‘We love to see our products going international, it’s an exciting space’
Inside Track: Michael Savage, founder of Lir Analytical
Lir Analytical founder Michael Savage: ‘Our focus is a global expansion.’
Longford-based Lir Analytical is on a mission to eradicate harmful bacteria contamination outbreaks affecting food chain production. Analytical chemist Michael Savage founded the company five years ago and has already tasted success in international markets.
What distinguishes your business from your competitors?
Our competitors are very big and we are very small so we find that we have to be very active in the market. We have a huge focus on research and development and we publish a lot of that work in scientific journals. Our customers put a huge amount of value on that so that makes us stand out a little bit from the crowd.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face?
It goes back to when we started about five years ago – actually getting from an idea on paper to getting the business going and our facility built and getting it started. The early days were tough to be honest with you, from fundraising to actually putting the team together to getting the first clients on board. There was a lot happening in those first 18 months.
What’s been your major success to date?
In 2017, we started exporting our products to Europe. When we look back, we take huge pride in that we are a small young company, based in Longford, manufacturing products in the biosecurity sector and we are competing on the international stage. We love to see our products going international, it’s an exciting space.
What more do you think the Government could do to help SMEs?
I think a real hands-on approach is needed, especially with young companies. To help them get off the ground, that’s essential. Companies pay back that investment in jobs over time.
To be honest with you, we’ve been very lucky. I’ve had huge support from the Local Enterprise Office here in Longford and also then Enterprise Ireland along my journey but I was always willing to ask them for help.
Do you think the banks are open for business?
To be honest I’m not sure, I’m not really sure start-ups or young companies look to banks for funding now, I think that model has changed a lot. They probably are for established businesses but I think, for slightly younger companies, they are skill kind of risk adverse at the moment.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?
Biting off more than we could chew in the early stages of the business. We spotted a huge opportunity in Russia within the dairy industry, which, in my opinion, we were well capable of taking advantage of. We had the products and the people but, at the end of the day, we were just far too small. We lacked the experience to penetrate into the market.
Had we got in, it would have been Christmas Day for us , it would have been fantastic but we just didn’t have the people or the experience and we didn’t even understand it culturally. It doesn’t quite keep me up at night but it’s definitely one of our biggest learning experiences.
Whom do you admire most in business and why?
Michael O’Leary, I just think he’s phenomenal, what he’s done over the years to make Ryanair what it is today. The man is on a different level. On a day to day level, you have to have huge respect for anyone who runs a business here in Ireland. I think it takes huge amount to keep a business going, especially on an SME front.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
Always focus on what the customer wants and not on what you want to sell them. We would have put in a lot of work early on in R&D and saying look at how amazing we are. And the client wasn’t overly concerned, they just wanted to know how it was going to help them.
What’s the short-term future of the business?
To continue to expand. We are part of Enterprise Ireland now as well so we find that very useful for expansion. Our focus is a global expansion, we want to follow the other Irish companies that have made the jump from the domestic market to international markets. The world has gone so small that it’s very achievable. It just takes a bit more planning and just a little bit of a measured approach.
What is your business worth and would you sell it?
Really hard to say. We are at such an early stage, it’s probably not worth a whole lot. So would I sell it? Absolutely not.