Largest ever turnout for GMIT Spirit of Entrepreneurship event

Tuesday, October 06, 2015 Press Office
Press Release

Christine McAndrew (Mariko Green Tea) is overall winner of PitchComp

Several hundred people gathered in GMIT Mayo in Castlebar on Tuesday last (29 September) for the annual Innovation Hub ‘Spirit of Entrepreneurship’ event. iHub client Christine McAndrew, founder of Mariko Green Tea, was the overall winner of the PitchComp, receiving €1,000 and €500 euro worth of mentoring from Westbic.

The two runners-up were iHub clients Liam Horan of Want2Be and Louise Gibbons of The Inspired Network. All three start-up companies are on the Enterprise Ireland-funded New Frontiers Programme delivered in GMIT’s two Innovation Hubs.

The theme of this year’s event was ‘A Simple Idea Can Make A Great Business’ and the first up to discuss ‘Starting and Building & Scaling a Business’ were successful entrepreneurs Colm Lyons and John McGuire. Colm Lyon is founder and CEO of Fire Financial Services Ltd and founder and former CEO of Realex Payments, and John McGuire is founder of Active Mind Technology and creator of Game Golf. He was formerly based in GMIT’s iHub at the Galway campus. Both men described the ways in which they started their business through seed funding and the opportunities and challenges they encountered on the way.

A panel discussion on ‘Innovation, Investment and Finance’, hosted by journalist Karen Coleman got underway later in the evening with participants including Pat Walsh, MD of PanelDuct, (winner of Irish Times / Intertrade Ireland most innovative company 2015), Mark Ganly, Contego Sports, Orlagh Nolan from West x North West (WxNW) new Western Angel Investment Syndicate and Sarah Nic Lochlainn, serial entrepreneur, participant on RTE's Dragons' Den and founder of Aruna Sauces. All four panelists spoke about their experiences of growing and building a business and implementing innovation.

The PitchComp part of the evening consisted of three of the GMIT New Frontiers clients going on stage and pitching to the audience for four minutes. Christine McAndrew from Mariko Green Tea was the overall winner receiving €1000 euro and €500 euro worth of mentoring from Westbic. The two runners up were Liam Horan from Want2Be and Louise Gibbons from The Inspired Network.

The event also featured a showcase of client companies from GMIT’s Innovation Hub such as the Medistori, Education Desty, Taxhug, Siscin, Ordu, Ordu, Allergy Lifestyle, Sli Nua Careers, Game Golf, Cloudstrong, Clearbookings, and many others on the evening. Education Desty were the overall winners receiving €500 from AIB and €500 worth of mentoring with the Junior Entrepreneur Programme (JEP) run by CMS Periphals also gaining a prize. There were prizes for the audience on the evening, kindly sponsored by the Castlebar and Westport Credit Unions, Irish TV and Café Rua.

Maria Staunton, Manager of the GMIT Innovation Hub, says ‘the event is in its 9th year and growing each time to be bigger and better. It was great to have a former GMIT iHub client back to speak about his success and the growth of his business in Silicon Valley. Café Rua and Bean West Coffee added a new local food element to the event which people enjoyed. The mix of entrepreneurs with gender, ages and sectors worked very well and hopefully there was something there for everyone. The purpose of the event is to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the western region and is free for everyone due to the kind sponsorship from local companies in particular Lionbridge.”

“Lionbridge were the main sponsors of the evening with lots of other sponsors on board such as Enterprise Ireland, Mayo LEO, Sheena Oosten Designs, Cashin Print, Clearbookings, Connaught Telegraph, AIB, Westbic, Café Rua, Irish TV and Castlebar and Westport Credit Unions.”