Mayo's Velvet Cloud Hoping For Glory At National Enterprise Awards
One of Mayo’s most impressive businesses, Velvet Cloud, have been announced as a finalist for this year’s National Enterprise Awards. The awards, an initiative of the Local Enterprise Offices, will take place virtually on the 11th February.
Velvet Cloud were selected to represent Local Enterprise Office Mayo at the awards and will compete against 29 other finalists for a prize fund totaling €50,000.
Velvet Cloud were founded by Michael and Aisling Flanagan in 2015. Velvet Cloud produces sheep’s milk yogurt and cheese on the family farm. Its digestion-friendly products are available in over 100 Irish stores and are on the menu of the top restaurants across the country, including five Michelin-starred establishments. Velvet Cloud also sells direct to a loyal and growing customer base via its website.
Mayo was represented at the last National Enterprise Awards by Skillko, based in Westport, who won the award for the West Region. Skillko is a software as a service company with a next generation training platform. They create an open marketplace for businesses and training suppliers to connect, network and transact in a smart, efficient way, saving both parties time and money.
The finalists, selected by the Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities, represent a diverse range of businesses that are supported by the LEOs across the country. Now in their 22nd year, the awards celebrate small businesses and includes awards that recognise excellence in exporting, sustainability and innovation along with 8 regional awards and an overall National Enterprise Awards winner.
This year also sees the addition of two new award categories that reflect the challenging business conditions that companies have faced in 2020. The Pivot Award will be presented to a company who has successfully pivoted their business in the face of challenging conditions in the last 12 months. The Brexit Ready Award will be presented to a company who have excelled in their preparation for Brexit particularly where it would have created specific challenges for them as a business.
Minister for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD, said; “Through the National Enterprise Awards we celebrate the very best in small local companies who are leading in their field of business expertise. Over the past 20 years the awards have been the benchmark for excellence in micro-enterprise across the country. Looking at the list of winners, finalists and participants through the years it is easy to be inspired by our talented businesses and people who are the backbone of outstanding Irish entrepreneurs, many of whom are trading successfully across the globe. This year’s finalists are no different with some exceptional companies shortlisted. The very best of luck to all finalists and no doubt they will continue to grow beyond this and become part of Ireland’s growing international business community.
Elaine Moyles, A/Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Mayo, said; “It has been a challenging year for small businesses so this is a chance to highlight positive stories and businesses who have excelled in the face of unprecedented challenges. These businesses have been through a rigorous process of judging, auditing every aspect of their business and this in itself can be a huge benefit to them as they plan for the future. Whether they win or not these finalists are well positioned to follow in the footsteps of the great companies that have gone before them such as Pestle & Mortar, Simtech Aviation and Terra NutriTech and as a network, the Local Enterprise Offices look forward to continuing to support them to help them grow.”
Previous winners of the National Enterprise Awards have included Irish Yoghurts (1998), Obelisk (2000), Simtech Aviation (2008), Digiweb (2004) and Design Pro (2013), Terra NutriTech (2018) and the last winners in 2019, Pestle & Mortar, backed by Local Enterprise Office Kildare. Founded by Sonia Deasy and her husband Padraig, Pestle & Mortar has become one of Ireland’s best-known skincare companies and is now a client of Enterprise Ireland. Having sold out on QVC in the US in just 7 minutes, Pestle & Mortar products now sit on the shelves in some of the world’s most high-end retail outlets.
Sonia Deasy, co-founder of Pestle & Mortar, on the benefits of winning the award in 2019; “Every bit of exposure we got led to an increase in business, whether direct from consumers or from stockists. It’s very good if you are going on the investment trail. If you are calling somewhere, people are more likely to know you and you are more likely to be seen.” It can even facilitate entry to overseas markets. “We are in 32 countries now and, when it comes to meetings with distributors, we find that in countries such as China, they love awards, so it’s a huge help.”
The National Enterprise Awards are one of a number of initiatives that the Local Enterprise Offices run to foster entrepreneurship across the country. Others include Local Enterprise Week, the Student Enterprise Programme and National Women’s Enterprise Day.
The Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities are funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland.
Established in 2014, LEOs are an essential resource for any entrepreneur looking to start a business or any small business that is looking for support or advice to help them grow. The LEOs work with over 7,000 client companies across Ireland in a diverse range of sectors offering mentoring, training, expert advice and financial supports to small businesses. For more information see www.LocalEnterprise.ie/awards