Above: Shane O'Brien from Skibbereen, Darragh McCarthy from North Cork, Emma Harley from Castletownbere, and Donagh Murphy from North Cork, participated in the LEO business bootcamp.
In June, the three Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in Cork launched a campaign to find the best young entrepreneurs in their region in three distinct categories, with a €150,000 investment fund up for grabs, as part of a nationwide search find ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’.
In mid-September, almost 40 young entrepreneurs, shortlisted from almost 150 applicants, came together to ‘get fit for business’ at a business bootcamp in association with the LEOs held in the Kingsley Hotel. The bootcamp, designed to help the participants to develop the skills required to take their entrepreneurial idea from concept stage to reality and to build a viable business plan to commercialise the opportunity, covered areas including business strategy, financial planning and sources of finance, targets and performance measurement, and investor proposals.
The competition, which encouraged young entrepreneurs from all over Cork to ‘just do it, like’ and enter, was open to individuals aged 30 and under, will be judged in three distinct categories following the bootcamp: best new idea; best start-up business; best established business with new add-on.
West Cork participant’s included Shane O’Brien from Skibbereen and Emma Harley from Castletownbere who have been shortlisted in the Best New Idea category.
James Nagle from Rosscarbery and Sadhbh Sullivan from Bere Island have been shortlisted in the Best Start-up Business category while Caroline Crowley from Bandon has been shortlisted in the Best Established Business with New Add-on category.
In early October, each of the young entrepreneurs who attended the bootcamp will vie for a portion of the investment fund available from their LEO when they present their business plan and pitch to a judging panel in their region. Each of the three LEOs (Cork City, South Cork, North and West Cork) has a total fund of €50,000 to invest in the three winning businesses according to criteria including businesses’ investment needs and business prospects; with one overall winner in each of the regions eligible for an investment of up to €20,000.
Following this stage of the competition, the winners in each of the three categories will go forward to represent their LEO in a regional final in November, and if successful there, will fly the Cork flag at the national final to find ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ at the end of the year. With the Cork region being heralded as the entrepreneur’s hub of Ireland, the overall winner could well be from Cork.
Michael Hanley, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office North and West Cork says, “The aim of this initiative is to encourage and support a culture of entrepreneurship among young people in Cork, to promote entrepreneurship as a career choice, and to encourage the establishment and development of new innovative businesses by Cork’s young entrepreneurs. This is hugely important for job-creation as two thirds of all new jobs are generated by businesses in the first five years of existence – more start-ups and a thriving entrepreneurial culture will lead to more jobs being created.”
He continued “Our business bootcamp offered the shortlisted applicants the opportunity to hone in on their business idea, and focus on what is necessary to make it successful. These brave young people have decided to take that next step in to making their business dream a reality. In Cork we would say they decided to ‘just do it, like!’”
Visit www.ibye.ie for more information on ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’. To follow the progress of Cork’s young entrepreneurs, check out @LEOSouthCork on Twitter and Local Enterprise Office South Cork on Facebook.