Some of Ireland’s most successful entrepreneurs give insights to 80 businesses from across region and beyond
Sunday, 12 January 2020: The south-east’s growing reputation for its start-up ecosystem has been reflected in a weekend conference drawing in some of the country’s leading entrepreneurs.
The Entrepreneurs’ Day seminar at a packed Questum Innovation Centre in Clonmel, attended by start-ups from across the south-east and beyond, heard insights from eight entrepreneurs from across Ireland who have built – and some sold – multi-million-euro businesses.
The event held at the enterprise centre jointly established by Tipperary County Council and Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) was organised by Tom Brennan, co-founder of Eirgen and ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ at the business acceleration centre.
The stellar line-up of speakers for the event, which was sponsored by LIT, Tipperary Local Enterprise Office and Tipperary Chamber Skillnet, were Clonmel native and 2013 EY Entrepreneur of The Year Patrick Joy, founder of Suretank in Dunleer, Co. Louth; Clodagh Cavanagh, Chief Executive Officer of Abbey Machinery in Nenagh, one of Ireland’s leading agri-machinery manufacturing brands; David McKernan, founder of Java Republic Roasting Company; David Walsh, co-founder of remote CCTV security camera monitoring company Netwatch; Colum O’Sullivan of food company ‘Cully & Sully’; Rachel Doyle, founder of the Arboretum in Carlow and Louise Grubb, CEO of Triviumvet.
Speaking at the event, Mr Brennan said that the line-up reflected how far the region has come as a start-up location. “This conference was a superb showcase for Clonmel, for Tipperary, for the South East; a brilliant line-up of some of the country’s top entrepreneurs, over 80 in attendance and a big waiting list. There’s a lot of excitement about what’s happening here in the start-up context and that they were willing to come here to tell their story reflects that.
“What we heard drove this home. Patrick Joy, who is one of Ireland’s most successful entrepreneurs, told us how he couldn’t get a location in Tipperary when he was starting out in the mid-1990s but most definitely could now. All of the advice that Rachel Doyle got was that she should not open the Arboretum in Leighlinbridge but today it’s a nationally acclaimed and award-winning destination.
“Louise Grubb, who is a proud Waterford woman, said she was determined to stay in the South East and she has set up Nurtiscience, Q1 Scientific and Triviumvet in Waterford. David Walsh not alone started and grew his hugely successful Netwatch business in Carlow but has been a huge promoter of the town. Back here, further up into Tipperary, Clodagh Cavanagh and her family have built one of the country’s best known and successful agri-machinery brands.
“They combined, with the other speakers, here in Clonmel to tell their remarkable stories at an event that will further the reputation of the South East for entrepreneurship. Collectively, what we heard is that the South East is ripe as a location for start-ups, the ecosystem is here, the supports are here and the ultimate message was that if you have the idea and the determination to succeed, you can do so in this region as quick as anywhere. That’s the route many of our speakers took and they gave huge encouragement to attendees for their journey.”
The Eirgen co-founder said that the entrepreneurs had given invaluable insights to attendees in a no-holds barred session. “Attendees were blown away by the quality, not least given it was a free event. They got to hear the trials, tribulations and successes of business people who have gone on the journey themselves. It was exactly the type of session I would have wanted when I was starting out on my own journey.”
Also speaking at the event, Anthony Fitzgerald, Business Development Officer at Tipperary County Council said: “We’ve listened to seven national leaders in business and they’ve just delivered the best session on entrepreneurship we’ve had. The insights were fantastic. We opened the doors of Questum in 2015 to strengthen the business ecosystem of the county and to see the facility full here now with businesses and an event like this today validates everything we have tried to do over the past five years.”
Said Gillian Barry, LIT’s Head of Innovation & Enterprise Gillian Barry. “Today has been a fantastic example of what an entrepreneurial led community can do. It would not have happened without Tom Brennan, our Entrepreneur in Residence here. To have our start-up businesses get the opportunity to hear from seven proven entrepreneurs and from Tom Brenann as well, one of the most successful entrepreneurs to come out of the regions, represents what is happening here at Questum and something we are very proud of.”