In this column, Kehlan looks ahead to 2017 and earmarks some of the Irish businesses to look out for in the next 12 months.
Last year saw nearly 21,000 new companies registered in Ireland. While there were many great start-ups to talk about here are some that stood out for me as ones to watch.
Limerick-based Wellnice Pops is a healthfood company which creates ice pops made from natural ingredients. Trin O’Brien and BJ Broderick are the two women behind the fledgling company and their personalities match their fun, effervescent brand.
With flavours like orange, carrot, and ginger; and yellow pepper, lemon, and pineapple, their creations are wowing everybody who tries them. With big plans to ramp-up production up in the new year, it’s setting up to be a great 2017 for the company. Its products can be found in several SuperValu stores across Munster and several Good Food Market stores around Dublin.
Nova Broadband has appeared on this list before and the outlook for it in 2017 puts it right back in here again. With planned expansion of 2000% — yes, you read that right — it’ll be very interesting to see where it ends up by the latter end of 2017.
I’ve interviewed Dave McDonald twice and one of the things that stands out about the company’s team is how they are so ambitious. What makes their success even better is that they have managed to grow significantly at a time when the likes of much bigger operators like Eir are rolling out their national broadband plan. With plans to move the HQ to a bigger space in Carrigtwohill, the next year is looking like Nova’s great ambition is about to kick into overdrive.
Aidan Quilligan from sports club app Clubify recently won the best start-up award at the Clare heat of the Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition and is now looking to expand overseas. Clubify is designed to allow even the smallest sports clubs access to technology solutions.
The app allows users to follow their club from anywhere in the world and keep up to date with all the latest goings on, from U12s right up to the senior panel. It also allows people to buy and get notifications on the clubs lotto draws — meaning buying tickets to help raise money has become much easier, with no knocking on doors needed.
It also means that people as far away as New York or Sydney can now put their names in the hat for the local draw. With plans to bring this to both the Americas and Asia in the next few years, it will be interesting to see just how they break into such lucrative markets.
I met Gecko Governance at the Start-up Next Demo Day in Dublin last year. The company is providing a solution to regulation compliance for the hedge fund market. It helps the user create a trail of compliance so that should anything happen, a verifiable trail of regulatory compliance can be found quickly and easily.
It also shows hedge fund managers and advisers what regulations they are bound by if they adjust or move in a different direction. Chief executive Shane Brett is now bringing the company’s compliance technology to financial powerhouses like New York and London. Gecko won the best start-up at this year’s Intertrade Ireland Seedcorn competition as well. Significant investment may be in the pipeline this year too.
I spoke to Cyc-Lok at the Uprise Start-up Festival in Dublin this year, which the company was unlucky not to win. It provides secure lockers for cyclists to store their bikes. Established in 2014, the company’s locker compartments are available in Dublin’s Pearse and Heuston railway stations.
The technology also allows users to top-up via the app and book lockers. With the global explosion in cycling apparent in many countries, the opportunities seem very real and tangible for Cyc-Lok. Based in Carlow, the company may find itself in some of the busiest bicycle-friendly cities in the world like Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, Amsterdam, and Montreal. A great 2017 awaits if they get it right.
I met Parkpnp at a pitch competition in Dublin in the autumn. Garrett Flower pitched his idea of an Airbnb-type app for parking. So that unused car parking space lying vacant when you leave for work could be earning you money.
Parkpnp allows others to ‘rent out’ a parking space to people working or living in the area, ensuring that they always have a place to park and you get paid for the empty space. With this being a problem, particularly in urban areas, these guys are real problem solvers for a large market. Expect to see some exciting things from Parkpnp in the new year.
Another former interviewee for this column, Lottie Dolls recently received a €1m investment from the Davy EII Tax Relief Fund just days before Christmas. The significant investment means that it can now expand quicker into the global market with its dolls.
Designed to show young girls role models, like doctors or adventurers, Lottie Dolls has grown significantly since 2010 and has even had one of its dolls on the International Space Station for eight-and-a-half months. It also lets girls design their own dolls. Lucie Follett and Ian Harkin are the people behind the company and they have developed and are looking to introduce a bigger range of dolls for the coming year. As well as that they are looking to double their workforce — to 20 people — this year.
Leveris somehow managed to slip under the news radar in 2016. The fintech company has mostly kept to itself since it started in 2014. This year it is set to get an investment of €15m to scale the company with series A funding. Leveris has produced a platform that wants to bring all your banking and finances through to one place.
No logging-in or checking on several bank accounts; now you’ll be able to bring your whole financial world to your fingertips. That includes everything you spend money on — from house insurance to car payments or holidays. If it involves money it will involve Leveris.
The company is in talks with 25 banking companies around the world and employs 200 people between Dublin and Prague. Don’t expect that €15m in investment to be the only one of its kind for these guys in 2017.
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