Cork’s ‘Best Young Entrepreneurs’ were named at an awards ceremony hosted by Cork’s three Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) on Tuesday April 30th in Republic of Work, Cork City. The winners were chosen from 45 finalists, shortlisted from almost 200 applicants in the competition which was launched this winter by the LEOs as part of the nationwide search to find ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ (IBYE).
The campaign saw the three LEOs (Cork City, South Cork, and Cork North and West) encourage young entrepreneurs from all over the city and county to enter and be in with a chance to win a share of the €150,000 investment fund available. This is the fifth year of the competition open to individuals aged 18 to 35. The final 45 young entrepreneurs attended the LEO’s intensive two day Business Boot Camp on 4th & 5th April last to focus on their business plans and how to get ready for delivering that “perfect pitch” ahead of the judging stage of the competition with the City and County assessment panels.
Finalists were judged in three categories following the presentation of their business plan to judging panels for each of the three Cork LEOs. The three categories were ‘Best New Idea’, ‘Best Start-Up Business’ (trading up to 18 months), and ‘Best Established Business’ (trading over 18 months). The LEO winner in each category receives significant investment in their business, with one overall winner in each Cork LEO receiving the accolade of ‘Best Young Entrepreneur’.
In the LEO Cork City competition, the Best New Idea category was won by Paul O’Shea of Peckish Ltd. who is based in Turners Cross. He received an investment of €7,000 in his company. Peckish is an SaaS platform for businesses in the food services sector (Restaurants, Cafes, Hotels, etc) to market information about their menus and current offers to specific consumer’s needs. The runner up in this category, picking up €3,000 was Jessica Kennedy of Octobox based in Bishopstown.
Stephen Wilson-Downey, the founder of A.I.P (Artificial Intelligence Platform) received an investment of €15,000 in the Best Start-Up Business category. AIP is a revolutionary platform that automates website maintenance for web developers worldwide. This means that companies can save thousands of euro on labour costs annually or free up solo web developers to spend time on building new websites and attracting new customers. The runner up in this category, picking up €5,000 was Margaret Urbanowicz, founder of Sómas and she is based in Blackpool.
The title of ‘Best Established Business’, and an investment of €15,000, went to Andrew O’Riordan of Ocean Escapes which offers customers a unique experience when visiting Cork by providing a link between the city and the lower harbour on passenger RIBs. The runner up in this category, picking up €5,000 was Paul McCabe of J1accom.com Irish Students Summer American Accommodation Ltd.
Stephen Wilson Downey also walked away with the title of ‘Best Young Entrepreneur’ for the Local Enterprise Office, Cork City.