Lessons to be learnt from Ireland’s teenage entrepreneurs

From outsourcing to China, negotiating deals with global firms and securing patents, the country’s youngest business leaders could teach everyone a thing or two about business and innovation

Mon, Apr 14, 2014, 18:26

Don’t be afraid of the competition
Beauty enthusiast Niamh O’Donnell loved the make-up brushes made by US cosmetics firm Mac. However, her love of make-up was proving to be an expensive habit with each Mac brush costing between €30 and €40. While there were cheaper brushes on the market, she didn’t feel they were the same quality as Mac. So she set about researching whether she could do her own high quality brush

es with the same materials as Mac for cheaper.

“All the make-up brushes like Mac were expensive and none of them are stylish. They are usually just plain black. I researched what components Mac use in their brushes, and then contacted manufacturers to see if they could make them for cheaper.

“I ultimately settled with a manufacturing company in China. While they weren’t the cheapest, I had contacted another company they supply to and received a good review. I retail my brushes at €15 each for the larger ones or €30 for an entire set of brushes. I have sold several thousand through my website, to people in Ireland, the UK and Tunisia.”

No goal is unattainable
Fifteen-year-old Jonathan White’s parents didn’t let him play video games despite his love for them. In fact, they only let him use the computer at weekends and on school holidays. They eventually conceded that if he wanted to play a video game, he’d have to make it himself. And so he did. The game – Recineration – has already had 26,000 downloads from the Google Play store.

“I love graphics and visual effects so put a lot of effort into designing them for the game. It took me a few months to make the game as I only had limited access to the computer. It’s a 3D first person shooter game, and the aim is to kill zombies.”

“I have introduced advertising and in-app purchases to make money. I didn’t want to intrude on people’s game play though, so there are no ads during the game. I have no distribution or manufacturing costs, so everything I make is 100 per cent profit.”

He says greater importance should be placed on the teaching of graphics and visual effects to kids. “They are all learning to code and coding initiatives such as CoderDojo are great. But the visual look of a game or app is important too.”