The shortlisted candidates in the 2017 Ireland Best Young Entrepreneur competition gathered for the much-anticipated county final on Friday night (November 24th) at Dooley’s Hotel. Founder of the waste collection service ‘Kollect’, Mr Robbie Skuse was announced as Waterford’s overall winner in Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition 2017.
17 of Waterford’s young entrepreneurs were shortlisted for the Waterford final and three winners and runners-up were announced on the evening in each of the categories ‘Best New Idea’, ‘Best Start-up’ and ‘Best Established Business’. Head of Enterprise at Waterford’s Local Enterprise Office Richie Walsh announced each winner and runner-up and the presentation of awards was made by the Mayor of Waterford Councillor Pat Nugent. Each category winner was awarded with a financial investment fund from Waterford’s Local Enterprise Office.
Robbie’s business Kollect was launched in 2015; its business model is an on-demand waste collection service for bin collections, junk and skip hire. Their company mission is to create simple, convenient and efficient ways to collect and recycle waste, innovating customer service and creating consumer delight. Customers book waste collections through Kollect’s booking engine and they then subcontract to their waste collection partners. The company employs 14 people locally.
In the ‘Best New Idea’ category, Marc Power was announced as the winner for his idea ‘Mohecan Male Grooming’ a business developing advanced skincare solutions for the male skincare market. Marc identified a growing trend and shift in the male grooming industry. Mohecan is the first company of its kind in Ireland with an accessible product line available exclusively for men.
Chloe Hehir was announced as the runner-up for her business idea, ‘Vitaease’ a fruit flavoured drink, which has beneficially added functional ingredients targeted for the elderly consumer. Chloe holds a Food Science degree and has worked in a nursing home where she has witnessed how the eating habits and attitude of the elderly person to food greatly changes.
In the ‘Best Start-up’ category, Anthony Cronin was announced as the winner for his business Flexiwage, an employee financial wellness application which offers a great new benefit to employees by empowering them to schedule their income payments to suit their circumstances while at the same time reducing employers costs and increasing cash flow. The company has in twelve months in existence broken down borders as they expand into the US, Australia, and the UK.
Bébhínn McGrath was announced as the runner-up in the ‘Best Start-up’ category. Bébhínn launched her ethical Womenswear label in May 2017. The brand BÉBHÍNN specialises in Irish Linen and Merino Wool with all the pieces made to order by Bébhínn McGrath. The aim is to create contemporary classics, made using traditional Irish fabrics merged with modern tailoring techniques for a unique expression of Irish Design.
In the ‘Best Established Business’ category, Robbie Skuse was announced as the winner for his business Kollect, later in the evening, Robbie was also announced as the overall county winner for 2017.
Conor Walsh was announced as the runner-up in the Best Established Business’ category. Conor founded ENCON a construction business in the energy-efficient construction sector for new and existing buildings. Conor has invented a product with a Patent filing in the United Kingdom’s Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO). This filing when granted will offer protection in the UK, with a provision to file for global Patent protection within twelve months of the IP being granted by the UK IPO. This product will concentrate on supplying prefabricated walling systems to the domestic housing market both here in Ireland and the UK. Encon has five full-time employees.
Commenting on the occasion Head of Enterprise at the Waterford Local Enterprise Office, Richie Walsh said, “Working through this process over the last number of months and meeting 100’s of very talented young entrepreneurs has been incredible. In Waterford, there is a huge appetite for growing business and creating employment amongst all of these enterprises and all of the team at the LEO in Waterford are proud to support all of the entrepreneurs in their endeavours. Each of the winners and all of the shortlisted candidates should be very proud of reaching this stage of the competition, the standard was world-class.”
The Best Young Entrepreneur competition is now in its fourth year and is run by Waterford Local Enterprise Office. The three winners from the county final, Robbie Skuse, Marc Power and Anthony Cronin will all now go forward to the regional final which will be held in Cork in January 2018, to battle it out for a place in the prestigious national final.