Spotlight is a sister act

Dr Vanessa Creaven, who co-founded Spotlight Oral Care with her sister Lisa, talks about Going for Growth.

Going for Growth, a programme jointly run by Enterprise Ireland and KPMG, assists ambitious women entrepreneurs to achieve their growth ambitions.

So far more than 850 Irish women entrepreneurs have participated in the award-winning programme, including Áine Kerr of Kinzen. The 14th cycle of Going for Growth reported significant results for its 57 participants. Combined turnover increased from €35m at the start of the cycle to €43m by the end, a 23% increase in just six months.

“Beginning the cycle I expected I would gain a lot of expertise, but I had no idea as to the extent of that expertise, or the friendships I would make along the way”

Going for Growth is now inviting ambitious women entrepreneurs to take part in its 15th cycle with the deadline for applications set for Friday 18 November.

Spotlight Oral Care 

Dr. Vanessa Creaven is a global leader in oral care product creation, and the co-founder of both the Quay Dental Practice and Spotlight Oral Care Products with her sister, Dr Lisa Creaven.

Launched in 2016, Spotlight Oral Care was designed and formulated by Vanessa and Lisa with the aim of creating the best oral health products without harming the environment. At their dental practice in Galway City, they identified a gap in the market for safe and effective oral care products that contain clinically proven active ingredients to target their clients’ dental needs.

Spotlight Oral Care initially began developing teeth whitening strips and toothpaste and has grown to provide wide a variety of products, from toothpastes for specific ailments to toothbrushes, dental floss, mouthwashes, teeth whitening pens, and electrical oral care products – the Sonic Toothbrush, Water Flosser and the most recently launched new product, the Professional LED Teeth Whitening System. Vanessa says that “Spotlight is the only range of oral care products that can boast of being clinically proven, vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, ocean safe, 100% recyclable and formulated by dentists.”

The Spotlight product range is now in Boots, Tesco, Dunnes Stores and most pharmacies throughout Ireland. The brand is also well known in the United Kingdom, with the products sold through a dedicated UK website, through third-party websites such as Look Fantastic and Cloud 10 Beauty as well as retailing in Boots and Lloyd Pharmacies.

The Spotlight Oral Care product range has also gained great traction in the United States where it is sold in 1,200 Ulta Beauty stores and 7,000 CVS stores. Vanessa sees a massive opportunity in the US market and the sisters’ commitment to this market is such that Lisa has moved to California to drive this growth opportunity. “It’s our biggest focus for now”, says Vanessa.

Spotlight Oral Care completed its Series A funding round in 2020 with an investment from Dermot Desmond and IIU and the Spotlight team has also grown to support the company’s internationalisation ambition with 50 people now employed across Galway (where the company is headquartered), London and California.

Vanessa participated in Starting Strong in 2017 with Susan Spence as her Lead Entrepreneur and in the 11th cycle of Going for Growth with Lead Entrepreneur, Louise Phelan. Commenting on her experience, she says “Beginning the cycle I expected I would gain a lot of expertise, but I had no idea as to the extent of that expertise, or the friendships I would make along the way.”

Vanessa and Lisa won Start-up of the Year at the IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2017 and Vanessa was listed in the Sunday Independent 2019 30 Under 30. Both sisters have been awarded Tatler Businesswoman of the Year 2020 and IMAGE Entrepreneur of the Year in 2022.

As award-winning entrepreneurs, the sisters believe that the insights gained from their first-hand experience with patients are one of the major reasons Spotlight Oral Care has been a success from the get-go.

The call is open for applications from female entrepreneurs who would welcome peer support to take their businesses to the next level by taking part in the Going for Growth programme. This is the 15th year of Going for Growth and more than 850 female entrepreneurs have so far taken part in the programme. Sixty places will be available for the 15th cycle of Going for Growth, which will run from January to June 2021 and the deadline for applications is Friday 18 November 2022. There is no charge for those selected.

Anyone interested is encouraged to register on the website

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