Terry Fox, Cupprint

Addressing a gap in the market, Cupprint manufactures bespoke paper cups

Terry Fox is the managing director of Cupprint, a company which manufactures bespoke paper cups.

Having started as an engineer, Terry went on to become a press operator before graduating to production management, sales management and becoming the overall managing director in a previous business.

Cupprint was set up in 2009 to address a huge gap in the market. Traditionally, paper cup manufacturers could only offer 50,000 cups minimum and delivery times of 10-16 weeks.

Cupprint offers a minimum order quantity of 1,000 cups for marketing companies and 5,000 for retail/cafes in a turnaround time of 15 days anywhere in Europe.


The company has produced cups for brands such as Audi, Mercedes, Mars Foods and Kraft Foods. It currently produces eight million cups a month, and employs more than 55 people in Ireland and Germany.

Cupprint’s largest market is Britain, followed by Germany and then Ireland. It plans to enter the US market and offer a business-to-consumer solution for paper cups in the coming year.

What vision/lightbulb moment prompted you to start
up in business?
We were asked to look into producing paper cups in mass volume as an import substitution from the Far East. As it turned out, container loads from China is still the most economical way for large volumes. When we learned about the long lead times and high volume minimum orders, we realised there was a huge gap in the market.

Were there any interesting or unusual circumstances surrounding the inception of the company, or its evolution?

Our previous business in commercial print was badly affected by the bank crash. We were doing a lot of work for banks and developments but had to close due to a collapse in sales.

Cupprint was a company set up as an R&D project previous to this, but we believed in its potential. Cupprint began trading from scratch with seven people in 2009 with very little investment, in the hope of earning a living. It now employs more than 55 people in a local area in the west of Ireland.

To come from a situation where our previous business had failed and start a new business from scratch in the middle of a huge recession, and make a success out of it, is huge credit to our team. It was the belief in the product and the execution of delivering this product that overcame all the odds.
What tips would you give entrepreneurs starting out today?

Find your niche – isolate the unique selling points that set you apart from your competitors. SMEs usually can't beat big companies on price, but they can definitely beat them on customer service and flexibility.

Do not be afraid of the export market. Ireland has the best help in the form of Enterprise Ireland for selling into new markets. We also have a very competitive logistics network for shipping to Europe. Visit and/or exhibit in trade shows in Europe and find partners interested in your products.

How do you generate new ideas to stay ahead of the curve?

Being from an engineering background has given me a great understanding around what machines can and cannot do. I spend a lot time thinking about what is possible with cups and try new methods all the time to offer something different.

If you can offer a point of difference, you can sometimes take price out of the equation. We have offered methods never seen before on cups such as bespoke embossing; foil stamping and lottery/voucher cups.