Local Enterprise Office announces Waterford’s Best Young Entrepreneurs

Local Enterprise Office announces Waterford’s Best Young Entrepreneurs

Daniel Connolly, Abby Wood and Conor Walsh named as Waterford’s best young entrepreneurs

As part of a nationwide search launched by Minister Heather Humphreys and Minister Pat Breen to find Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneurs (IBYE) for 2019, the winners and runners-up were announced at an awards ceremony in Dooley’s Hotel, hosted by Local Enterprise Office Waterford on Friday, April 26th.

Chosen from 18 local finalists the winners and runners-up share a €50,000 investment fund and will go on to represent Waterford at the Regional Finals in June.

MC for the evening’s proceedings was WLRfm’s Damien Tiernan.

Waterford’s Best Young Entrepreneurs
Pictured at the Local Enterprise Office Waterford’s Best Young Entrepreneurs awards ceremony in Dooley’s Hotel is Daniel Connolly founder of Defynd winner of the Best New Idea category. Also pictured are Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Waterford and Brian Fives of Enterprise Ireland. Picture: Patrick Browne

The ‘Best New Idea’ category, with a €7,000 investment fund, was won by WIT student Daniel Connolly, founder of Defynd.  Defynd is an online platform which will allow students to search words and terms and receive a list of academic definitions from published literature.  The runner-up award and €3,000 investment fund went to Bryan Hurley of Needy Insights.

Abby Wood was the winner of the ‘Best Start-Up Business’ category and a €15,000 investment fund.  Abby’s business, The Content Lab, works with digital agencies to create innovative content strategies.  Ivan Kiersey of Freezin’ Friesian was runner-up and received a €5,000 investment fund.

Waterford’s Best Young Entrepreneurs
Pictured at the Local Enterprise Office Waterford’s Best Young Entrepreneurs awards ceremony in Dooley’s Hotel is Abby Wood of The Content Lab, winner of the ‘Best Start-Up Business’. Also pictured are Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Waterford and Brian Fives of Enterprise Ireland. Picture: Patrick Browne

Meanwhile, the title of ‘Best Established Business’, with an investment fund of €15,000, went to Conor Walsh of Encon.  For over ten years in the retrofit market, Encon has been delivering retrofit homes, making them energy efficient and affordable to run. The runner-up in this category, scooping a €5,000 investment fund was Stephen Lynch of Momentum Events.

Conor was also awarded the title of Waterford’s ‘Best Young Entrepreneur’.

Waterford’s Best Young Entrepreneurs
Pictured at the Local Enterprise Office Waterford’s Best Young Entrepreneurs awards ceremony in Dooley’s Hotel is Conor Walsh of Encon won the title of Waterford’s Best Young Entrepreneur and Best Established Business. Also pictured are Jacqui Gaulle LEO and Brian Fives of Enterprise Ireland. Picture: Patrick Browne

Richie Walsh, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Waterford said, “Waterford boasts a wealth of young, innovative entrepreneurs.  The Waterford IBYE competition highlighted the drive these finalists have, and they are destined to make a huge positive impact in their respective industries.”

Waterford’s Best Young Entrepreneurs
Pictured at the Local Enterprise Office Waterford’s Best Young Entrepreneurs awards ceremony in Dooley’s Hotel are Gary Walsh and Rachael Wall. Picture: Patrick Browne

“IBYE is about discovering local potential and nurturing that talent through financial supports, mentoring, training and networking opportunities.  What stood out for LEO Waterford throughout the whole process, was the determination and unyielding belief that these young entrepreneurs have in themselves and their businesses.  It’s heartening to see, as these are the individuals who will contribute significantly to the local economy.”

In the lead up to the county final, each finalist received targeted business supports through Local Enterprise Office Waterford. They attended an intensive Business Boot Camp, receiving mentoring and support on their business plans, pitch training as well as getting the opportunity to connect with other young entrepreneurs from the city and country.

Waterford’s Best Young Entrepreneurs
Pictured at the Local Enterprise Office Waterford’s Best Young Entrepreneurs awards ceremony in Dooley’s Hotel are Stephen Lynch, Craig Dee and Ivan Kiersey. Picture: Patrick Browne

IBYE, now in its fifth year, is a nationwide youth enterprise initiative to help 18-to-35 year olds with an innovative business idea, new start-up or established business. In 2019, 1,644 young entrepreneurs entered IBYE, which is an initiative of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and supported by Enterprise Ireland and local authorities.

The county winners from Waterford will now progress to the regional finals.  In all, 24 national finalists will be selected at regional finals across the country to compete for the overall title of “Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur.”

At the IBYE national final on Sunday 15th September, which takes place at Google’s European Headquarters in Dublin, a €100,000 investment fund will be awarded to winners.

Further details on the competition and supports available to young entrepreneurs are available through www.localenterprise.ie and www.ibye.ie .

About IBYE:

Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur is an enterprise initiative run by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) around the country and funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland. A €2million investment fund is available through IBYE which supports young entrepreneurs through training, mentoring and direct financial investments.

IBYE was open to people between the ages of 18 and 35 (at the date of application) with an innovative business idea, new start-up or established business, including: individuals, venture teams, partnerships, existing businesses with a new idea, or people overseas(including Irish emigrants) who will headquarter in Ireland.

Each LEO has a total fund of up to €50,000 to invest in six businesses (three category winners and three runners-up) according to criteria including businesses’ investment needs.

The three categories are as follows:

  • Best Business Idea (pre-trading) – up to €10,000 investment fund through every   LEO (€7,000 for category winner and €3,000 for runner-up, through every LEO)
  • Best Start-Up Business (In business 18 months or less), with up to €20,000 investment fund through every LEO (€15,000 for category winner and €5,000 for runner-up, through every LEO)
  • Best Established Business (trading for more than 18 months) with up to €20,000 investment fund through every LEO (€15,000 for category winner and €5,000 for runner-up, through every LEO)

The county winners will now proceed to eight regional finals from which 24 contenders (three from each region – one in each category) will be selected to compete for the national title of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur.

A further €100,000 investment fund will be available to invest in the winners of the three categories at the national finals, one of which will also be named as “Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur.”

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