A YOUNG Enniskillen entrepreneur is making waves in the world of business attracting investment from the popular RTE show ‘Dragon’s Den’.
Hannah O’Reilly and her business partner acquired a €37,500 investment from the den for their business ‘Improper Butter’. Former Mount Lourdes student and soprano singer Hannah (24) studied commerce at University College Dublin and it was from a friendship made there that a business idea was formed.
“Improper Butter was founded last summer with one of my very best friends – Elaine Lavery. Myself and Elaine met in college. I was studying commerce and Elaine was studying business and law.
“We were both recipients of a scholarship to the University chamber choir. It was a choir of just sixteen voices so we all got to know each other very well. Mine and Elaine’s friendship grew outside of singing thought – really it was over a love of food and fine dining. We used to spend all of our student budget on going to really great restaurants.
“When Elaine graduated she took herself off to the French Alps where she worked as a chalet chef for a ski season. She would make up flavoured butters in the morning, ski all day and when she had to prepare the evening meal for the guests she could simply cook off a nice piece of fish or steak, melt on some flavoured butter and present a really delicious meal.”
When she returned from France she approached me with the idea for retailing a range of flavoured butters as a convenient way for people to add great, natural flavour to meals. I couldn’t resist getting involved.”
On March 23 the two girls took the product to ‘Dragons Den’ and through a well-researched, impressive argument the two managed to negotiate a €37,500 investment from Ramona Nicholas and Eamonn Quinn for 30% of the company, a stake which will go down to 20% in a year if the girls meet their targets.
“We were both very relaxed the day of filming and it wasn’t until the moment we walked into the den that we realised just how serious the whole thing really was. The two minute pitch is the most difficult part of it, but we decided prior to the filming that we wanted it to be as natural as possible rather than sounding scripted. Once the questions got going we were able to relax and show the dragons that we knew our stuff.”
She continued: “We’re delighted. We were very happy with the terms we managed to negotiate. Those negotiations were fierce tense though. What the audience saw at home was only a fraction of it all. It was nerve-wracking but it was important we stood our ground.”
At present ‘Improper Butter’ is available in almost 50 stockists across Dublin and counties; Cork, Galway, Kildare, Kilkenny, Roscommon, Sligo, Westmeath and Wicklow, but not yet in Fermanagh, a fact Hannah is eager to change.
“We’re working really hard to get Improper Butter around the country. We’ve had interest from a couple of the multiples so things are looking good. Hopefully the next time I get home to Fermanagh we’ll have plenty of Improper Butter on the supermarket shelves.”
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