During Monday’s Bank of Ireland National Enterprise Town Awards’ judging event on Monday (30 September), the sheer power of Tallaght in terms of entrepreneurship and social enterprise was revealed. But the icing on the cake, so to speak, was the international ambition of Offbeat Donuts.

The brainchild of Brian and Sandra O’Casey, Offbeat Donuts has been in business since 2016 and already employs more than 100 people and has branched out to eight stores in Ireland as well as two overseas stores in Prague.

As Brian told the NETA judges it is about “bringing the bakery back into the local community” and explained how he started the business working closely with the Local Enterprise Office and local community employment group Partas, formerly known as Get Tallaght Working.

“The next stage for us is to look and see how we can franchise this out to other regions”

Both Brian and Sandra both enjoyed successful careers in the baking and retail management industry and Brian worked at Cuisine de France focusing on brand and product development.

Speaking with ThinkBusiness, Brian explained how after 25 years in the corporate world he was giving his daughter a pep talk ahead of her Leaving Cert and it gradually dawned on him that the speech he was giving his daughter about being brave and not letting her life be defined by an exam was actually a speech to himself.

“I was telling her that it wasn’t the end of the world whether she did well or not and that she could change her career path and that it is never too late to do anything. I was convincing her that she was a warrior.”

In essence he was giving himself a pep talk too. “It was the right time. There was a lot of change in the business I was in. I had just turned 50 and had been an employee of companies for 30 years. My job was to create brands and develop business concepts and I wanted to figure out how to do it for myself.”

It worked a treat

The idea for Offbeat Donuts was developed in the family home and the family team spent six months in a small external development kitchen baking and perfecting flavours and textures to deliver the most mouth-watering donuts. The mission for the business was to revive the traditional Irish bakery and simply “to make donuts magic.”

O’Casey had an epiphany that the perception of donuts needed to be shifted. “It was a handheld dessert, an easy to produce lightweight product and so we had to just figure out how to bake it.”

The mix of products include everything from donuts topped with lemon meringue, a Raspberry Rhapsody concoction, to donuts topped with Kinder Bueno.

“We basically picked what are people’s favourite desserts and treats as well as baking traditional donuts as well.”

The O’Caseys got the business off the ground using their own resources and now it employs over 100 people. “We believed that the people wanted this product and we knew that Ireland didn’t really have any bakery businesses of scale left.”

Offbeat Donuts produce their own product for their own eight stores in Ireland as well as the two overseas stores in Prague. “People like to see the product being made in front of them and we can create things that tweak their interest and create a bit of excitement.”

O’Casey’s ambition for the business is to create a branded business model that can be exported overseas.

“The next stage for us is to look and see how we can franchise this out to other regions. We will franchise ideally first here in Ireland and then we’ll look potentially to local markets like the UK and then further afield. We already have enquiries from the Middle East.

“It might sound like we are running very fast but in fact we are learning all the time.”

The biggest growth headache for O’Casey is actually managing a growing workforce of between 100 and 120 people.

“It’s quite a labour-intensive business and we are not doing it out of large-scale manufacturing plants. But it is very exciting and we get great satisfaction that our leap of faith has paid off.”

Pictured above is Brian O’Casey, co-founder of Offbeat Donuts. Image: John Kennedy

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Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 2 October, 2019

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