For those who have a business idea that has been ruminating for several years often the challenge is how to take find the time to research if it is viable, or take the leap and pursue the dream of starting a new business.
Anyone in business knows that managing the balance between professional and personal commitments is often one of the main barriers to progression and success. This can particularly be the case for women who are often balancing motherhood with careers and the demands of running a home. At the Rubicon centre the Exxcel programme for female entrepreneurs has been designed to help participants validate and launch a business idea whilst remaining in their current role, with the flexibility to work around the day to day work life demands. Designed as a flexible 6 month programme, it is delivered on one Saturday a month with one to one mentoring supports for each participant.
The current cohort of 13 participants, from 6 counties across Ireland, are highly skilled female professionals with new business ideas predominately in the STEM sectors. Amongst the group there are 4 participants expecting babies in the coming months as well a new born arrival during the programme. Their drive and determination is so evident, with the hard work and dedication to see their business succeed despite the day to day busyness and challenges of life. It is the only programme in Ireland dedicated to supporting STEM female entrepreneurs.
Among the fledgling entrepreneurs launching their business was Breffni Allen, of Habitus, who received an award for Best Business Opportunity. Originally from Cork Breffni and her business partner has developed a wearable device which has the ability to detect improper posture and with feedback from a physiotherapist prompts the wearer to correct it. It is the only clinician led posture wearable device on the market and will be launched through the wide physiotherapy practice network in Ireland initially with plans for launch in export markets in 2018.
Another is Karen Aherne whose company ‘Transformation prescription’ has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Social Entrepreneurs of the Year Awards. There company has designed and developed and online coaching programme to promote self-care and stress management for carers and health care professionals. Genevieve Hayman another participant has developed and app ” Quietr” which
records noise levels in restaurants and bars to help consumers identify quiet spaces to go to meet or seek refuge in a busy urban environments. Riona Flood has , ‘Smart Groom’, an online website for grooms which was launched one year ago, is already achieving 30,000 hits per month and was a finalist for Best Online Publication and Most Beautiful Website in Ireland’s WebAwards 2016.
Speaking at the showcase graduation, Programme Manager Alison Walsh said “It is fantastic to witness these ladies graduate from the Exxcel programme as they look forward to new challenges and accomplishments on their entrepreneurial journey. The programme has given each of them to the support and space to fully realise the strengths and weaknesses of their business models and more importantly, the confidence to progress and grow their ideas.’
Applications for the next Exxcel programme in October 2017 are now open. You can apply here.
The next EXXCEL Programme starts in October 2017.