West Cork Seaweed Key To Success: The Story (So Far!) Of 3 Young Cork Entrepreneurs
OceanaBoost was set up by Declan Moore (17), David Ryan (17) and Barry Holland (17). All three of these young entrepreneurs are students of Clonakilty Community College, in Clonakilty, County Cork (Ireland). They set up their company OceanaBoost Drinks in September 2010, with an aim to establish a functional fruit drink with health promoting extracts from seaweed. The 3 entrepreneurs told me about their business, their successes and their plan for the future.
When did it all begin?
OceanaBoost began back in September 2010, when we were all aged 15. We decided we would enter the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2011 and the idea initially came about during a brain-storming session in the back of our school labs! We are currently developing a new, innovative health drink with a health promoting extract derived from seaweed. We plan on making these health promoting nutrients available to you in a tasty fruit drink!
How did you get the idea? Was there a “eureka” moment?
We wanted an innovative project for the BT Young Scientist competition, so we put pen to paper and started brain-storming possible ideas that had not entered the competition before.
As we live in a coastal area, we were well aware of the problems local beaches were having with washed up seaweed and decided we would all go home and research the properties held in seaweed and what we found was seaweed contains huge amounts of antioxidants. With this in mind, we began thinking of a possible way to extract these antioxidants and apply them to an everyday use. And before we knew it, OceanaBoost was born!
Congratulations on your success so far. OceanaBoost has already been awarded many different prestigious awards – tell us more!
In the 2 years we have been working on OceanaBoost, we have been delighted and privileged to attain quite a few accolades and awards:
BT Young Scientist 2011, January: At our first exhibition, we managed to place 3rd in the Intermediate Biological and Ecological category. We won this award for our creation of a simple extraction process to extract antioxidants from Irish seaweed and investigate the various uses of the extract.
Agri Aware Green Dragon Innovation Challenge, March 2011: Taking our newly found business knowledge from our week in NovaUCD, we decided to enter a business competition called Green Dragon, run by Agri Aware, sponsored by AIB and Bord Bia. This competition challenges second level students to identify a gap in the market and produce a suitable product for that market.
We were awarded 1st place in the food category and Overall National Winner! This gave us a development fund of €8,000 and business mentoring from Agri Aware and Bord Bia.
BT Young Scientist 2012, January: OceanaBoost decided to enter BT Young Scientist once again! This time, we decided to take the science to the next level. We managed to characterize the antioxidants that were present in our extract and we did a number of shelf life and sensory testing. All the hard work paid off and we were awarded 2nd prize in the Senior Biological and Ecological category, meaning we were in the top 1% of all projects entered that year!
Clon’trepreneur, May 2012: In May this year, we decided to enter the inaugural Clon’trepreneur competition. The event, which was hosted by George Hook, was organised by Clonakilty Chamber of Commerce in association with West Cork’s top businesses to boost entrepreneurial spirit in the region. After an intense interview, OceanaBoost was selected as one of four finalists, to face the scrutiny of the warhorses in front of a live audience! The warhorses were local successful entrepreneurs including Collette Twomey, Clonakilty Black Pudding; Eugene Scally, SuperValu; Diarmuid O’ Sullivan, Irish Yogurts and Bill Liao, Xing.
We were overwhelmed by the positive comments from the judges and were literally speechless (a first for us!) when George Hook announced us as winners!
What is the (business) plan for the coming 12 months?
Our plan for the coming 12 months is: Further product development and testing, branding, manufacture of product and official product launch, all going well!
How do you juggle school life with running a business?
It’s tough… We are all sitting our Leaving Cert this coming June and the pressure is on! Winning Clon’trepreneur means that we are benefiting from mentoring from a range of sponsors who are providing us with expert advice as part of the competition prize.
Have you used Social Media? If so, in what capacity?
We are on Facebook and Twitter. During the BTYSE 2012 we used Facebook to conduct a live experiment and posted the results of the experiment on our page. Going forward, we intend to have a strong social media campaign.
What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs who think they have a business idea?
Make sure you have sufficient research done surrounding your proposed idea and go for it!
Contact OceanaBoost Drinks:
Facebook: Oceanaboost Drinks
And we can’t wait to see OceanaBoost Drinks on the supermarket shelves in the near future! Thank you so much for this interview, what an inspirational story of three young lads working hard juggling school and a business!