JOE speaks to AIB Start-up Academy finalist Martin O'Connell from Nasal Medical
The AIB Start-up Academy Final takes place on April 28th and we are profiling the 11 finalists on both JOE.ie and Her.ie in the lead up to that date.
11 companies have won a place on the AIB Start-up Academy which is already in progress. The winners are all on an intensive eight week course learning the ropes in the business world.
Today we catch up with Martin O'Connell from Nasal Medical.
JOE: How does it feel to be part of the AIB Start-up Academy?
Martin: It is a great privilege to have reached this stage of the process. Setting up Nasal Medical has been a rollercoaster of emotions so far.
Not only is getting into the Academy a big personal achievement but I feel grateful to receive this injection of welcome affirmation and approval for our company and for our products we have been developing these past three years.
Consequently, a deeper sense of self-belief and courage nudges me on to persevere further. Given we are launching our products in April, the timing is serendipitous as the experience afforded to us in terms of learning, collaboration, and networking is immeasurable.
Building on our hard work so far, I am hopeful the knowledge gleaned from the AIB Start-up Academy will galvanise our company into a durable and robust business.
JOE: What are you looking forward to most about the AIB Start-up Academy?
Martin: I’m looking forward to learning as much as possible about growing our business. Coming from an electrical engineering background and having to now acquire and develop the skills and expertise necessary to survive in the business world, I’m excited to meet like-minded entrepreneurs.
Taking this invaluable time to critically reflect on our business trajectory with experts and other Start-Ups will prove pivotal to our company. In addition to exploring new frameworks and strategies in business planning, I am particularly interested in sharing feedback and common concerns in a rich and respectful learning environment.
JOE: Is there anything you’re nervous about in joining the AIB Start-up Academy?
Martin: I was initially apprehensive about meeting the expectations of the Academy. The uncertainty of the tasks ahead and the degree to which I would integrate with the other finalists caused some concern too.
However, on arrival the first day, these unnecessary feelings of nerves vanished instantly and a sense of excitement, curiosity and adventure quickly took over.
On meeting the other entrepreneurs, I quickly realised we were all in the same situation - fueled by a common goal to maximize the potential of our companies. Hence, there was a visceral feeling of unity and solidarity amongst us.
JOE: What do you think makes your business stand out from the rest of the finalists?
Martin: Our business is the sole medical device company in the Academy which creates anatomically designed nasal products. We cover five target markets; Pollution, allergy, sleeping disorders (mild sleep apnea and snoring), congestion and sports enhancement.
We address a myriad of major global problems. Our devices are innovative and we have worked tirelessly to ensure the devices are priced competitively so they are affordable to all.
JOE: If you win the grand prize, what do you think you will do with the money?
Martin: Winning the overall prize would mean we could grow our business more effectively and efficiently on a national and global platform. Firstly, the cash investment would help the company with the ongoing regulatory and patent fees along with a salary for the appointment of a much needed secretary.
Secondly, the opportunity for promotion through advertising with the Irish Times alongside the various websites (JOE.ie, SportsJOE.ie, Her.ie and HerFamily.ie) would not only bring vital awareness to our products across the wide spectrum of potential consumers but also stimulate interest and educate sufferers about the benefits of our products.
Thirdly, the contributions from Maximum Media, Wilson Hartnell PR, Rothco and Starcom & Radical would furnish us with the tools to deal with media strategies, sponsorships and case studies.
As an AIB business customer, coaching from their AIB specialists would also provide us with the support and guidance needed to negotiate and mitigate against many obstacles, specifically regarding marketing and digital advertising.
Finally, an office space in The Irish Times building would not only remove me from my existing home environment but afford excellent networking space. There is no denying this grand prize is every entrepreneur’s dream which would elevate and sustain our products on a world stage.
JOE: Where do you see your business going after the AIB Start-up Academy?
Martin: With the skills and knowledge gained from the Academy, we see our company developing a firm base in Ireland with a number of employment opportunities.
We are currently have a deal with an Irish distributor who supplies up to 1,800 pharmacies in Ireland and they also have access to the UK market. It is our goal to expand our presence to international markets including Asia, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the USA.
As noted previously, our mission is to make our products accessible and affordable to the masses, due to the innovative and user friendly nature of the products.
AIB are Backing Brave. To read more about the AIB Start-up Academy in association with the Irish Times, visit here.