PowCow, a frozen yoghurt product, took inspiration from the Batman TV show, says Trish Dromey.
Moloney is seeking out export opportunities for a new brand of frozen Greek-style yoghurt products called PowCow.
“I named it PowCow because of its high protein punch — I got inspiration from a ‘pow’, in an old Batman episode on TV,” said Mr Moloney, explaining that PowCow is made from low-fat strained Greek-style yoghurt and has less calories and sugar and higher levels of protein than regular ice cream or frozen yoghurt.
Three years after he came up with the idea and the name, PowCow is selling across the country and the company is fundraising and gearing up for exports.
“We are selling in 200 Lidls in the Republic and the North as well as 80 SuperValu stores and 30 other stores,” said Mr Moloney, adding that he’s in advanced negotiations with supermarkets in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates and expects to ship orders there by the summer.
He’s also actively targeting the UK market and has also had discussions with a potential customer in the US.
“By the end of the year we aim to close a €750,000 fundraising round and already have a commitment from two investors,” said Mr Moloney, who plans to use the investment for sales and marketing and to hire additional staff.
Up until 2016, Mr Moloney was a dietician whose clients included rugby players, athletes, and dieters who
regularly asked him to suggest healthy desserts other than fruit.
Noticing a surge in demand in the US for strained Greek yoghurt, he bought an ice-cream maker and set out to use it to make a treat that was both healthy and tasty.
Experimenting with hundreds of recipes, he came up with three flavours: Passion fruit and mango, coconut, and chocolate.
His next step was to contact his local enterprise office (LEO) which put him in touch with a farmer in the midlands who had a small ice-cream facility which he used to make larger batches of frozen yoghurt.
In early 2016 he quit his day job and accepted a place on the Supervalu Food Academy which resulted in PowCow going in to 14 Supervalu stores in May.
“For six months I made products in the Midlands on Monday and Tuesdays, did deliveries on Wednesday and Thursday, and did in-store tastings in stores from Friday to Sunday and then I started again,” he said.
Although it was exhausting, he says it gave him excellent customer feedback as well as a crash course in running a business.
In early 2017 Mr Moloney took part in Bord Bia’s Food Works programme which helped him refine his recipes, redevelop his packaging, and did some research to determine that PowCow’s target customer is “a 27-year-old female who goes to the gym and is always looking for a permissible treat”.
Unable to find a contract manufacture for his product in Ireland, he sourced one in the UK.
“We relaunched in 50 SuperValu stores in May 2017 and through a distributor went in to 30 other stores,” he said.
Mr Moloney didn’t get funding from a Dragons’ Den appearance in 2017 but he did get accepted on to both the Lidl
Kick Start programme and Food X, the SOSV-backed food innovation accelerator programme in New York.
“Sales went so well in the two-week Kick Start promotion in Lidl that I got a contract to supply 200 Lidls in the
Republic and North which started this year. This was a major boost,” he said.
Until this year PowCow has been a one-man operation, but this year it has taken on a sales manager and two part-time staff. Mr Moloney estimates that sales are growing by between 50% and 75% every month.
To date, the company has secured €150,000 in investment, including €50,000 from Enterprise Ireland
Competitive Start Funding and €50,000 from SOSV, the venture capital and investment management firm
The company’s goals for this year include developing sales to mainland UK and the Middle East and growing the staff size to five.
“Long term, our aim is to develop sales in to Europe and the US and also to expand outside the frozen aisle and in to the chill food section,” said Mr Moloney.