fashion (and his other half) is likely to want to develop his own distinctive style, and wander away from the high street to find those off-beat accessories that finish an outfit with a flourish.

Hip To Be Square

This week's guest on Kickstart Your Business, William Jenkins, has long been a dedicated follower of fashion. When he and his partner Maeve were exploring potential opportunities in the world of gentleman's attire, they identified the once-popular but now lesser-spotted pocket square (or handkerchief) as a classic accessory that's been largely overlooked by the main fashion retailers.

They've set up their own fashion accessories brand, and are working closely with traditional craftsmen and designers in Italy to bring a range of 100% silk and uniquely patterned pocket squares to market. Their pocket squares are available to purchase directly from them online, or through a small number of high-end retailers such as Louis Copeland and Henry Jermyn in Dublin.

A range of cuff knots and lapel pins are also coming into the mix, and the pair are determined to become a leading men's fashion accessories' brand in a world crying out for those little flashes of colour and detail that finish off a suit.

Celebrity Squares

Mr. Jenks appealed hugely to George's sense of style; he was quick to remind us that the young George Hook typically sported a silk pocket square back in the day.

I suggested that William and Maeve's challenge is to drive demand whilst establishing themselves as the go-to brand for sharp accessories, no easy task for a start-up. Whilst celebrity endorsements are often an elusive prize, George generously offered to model Mr. Jenks' pocket squares; in Ireland in particular the support of highly-visible figures can go a long way towards building the profile of the ambitious start-up.

Throw Your Hat In The Ring

How do you suggest William and Maeve build their profile and business in this highly competitive market.

Listen back to William on Kickstart Your Business (with thanks to Energia) and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm and is available for playback immediately afterwards on

June 03, 2016

A Place At The Table

Although it's a popular claim, one size fits all hardly ever works for everyone. Invariably, that one size that seems to suit everyone else, leaves someone feeling very left out. Not much fun if you're that someone on the outside looking in. For anyone hosting an activity for people of different abilities then, the challenge is to create place where everyone feels equally welcome and involved.

Willing And Able

Our featured guest on Kickstart Your Business, Caríosa Sullivan of, introduced a true one size fits all solution that naturally makes a space for people of all abilities to sit around the table and interact easily. When Caríosa's mum and Special Needs Assistant Esther was looking for a table for her classroom, she was unable to find one. One size simply didn't fit all. And so she asked her husband Martin, who's pretty handy, to make one and he created the first Able Table.

The Able Table is designed in such a way that able-bodied and people of varying abilities can eat, work and play side by side without anyone feeling left out. Caríosa and Martin are now manufacturing Able Tables for a growing and eager market in both the mixed abilities and senior sectors where disability of any kind can often mean subtle and not so subtle exclusion from social activities.

Tabling A Discussion

Both Shane Coleman (sitting in for George) and I were immediately won over by Martin's very simple solution to a complex problem, and admired both his ingenuity and can-do attitude, often the hallmarks of the great entrepreneurs.

However, I suggested that they are being too coy in presenting their pricing to potential customers on their website in particular. Now this is a not uncommon challenge facing someone who wants to make a difference, but struggles to put a commercial value on the difference they make. When a prospective customer, whether carer or client, knows the cost of something, then they're much better placed to determine the value of it, and able in turn to make an informed decision around their purchase. Keeping people at arms length from this all-important detail simply doesn't make for good business.

Pull Up A Seat

Why not visit and suggest how else Caríosa and Martin can make a place at the table for more and more customers?

Listen back to Caríosa on Kickstart Your Business  (with thanks to Energia) and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm and is available for playback immediately afterwards on

May 27, 2016

How To Make A Happy Camper

Even the most cheerful of festival-goers can become heavy-hearted when faced with the prospect of lugging camping gear from home to festival site. And that final leg of the journey from carpark or bus-stop can kill the buzz of even the happiest of would-be campers. So how to get a weekend's festivities off on the right foot?

For All Intents & Purposes

With a background in sales and customer service, Wendy Riordan, recognised an opportunity when she heard a friend describe how he and his partner fell out whilst hauling their gear from parked car to festival campsite. What if there was a company who could deliver your camping kit to you directly on site? This week's Kickstart Your Business feature Pamper The Camper is Wendy's helping hand to the beleaguered camper.

Seriously Lads, We Deliver To Festivals

Wendy really seems to have thought of everything. Customers book their camping gear and extras (including Ladies & Gents' Pamper Packs filled to the brim with the essentials for a great weekend) through the website, nominate the festival they're attending, and then simply stroll up to the Pamper The Camper pick-up point (and shop) at the festival campsite.

Although George professed his own horror of camping, even he allowed that this is a brilliant idea, and likely to become a great business. I suggested that Wendy has really got her own essentials spot-on: Pamper The Camper is a great name, and she's invested in a eye-catching and memorable visual identity that makes it easy for word-of-mouth to do the rest in terms of spreading the word to would-be happy campers.

Pitch In Yourself

What else can Wendy do to win over the hordes of festival-goers, first here in Ireland and then in the UK and beyond?

Listen back to Wendy on Kickstart Your Business (with thanks to Energia) and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm and is available for playback immediately afterwards on

May 20, 2016

Heads Up On Audio Headgear

More and more, modern life seems to demand a soundtrack. But for many athletes and others who like to listen to music on the go, the headphones and earplugs typically required to wire them for sound as they step to the beat are unwieldy and uncomfortable. It's difficult to get lost in the music when you're tripping through the wires or plugging your ears.

If The Cap Fits

When Padraig Clarke's wife and business partner Sinead found conventional headphones uncomfortable whilst out running, they decided to research and design their own wearable technology solution to the problem. And so, Saorbuga, loosely translated from the Irish as Move Freely, and offering wireless audio headgear, was born.

Padraig, our featured guest on Kickstart Your Business, introduced three types of bluetooth audio headgear: the traditional beanie, the sports beanie and the sports headband. With the market for wearable technologies exploding worldwide, their design seems to tick all the boxes, so there is likely to be a significant opportunity for Saorbuga.

Talking Heads On Listening Heads

George immediately saw how Saorbuga might make his round of golf all the more enjoyable, and we were quick to acknowledge how this audio headgear has applications in all sorts of environments were people on the move want to walk or work handsfree whilst listening to their favourite sounds (or picking up on calls and messages).

However, I suggested that whilst the market opportunity is enormous, Saorbuga faces the challenge of building their brand quickly before the traditional technology giants come out to play. Padraig and Sinead need to focus on the core of their market, find their Bullseye Customer, and work to build a strong customer base in a sizeable niche (e.g. running clubs).

Throw Your Hat In The Ring

What can Padraig and Sinead do to get the world listening to music whilst sporting the latest Saorbuga headgear?

Listen back to Padraig on Kickstart Your Business (with thanks to Energia), and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm, and is available for playback immediately afterwards at Newstalk. com.

May 13, 2016

Trendster: Talking To My Generation

As adults, we're often quick to dismiss the opinions of teenagers on world affairs as ill-informed and superficial, particularly as seen and heard on social media. Mind you, that's a charge that could be typically levelled at the opinions of young and older alike when aired in those open spaces.

When everyone's a publisher, the role of the editor becomes increasingly important if we're to say something worth hearing. Free speech can too easily become cheap speech, and if words come cheap, they rarely cost a thought. So when most of what we hear from teenagers comes unfiltered to our adult ears, it's easy to conclude that they don't hold thoughtful and well-informed opinions on the things that matter to us all, young and older alike.

Read All About It.

There's no shortage of media targeting young people, but none seem to seek their informed views on issues that matter. Enter a new Editor-in-chief. Although still in school, our featured Kickstart Your Business guest, Harry McCann has been an entrepreneur for the past three years. He was prompted to set up Trendster with his schoolfriend and business partner Jack Cullen, in order to give young people a platform to tell their own stories, comment on the news, and give a thoughtful voice to a generation.

Harry is Editor-in-chief to a team of correspondents across the world from Ireland to the Caribbean island of St. Kitts and beyond. Whilst the new publication is still finding its voice, it's evident from the growing readership here in Ireland and further afield, that there's a real appetite for news for the young people, by the young people.

Airing Harry's Views

As an inveterate opinion-maker and news hound, George was audibly impressed by Harry and Jack's precocious ambition and enterprise as publishers and reporters. And he was quick to acknowledge the challenge facing any youthful entrepreneur of gaining access to the same levels of funding and supports enjoyed by their adult counterparts.

Meanwhile, I was struck by the challenge Harry and Jack face in striking a balance between being both the young head and older head on young shoulders at the same time. Whilst the appeal of Trendster to its target audience is likely to lie in its youthful exuberance and freedom of expression, Trendster the business will need to operate in the adult world when it comes to issues around press standards, accountability etc. These youthful entrepreneurs will need to grow up quickly, but not too quickly that they lose touch with their teenage peers.

Your Turn To Start A Trend

What can Harry and Jack do to get teens everywhere tuning in to Trendster?

Listen back to Harry on Kickstart Your Business (with thanks to Energia), and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm, and is available for playback immediately afterwards at Newstalk. com.

May 09, 2016

To The Waters And The Wild

After a slow start, the return to nature in what we eat is finally well-established as both a lifestyle choice and a viable market, with all of the major supermarket retailers now featuring a substantial 'free-from' section or aisle. Those of us who care a little or a lot about what we put into our bodies are now better catered for than ever, with the allergic or intolerant less likely to be dismissed as cranks.

However, the revolution in the food we eat hasn't been matched by similar changes in the perfumes and other toiletries we put onto our skin, many of which contain harmful chemicals and additives. Free-from in this case usually means avoiding their use entirely, which means missing out on the extraordinary range of delicious fragrances offered up by Mother Nature.

Come Away O Human Child

This week's featured guest on Kickstart Your Business, Joan Housden, offers Mother Nature a helping hand in bringing some of those natural fragrances into the mainstream. Although her own background is originally in music production, June's interest in natural health and nutrition prompted her to team up with her friend Joan Woods to develop Ireland's only certified organic range of fragrances, Waters + Wild. Made in an ancient stone barn in West Cork, Waters + Wild are a range of scents inspired by the pristine nature and beauty of their location using age-old traditions of perfume making with a 21st century twist.

If I Could Save West Cork In A Bottle

Both Bobby (standing in for George) and I were suitably impressed by the smells and sights of Waters + Wild's fragrances and packaging, agreeing that the fairly minimalist bottling and labelling supported by inspirational images of locations and ingredients worked well.

However, I suggested that June and Joan might go even further in helping potential customers online and elsewhere 'smell' the choice of products through sight when introducing the individual fragrances, which are currently presented without the related imagery. Rose & Oud for example could really be brought to pungent life with the assistance of some of the beautiful pictures that appear elsewhere on the Waters + Wild website.

The Sweet Smell Of Succes

What do you suggest June and Joan do to send the gorgeous fragrances of Waters + Wild wafting across the world to potential customers everywhere?

Listen back to June on Kickstart Your Business (with thanks to Energia), and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm, and is available for playback immediately afterwards at Newstalk. com.

May 03, 2016

Winning Hearts & Minders

Whilst recovery from a heart attack often begins in the hospital, it doesn't have to end there. However, across the world, recovery from and management of chronic conditions can be painfully slow as overburdened health professionals and the systems that support them struggle to deal with the numbers of patients coming through the hospital service.

Wouldn't it be great if the patient could self-manage their recovery through a bespoke programme that bridged the gap between enthusiastic amateur and the health professional?

Her Heart's In The Right Place

That's just what this week's Kickstart Your Business guest, physiotherapist Avril Copeland, thought as she worked with patients in Dublin's Beaumont Hospital. She turned thought into action by developing TickerFit, a cloud-based app that links with smartphone and other wearable technologies to provide health professionals with all of the information they need to support patients in their recovery.

Avril is targeting large health organisations such as the HSE in Ireland, NHS in the UK and private hospitals across the world.

TickerFit For Purpose

Shane (standing in for George) immediately warmed to this innovative application, and wondered how Avril might go about realising her ambitions to see TickerFit adopted by health organisations the world over.

I suggested that Avril needs to ensure that her best customer for TickerFit, the ideal patient who will get the most value from her innovation, doesn't get lost in worldwide web of technology investor who can quickly lose sight of the heart of the matter when it comes to building value in a business.

As it happens, Avril's dad is the legendary Dublin tailor, Louis Copeland, and Avril would do well to reflect his focus on the customer, that same focus that prompted her to set up the business in the first place.

Set Our Hearts Beating Faster

What can Avril do to win hearts and minders the world over?

Listen back to Avril on Kickstart Your Business (with thanks to Energia), and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm, and is available for playback immediately afterwards at Newstalk. com.

April 20, 2016

Nothing But The Same Old Story (And That's Why We Love It!)

This week's post comes courtesy of my colleague Anne Tannam, guest contributor and Brand Manager at Islandbridge.

Recently I was chatting with my colleague (and sometimes brother) about Guinness' 'Made of More' and Smirnoff's 'We're Open' ad campaigns, and his reactions to both.

These ad campaigns celebrate inclusivity and integrity, focussing on individuals who see beyond the restrictive norms of society to our common humanity. In one of their ads, Smirnoff uses the example of Chris Fonseca, an amazing dance teacher, who happens to be deaf, and John Hammond, a music scout, who heard no colour in music.

What's The Story?

With such similar content and messaging (seeing beyond our differences to the bonds of real community), he was surprised how different his response was to both. In the case of 'Made Of More', he felt a strong emotional response to the story. However his reaction to 'We're Open' was more a critical evaluation of the ad and how well it worked.

Simply put, he watched the Guinness ad heart first and the Smirnoff ad head first.

There are many possible factors at play here that may predispose his preferences, one being personal taste, another being tribal (we are Irish and the black stuff flows through our collective veins), but I got to thinking about how we connect with brands through story and though we like some variation to add a bit of spice to the relationship, ultimately, we are looking to hear the same story over and over again, to reassure us that the rules of engagement have not changed and that our shared values remain the same.

A Brand New Old Story

So I had a look online at older Guinness ad campaigns and discovered that Guinness has been telling this story for years and years. The characters and backdrops may change but the values stay the same.  It's a magical story of an individual who dares to think differently, live differently, love differently, and how community is built when we celebrate those ordinary, heroic traits in all of us. It's a universal story and if Guinness were a Pixar film, theirs would be A Bug's Life and Flik the hero.

I asked myself the same question about Smirnoff and what story they were telling and in the end concluded that the ad is less about telling a great story, and more about asserting an attitude, an attitude that is of great value and substance but struggles to reach the heart the way a great story does.

When a brand consistently stays true to its story, it frees up its audience to enter the story and respond, not just as consumers, but as fellow travellers on life's adventures. And of course, in that state of emotional openness, we are much more likely to be persuaded to buy whatever product is on offer. We're got to live in the real world after all!

Over To You

What has been your response to the Guinness and Smirnoff ad campaigns or what other brand stories have you responded to recently? We'd love to hear from you.

Anne works alongside Gerard and the team at Islandbridge Brand Development to help our clients develop a brand framework within which they can build new relationships and strengthen existing ones to gain competitive edge and grow their business. 

April 15, 2016

Flipping Food-Ordering On Its Head

The world of fast food moves fast, but not quickly enough for the many of us whose hunger pangs are frustrated by the often elaborate means of ordering it for delivery or collection. Very much a first-world problem, I know, but try telling that to the growing numbers of people who see ordering in as an essential part of the daily routine after a busy day's work.

And whilst fast food itself has moved on from the traditional chipper or Chinese takeaway, with many leading restaurants now offering a take-home menu, ordering in still involves either the phone call to the restaurant or the online system that obliges the hungry customer to jump through a series of hoops before placing their order.

So Frustrated, He Flipped

Our featured guest on Kickstart Your Business, Conor McCarthy, was one such hungry and frustrated diner. With a background in software development, Conor first considered developing an online food ordering system back in 2007, but didn't feel he could bring anything new to the dinner party back then. Seven years later, and appalled by the poor customer experience delivered by other food-ordering apps, he decided to develop Flipdish, a two-tap app for the hungry diner.

His revolutionary app, cuts out many of the unnecessary steps to dining heaven, resulting in food ordering that's almost two and a half times faster than competitors.

Winning The Hunger Games

Whilst George professed himself to be a sceptic when it comes to fast food (he's the man, remember, who turned down the McDonald's franchise opportunity because "the Irish will never take to burgers"), he did appreciate that for the growing numbers of people who want fast food fast, Conor's speedy app is likely to be just what the hungry diner ordered.

Meanwhile, I applauded those features which Conor has included, many of them intuitive but still absent from so many other apps, such as localising your choice of restaurant or dish, which make ordering such a pleasure. Technology often promises to deliver better customer service, but the customer experience is frequently the opposite. An app that genuinely makes things easier is something of a rarity.

Fast Forward To Success

How do you suggest Conor might win the hunger games for diners in Ireland, the UK and beyond?

Listen back to Conor on Kickstart Your Business (with thanks to Energia), and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm, and is available for playback immediately afterwards at Newstalk. com.

April 08, 2016

Have Book, Will Time Travel

My recollection of the subjects I learned at school is patchy at best, but those hazy memories are of a series of lessons in stand-alone subjects, which bore little or no relation to one another.

Even those teachers who taught more than a single subject seldom linked the events of one to the other, with the result that I left school with a number of separate parts rather than any real body of knowledge. Whilst I knew from the writings of an English poet that no man is an island, my impressions were of solitary experts - poets, geographers and mathematicians - rather than of any great continent of human development. Facts in history were largely presented as separate from facts in science and the arts, and any connection between them seemed purely accidental.

And yet recent commemoration of the events of 1916 have reminded me that the world of human action and thought is greatly intertwined, with the writers, thinkers, rebels and soldiers of that period all parts of a greater worldwide whole.

The Book That Binds

Our featured guest on Kickstart Your Business was Alison Hackett, a teacher with a background in maths and physics, who has always been fascinated with the role played by the sciences in the development of the world, and the links between the activities of one with another in the lives of men.

She developed The Visual Time Traveller project in order to present key milestones in world history over the past 500 years in a way that would appeal to viewers in a whole number of ways, what she describes as a mix of eye candy and brain food.

This extraordinary body of work offers five year windows on the world of the time via a series of images that include details of 12 events of the period. The Visual Time Traveller is a book, an exhibition, a series of talks and a whole lot more.

A World Of Wonder

Both Shane - standing in for George - and Gerard were awestruck at Alison's achievement, an extraordinary compendium of eye-catching pictures and ear-catching words that provides a fascinating insight into how the worlds within worlds collide in the most unexpected ways through the activities of people who appear on the surface to have little in common.

Gerard suggested that this is a big, big idea that needs focus in order to bring it to a successful commercial conclusion. In particular, Alison needs to determine quickly who are her best customers for The Visual Time Traveller, so that she can begin to realise the value she has created through her investment in research, design, creation and production of a truly unique product.

Balancing The Books

How do you suggest Alison might go about getting the whole world buying into The Visual Time Traveller?

Listen back to Alison on Kickstart Your Business (with thanks to Energia), and tell us what you think? We'd love to hear from you.

Kickstart Your Business is broadcast on The Right Hook on Newstalk every Thursday around 6.25pm, and is available for playback immediately afterwards at Newstalk. com.