The AIB Start up Academy Has Impacted Martin

If you can apply to the Academy, absolutely do. It was the best thing I ever did and it completely changed our business,” he says. “If you speak to the rest of the finalists, I’m sure they would say the same. It really was an invaluable eight weeks.”

The immediate impact of the win

Martin’s company is Nasal Medical, which produces a range of nasal filters and dilators that help with various breathing issues, from allergies to sleep apnea. The effect of the Academy win on the nascent company was instantaneous.

“The minute we won, things went crazy,” Martin explains. “I think the advertising from The Irish Timesreally helped. Online sales became extremely busy and have continued to increase on a daily basis.”

Despite the challenges of scaling up the business, Martin has already achieved some impressive sales figures: “We’ve sold a substantial amount of the discreet snoring aids in 500 pharmacies and we’ll be in 1000 before the end of the year,” he says. And he’s already set his sights on some big targets at home and abroad: “We’re in McCabe’s pharmacy, Health Express, Pure Pharmacy group, Horgan Group, O’Sullivan Group, McLoughlin-McSharry Group, and McCauleys, and we’re in discussions with Boots and Lloyd’s and a number of other big chains. We also hope to be selling in the UK by January or February of next year and Germany in mid-2017.”

Expanding the business

The initial success of the business has also allowed Martin to expand his workforce. “At the moment there are two of us in the company but we have two sales and marketing staff joining in October,” he says. He hopes the new hires will lighten his workload, which remains prodigious. “I don’t have any time at all,” he explains. “We have a ten-month-old baby and even getting time to see her is difficult at the moment. I often work until midnight and am up again at six. Thankfully, my wife, Marie-Louise, is very understanding and supportive. Once we take on the new employees, hopefully the pressure will be reduced.”

Martin has also seen the benefits of the prize package, with his first meeting with creative agency Rothco already bearing fruit. “We’re rebranding the filter product, which I’m delighted with, and we’re working on a new brand for people travelling on aeroplanes to block the germs carried in the recirculated air. We have a pharmacy at Dublin Airport who are going to trial it,” he says. “As a normal start-up, we’d never have access to something like that. It’s gold, because it could potentially decide whether the customer buys the product or not.”