Five rising stars on the Irish e-commerce scene

The Irish e-commerce market is expected to be worth €3.8bn by 2024. Here are five rising stars you may have not heard of (yet).

As Ireland slowly emerges from the grips of the worst public health crises of the modern era, for many Irish businesses, the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on their ability to perform has been heavy and unfortunately, many have struggled to cope.

With a number of strong measures now in place to support Irish businesses through the ‘new normal’, the Government has played their part in ensuring funding and agency grants are in place to those businesses in need of a new approach to get back on their feet.

But it’s not all doom and gloom; those who’ve embraced digital and built strong business models around the online provision of the goods and services via robust eCommerce offerings are thriving, with some even seeing the best results of their fledgling business’ life cycle as they experience phenomenal growth during these unprecedented times you’re likely sick of hearing about.

Some by design, others by pure luck as a surge in demand has risen, these successes have come on the back of simple, effective eCommerce offerings, bringing mass products to market without the need for a brick-and-mortar premises, or any of the physical distancing measures that come with it.

For every unfortunate case of businesses failing during these uncertain times, there are cases of young Irish entrepreneurs thriving online. We spoke with five such inspiring examples to help shine a light on some of their successes and perhaps re-assure a new generation of Irish entrepreneurs that there’s light at the end of the tunnel should they aim high and put in the hard work to build a successful eCommerce business from the ground up.

Aisling Quinn – MoShoppa and VideoRankMe

A serial entrepreneur with success in her DNA, Aisling is co-founder of MoShoppa, a turnkey ecommerce platform that helps entrepreneurs launch and scale their online business with instant inventory access to top brands and billions of products. She is also director of sales and marketing at VideoRankMe, an AI video marketing platform that drives business performance through video.

After finishing her Law degree at UCD, her dad said she could work in the office of his new start-up for a few weeks over the summer – that was three years ago. After getting her teeth stuck into the early concept of MoShoppa, she couldn’t step away. Within a couple of months, she’d given up her secure, three-year training contract with a large commercial law firm and opted for the entrepreneur’s life of emotional ups and downs, months without wages and 16-hour workdays.

Aisling co-founded MoShoppa as a law graduate so she’d never worked in the ecommerce space before, and had no digital marketing experience before going on to develop a groundbreaking solution in VideoRankMe, so she’s had to learn and adapt quickly. 

Aisling’s the first to acknowledge that she’s been very lucky to have worked with a small team of such high caliber, and to have gained first-hand experience of how they face challenges and overcome obstacles.

Aisling tells us that, in the early days of MoShoppa, her dad would “drag her into every meeting whether it was a millionaire investor, a brand, an influencer or a potential client”, which proved instrumental to her growth.

René Collier – René Innovations

At the tender age of 17, René had already started his first business. He always wanted to be an entrepreneur and had the natural flare, so he decided to skip college to pursue business. Two years later, he sold his first business and website to allow time for his next venture.

René discovered his passion for household product innovation, a trait he feels he inherited this from his grandmother who was addicted to QVC. He enjoys travelling the world searching for and developing innovative new solutions to undertaking mundane household chores and bringing them to mass market in style.

René’s mission is to source, develop and introduce innovative cleaning products to meet demand in mature and emerging markets. His most successful product is the Spin Mop which he introduced to Ireland in 2011. Through constant tweaks and improvements, he has established a brand for quality products.

René Innovations is a multi-channel business generating sales through exhibitions, retailers and online. During the lockdown, they lost two major sales channels but have managed to make up for it by navigating the business online.

Having previously established himself as a global leader in the household cleaning products space with his Shop4Choice brand, his new brand, René Innovations is quickly growing as a household name with his product in over 100,000 Irish homes, sold directly online via his cutting-edge Shopify storefront with free delivery nationwide and also through a robust retail network through supply agreements with major outlets including DID Electrical, Euronics and Right Price Tiles

Pamela Laird – Moxi Loves

She’s the first point of call when you need your nails ahead of photoshoot to be, well… nailed. She’s also on the last-dialled list of models, editors and beauty experts thanks to her expertise in pretty much every aspect in the beautisphere.

Pamela has since switched focus and is the creator of the revolutionary beauty brand Moxi Loves; one of the hottest names in the industry and is bringing innovative, clever, clean beauty products to the masses. At the forefront of emerging trends, the brand is designed to make travel beauty simple, fun and affordable.

The brand was developed through Pamela’s experiences growing up. Her mother owned her own beauty salon and from a young age, Pamela was completely immersed in all things cosmetic. It wasn’t long before she herself became totally obsessed with the products and she decided her passion was clear.

She decided to make changes to current products on the market and focused on making good skincare and beauty hacks available to all, and Moxi Loves was born!

If you thought you may have recognised the face and name, you’re probably right – Pamela appeared front and centre on the 15th season of ‘The Apprentice’ on BBC one, coming third on the show before being fired by Lord Sugar – a valiant effort with widespread support from those in the Irish business community cheering her on.

Although 2020 has created a lot of uncertainty, Pamela still has a strong vison for her brand. She has been working on finding the right business partner since finishing the Apprentice last year, with big plans to scale the business and grow the product line. Expanding her team and launching into new markets is another ambition of Moxi Loves… watch this space!

Kevin Walsh – Kanturo Eyewear

After reading Richard Branson’s autobiography at 17, Kevin Walsh knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur for the rest of his life. During college, he got straight into business working on different ideas which included a personal training business, a discount card for students and a healthy video recipe blog.

Despite some good traction, all of Kevin’s early ventures had failed. This was disheartening but most entrepreneurs fail at the start.

In fact, it’s those failures that teach the valuable lessons that can lead to success and it takes a special kind of person to embody the spirit and drive to pick yourself up and try it all over again – Kevin has both in abundance.

Fifteen months ago, after several attempts at entrepreneurship, Kevin started a business called Kanturo Eyewear.

You see, those Ray Ban glasses you bought for €150 only cost around €5 – €9 to make. This is because one company owns the entire eyewear industry, every brand, every retail store and even most of the factories. That’s why they can charge you 20-30 times the cost of making the glasses.

Kanturo’s mission is to provide premium eyewear at an affordable price. To date, they have made over €2.1 million in revenue, shipped to over 70 countries and have grown to a team of 10 people.

This year, Kevin and his team plan on adding the prescription element to their website which will be added July 2020 after months of preparatory work. They’ve also started working with influencers to promote the Kanturo Eyewear brand and hope to take market share away from the big brands who are charging extortionate prices.

Rory Comerford – Capcon Limited

A successful, passionate entrepreneur in the less glamourous world of the B2B logistics and supply chain business, Rory worked with Capcon Limited part-time when it was initially founded and once he finished college, began working full-time in the maintenance side of the business before leaving Ireland to travel the world for several years.

Capcon originated primarily as a roll cage maintenance company. For those of you who are wondering what a roll cage is, think of the tall cages used in supermarkets that staff use to wheel the products around. This endeavour saves retailers an incredible amount of money each year compared to the use of wooden pallets.

Upon returning to Ireland, the opportunity arose to return to Capcon to head up the sales department.

During this time, there was a lot of hype around e-commerce and online shopping, so Rory decided to set up a sister website to Capcon to specifically sell their core products. The success of this new Irish site yielded such strong dividends, he began to think about how he could replicate this success for the UK market.

The UK marketplace is far more competitive but none the less there are a lot more opportunities. There was a lot of work involved in planning the birth of the site and from a logistics point of view, how they could store and ship their goods within the UK so they’re readily available for the UK market.

They eventually got the site live this year and so far, they’ve seen a steady stream of revenue through the site from new UK customers, with the e-commerce offering bringing Rory and his team closer to the customer and allowing them to remain relevant in a hyper-competitive market.

The future looks bright for Irish ecommerce

While the short-term economic landscape here in Ireland and further afield looks increasingly bleak in wake of the unforeseen health pandemic, it’s hugely encouraging to see an eclectic array of young entrepreneurs taking calculated risks to take control of their own destiny and forge a successful career in eCommerce.

Though they come from different backgrounds and have chosen entirely different realms in which to master, each of these inspiring business leaders share the common traits of grit, determination, a never-say-die attitude and an intrinsic belief that engaging and nurturing an audience online is the way forward.

They’ve adapted to their surroundings and adapted digital as the vehicle in which to propel their successes even further and we’ll watch on in confidence that these entrepreneurs – and many like them – will prove the catalyst for long-term economic prosperity, employment generation and eCommerce brilliance long beyond the current climate of uncertainty and trepidation.

By Luke Fitzgerald, RightFitz Consulting

RightFitz is a digital marketing consultancy who help Irish eCommerce, Finance, SaaS and B2B businesses refine digital operations and succeed online.

Published: 20 July, 2020