Move over New Zealand Manuka honey. A group of Donegal based businessmen and professional bee-keepers recently launched an Irish alternative under the Active Irish Honey brand.
The Life Science Department at IT Sligo are providing the science behind the business and their research findings have confirmed that Irish honey has the same activity results as world famous Manuka Honey.
In August 2013 Active Irish Honey won the “Best Product Award” at the Taste of Donegal Food Festival and the new product is being stocked in pharmacies.
We spoke with Active Irish Honey CEO Conor Daly about the new venture.
What were you doing (careerwise) when you decided to create your own business?
I am CEO and co-founder of Travellogic, a Sales & Digital Marketing company that was established in 2004. About two years ago I started bee keeping as a hobby and together with Carl Diver and Austin Duignan we launched Active Irish Honey in August 2013.
When did you start your business and what inspired you to do this?
In Ireland, most of the honey we consume is imported. Bee-keeping is one of the oldest traditions in Ireland but the market is being flooded with cheap imports. The survival of the sector is under threat and the idea behind Active Irish Honey is about the revival of our bee-keeping tradition. In 2013 we started market research to find out if Irish consumers of honey would choose a certified 100% Pure Irish Honey product over non-EU imported honey imports from Asia & South America) and does a market opportunity exist for an “Active” Irish Honey. The answer to both questions is YES.
What were your start-up costs? How did you get the money, and what did you use it for?
Together with my colleagues in Active Irish Honey, Carl Diver, CEO of CDAMC and Austin Duignan, CEO of Donegal Rapeseed Oil, we invested our own financial resources into the project to get it up and running. The funding was used for scientific research, product development, market research.
What was the biggest obstacle?
There are always obstacles in any business especially during recessionary periods. At Active Irish Honey we work really well together as a team and when we face challenges we’re fortunate to be able to draw on the professional expertise and advice of our wider business network and personal contacts.
Who supported you?
It feels like everyone we meet is supporting Active Irish Honey; from our growing following of loyal customers to the bee-keepers who provide us with their 100% pure Irish honey. The Irish celebrity chef’s who are promoting the flavour and local providence, and the great people at IT Sligo led by Dr. James Brennan and his research scientists. We’ve also received funding and development support from Donegal County Enterprise Board and Enterprise Ireland.
How long did it take you to get your business off the ground?
Just over four months from initial business idea/concept to having our first product available for sale. We conducted market research during the summer of 2013. We’ve been overwhelmed by the enormous positive response ever since. Active Irish Honey simply sells itself. Thank you to all our customers.
Do you have entrepreneurial role models?
YES, there are many but Marc Benioff who founded cloud computing company salesforce.com in San Francisco in 1999. He is credited with turning software on its head with his software-as-a-service business model. Sir Tim Smit who is famous for his “social entrepreneurial work on the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project in Cornwall.
How did you learn and acquire the skills you use to make your business successful? How do you continue to grow and learn?
Continual learning – you have to invest the time and surround yourself with great people who enable you to grow. I’m a big fan of local business network groups (Chamber of Commerce / SMACHT) and the management development courses delivered by www.coursera.org or www.udacity.com
If you had it to do over again, what, if anything, would you do differently?
Probably lots, but mistakes are part of life and learning – you have to have “SMACHT” and keep looking forward.
What is your best selling item/service?
100% Pure Irish Honey – Active Irish Honey
Are you a LookWester (previously living outside the Western Region) and if so why did you decide to move home or relocate to the West?
I’m from Sligo and went to the University of Limerick. After graduating, my career took me to Sweden, Denmark and Holland before returning to Dublin. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to moving back to the Northwest over 15 years ago and so enjoy living here in the region.
What advice would you give to anybody Looking West?
Make it Happen.
Image Credit Above: Active Irish Honey team picture @ IT Sligo Research Labs. Image courtesy of IT Sligo.
More at http://activeirishhoney.com/