Killarney Start-up Night focuses on food

Event features talks from founders of Nobo Ice Cream, Skelligs Chocolates and Burren Smokehouse

There will be a focus on food businesses at the AIB Start-up Night in Killarney this evening.

Nobo Ice Cream co-founder Brian Nolan will speak at the event. He and his wife Rachel founded Nobo Ice Cream, a healthy alternative to ice cream made with coconut milk and avocado.

While the pair have backgrounds in finance and marketing, their interest in nutrition led them to spend two years developing recipes with a borrowed ice cream maker in their kitchen. They now have a product that is stocked on shelves in Ireland, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Shortly after the ice cream debuted, they won a Great Taste Award in London as one of the 50 best foods in the UK and Ireland.


Nolan says the award led to customers going into shops asking for the product, which piqued interest from retailers.

“It’s one thing going into a retailer and telling them you’ve got a brilliant product, but it’s a lot more powerful if it’s their customer going in and asking if they stock a product. It’s great if you can manage to capture that: a service that customers really want and are demanding,” he said.

Birgitta Curtin of Burren Smokehouse will talk about the importance of driving online sales through branding, design and a good website.

While the company has a thriving e-commerce business, Curtin thinks the online presence of Irish food companies in general could be improved.

“There are huge e-commerce opportunities, particularly in food. Everyone starting their own business should have that in mind,” she said.

The Burren Smokehouse has a tri-lingual website that caters to food tourists. Curtain says France is a “huge area of export for us from private mail order, which is very much generated through people who have come and visited us”.

Colm Healy of Skelligs Chocolates will talk about taking over the business in 2004 and rebuilding after a major fire in 2010 that "destroyed the building, not the business".

“It provided us with our own start-up because we had to go back to the drawing board and use what we learned and start again.”

Skelligs Chocolates was named one of the 50 secrets destinations of the Wild Atlantic Way by Failte Ireland.

Two food start-ups will also give five-minute “elevator pitches” to show aspiring entrepreneurs and early-stage start-ups how a pitch is done.

Ruth Orniston will pitch Cornude Artisan Popcorn, and Seamus Tighe, one of last year's Start-up Academy finalists, will pitch his company Everest Granola.

The event is part of a nationwide tour leading up to the AIB Start-up Academy, now in its second year. The next event will take place in Kilkenny on October 28th.

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