Start-up in Style – The AIB Start-up Academy Graduates
From a bespoke children’s book publisher to a health food producer, the AIB Start-up Academy graduates boast a diverse range of businesses.
But while they’re winning over customers in different sectors, they are united in their drive to succeed.
Prompted to develop Killbiller after conducting an Excel audit of his phone plan, Shane Lynn is celebrating after the business recently made the move into the Canadian market.
A labour of love for Shane and his fellow Killbiller team-members, Bart Lehane and Ciarán Tobin, he credits the Academy with helping the company to learn from their peers.
He explains: “Once you go and start to work in an office on your own, you’re a bit isolated. It’s great to get to talk to people doing similar things and to see that everyone has the same problems and has experienced similar challenges.
“As we’re a consumer-facing company, it was invaluable in helping us to build up relationships in the media as well and to get exposure. Even now a year on, we’re finding that really helped.”
Children’s publisher, Gail Condon, is winning over customers after her time in the Academy. A paediatric and general nurse, Gail was prompted to start up Writing for Tiny to create personalised stories to explain important life milestones to young readers.
“My heart and soul is in creative communication. I think it’s about involving a child in the decision,” Gail reveals. “Children are so literal, they don’t want to be lied to and they know when that’s happening.”
Part of the Academy line-up earlier this year, she says feedback has been essential in helping the business develop.
“We definitely evolved a lot when we were in the Academy. The people you’re with are potential customers and they give you feedback that maybe a potential customer couldn’t,” she says.
The overall AIB Start-up Academy winner, Fabien Peyaud of Herdwatch, has been building up a customer base across the country over the past year.
A herd-management app for the agri industry, the business was over two years in development. And Fabien says that winning the final pitch night in the AIB Start-up Academy was hugely welcomed by the team.
He says: “This was my brainchild and you have that fear (of failing). You believe in yourself, but sometimes you worry. So to get into the final was a huge seal of approval.
“It wasn’t a flash in the pan. It was a decision made by people who had looked at the project and interviewed me a number of times. It’s given Herdwatch a huge sense of confidence and courage to go on.”
For worldBOX founder, Bernie Kinsella, the Academy was a similarly beneficial experience – helping her business spot an opportunity to improve their branding.
An experienced businesswoman, Bernie set up worldBOX to make the shipping process more consumer-friendly.
She explains: “The Academy really gave me time to step back from the business. It allowed us to sit back and reflect on it.
“It’s a product that’s about connecting people, making it easy for people to ship and to be thoughtful and to send a gift. I found it hard to see how we could show that, but in the projects and workshops, we had our Eureka moment.
“We saw that we had to transfer that emotive part of the service into our branding and onto our boxes as well.”
Similarly to worldBOX, Wyldsson was set up after founder, Dave McGeady, spotted a consumer trend – in this case, the growing demand for healthy snack food.
He explains: “I think that healthy snacking is something nobody has ever really cracked before so I wanted to give it a go. It’s a big problem for people and a massive opportunity. So I thought it was a really good starting point.
“The highlight of the Academy for me was meeting the other participants. I think the social aspect was really interesting because often when you’re an entrepreneur or a small business, you’re quite isolated.”
With applications for the 2016 Academy intake now open, the group are unanimous in urging other Start-ups to submit an application for the programme.
Writing for Tiny’s Gail Condon says: “I’d say go for it, even if you’re in early stages. It’s worth it.”
Please be aware that all of the views expressed in this Blog are purely the personal views of the authors and commentators (including those working for AIB as members of the AIB website team or in any other capacity) and are based on their personal experiences and knowledge at the time of writing.
Some of the links above bring you to external websites. Your use of an external website is subject to the terms of that site.
Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Copyright Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. 1995.