Started by three transition year students, ROC Protection can prevent contact injuries in hurling and camogie. Co-founder Carl Cullen talks about creating this innovative sportswear.

How did the idea for ROC Protection come about?

We had to start a mini-company in transition year and it was our teacher who encouraged us to enter the Student Enterprise Awards which we were lucky enough to win. ROC Protection is what we came up with and since then we’ve grown from strength to strength. The function of ROC is to reduce the impact of oncoming sliotars and hurls, and we’ve done this by placing padding on areas such as the collarbones, chest, abdominal area and rib cage as these are the most threatened areas to be hit.

How did you fund and start the business?

We initially got five sample jerseys in which only cost about €100 so we all pitched in. We then sent the jerseys to stores to use as samples. When those stores placed an order they paid a deposit and we ordered more jerseys in with that. We kept doing that until we got to the stage where we could have our own stock of jerseys.

“The function of ROC is to reduce the impact of oncoming sliotars and hurls.”

Do you have plans to roll out your product in other sports?

Yes. We’d love to branch out into more globally recognisable sports. This will of course help our company grow. It’s something we’ll look to work on in the future.

How have you marketed it?

Just a lot of Facebook and Instagram. You can’t get any better than targeted Facebook ads or Instagram influencers. We have also made a promo video which you can see on our website and our social media channels @ROCProtection. We also featured on the Late Late Show with Ryan Tubridy which was a great way to get our product out there.

Have any senior county hurlers used the product yet?

Yes we are proud to say that our jerseys have been worn at Croke Park by a number of county players, with Leitrim’s David Carton being the first. That is something we never imagined happening in such a short space of time, so we are really proud of this.

“We are proud to say that our jerseys have been worn at Croke Park by a number of county players.”

What (or whom) has helped you most along the way?

The Student Enterprise Project is the best and most helpful thing I’ve done in my 14 years in the education system. Without that, ROC Protection probably wouldn’t exist.

Going into business at such a young age, what was the most challenging thing to deal with?

Well a lot of adults didn’t take us seriously at all when, at 16 years of age we said we were trying to start a business. All it did was drive us on more to prove them wrong. Now at 18 years old, most people have heard of us so we’re now taken seriously, thankfully.

“The Student Enterprise Project is the best and most helpful thing I’ve done in my 14 years in the education system.”

Where do you hope to see ROC Protection in 20 years?

We’d love to be a global sports brands competing with the likes of Nike and Adidas. At the moment our aim is to get the likes of Elvery’s and Lifestyle Sports on board with us. At the moment it’s available to buy in some stores, but we hope to grow this out in the future.

Pictured are (l-r): Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy with Carl Cullen, Ross Byrne and Cormac Spain.

Images courtesy of ROC Protection. 

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