A career move from hammer to crunch
FUTURE PROOF PaddyO’s Granola:Paddy O’Connell came across granola in Hawaii, while studying auctioneering at DIT, and his heart was set on creating a healthy breakfast business
IF YOU’RE READING this article, chances are you’ve already seen one of the many outdoor advertisements on billboards around the country inviting you to sample PaddyO’s Granola.
The Irish-made product was the winner of advertising company Bravo Outdoor’s “Make Me Famous” competition, which set out to find the Irish small-to-medium-sized business that would deliver the best return from a free outdoor advertising campaign. The prize was a free €150,000 ad campaign which began last month.
While the prize was undoubtedly a welcome shot in the arm for a young company trying to build a brand, the development of PaddyO’s Granola from a nascent idea to a viable business, is a salutary one for anyone looking to start a business in tough economic times.
PaddyO’s Granola is the brainchild of Laois native Paddy O’Connell. After spending a summer in Maui, Hawaii, while studying in DIT Bolton Street, Paddy had the idea to bring his version of granola to Ireland.
“Granola is hugely popular in the US but not as well known in Ireland, particularly considering the fact that Ireland is one of the biggest consumers of breakfast cereal in the world.”
On returning to Ireland for his final year in college, O’Connell began producing granola at weekends in his mother’s kitchen in Cullahill in Co Laois.
He also did a three-month course at Ballymaloe Cookery School, run by his aunt, Darina Allen. He first sold the product at Stillorgan farmers’ market.
“The first week I brought 60 bags, with handwritten stickers, and sold them all.”
His foray into the food business also coincided with the economic downturn but that did not put him off. He had studied auctioneering at Bolton Street but, after working in the industry for a year, he decided to follow his passion and to produce granola full-time.
“I think one of the key things is that from an early stage I identified what my strengths were, and that was selling.
“I realised that it made more sense for me to sell the product, and to get people in to produce it.”
Having produced his granola in the kitchen above the family pub in Cullahill for around four to five months, O’Connell began to look at how to expand.
“The question was, how was I going to get big, how was the business going to grow? ”