There’s no shortage of entrepreneurial spirit in Westmeath, if an awards ceremony, which took place earlier this week, was anything to go by.
Organised by the newly-formed Local Enterprise Office network, the winners of the Westmeath stage of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur were announced at an awards ceremony at the Mullingar Park Hotel on Tuesday morning of this week, 23 September.
A new competition, open to young people in the county, ran over the summer. Since earlier this year in July, entrants in each category attended workshops and received one to one mentoring to assist them to develop a business plan and prepare for their pitch to a panel of judges which took place a number of weeks ago.
Prior to the distribution of awards, Mullingar’s Gerry Duffy and CEO of Westmeath County Council, Pat Gallagher, spoke to attendees.
Gerry Duffy outlined his perspective on the ‘Four Keys to Business Success’. Delegates were informed that if a business is facing a significant challenge, the first step that must be addressed is the attitude that the owner and employees bring to the table. “Without a positive attitude, it is highly unlikely that things will change. Thoughts become things,” said Mr. Duffy. “A positive attitude will be the first determinant in bringing success back to the business.” he added.
Presenting the winners with their awards, CEO of Westmeath County Council, Pat Gallagher, CEO, spoke of his enthusiasm for the event, which he hopes will be an annual affair. “I would encourage young people in the country, who are considering starting a business, or who might have a business idea, to get involved, pitch your idea, take advantage of the mentoring and the supports, and maybe become Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur in 2015.”
For his ambitious online booking programme, Milltownpass-native, Dean Gammell, scooped the overall award for Westmeath’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2014 along with the award for Best Established Business.
His company, DG Ventures, which is based in Kinnegad, stemmed from his original business of organising stag and hen events, which he started four years ago. It was while working in construction as a project manager that he took the brave step of going alone, starting DG Ventures.
“If a person is organising a group event at a certain venue, they simply create the event on the venue’s website, add the members’ e-mail addresses, with all members going on to receive notification detailing the amount owed. It’s all online and fully-mobile.”
For his plans for the future, 27-year-old Dean has plenty, with his prize fund of €20,000 certain to assist in growing the business.
“With the prize-fund, we hope to start selling the software internationally, with plans already in place for the UK market,” said Dean, a former student of St. Joseph’s Rochfortbridge.
“The majority of our business is for hotels so we aim to branch into other areas. We’re hoping to secure a large hotel chain in the near future as well as a well-known travel agent.”
Dean, along with his fellow winners on Tuesday, now proceed to the regional and national finals with the aim of becoming Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur. “These are exciting times.” he concluded.
BEST ESTABLISHED BUSINESS
With a prize fund of €20,000, the award for Best Established Business went to Dean Gammel of DG Ventures, whose business concentrates on group bookings for the travel and leisure industry.
Best new idea
With a prize fund of €10,000, the award for Best New Idea went to Rebecca Butler from Streete, for her idea to start up a business catering for an alternative food product.