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TED Talks Every Young Female Entrepreneur Should Watch

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Shawna Scott is the woman behind Sex Siopa, Ireland’s multi-award winning health and design-focused online sex shop. She’s also very good at convincing us to buy vibrators.

How they would you describe the business to your mother?

“I own a progressive online sex toy shop that focuses on good design and toys made from bodysafe materials. This is something that is really important to me, because everyone deserves a fun, fulfilling sex life, and if that includes toys, they should be safe to use and of excellent quality.”

What is your favourite TED talk and why?

“I am totally convinced that Reggie Watts is the second coming of Christ. He’s so immensely talented in his music and the way he improvises. Most importantly, he used his TED talk to poke fun at TED talks.”

Angela Butler and Shawna Scott

L to R: Angela Butler and Shawna Scott

Why did you set up your company?

“I set up SexSiopa.ie for the very selfish reason that there weren’t any sex shops in Ireland that gave me the kind of shopping experience I wanted. Many of the spaces here in Ireland have a very specific, gendered aesthetic which I didn’t feel suited me, and I’d have to dig through so much crap to find a good vibrator made from silicone. I wanted to create a space where everyone felt welcome, and no one had to guess whether or not they were buying a good quality toy.”

Who inspires you to go the extra mile?

“My partner is incredibly supportive and pushes me every day to do my best – whether I like it or not. He’s sacrificed a lot because he believes in me and my business. I find that incredibly inspiring and romantic and sexy.”

Visit sexsiopa.ie for more information.

Iseult Ward

Iseult Ward

Iseult Ward is the co-founder of FoodCloud, an impressive and necessary social enterprise that is tackling food waste in Ireland today. Iseult is speaking as part of the inaugural Bord Gáis Energy Business Conference, ‘Legendary Leadership Brings Success’ at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday, September 24th. For further details visit www.bgebusinesshub.ie

How they would you describe the business to your mother?

FoodCloud is a social enterprise that connects businesses that have too much food with local charities that have too little through our technology platform.

What is your favourite TED talk and why? 

The world needs more social innovation and more entrepreneurs that are motivated to create positive social change. We need to understand and remove the barriers that prevent entrepreneurs and organisations investing time, energy and resources into trying to solve the world’s social and environmental problems. As he says in his Ted talks – Let’s change the way we think about changing the world.

Why did you set up your company?

The realisation that within communities across Ireland there are businesses throwing away perfectly good food while charities are struggling to raise funding to feed those in need. Over 30% of food produced is lost or wasted across the global food system and in Ireland alone we waste one million tonnes of food annually!

Who inspires you to go the extra mile?

My co-founder Aoibheann – we have been through a lot together, especially in the very early days when it was just the both of us. You go through quite a lot of difficult times when you’re starting a business and having someone that you trust and get on with is incredibly important to keep you inspired and motivated. It’s also nice to have someone there to celebrate with in the good times – although we definitely don’t celebrate enough.

See FoodCloud.net for more information.

TED talks

Aine Behan

Áine Behan is the CEO and Founder of Cortechs. She has an impressive background in  Neuroscience and a PhD in Neuropathology from theRoyal College of Surgeons in Ireland. After years of research and lecturing. she is now an entrepreneur and currently CEO and co-founder of Cortechs.

How they would you describe your business to your mother?

“Cortechs is smart gaming designed around neuroscience. We create healthy, science-backed games that teach children how to become more focused and relaxed in a simple and fun way.”

What is your favourite TED talk and why?

“I love how Ruby Wax mixes humour with dark and tough times to portray a very clear picture on mental illness – she advocates talking and engaging conversation around mental health to help end the stigma to make mind matter in this day and age. I am all about that – it’s inspirational and necessary to have these conversations and end the stigma and give support, security and hope to those more vulnerable groups we care about.”

Why did you set up your company?

“I’m a neuroscientist that has spent most of my life working on the effects of stressors and drugs on the growing brain so I know the science that works and that doesn’t work. There are alternative solutions to drugs out there that can be brought to the forefront for tackling brain-based disorders and mental health issues and I am a firm believer in giving people their own tools to empower and improve themselves.”

Who inspires you to go the extra mile?

“As always I would say family and friends and those that believe in me to drive this forward. Glenn Close is pretty inspirational both as a public figure and as a foundation for her family in her wavering drive in her campaign to end the stigma around mental illness.”

Learn more at Cortechs.ie

Isolde Johnson (The Cool Bean Company)

Isolde Johnson

Isolde Johnson is the co-founder of the Cool Bean Company.

How they would you describe your business to your mother?

“Cool Beans is a super healthy, super tasty, beany meal in a pot. With cannellini beans being the main ingredient it’s packed full of protein, fibre and antioxidants and has a slow release of energy which keeps you feeling fuller for longer. It’s perfect for lunch, dinner or a fancy brunch.”

What is your favourite TED talk and why?

“Can I have two?! Number one on my list would have to be a video that was introduced to us by my Starting Strong mentor and its’ Simon Sinek’s ‘How great leaders inspire action.’ It’s basically a masterclass on how to develop a great brand and something that has been inspirational on our Cool Beans journey to date.


“The second TED Talk I love is Malcolm Gladwell ‘Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce.’ I love it because it’s very witty but has come key lessons and learnings for anyone developing a new product or working in the food industry.”

Why did you set up your company?

“We set up the Cool Bean company to create quick, healthy and tasty food for people who don’t have the time, resources or know how to cook from scratch. We also believe that it’s time for the humble bean to have its moment – this is why we created beaneology – to educate people on the benefits of adding beans to their diet and eating beans as a source of protein.”

Who inspires you to go the extra mile?

“I’m fortunate to have the best co-founder. Sarah inspires me every day and week. We set goals regularly and challenge each other to do better, achieve more and be the best we can be.”

Get your beaneology on at coolbeans.ie.

Elizabeth Fingleton (Obeo Ltd.)

Elizabeth Fingleton

Elizabeth Fingleton is the co-founder and CEO of Obeo Ltd.

How they would you describe your business to your mother?

“Obeo design convenient, clever, eco-friendly products for the home. The first product in our range, the Obeo food waste box, allows people to quickly and cleanly recycle their food waste via their brown bin with no smells, no mess and no bin juice.”

What is your favourite TED talk and why?

“I found this talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie really inspiring as it summarizes in a clear, concise and convincing way why we should all be feminists. Both men and women need to watch this.”

Why did you set up your company?

“My co-founder Kate and I set up Obeo to make eco-friendly products accessible to the mass market. By creating convenient well-designed products that encourage people to change their behaviour in the home we can help people make a positive impact on the environment.”

Who inspires you to go the extra mile?

“My fiancé, a fellow entrepreneur, always encourages me in my endeavours. I also have to give a mention to the fantastic ladies in my Starting Strong group as well as our lead entrepreneur who are a big inspiration to me. To see other people going through the struggles we all go through in starting and running a company and forging ahead regardless was a real inspiration.”

Learn more at weareobeo.com

Aine Behan, Elizabeth Fingleton and Isolde Johnson are all participants in this year’s Starting Strong programme, an initiative which is designed for ambitious female entrepreneurs who are at an early stage in the development of their business.

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