This weekend 24 start-ups and SMEs will descend on Ballymaloe, Co. Cork for the 2023 edition of The Entrepreneur Experience.

The weekend-long event is a chance for budding, high-potential entrepreneurs to network with business leaders and experts to gather advice and insights on everything from raising money from investors to perfecting their go-to-market strategies.

Led by CorkBIC, the Entrepreneur Experience is supported by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Grant Thornton, William Fry LLP, Broadlake and The Currency.

Companies that have gone through the programme in the past have found great success with previous participants going on to raise more than €100 million.

Meet the participants in the Entrepreneur Experience 2023.

Nutrition without compromise

Ross McDowell and Niall Harty.

All Real Nutrition, a Kerry food business producing natural protein bars, is eyeing up international expansion after two years of solid growth.

The company is led by Ross McDowell and Niall Harty and both come from backgrounds in food and nutrition. McDowell founded Stript Snacks while Harty, a former enterprise executive at Enterprise Ireland, was behind the Origin protein bar brand.

The duo came together to launch All Real Nutrition in 2021, targeting athletes with its protein bars.

According to the company, its mission is to make natural nutrition products that “do not compromise on taste, nutrition or sustainability”. Its bars are made with grass-fed Irish milk and packed in home- compostable and plastic-free packaging.

It has sold 2.5 million bars so far and booked sales worth €262,000 in July of this year with €1 million in turnover last year.

The start-up is raising a seed round of €1.65 million and earlier this year secured €700,000 as part of that raise.

The money is earmarked for international expansion. It has a footprint in the UK but is planning to grow its presence in the US market where it has already garnered some traction.

While the company sells through physical retailers, it is also seeing promising growth in online sales with 18,500 orders to date.

Easing the cloud transition

Ascend Cloud Solutions was founded by Ian O’Connor in 2019.

Cloud computing company Ascend Cloud Solutions was founded by Ian O’Connor in 2019 after years leading technical and customer support teams at VMware and OVHcloud.

Bringing that expertise from major companies, O’Connor and his technical team at Ascend build and support VMware-based cloud deployments for end-customers.

Many companies are still making the transition to the cloud and need help in navigating the complexities of that move.

In its four years of existence, Ascend Cloud Solutions has built a roster of international clients and would now like to build a stronger customer base closer to home.

“While most of our business currently operates internationally, we recognise the importance of establishing a stronger presence in our home country. This event provides an excellent opportunity to connect with like-minded industry professionals and potential local partners,” O’Connor said.

Part of those efforts will be securing financing for future growth and the company will be keen to network with investors, he added.

O’Connor said that Ascend has established its technical expertise in cloud services but needs to deepen its expertise around the business side of things to grow the customer base.

“Currently, we have limited expertise and resources in these critical business areas, and addressing this gap is a key priority for us,” he said. “We recognise the importance of building a robust foundation in areas such as business strategy, marketing, finance, and operations to complement our technical prowess and drive holistic growth and success for our company.”

A digital approach to weight loss

Peter Lumley and Dr Harriet Treacy of Beyondbmi.

Founded in 2022, Beyondbmi is a health tech start-up developing digital solutions for weight loss.

The start-up was spun out of NovaUCD, the university’s start-up hub, and founded by Dr Harriet Treacy and Peter Lumley.

It has designed a “digitally-delivered obesity clinic” through its app that it says moves beyond the “archaic” ways of trying to lose weight by designing a 12-month programme for users to follow on their weight loss journey.

Already the start-up has raised €525,000 in funding with high-profile angel investors backing the company including Ergo chairman John Purdy and Paddy Dillion, head of corporate finance at Grant Thornton.

Dr Treacy said that Beyondbmi’s first major market to target is the UK where there are more opportunities than in Ireland.

“Ireland is great for medtech but not so much for digital health as we don’t have the same investment in innovation in the HSE as we see in the NHS,” she said. “Innovate UK, the NHS entrepreneurship programme etc are much more developed than in Ireland and the culture around digital health care innovation is much stronger in the UK.”

Dr Treacy had 10 years of experience as a medical doctor before founding Beyondbmi and isn’t short on ambition for what the start-up can accomplish.

“I believe Beyondbmi will become a €100 million business in five years’ time. I believe we will be the number one most trusted digital platform across the UK and Ireland for managing the disease of obesity.”

She expects to the company to grow from 14 staff currently to 150 over the next five years.

Pharma’s digital twin

Co-founders Peter Blennerhassett and Bartek Baran have signed up one large client in Dublin.

Blynksolve wants to build a “digital twin” for the pharmaceutical industry to streamline processes and avoid errors.

Digital twins are virtual replicants of different processes that allow companies to test and collaborate. The tech has proven useful in industries like energy that have large infrastructure that needs constant managing and upkeep.

Co-founders Peter Blennerhassett and Bartek Baran are applying that same model to the pharma sector and have signed up one large client in Dublin.

Blennerhassett is a chemical and bioprocess engineer and previously worked at Pfizer and MSD while Baran is a software engineer with time spent at Manna, Wia, Eiratech Robotics and Northflank.

The pair said that by taking part in the Entrepreneur Experience, they are hoping to gain insight and advice on navigating the tricky world of selling into the pharma industry.

“Our biggest single challenge is how to engage with pharma manufacturers who have traditionally been wary of change, especially with novel digital solutions. Pharma isn’t known to move quickly, Covid vaccine aside,” they said.

The founders’ experience, particularly with Blennerhassett having worked in the likes of Pfizer, give them a key understanding of the challenges at hand.

“We’ve lived the problems and intimately know the many priorities and subtleties of pharma manufacturing and this understanding gives us the passion to solve the problem, the expertise to create the right solution and the critically important trust of pharma manufacturers.”

Ireland with its bevvy of major pharma companies based here make it an ideal location to build the start-up, they said.

It has raised funding from Enterprise Ireland’s Pre-Seed Start Fund.

Making maths less of a grind

TJ Hegarty was previously a private maths tutor.

Breakthrough Maths is an online maths grinds school with classes led by young tutors overseeing 3,000 students a week.

The company was founded by TJ Hegarty in 2020, at the height of lockdowns that forced many students to go online for classes and study.

Hegarty himself was a private maths tutor and had seen some of the difficulties that students were having with traditional methods. He recalls one of his students, who has autism, being the inspiration for starting the business as a way of giving extra support to students.

Hegarty is now looking to kick off the next stage of Breakthrough Maths and plot out its expansion.

“I want to create a network of highly skilled mentors and fellow CEOs to bounce ideas off and develop relationships.”

Hegarty has eyes on the UK market and said that scaling there will be a challenge. Launching a B2C online business is challenging in any circumstance, and it will be making a “cold start” when it enters the UK but the company has some key ways to differentiate itself.

“The testing capabilities in our live classes,” Hegarty explained. “No other company brings that into play. We accurately assess students and make changes in real time.”

Hegarty has ambitions to grow his business to the same standing as the Khan Academy, the giant US online course provider for children. He envisions employing 100 people over the next five years.

Managing cyber risks

Chris Hanlon said that CalQRisk is growing at approximately 40 per cent year-on-year

CalQRisk was set up in 2007 and is led by chief executive Chris Hanlon and has developed software to help businesses stay on top to their cyber compliance.

With its Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) software, CalQRisk helps business to implement risk management frameworks and provides training to senior management teams and boards of directors around the whole area of cybersecurity, auditing and regulatory compliance.

Its software picked up the award for Risk Management Product of the Year at the Risk Management Awards in 2022 and won Best Regtech Solution at the National Fintech Awards in 2023.

Hanlon said that CalQRisk is growing at approximately 40 per cent year-on-year but has greater international scaling ambitions in mind.

“We’ve started to gain momentum internationally with some large financial services organisations having now implemented the solution across several jurisdictions. We now need to find a way to scale this and onboard at volume,” he said.

“Many of our competitors focus on solving one or two problems – for example, we have a competitor that almost solely focuses on streamlining the admin around board and committee meetings. The CalQRisk solution is modular and can address pretty much all of the pain points an organisation can expect to experience in terms of GRC.”

He said that CalQRisk’s software in malleable for different needs and sizes of organisation from small clients with just two users to larger ones with hundreds of users spread across multiple countries.

There is a big appetite for regulation tech, or regtech, companies now, Hanlon said, and the company is well placed to jump on that opportunity.

Addressing workplace burnout

Clodagh Ryan: “We personally understand the issues relating to poor wellbeing at work.”

Clodagh Ryan spent more than 15 years in the corporate world, her most recent role being global director for GTM and commercial strategy at Rakuten Advertising. Meanwhile she is a certified yoga teacher with a keen intertest in health and wellness in the workplace.

This has brought her to her new venture CRAOI, a platform to address workplace burnout. It was founded in 2021.

The CRAOI platform, led by a team of wellness experts, is aimed at businesses and their employees with programmes around movement, mindfulness, nutrition and happiness to tackle issues like stress and to encourage better work-life balances.

“We personally understand the issues relating to poor wellbeing at work,” Ryan said. “Our solution has been expertly designed to tackle these head on. Our solution has been designed to prioritise user-centric support and foster behavioural change to help employees and companies thrive.”

CRAOI is made up of a team of just two currently but is targeting growth in the next five years by adding 20 new jobs.

Top of the agenda for growth right now is optimising its new mobile app and gathering feedback for a wider launch.

“Being a team of two with ambitious goals, our central challenge lies in walking the talk by prioritising our own wellbeing and work-life balance, even as founders. While we’ve managed this successfully so far, we’re eager to expand our team to continue momentum and achieve our exciting objectives,” Ryan said.

Navigating the DEI challenge

EudaOrg’s Máire O’Herlihy and Nessa Maguire.

Diversity, equity and inclusion remains a high priority for many companies but implementing effective and meaningful programmes is still a challenge.

Nessa Maguire’s EudaOrg is trying to help companies overcome that. Maguire is an experienced professional in DEI therapy, consultancy, and learning development, working with global organisations to create inclusive spaces.

EudaOrg, founded in 2021, is essentially a customer relationship management platform but for DEI initiatives that helps companies design programmes and measure their results. EudaOrg is currently in beta with a general release planned for next year in the US and Europe.

In the Entrepreneur Experience Maguire is hoping to get some insight into go-to-market strategies as well as securing the all-important funding to finance its plans.

“Our goal is to make the lives of our users easier, their businesses more profitable and ultimately to make the workplace more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. We plan to do this by being the market leader in digital DEI solutions in established and emerging markets,” Maguire said.

She has big plans to hire up to 380 people for the company over the next five years.

This will include building a team of international subject experts, particularly in the field of psychology to bolster the evidence-based features on its platform.

Supporting offshore wind’s data needs

The company is led by chief executive Kieran Ivers.

Green Rebel, founded in 2021, is a data company building tech to support the green transition through the offshore wind sector.

It provides site investigation services to the offshore wind industry, carrying out surveys and assessments of sites both through vessels on the water and from the air through aircraft. This is all to collect valuable data about the sites for offshore wind farms. This is all served by a floating LiDAR platform that has been designed by the company specifically for offshore wind developers.

According to the company, its strong growth in the last two years is a testament to the greater opportunity for offshore wind energy in Ireland but there is still a great deal of potential yet to be realised for the sector here.

The company is led by chief executive Kieran Ivers who heads up a team of marine scientists, engineers, vessel crew and support staff for carrying out its site investigations. Its projects have helped inform developments by giants like Energia and Shell.

To scale the business, Green Rebel has some significant challenges to overcome.

“The single biggest challenge faced by this industry is uncertainty around planning and policy regimes,” Ivers said. “Secondly a limited talent pool and cost of labour versus other markets represents significant risk.”

The company expects to hit €15 million EBITDA within the next three to five years.

“We believe we have the technology and addressable market to be a global player in ORE (offshore renewable energy) for data services,” he said, and Ireland is still a prime location to do this from.

“However this market is yet to really take off. It’s been stop/start to date with numerous policy-related challenges to overcome. In terms of talent, being specifically located in Cork has helped us access really strong scientific talent from local universities.”

Laying the ground for wellbeing

Peigin Crowley counts Adare Manor, Cliff House Hotel, The Merrion and Mount Juliet as clients.

Peigin Crowley spent more than 25 years in the spa and wellness industry before founding Ground Wellbeing.

Having designed spas at high-profile locations like Adare Manor, The Merrion and Mount Juliet, she has intimate knowledge of the industry to design products for its needs.

Ground Wellbeing, founded in 2020, develops a range of wellness products that are handmade in small batches in Ireland using vegan ingredients and are marketed as wellness products rather than with the traditional beauty product focus.

Ground’s products are sold in spas and retailers like Brown Thomas but behind the scenes there are a wealth of challenges that are common for any consumer product business. This includes securing distributors and ramping up production to meet demand as well as securing cost-effective packaging.

It’s the type of grunt work that customers don’t see but is vital for keeping the wheels in motion.

Crowley, given her background and expertise in the industry, has also identified challenges for the business around compliance, cosmetic labelling and product registration.

As the business expands its distribution reach, it will meet more hurdles in the compliance side of things where Ground’s products will need to meet the varying and differing standards for products in other jurisdictions.

Crowley, who is based in Cork, said she hopes to create between 15 and 20 jobs at the company in the next five years.

Cashless tipping need not be complicated

Ciara Walsh and James Fahy.

The shift to cashless is showing no signs of slowing down and the dwindling use of physical cash has raised questions for business around how they should operate. This includes tipping.

This was on the mind of JustTip’s founders James Fahy and Ciara Walsh. Tipping can be a fraught experience in hospitality, made difficult by the move to digital payments, all the while issues regularly abound how food and beverage businesses handle their tips and whether employees get their fair share.

JustTip has made a card reader for businesses like café to receive tips of €1 quickly with a card payment. It sits separately to the business’s main point of sale device with the tips going directly to staff.

The fintech start-up has seen some good traction so far but now is taking part in the Entrepreneur Experience to plan its next moves for scaling.

Like many start-ups in its position, it has some tough decisions to make when it comes to scaling effectively. For example, investing resources into market expansion or investing in new features.

It is also hoping to lure investors into backing the start-up and in the current state of global tech investing that will be a particular challenge compared to even just a year ago.

Bringing pensions to the fintech game

Ailish Dooley is the co-founder of Marshmallow

Marshmallow is a digital pensions start-up headed up by Ailish Dooley, previously head of operations for Barclaycard. Joined by RTE rugby broadcaster Daire O’Brien, she is building a digital-first pensions product with Marshmallow.

It is no small task as Marshmallow will be entering a highly regulated sphere and is awaiting the go-ahead from the Central Bank of Ireland but Dooley’s tenure in large financial services firms will prove valuable in navigating those tricky grounds.

The other big hurdle for the start-up will be funding to make all of that possible.

“Funding is obvious because money fuels execution. Networking is essential because of our B2B2C distribution model. Many of those present at the Entrepreneur Experience may become our clients and partners,” Dooley said.

She anticipates Marshmallow will enter the market in 2024 and will be in it for the long haul.

“[Marshmallow] is selling delayed gratification to both investors and ultimately customers. Pensions is not a glam business, in fact it can be quite boring. The shareholder returns are huge but far enough in the future to dissuade those seeking a quick buck,” she said.

“Both investor and customer need to grasp the logic of taking a slightly longer view. Investors need to see the market incumbents as flawed and vulnerable.”

Marshmallow’s aim with its smartphone app for pensions is to make the experience as seamless and easy as possible. Other fintech companies have done this with payments and banking but pensions has some catching up to do.

“We can be the Revolut of pensions and the revenue model is significantly more profitable per user,” Dooley said, adding the company plans to ultimately expand EU-wide.

Helping sports clubs go digital

Jack Ryan is CEO of MyClub360.

Jack Ryan is a UEFA-qualified football coach and has coaching experience in Major League Soccer with the New York Red Bulls. He has turned that experience to MyClub360, a sports club management app with tools for education, communication, administration, and coaching.

MyClub360 has been designed to increase administrative efficiency for clubs, allowing them to focus on coaching, and to maximise new revenue avenues.

“We are free, we offer clubs an ability to generate sustainable revenue passively and upskill volunteers who play a critical role in clubs and organisations. Businesses thrive and so do the clubs. It’s not just a club management platform, it’s about a community uplift in its entirety,” Ryan said.

The next steps are for growth and courting investors.

“We have big dreams because we know there are few competitors who are doing what we are doing in this space. Our drive is purpose led, to help communities prosper together using our software which works in every market imaginable. We believe we can take clubs to new heights and change the game.”

The business works with people that have played high level sports in Ireland that understand the problems first hand.

MyClub360 hopes to reach more than 20 employees in the next five years, Ryan said.

Whiskey meets open innovation

New Era Spirits is behind the Element whiskey brand.

Fionn Cox’s career in food marketing and product development has brought him to many different markets, including with Jameson on brand development and marketing in West Africa.

His company New Era Spirits is behind the Element whiskey brand which he describes as the “world’s first open innovation whiskey company” where products are developed based on consumer feedback and input.

Entering the whiskey game is no easy task.

Irish whiskey is dominated by some major players with many newcomers clawing to gain a foothold.

Sales of Irish whiskey are tipped to almost double to $7.7 billion by 2027 and while a lot of this growth is seen in Europe and the US, Element is taking a different tact by targeting emerging markets in Africa and Asia.

To do that, Cox will need to raise funding. He said that he believes Element has a strong proposition and have proof of concept – more than €300,000 in revenue in its first six months.

“We are looking to raise capital to support us in key sales and marketing activity in our focus markets as well as expand the team. We have made good progress over the last few months and have taken on some capital but are aware we need to ramp up our efforts,” he said.

An AI co-pilot for business

Markham Nolan and Neal Mann

NOAN is an AI-powered business-building platform that uses artificial intelligence to create content and develop strategies for businesses. It describes itself as “an always-on co-pilot” for businesses.

The start-up, founded in 2022, is led by two former journalists who ventured into different corners of the media industry before starting NOAN.

Markham Nolan worked at Storyful and CBS News before joining WWE as its vice president of media operations while Neal Mann headed up multimedia innovation at the Wall Street Journal before joining Dow Jones/NewsCorp and then Anomaly.

AI is all the rage right now but NOAN believes it has a unique proposition as no AI tool exists specifically for the business-building process.

However that tool is still at the early stages of refining and finding its product-market fit, something Nolan and Mann are hoping gain advice on by taking part in the Entrepreneur Experience.

“We need to find early-stage users through specific channel partners and find investors who understand our mission and the problem we are trying to solve. We’ve built a functioning product that is being used and now we need to develop the next phase and build a team to scale,” Nolan said.

Both founders have recently moved back to Ireland from the US in the case of Nolan and Portugal for Neal which the founders say was “a conscious decision”.

“As slightly older founders supporting young families, living in the US made business-building extremely difficult financially,” Nolan said.

Bringing immersive VR to e-commerce

Ciara Sheahan is CEO and Co-Founder of Orb Media. Photo: Bryan Meade

Orb Media wants to help e-commerce businesses to be ready for Web3 and for immersive virtual technology.

By adding interactive and gamified elements to an immersive shopping experience, Orb Media believes sellers can improve their conversion rates, retain more engaged customers and gather greater data insights.

Orb designs virtual stores that can be used on all devices as well as on VR headsets.

It was founded in 2018 by Ian Walsh and Ciara Sheahan and has a team of game developers, 3D artists and data specialists.

The company said it now wants to raise more funding and says that convincing investors to take a bet on immersive technologies is still a challenge.

“We need help getting more introductions to brands. They could be local, national or international. Our customer portfolio needs to increase to make our proposition compelling and to open new doors,” the founders said.

“We have been building in immersive tech since 2018 and know what the tech stack needs to be in order to engage consumers and provide better value to the online retailer,” they added.

“We are creating the immersive version of Shopify, the platform is called Immersifi. The dream is to build an ecosystem as big as Shopify.”

Meanwhile the company plans to stay lean on hiring.

Athleisure’s “underserved” market

Sharon Keegan of Peachylean

Irish athleisure brand Peachylean raised €750,000 at the start of this year as it started to ramp up its business.

The start-up, which makes women’s leggings and other apparel, is led by Sharon Keegan and Ciara O’Keeffe.

The founders state that Peachylean is focused on serving women 30+, post-natal with high support, quality athleisure products. Starting with leggings, the start-up’s product range has expanded to bras and sweaters.

They said that by taking part in Entrepreneur Experience they’re hoping to build up a stronger network of connections and investors to support their ambitious growth plans.

According to the founders, it can differentiate itself through the market that it targets.

The 30+ female demographic has been “underserved by mainstream brands”.

It sells direct to consumer but has also sinched a deal with online retailer Zalando to stock its goods.

They added that Peachylean can grow into more than a clothing brand and can be a “platform for female health, wellness and partner brands”.

Peachylean is backed by Enterprise Ireland and has received funding from Meg Lustman, the former chief executive of luxury brand Hobbs.

Making recycling pay

Nathan Misischi is a co-founder of Sensi.

Sensi wants to make recycling and reuse easier with its reverse vending machines and visual recognition technology.

Built to serve the forthcoming deposit return scheme, Sensi’s smart RVMs take in plastic bottles and aluminium cans and produces receipts for the recycler to claim money back.

The deposit return scheme comes into the effect in February 2024 and encourages consumers to recycle single use containers. Consumers pay a deposit on the container when purchasing in a shop and are incentivised to return the container to be recycled in exchange for the deposit back.

As of August, more than 2,500 shops had signed up to the government scheme. But those stores need effective equipment and tools to handle the containers coming back to the store. Sensi is hoping to take advantage of this.

The start-up is led by CEO Seamus Devitt with founders Nathan Misischi, Dexmont Peña and Luke Duggan.

It is now honing its sales and marketing and go-to-market strategies and plans to raise financing.

“Launching our business in Ireland ahead of Ireland’s Deposit Return Scheme and being awarded our Guaranteed Irish status has certainly given us a competitive advantage to our global competitors. We are the only Guaranteed Irish approved RVM supplier, from seven approved RVM suppliers in Ireland,” Misischi said.

Plant-based food with carnivores in mind

Seriously Sound Food is led by Richard Sharp and Shane O’Connor.

Kerry food brand Seriously Sound Food wants to make plant-based meat alternatives more appealing to meat eaters.

The company’s meat-free plant-based chicken mimics the taste and texture of a real chicken thigh while being high in protein and fibre and low in fat. By focusing on taste and texture, it wants to make plant-based meats “the norm for everyone”.

Founded in 2022, Seriously Sound Food is led by Richard Sharp and Shane O’Connor, though neither come from a food background but have experience in sales and business development and marketing and media, respectively.

Its product is sold in supermarkets in Ireland but now it’s looking to raise funding to expand into the UK and Europe.

“We have a high quality, premium product and a fun, non-judgemental brand,” the founders said. “We want to become one of the top 10 most recognisable brands in Ireland.”

The founders expect to grow the team to between 10 and 15 over the next five years.

Slimming down the cocktail headache

Dylan Hennessy of Slim Cocktails.

Dylan Hennessy started Slim Cocktail Mixes in 2021 when he found two problems with cocktails. First for the drinker, they’re high in calories and second for the bars, cocktails are time consuming to make, especially during busy times.

The SME has made a range of low calorie and low sugar cocktail mixes that it says contains up to 80 per cent less calories and sugar than competitors.

Furthermore, it said that its mixes reduce the number of ingredients needed to make a cocktail, saving time in the process for bar staff and creating more consistency in the cocktails served to customers.

Hennessy said that Slim Cocktail Mixes needs to now scale while managing its cash flow, a tricky balance for any young company to get right.

Its key selling point is simplicity.

“Buying a competitor’s mix like Finest Call to make a whiskey sour you still need to combine with egg white and lime juice as well as the whiskey,” Hennessy said. “With Slim, we have the lime, sugar, foaming agent, instead of egg white, all incorporated into our mix meaning you simply add just whiskey and shake.”

Scaling further in Ireland and the UK is the current goal, he added.

“The potential in just these two markets is incredible and once we have cracked this code who knows where it goes.”

Loyalty is paying off

Matthew Coffey and Katie Farrell

Squid has been steadily gaining traction for its loyalty programmes since 2019. The start-up has developed a “one-touch” solution that digitises the traditional loyalty card programmes in retail and hospitality, doing away with stamps and bringing it all into an app.

According to the start-up, digitising the process is a more effective way to retain users as 60 per cent of consumers abandon the traditional programmes due to the hassle of managing multiple cards or accounts.

The start-up has focused the last three years on coffee shops but is now expanding to retail.

For businesses, it provides greater insights and data into how customers shop and who’s coming back.

Squid, led by Katie Farrell and Matthew Coffey, is planning to raise a new round of funding to internationalise.

Coffey said that Squid’s challenge is “to capitalise fully on our first mover advantage and communicating the significance of the offering and opportunity to stakeholders to enable the growth we want to achieve”.

“Our platform ecosystem is our competitive advantage and we are differentiated again by our unique platform and its unique customer base but also our engagement rate,” he said.

He added that he and his founder Farrell are hoping to expand their network at the Entrepreneur Experience to get the ball rolling on these ambitious plans.

Turning data into money

Unbanx is headed up by chief executive Alan McDonald.

Unbanx thinks that you should make money from your data. The fintech company, which is backed by Colm Lyon, has built a tool that lets consumers share their financial data with brands in return for money.

The opt-in model is intended to return more control over data to consumers with Unbanx earning a share of that revenue in the process.

It launched in February of this year and has amassed more than 9,000 consumers and has raised almost €1 million from investors.

Unbanx is headed up by chief executive Alan McDonald.

“We believe in a new and better future for consumer data,” McDonald said. “Traditional established data harvesters and sellers are operating under models not aligned with changing data and privacy laws. Unbanx is showcasing the appetite by consumers to earn from their data.”

In the Entrepreneur Experience, Unbanx will be focused on how to scale the operations that it has.

The start-up has had some early validation after it raised a €920,000 round of funding in April with Irish fintech veteran Colm Lyon, the founder of Realex Payments and Fire, backing the company.

Wound care needs an upgrade

Camille O’Malley and Lyn Markey of Xtremedy Medical.

Xtremedy Medical is a product of the BioInnovate programme in Galway, which seeks to build start-ups to target issues and problems in healthcare. The founders were drawn to the issue of wound infections, which is a problem affecting millions of patients yearly but still has no effective treatment.

Xtremedy has developed a surgical device to help surgeons treat infections below the surface of the tissue while protecting microstructures required for healing. This method is known as pulse field ablation or PFA.

Led by Lyn Markey, fundraising is a high priority for the start-up. Medtech is a notoriously capital-intensive endeavour, requiring significant investments in R&D and eventually clinical trials before the device can be commercialised.

Markey is hopeful that Xtremedy’s novel device will catch the eye of investors and the wider medical community.

“Our technology uses tissue sparring technology to treat bacteria without having to remove all the tissue. In this way surgeons can expand the treatment zone, improving outcomes for patients by potentially reducing reinfection rates and repeat surgeries,” she said.

“The surgical infection market is valued at over €5 billion and given the lack of effective therapies, this is ripe for disruption. Xtremedy plans to dominate this market by collecting robust clinical data in the coming years to demonstrate the efficacy of this technology over current offerings.”

Making outdoor gear green friendly

Jack Norman and Fionn McCarthy.

Cork outdoor clothing company Zirkulu was founded in 2021 with a focus on circular design by using bio-based, plant-based and renewable materials. Its line of clothes includes jackets and fleeces.

Zirkulu operates a zero-waste model with biodegradable materials that can be used for future products.

The start-up wants to provide a viable alternative to the plastic-based fabrics often used in outdoor apparel.

Led by Fionn McCarthy and Jack Norman, the start-up has raised some funding from Enterprise Ireland and is now looking to private investors for further financing.

McCarthy said that Ireland has positives and negatives when it comes to designing outdoors wear.

“As a result of Ireland’s Northern European weather patterns it is as good a place as any to test and market outdoor gear from,” he said. “However, due to some outdoor sports such as skiing and high alpine mountaineering not being accessible in Ireland there are certain limitations. The Irish market is also very small in comparison to others that would have more established outdoor clothing markets.”

The founders also said that they will be looking for ways to improve their sales and marketing strategies and will be hoping to make important connections at the Entrepreneur Experience.

The Currency is the media partner for the Entrepreneur Experience event. Other CorkBIC event partners are Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Grant Thornton, Broadlake and William Fry. The 2023 Entrepreneur Experience takes place on Friday and Saturday, October 20-21, 2023 in Ballymaloe, Co Cork.