“This is a life changing prize for me,” said Martin O’Connell of Nasal Medical, the winner of the AIB Irish Times Start-Up Academy 2016. “ It is a pivotal time for our business and we have grown so much, now I know we are going to just explode.”
O’Connell’s company Nasal Medical designs products for healthy breathing. “Forty per cent of the population suffer from snoring or sleep apnea,” he said, explaining that one of his products was shown in a clinical trial to reduce snoring in 96 per cent of people. O’Connell first had the idea for the company on his family’s farm in County Kerry. He was trying to come up with a way to prevent cattle from contracting bovine tuberculosis (TB), and then switched his focus to nasal problems for humans.
O’Connell won the top prize which is worth over €200,000 and includes: a €20,000 cash investment from AIB, substantial advertising and marketing packages, PR training, office space and development support.
The first runner up of the Academy was Lucinda Kelly and her company Popertee which finds retail “pop-up” locations for businesses is next to the stage.
The second runner up was Peter Mulryan with his company Blackwater Distillery, located on the banks of the Blackwater River in County Waterford “Ireland’s first craft whiskey and gin distillery.”
The final was held in The Sugar Club in Dublin on Thursday night where each of the finalists made their final five-minute pitches to a judging panel to try and win the Academy.
The AIB Start-up Academy is a joint venture between The Irish Times and AIB to help your start-up venture by providing you with information and networking opportunities. The finalists have been on an eight-week accelerator programme with a range of experts focussing on topics like sales and negotiation, critical thinking for peak performance, design thinking, marketing and social media.
The eleven finalists in this year's Academy:
The Cool Bean Company
John Irwin, Head of Strategy and Enablement at AIB
Viv McKechnie, Business to Business Director at The Irish Times
Brian Keating, Group Brands Director at AIB
Aisling Blake Managing Director at Radical
Elaine O'Hora, founder of Munchies
Cathal O'Sullivan, Office of the Dublin Commissioner for Start-ups.
The criteria on which the judges based there scores included: the overall impression based on pitch your product and service - your USP - your ability to grow your business.
For more detail visit irishtimes.com/aibstartupacademy