Back for Business: Eoghan McMahon, Beyond Scent

In a new weekly series, we talk to emigrants who have returned to Ireland and have started businesses. This week we talk to Eoghan McMahon from Beyond Scent.

Back for Business fosters entrepreneurial activity among emigrants recently returned or returning to live in Ireland through a peer learning approach. The initiative is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Thirty-eight entrepreneurs from across the country have just completed the second cycle of Back for Business. We will profile a number of them over the coming weeks. This week, we speak to Eoghan McMahon who returned from Dubai to set up his business — Beyond Scent —in Dublin.

How long were you away from Ireland and what did you do?

I was away for 18 years living and working in Oman, Dubai, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia. I spent eight years in hospitality and seven years in private equity, before launching Beyond Scent in 2012 in Dubai.

What attracted you back to Ireland? Was it for personal or professional reasons?

We decided to move home for both personal and professional reasons. As a young family, we felt it was time to move home and be surrounded by family and friends. We were mindful that if we delayed for a couple of years, we might reach a point of no return once schooling started. On a professional note, our move was complicated by the fact that my wife is Kenyan and so we had to decided where best to re-locate for the company. Nairobi is a wonderful city but we felt that Dublin offered greater potential for our concept.

What is your business all about?

Beyond Scent is a fragrance design consultancy specialising in brand experience. Exclusivity, sustainability, and emotion guide everything we do; helping businesses define, shape and communicate brand identity with exclusive custom-made fragrances.

Our development process starts with an initial consultation followed by a brand assessment, before our perfumers establish a bespoke scent exclusively for a brand. Each custom scent can be professionally diffused within any space and extended to a range of private-label products; candles, reed diffusers, in-room sprays, and luxury sachets.

Our partners include Monart Spa, Parknasilla Resort & Spa, and Fitzwilliam Hotel and our IFRA-certified fragrances are 100pc safe, eco-friendly, and allergen-free.

Was it hard starting up again in Ireland? What caused the most problems?

Relocating to any country can be challenging, however nowhere in the world had I experienced such difficulty in renting a house, getting affordable car insurance, and securing a school for our daughter. I was also taken aback at the cost of getting the business set up between consultancy fees, insurance, and taxation. Logistics and supplier-sourcing also presented hurdles within our first year.

What needs to change to make it easier for returning emigrants to start businesses in Ireland?

Removing the stress of housing, school places and car insurance would greatly ease the transition home. Offering practical supports such as the Back for Business initiative is very helpful. Entrepreneurship can be a solitary path, so any form of positive social interaction coupled with commercial development should be prioritised.

Anyone interested in receiving an application form for the next cycle of Back for Business – the call for which will be launched in November – should register their interest here.

Written by John Kennedy

Published: 16 July 2019

Pictured: Ann Derwin from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with Eoghan McMahon, Beyond Scent