BY SEÁN P. FEENY
TOMORROW night (Saturday) the young Donegal entrepreneurs to be featured in a special ‘Junior’ edition of RTÉ’s Dragons’ Den will be attending a special ‘red carpet’ screening of the edited programme in Dublin.
At the special screening finalists, West Donegal entrepreneurs Ronan (16) and Conor (13) McGarvey from Loughanure and Letterkenny’s Niall McCloskey (17), will be reunited with the famous ‘Dragons’ for the first time since filming the programme earlier this year.
The Loughanure boys and Niall made the final 20 with their respective businesses, Donegal Pens and The Easy Grower, to be able present them on the show and next week we will find out how they got on when they stepped in front of the Dragons.
Before they are featured on the programme, next Sunday, May 5, at 9.30pm, we will introduce to the young entrepreneurs and their businesses.
This week we meet Ronan and Conor who will present their wonderfully hand-crafted products and tell the Dragons, which include Donegal’s Ramona Nicholas of Cara Pharmacies, how they developed them into a successful business over the past three years.
Although an international format, Ireland is the first territory to run Junior Dragons’ Den to close this year’s season of the Dragons’ Den.
Open to applicants between 12– 18 years old, over 340 ideas from across the island were submitted for entry to the Junior Dragons’ Den.
A shortlist of 190 ideas was then selected for a series of 10 Regional Final events during the Bank of Ireland Enterprise Week in November 2012.
Using teams of local judges, the best 100 ideas were short-listed for the Junior Dragons’ Den National Final, which was held at The Gibson Hotel in Dublin last December.
The best 20 ideas were deemed suitable for going forward to scrutiny by the Dragons, including Loughanure’s Ronan and Conor. The two brothers pitched their business Donegal Pens (www.donegalpens.com) to the dragons and told them of the success they have already achieved by themselves.
These include national and international exposure, featuring RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, RTÉ One’s Nationwide and also in a documentary screened on French and German television. Donegal Pens are now available in 24 outlets nationwide and three outlets in Germany.
In early 2012 the two brothers were also delighted to receive major sponsorship from Expert Hardware after company director Alan Grant heard that the two Rosses Community School students were refused funding as they were too young.
All the young people featured have come through two rounds to make to the Den, so the standard is high. Each of the individuals and teams entering the Den were competing for a €2,000 bursary to use towards their business or to further their education.
But if their pitches were not successful they went away from the Den with nothing. The Dragons were just as thorough as they are for the adult series, but all agree they were blown away by the incredibly high standard of the would be entrepreneurs.
The Loughanure boys will be attending the red carpet premiere with their family, school principal John Gorman and art teacher Éilise Ó Harte.
Since filming their appearance on Junior Dragons’ Den earlier this year, the young entrepreneurs have had to remain tight-lipped on how they fared, so be sure to tune into the programme this Sunday, April 21, this Sunday at 9.30pm only on RTÉ One.
See next Friday’s edition of the Donegal News for a feature on Niall McCloskey (17) from Letterkenny and he developed an idea to help his grandfather Mickey (78) while gardening into a very successful product.