A 35 year old former Connacht Rugby star from Athlone was named Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) for 2018 at the National Final in Dublin.
Conor O’Loughlin and his company Glofox took home the top award at the event after also winning his national category, Best Established Business, and securing a total investment fund of €40,000.
Funding for the LEOs and the IBYE competition is provided by the Government of Ireland through the State Agency, Enterprise Ireland.
The programme, which is run by the network of Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) nationwide and supported by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland, attracted over 1,400 applicants in 2018 with an investment fund of €2million. Already through the programme this year, 185 entrants have secured investments of between €3,000 and €15,000.
Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen T.D., made the announcement in front of 360 guests at the IBYE National Final, held at Google’s European Headquarters in Dublin today.
O’Loughlin, representing Local Enterprise Office Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, played 97 times for Connacht, including a Challenge Cup Final against Harlequins and appearances for Ireland ‘A’ and U-21, before retiring at 28 due to a hip injury.
The former scrum half went on to set up Glofox, a gym management software system, in 2014. The business, which allows both gym members and gym owners to access usage, payment and service information, now has over 1,000 customers spread across 23 countries. O’Loughlin is in the process of setting up a base out of New York in 2018 with the United States the company’s main focus.
Conor O’Loughlin said;
“This is fantastic and such a huge shock considering the calibre of business and entrepreneurs here today. I can’t quite believe it looking around at the competition but I have to thank my Local Enterprise Office Dun Laoghaire Rathdown and Enterprise Ireland who have been a huge help to me right from the start and without whom I wouldn’t be standing here today.”
The other IBYE National Final category winners were Brendan Boland of Loci Orthopaedics representing Local Enterprise Office Galway who won Best Business Idea and Alan Hickey of WeBringg representing Local Enterprise Office Fingal who won Best Start-Up Business.
The runners-up in each of the categories were Joe Perrott of Remote Signals and Kevin Kelleher of Ostoform in the Best Business Idea category with both securing a €4,000 investment fund. In the Best Start-Up Business the runners up were Ciaran Gorman of BevCraft and Jessica Kavanagh of Olann who both secured a €5,000 investment fund.
In the Best Established Business the runners up were Paddy Finn of Electricity Exchange and Robbie Skuse of Kollect.ie. They will both receive an investment fund of €5,000.
The winner of the Google Award for Best Online Promotion of a Business Award went to Matthew McCann and Access Earth. He receives €1,000 worth of Google Ad Words Credit and 13 weeks in a Google mentoring programme.