MyPoncho.ie has got you covered
Two years ago this month, Valerie Sheehy from Ballyporeen was hit with inspiration for a business idea. As she watched a GAA match on TV, the rain poured down and the spectators became a sea of navy and black.
“I noticed when it rained at the matches, the spectators had to cover up their jerseys with their jackets, therefore losing their county identity.
“I began researching my market and approached the GAA with a prototype.”
Almost a year later, Valerie decided to apply for RTE’s Dragons’ Den. She entered the den looking for an investment of €20,000 for 20%, but ended up parting with €40,000 for 40% to Irish dragons Peter Casey and Barry O’Sullivan.
When entrepreneurs make the decision to face the dragons in the den, they have to have a good business sense and that is something Valerie was armed with.
“I would be quite business minded. When you’re selling your own product, there is a passion that you don’t have when selling for someone else.”
Since she started, South Tipperary Enterprise Board and LEADER have given her great support. She had a stand in the LEADER Village at The National Ploughing Championships in 2013, where she impressed President Higgins and Michael Martin with her product.
Whilst Dragons’ Den gave myponcho.ie great exposure, Valerie decided to part ways with the two dragons. An Irish businessman from an international brand approached her and offered support with suppliers and advice for nothing in return.
“He made me realise that I didn’t need to give away 40% of my business to get the advice and support that I required,” Valerie added.
Speaking about the ponchos, Valerie said that it has all been a huge learning curve. The fabric changed half way through production, but the quality and waterproof element are higher than the initial design.
“The ponchos are great for GAA matches. They have a pouch for your mobile and keys and a wrist loop so you can carry it easily if it’s dry.”
As this is a new business, Valerie has decided that in order to minimise risk, she would initially launch with 16 county colours. These include, Cork, Tipperary, Clare, Galway, Kerry, Kilkenny, Meath, Leitrim, Roscommon, Derry, Tyrone, Donegal, Louth, Westmeath, Longford and Wicklow. However, her short term goal is to stock all counties.
The 16 counties that she has chosen to launch with also cover a lot of local GAA clubs. She is also targeting the corporate and festival markets with a range of plain colours.
From the outset, Valerie had a clear vision of having an online business.
“Everything is online and mobile these days. There are a lot of shops closing and more and more people are purchasing online. My vision is to sell my product online. This makes the business strategy more manageable and cost effective. It’s just me and the customer.”
Thursday 23rd January 7:39pm