Entrepreneur says passion is key to success

Aspiring entrepreneurs are advised there are no overnight successes

Tracey McNally, from Carrickmore company Ecohog, winner of the Innovation in Export category, coffee entrepreneur and keynote speaker Martyn Dawes, and Jimmy Gargan from PureHeat Technologies, Cavan, winner of the Innovation in New Product Development award.

Tracey McNally, from Carrickmore company Ecohog, winner of the Innovation in Export category, coffee entrepreneur and keynote speaker Martyn Dawes, and Jimmy Gargan from PureHeat Technologies, Cavan, winner of the Innovation in New Product Development award.

Tue, Feb 4, 2014, 01:00

It is not exactly glamorous but Tracey McNally’s passion for waste – or more precisely finding solutions for waste problems – could make this Tyrone entrepreneur one to watch.

McNally’s outlet for her passion is her Carrickmore- based business EcoHog, which specialises in waste and recycling technology. And that, according to Martyn Dawes, who sold his British start-up for £23 million not so long ago, is the reason why she stands a better chance than most at succeeding in business.

Dawes enjoys a reputation as one of the UK’s most successful consumer entrepreneurs and he is convinced that passion is the one attribute that all successful entrepreneurs must possess. They can be ambitious, clever, have enough money behind them to get started but in Dawes’s opinion without raw passion for their business idea or business concept most entrepreneurs will run out of steam.

He should know what he is talking about having taken a completely untried business concept and turned it into an award-winning virtual money-printing operation.

Self-service coffee
Dawes came up with an idea back in 1996 to put self-service coffee in corner shops in London – not just any old takeaway coffee but really good coffee, the kind that people are happy to queue to buy in big chain coffee outlets.

His idea struck gold and by 2007 his company, Coffee Nation, had expanded to supermarkets, airports and service stations across the UK.

In April 2008 the business was sold for £23 million which, according to Dawes, saw his investors get four times their money back. A few years later the same business was resold for nearly £60 million.

Like every battle-scarred entrepreneur, Dawes in the early days had times when he wanted to give up but he says that his “passion” drove him on.

“There will be obstacles that everyone who has ever started a business or had a business idea encounters – something that will test you and test you, and there is no doubt about it that if you are not passionate – if you don’t have the passion – for your product or your idea, then you will fail, it’s as simple as that,” Dawes says.

It is a concept he had no trouble selling in Derry last week when he joined more than 150 aspiring entrepreneurs from across the North and the Border counties to take part in the IFactory awards.

IFactory is a 48-month EU-funded programme which aims to deliver tailored support to help people get their businesses up and running or move up to the next level.

The £1.65 million programme was managed by the Northern Ireland Business and Innovation Centre and led by the North West Regional College.

Six companies out of the 150 who participated in the programme won awards for both the potential they displayed and the progress their businesses had made over the last four years.

EcoHog was one of the winners – it won an innovation in export award for its success in expanding its export markets to Finland.

The other IFactory award-winners included Derry-based Uproar Comics and Troll, Larne’s JT Spas and Whoosh in Coleraine.

Innovation
Co Cavan’s PureHeat Technologies also picked up an award for innovation in new product development.

Martyn Dawes told the IFactory finalists that one of the most important aspects to grasp when you first set up a business is that there “are no overnight successes”.

“Being successful in my case was the result of 10 years of bloody hard work, and successful people never start out being motivated by profits.

“ When I set up Coffee Nation it was because I had a passion for my business idea – I wanted to make it work more than anything. I wouldn’t give up,” he said.

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