Two Waterford entrepreneurs are competing for the coveted title of EY Entrepreneur Of The Year today.
David and Sandra Whelan of Immersive VR Education, are among the 24 shortlisted finalists.
The virtual reality business opened its first office in Waterford just two years ago, and now employs 34 people.
Their company specialises in the production of fully interactive virtual reality, 360 degree video and augmented reality experiences.
A recent collaboration with the BBC resulted in the production of a 14 minute film screened at the Venice International film festival in September.
“1943: Berlin Blitz” put viewers into the shoes of BBC war correspondent Wynford Vaughan-Thomas, and retraced his journey on a genuine bombing raid at the height of the Second World War. The film takes the viewer into the belly of a Lancaster bomber high over Berlin, as anti-aircraft shells burst all around.
The company made raised €6 million when it floated on the Dublin and London stock exchanges in March. Now it has achieved a market value of over €30 million.
David and Sandra Whelan will compete in the Emerging category. They’re vying to become the first Waterford entrepreneurs to win the award:
“It’s such a strong event with a lot of strong competition,” said David. “It’s great just to even be nominated especially with the start we’ve had as a business, we’re only going three years. What I think is great about the competition is that it’s judged by past winners, one of those is Denis O’Brien. I’m not expecting that we’ll win but it’s great to be there.”
Speaking about the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™, Kevin McLoughlin, Partner Lead for EY Entrepreneur Of The Year said:
“Over the past 21 years EY has had the privilege of recognising the integral part entrepreneurs play in creating value and employment on the island of Ireland through the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year programme. Collectively, our almost 500 plus alumni employ over 241,000 people and have generated over €18.8 billion in revenue. On 25 October, 1,500 business leaders from across the island of Ireland will come together for our gala awards ceremony, to celebrate the achievements of our 24 finalists. We are particularly proud to have eight female finalists in this year’s cohort. We look forward to these trends of diversity continuing to grow over the coming years with new sectors emerging and a growing number of female-led businesses making an impact across the island.”
A winner will be selected from each of the three categories and from these three winners, an overall winner will be announced and crowned as EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2018. The overall winner will then go on to represent Ireland at the World Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards in Monaco in June 2019, competing against over 60 leading entrepreneurs from across the globe.
The competition is televised on RTE one tonight at 11.25pm.
LISTEN BACK: David Whelan gave an indepth interview to Julie Smyth on this week’s Hot Desk – listen back here: