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Dragons Den

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

We have Dragon - Niall O'Farrell and Elaine Sarah Comerford a successful entrepreneur from last years series on to talk about the new series of Dragons Den on RTE ONE at 10.15pm.

RTÉ's Dragons' Den returns to Irish Screens
Thursday 25th February 2010


"Thursday 25th February sees the popular and much-anticipated Irish version of Dragons' Den return to our screens on RTÉ One at 10.15pm.

The same panel of five Dragons return for this year's series - Sarah Newman, Gavin Duffy, Bobby Kerr, Sean Gallagher and Niall O'Farrell, which will again be presented by Richard Curran, Deputy Editor of The Sunday Business Post.

This new eight-part series sees Irish entrepreneurial companies/individuals pitch a dizzying array of ideas at the Dragons; from Caribbean spice to Seaweed Liquor. Watch them put forward their ideas and sweat under cross examination from the Dragons.

The dragons have already invested hundreds of thousands of Euros , not to mention their time and energies in last year's successful candidates and these investments are starting to pay-off. Some of these include:

ANIMATAZZ - The first international success from series one. The global rights were sold to international toy brokers, Drumond Park, in December and has been very well received at the London International Toy Fair last month (January 2010). Argos, Sainsbury, Tesco and Toys r Us will be stocking it in the UK for Christmas 2010. Animatazz is an animation kit that helps children to make models, photograph them and, on any computer, create an animation movie and then upload it to You Tube

SURF SEEDS - An idea pitched by Timothy Rooney which has been going from strength to strength over the last year and selling upwards of 10,000 units per week, Surf Seeds are a healthy snack food, a combination of sunflower seeds (some with chocolate coat) pumpkin seeds and blueberries sold in funky packaging. Bobby Kerr & Sean Gallagher jointly invested €100,000.

BUTTONS & Co - Elaine-Sarah Comerford received €45,000 from Niall O'Farrell to develop her business as a goldsmith. Her beautiful creations which all feature a button have just been re-launched as Buttons & Co and recently won three prestigious awards at the Showcase 2010 fair at the RDS.

TAKKER - Gavin Duffy invested €50,000 in Damien McGrane's idea which makes hanging pictures easy, the gun simply shoots a tack into the wall with no need for hammers! It was voted best new product when it launched at the Ideal Homes Show in London last April.

In such a challenging economic climate, the Dragons' patronage is more important than ever. Which one of them will invest the most to support entrepreneurial spirit and encourage enterprise and success in this series? Despite interest in several pitches last year, Sarah Newman was pipped at the post, will she invest in the dreams of this year's hopefuls?

Dragons' Den, sponsored by Bank of Ireland and produced by Screentime ShinAwil, airs on RTÉ One on Thursday 25th of February at 10.15pm." www.rte.ie/dragonsden

REF: Lindsay Holmes Publicity

Who Is The Guest?

Niall O'Farrell
"Niall O'Farrell is one of Ireland's most successful entrepreneurs. Owner of Ireland's premier suit hire chain, Blacktie, Niall is also property developer, luxury shirt retailer and food and beverage distributer.

Niall never considered himself the 'University type', in fact he couldn't wait to leave school and throw the books away. He intended to follow his father, Robert, into his estate agency in Ranelagh. However a downturn in the property market led him to seek other opportunities, and he found himself working in menswear.

Niall earned his stripes at Frewen & Aylward, one of the last old-school tailoring houses in Dublin. Starting in hosiery, he was only allowed to sell socks at the beginning, but he quickly impressed his boss and mentor Fonsie O'Byrne and was brought into shirting and then tailoring.

Niall was keen to earn more money and was quick to spot a niche in the market. He realized that suit-hire instead of being a branch of a tailoring house, could be a business all on its own. He had £2,000 saved from part-time jobs and availed of an enterprise scheme which gave him a grant of £30 a week for six months and a small government-guaranteed loan. He rented a room from his father over the estate agency for £20 a week and from there he started the business with 17 suits.

His first week's turnover was £32.50, for one suit rental of £15 and the sale of one shirt for £17.50. The following week Niall only made £15 for one suit rental and in the third week he made nothing at all. However things did improve with the help of an ingenious marketing ploy - presenting 'Blacktie' to the Irish public as if it was a UK brand arriving over - he was soon opening shops all over the country. He built the company to 17 shops nationwide and a multi-million-euro turnover.

Along with running his retail business, including Jermyn Street Shirts in Picadilly, Niall has been building his property portfolio since the age of 22. He has many landmark buildings in London and Ireland. His latest venture is a drinks and snack food business called Simply Direct.

Niall also enjoys sports, and has a love for skiing and sailing. His big love though is horse racing, he's had three runners in Cheltenham and was in the winners enclosure twice. Niall is in demand as a speaker at conferences about business and is outspoken in his support for the reintroduction of government-backed training schemes". REF: Lindsay Holmes

Elaine Sarah:
"I decided I wanted to make a career for myself when I was 16; I wanted to be self-employed, to control my own life. I contacted my enterprise board and started reading books on various aspects of starting a business. I believe that you can't teach someone to be an entrepreneur; it's something that's already inside a person, a hunger for self-success. My fiancé has high hopes for winning the lottery, I don't even play lotto, I'm determined to make my own fortune!

I attended a summer course in the NCAD and a jewellery short course to see which I would prefer, College or practical training. I chose the Jewellery production and Goldsmithing skills course run in Kilkenny by the Crafts Council of Ireland. There were many aspects to this course and it gave great insight to the world of jewellery. Here I learned my skills under award winning Goldsmith, Jane Huston, the dedication she put into each of us twelve trainees was admirable. She was determined to make us realise our true potential.

When I finished my training I began deciding what to do with it. I built my home with my fiancé not far from where I grew up. I couldn't be very far from my family I lean on them a lot and of course because I love the area it's tranquil and beautiful. We built a workshop and gallery, I began creating my own jewellery, making custom pieces for private clients and building up my business slowly.

Always looking for inspiration for designs, I was in my mothers house one day, just having a cup of tea and chatting with her as she took up a pair of jeans for me, when I spotted the button tin. As I opened it and saw some of the unusual buttons I had on my clothes when younger, I remembered when I used to watch her designing. Creating clothes, as I would play with the buttons and pick out the ones I wanted. I thought to myself, "what about a jewellery collection in buttons. A collectable, customisable range. Somewhat like a charm bracelet, but a more classic design, a design that would have significant meaning". I wondered if others would have their own memories to do with the button tin. After the initial concept then came all the technicalities of the design. I wanted people to be able to create their own unique memories, to customise their own jewellery, that's where the needle and thread design came from and the significance of a loved one threading on the bracelet would help create a lasting memory. I could see a mother collecting the buttons for all the moments in her daughter's life and giving them to her on her 21st or when she leaves home. Like all good designs it seemed to just fall into place.

It was a lot of hard work and there were many set backs getting it to where it needed to be until I finally felt confident I had a great product. That's when I saw the Dragons Den add..."
http://www.buttonandco.com/about-button-and-co.html

. Dragon Niall O'Farrell invested €45,000 in Elaine's business.

Elaine's award.
Monday the 25th January 2010, Irelands most talented designers and craftspeople gathered in the RDS to witness jeweller ElaineSarah Comerford of Button & Co. scoop the award for Best Product 2010 Overall, as well as Best Product in the jewellery category for her button style charm bracelet. The two tone sterling silver and 9ct gold bracelet depicting old fashioned buttons was lauded for it's quality, design, and innovation. A nostalgic design which encompasses a tradition that many people worldwide relate to. " I am so delighted - I feel really proud of what Button & Co. have achieved over the past 10 months. It's one thing to win in your own category but to be acknowledged as Best Product over all categories is a real honour!"


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