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02 December 2014

AIB Start-up Academy Finalists Announced

Posted By: AIB Business


On Wednesday 19th November, 20 start-up businesses made their way to The Irish Times’ head office to pitch for one of the coveted places in the AIB Start-up Academy.

After a long day of judging, the six judges, including Ken Burke (Head of AIB Business Banking), came to a decision and 10 Start-up Academy participants were chosen. These are:



  • Blanco Nino
    Blanco Nino produces wholesome, authentic corn tortillas and tortilla chips in Ireland, partnering with Irish farmers to grow its non GMO maize.

  • Everest Granola
    Everest Granola cups were created to tempt people to consume oats. The cup contains yoghurts, seeds and nuts.

  • GymChef
    GymChef is clean, fresh pre-cooked food designed to quickly give on-the-go people the food they require.

  • Herdwatch
    Herdwatch is CRM for cows. It is a farming app and software package for dairy and beef cattle farmers to assist with calf registration and herd management.

  • KillBiller
    KillBiller calculates how much you would spend on every mobile call plan available in Ireland, allowing you to find the best deal for you. It’s quick, simple and clear.

  • Obeo
    Obeo is the quick, clean solution to food waste recycling. It is a compostable box for kitchen food waste that works with the brown bin. You simply place it on your kitchen counter, add your waste and then pop it in the brown bin.

  • Usher
    Usher is an app that curates local events in a 48-hour window. People can then browse the events and book them. Their tickets are sent directly to their phone and email.

  • provides a global delivery service from your door to anywhere in the world. Rather than a customer guessing how much a box will cost to ship abroad, allows them to order and pay for the box, which is then delivered to them. The box is subsequently collected and dispatched.
  • Writing for Tiny
    Writing for Tiny designs personalised children’s books and e-books. The books are designed to help parents or relatives to communicate with their little people about common everyday issues and about the more difficult aspects of life.

  • Wyldsson
    Wyldsson produces trail mixes, muesli, and nut butters. Wyldsson’s range comprises healthy snack and breakfast products that taste great.

AIB is “Backing Brave”, and few people in business are braver than those who start and grow a business from the ground up. Patrick Somers (Brand Manager, AIB), said: “The AIB Start-up Academy recognises the best Irish start-ups and provides them with the right support to help boost their business.”

Ken Burke added: “The AIB Start-up Academy competition, in association with The Irish Times, is a fantastic opportunity for Irish start-ups to develop and promote their businesses. The calibre of the applications, and those who pitched, was truly exceptional.”

“AIB is the number one bank for start-ups in Ireland. We understand that entrepreneurship is vital to the Irish economy, and the AIB Start-up Academy is part of our on-going work to foster and cultivate start-ups across the country.”

In total, 299 completed applications were submitted to the AIB Start-up Academy. Fifty-six of those businesses were then invited to submit their business plans before 20 were selected to pitch to the panel of judges. Joining Ken on the judging panel were Elaine O’Hora (Owner of Munchies), Pamela Newenham (Business Journalist at The Irish Times), Dr Johnny Ryan (Executive Director of The Innovation Academy at University College Dublin), Jill Downey (Deputy MD at Starcom), and David Shackleton (Non-Executive Director at Ding).

The AIB Start-up Academy programme has been designed to give guidance, inspiration and advice to the 10 deserved finalists. Clinics during the Academy programme will give one-on-one advice and develop useful outputs for each start-up.

The start-ups are competing for the finalist prize, which includes €50,000 print and online advertising spend with The Irish Times and, €90,000 advertising spend across and, business mentoring with an AIB SME Specialist, digital and social mentoring with Mark Brennan, Head of Digital & Innovation at AIB, and marketing coaching with Brian Keating, AIB Brand Director.

It is not the end of the road for the 10 pitchers who didn’t make it through to the Academy at the pitching stage, as there will be a wild card promotion from 1st-12th December. The 10 start-ups will be featured on and where the public will vote for their favourite start-up. and will follow the wild cards’ progress in the Academy through a video diary, and the wild card winner will be announced on both sites on 15th December.

AIB will be profiling the Academy finalists throughout December in the lead up to the Academy start date on 26thJanuary.


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