The Small Business Show: young entrepreneurs

Kehlan Kirwan from The Small Business Show argues that in our search for an entrepreneurial Ireland we are leaving out of the equation our best asset — young entrepreneurs.

The Small Business Show: young entrepreneurs

As part of this week’s show I had the pleasure of being at the National Student Enterprise Awards in Croke Park. Young entrepreneurs from across the country gathered to show off their business skills and, more importantly, their ideas.

What was apparent from the outset was that given the chance, teenagers can provide us with innovative ideas and a very real money-making business.

They’ve learned early two of the most important lessons in business:

• That it’s ok to fail.

• Ideas can be brought from their minds to something tangible

We certainly need more of these initiatives in schools. It is in those schools that those kids found the fertile soil to create businesses.

Teachers who played a major role in these businesses must be commended too. Say what you want about the public sector, but there are those at the coal face who care about what they do.

Too often we have old stereotyped views of the role kids play in their own future. They’re too young; they don’t know the real world or they wouldn’t understand.

It seems quite clear that those notions are nonsense. What I saw this week was the entrepreneurial future of this country; a very public crystal ball of what we can achieve if we open up to great ideas, no matter what age group they come from.

It is up to us as adults to help plant the seed and keep the soil nourished — they are more than capable of blooming.

What was also apparent was that the driving forces behind a lot of the businesses were young women.

We talk a lot about female entrepreneurs and why we continually fail as a society to produce more of them.

I recently spoke to Marion Palmer from Women In Technology and Science and she explained that the process of female entrepreneurs begins at home.

Young women are not encouraged to take risks in careers. But it goes back to something I mentioned earlier; we as adults need to stop presuming we know best.

Young entrepreneurs are more than capable of creating and producing a sustainable business.

Yes, they may be rough around the edges and require mentoring. But who doesn’t in their business? Nobody has all the answers in business and should never be expected to have.

But like all good entrepreneurs, our youth are finding a way to create and thrive in business.

Our question to them should not be “what are you doing?” But rather, “what do you need for this to work?”

Young entrepreneurs are at the forefront of our economic future and that future is bright.

But that also requires them to see that their future is here, and not on the 10.15 flight to Sydney.

Small Business Show: Company profile The recent storms that hit the country have left visible effects in many communities. But it was the proving ground for a product developed by Mike Moran.

The Wheelie Bin Cap is a fire retardant cap that sits over the top of your wheelie bin to stop overflow from spilling or wind blowing it away.

Mike talks to Kehlan about developing the product from prototype to market.

What is Wheelie Bin Cap?

It’s a simple product made out of high tenacity polyester with PVC coating. It’s a standard size for all, so we’ve tested it on all sized bins that people would find at their homes and developed a ‘one size fits all’ cap that goes over the top of the bin.

So, in high winds it keeps the top from coming up and allowing litter and rubbish to go everywhere. A recent customer also used it to prevent foxes and wildlife from getting into the bin as well.

How did you go about creating the prototype?

From the outset I wanted to make sure that it was fire retardant and durable. So I contacted a local company, here in Co Westmeath, and worked with them to develop it.

It also needed to be easy to come off, as when bin collection comes around every week, no binman wants to be messing around trying to get it off.

So we’ve worked with some bin collection companies to make sure that it is something that does not slow them down when they collect thousands of bins a day.

How are you getting it out to the public?

We’ve just launched to the public in the past few months. We’ve started online, at, and that is initially where people can buy us. Hardware stores would be the next step, but we need to build momentum before we approach them.

We also want to work with customers to develop the product and alongside the needs of the customers. That means continuous improvement for both the residential customer and bin collection companies.

We have a huge market beside us with the UK. Is that another future step to make?

Yes, definitely, but you have to realise that Ireland has over a million homes. The UK has over 25 million homes. So you can see that what we need to do first is conquer our own backyard before moving to bigger markets like that. We need to make sure that we have built a reputation here first and then look at that market.

It’s a massive market and when you go into such markets you have to able to prove that customers have complete faith in the product and that comes with communication with the customer and strong sales.

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