Back for Business in his native Cork after 11 years in Australia, Andrew Scannell quickly identified the convenience economy as an area in which Ireland is trailing the rest of the world.
From his home in Monkstown, the former sales director set about developing an Irish version of an on-demand alcohol delivery service that he’d seen Down Under.
The result is Clinks, Andrew’s app and web-based service which went live in August this year, a key milestone which Andrew was understandably delighted to reach.
“The networking side of Back for Business was hugely beneficial. The ideas that came from those discussions were highly influential for me”
“I always wanted to be involved in a start-up dealing with a premium product. It had to be savvy and something the user enjoyed using. And I think we’ve achieved that with Clinks,” says Andrew.
“From concept to launch, the project has taken about 18 months. Nearly 40% of that was making sure that our policies and processes were legal and correct, while the other 60 % per cent was development of the software. We put a huge focus on user experience. We made sure it is the most user friendly it can possibly be.”
Delivering the convenience economy
The process begins with users downloading the app and registering an account. They then continue to browse the stock for their favoured type of beer, wine, spirits, soft drinks or snacks before being led to a selection of participating off licences in their vicinity. Once the items are paid for, the delivery is offered to a network of contracted drivers or riders and, at the final stage, the consumer is required to provide a valid ID before taking delivery.
Andrew, who has a background working as a sales director in the renewable energy, credit card and telecommunications sectors in Australia, has signed up a number of Cork off licences for the first phase of the project.
“I was working with American Express when I moved back, rolling out sales to small merchants so they would accept American Express. From that I got the knack for understanding what you need for a start-up,” he says.
“We’re only dealing with independent off licences. My wife’s family ran a chain of dry cleaners around Cork so we understand the importance of supporting small business over the big budget supermarket chains.
“We’re really excited to expand throughout Cork quite quickly and after that, the plan is to start rolling out to Premium Off Licences in Dublin, Galway and Limerick before Christmas. But it will be based in Cork for the first month.”
Andrew believes the Back for Business programme has been “invaluable” to the formation of Clinks, hailing the expertise of his fellow entrepreneurs as a key resource alongside the guidance of his Lead Entrepreneur.
“The networking side of things was hugely beneficial, and the ideas that came from those discussions were highly influential. The mentors provided great advice but personally, I learned a lot from the other entrepreneurs, like how they dealt with challenges that tracked very closely to where I was in my own entrepreneurial journey,” he adds.
Are you thinking of coming Back for Business?
This is the sixth year of the Back for Business programme and there are up to 50 places available to support those have returned to Ireland – or are thinking about it – and have or want to start a business here.
The Back for Business developmental programme, which is funded from the Government’s Emigrant Support Programme, was created to foster and support entrepreneurial activity among emigrants returning to live in Ireland. The call for this year’s applications was launched by Colm Brophy TD, Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora.
Back for Business 6 will run from the end of January to June 2023. There is no charge for those selected to participate and the closing date for applications is Friday January 6th 2023.
Back for Business is aimed at those who have lived abroad for at least a year and have returned in the last three years or those planning to return in the near future. It addresses challenges that all early-stage entrepreneurs encounter, but also focuses on the additional barriers faced by those who have been living outside Ireland for some years
Participants on last year’s programme increased their combined workforce by 76% and more than doubled (107% ) their turnover during the cycle – despite the restrictions placed on businesses as a result of the Covid pandemic.
Those selected to join Back for Business 6 will take part in round table sessions, focused on goals and milestones, which are facilitated by voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs who have experience of successfully starting and growing a business.
This year’s Lead Entrepreneurs are: Hannah Wrixon, founder of WrkWrk, formerly known as Get the Shifts; Morgan Browne, CEO of Milner Browne and Enterpryze; Paul Duggan of The Gardiner Group; Seamus Reilly, co-founder and formerly of Critical Healthcare; and Thomas Ennis, founder of the Thomas Ennis Group.
A Back for Business Community is also being formed for previous participants, who will be offered workshops, review round tables and an annual Community Forum.
Those interested in learning more about applying for Back for Business 6 can download a brochure and register their interest in receiving an application form by visiting www.backforbusiness.com