Research essential for getting success in the bag
We are lucky, in a sense. Our products are innovative and we are profitable but we don’t take bank finance for granted. There are lessons to be learned.
There is another good saying: ‘Never let a recession go to waste.’
What one piece of advice would you give to the Government to help stimulate the economy?
To incentivise people to take risks. I was at an Enterprise Ireland meeting the other day and there were people from all types of backgrounds. To some degree the Government knows this but maybe it’s not recognised enough.
More emphasis needs to be put on small businesses to come out of recession and on knocking that 15 per cent unemployment level, to start getting that down.
It’s a risk. If it fails tomorrow there is no safety net and I just think that’s a little unfair to [someone like] me, for someone who went out and took a risk.
What’s been the biggest challenge you have had to face?
Probably it’s at the moment. The Irish market is a very small market and, for some of the products we do, the market size here is not sufficient to support the product.
So we have to look overseas in order to expand. Over the next year we are going to bring some [other] products to market and the risk of that transferring over to what is a profitable business – if it fails – that could have an impact. But if you don’t evolve and change you can’t stay.
You have to develop all the time.
How do you see the short-term future for your business?
Next year our plan is to get our retail product range into the UK market and to launch two concept products aimed at the consumer market here. We aim to launch this in 2013.
I think the technology involved is groundbreaking but I think the competition will be multinational established brands and that is the problem for small businesses where money isn’t available for the big TV and newspaper ads.
What’s your business worth and would you sell it?
What it’s worth, to be honest, I don’t know.
It depends on how you want to value it: today as it stands or in two years’ time with the expansion into new markets and that new product.
If I sold it I would want to be involved in some way. This is my baby: we have been through a lot of hard times. I want to see it through. It’s like when we were kids and we had puppies and always wanted to seek a good home for them. I would want to seek that someone who wasn’t just going to pull it all apart.
In conversation with Mark Hilliard