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Start-Up Story: Mr Sports Gift

What do you buy the man who has everything? Mr Sports Gift based in Nenagh, is the perfect answer to that age old question. Thanks to Mr Sports Gift, Christmas Day, Father’s Day and Birthdays can no longer be a source of frustration for that lady looking for something very different and special for the man in her life.

A unique gift

By using cutting edge, patented technology, Mr Sports Gift can personalise a sports ball in almost any imaginable way, creating a unique gift for any occasion. Mr Sports Gift can print a photograph, logo, family crest or an affectionate, humorous or congratulatory message, directly on to a Hurley, Sliotar, Rugby ball, Gaelic football, Soccer ball or a range of other sports items, for that personalised ‘one of a kind’ gift.

It’s a bit of a cliché but men, whether 9 or 90, are notoriously difficult creatures for whom to buy presents so we spotted a gap in the market. Launched in May 2013 by Noel Cahill and his son Aidan, the new company is growing from strength to strength and has already moved from off the kitchen table, to a manufacturing unit in Nenagh.

A huge reaction to our products

We’ve had a huge reaction to our products so far and in the personalised sliotar we have a uniquely Irish gift that is not already on the gift market and so there is worldwide potential. We are trying to get to as many events as possible to market and gain the maximum exposure for our products. We have a weekly spot at the Nenagh Indoor Market which is great for researching and trying out new ideas.

The National Ploughing Championships, Tullamore Show and International Hurling Festival were particularly good for us in 2013 and we were fortunate to be invited on to Ireland AM as well, for the “Boost my Business” slot which was a fantastic experience.

Successful pitch

Having successfully pitched to an assessment panel, I secured a place on the TESS (Tipperary Enterprise Start-Up Support) Programme run by LIT Tipperary and based in the new Thurles Chamber Enterprise Centre. TESS is based on the highly successful LEAP and FAST programmes run by LIT over the past five years and participants on these types of incubation programme have much higher potential and greater success rates.

During the 12 month programme, which commenced in July 2012, TESS provided a range of integrated supports based around strategic planning, management training and business coaching. All of these supports worked together to challenge and guide all of us into developing a sound business plan and building a sustainable and profitable business. I walked in with a couple of prototypes in a carrier bag and graduated with a real live business.

I work in the business on a full time basis since having taken a career break from the Civil Service with over 17 years of service, most recently as Press Officer for the Department of Social Protection.

Solving problems

While the majority of Mr Sports Gift customers so far have been female choosing gifts for men, extensive market research has identified other opportunities. Our research has thrown up a number of problems that we think Mr Sports Gift can solve including the difficulty of commemorating a sporting achievement outside of the usual trophies, medal and plaques.

There is also an issue for small clubs who would like to have branded merchandise but cannot afford to buy stock. Mr Sports Gift also can take care of this. Following approaches from several local clubs we have taken on the merchandising function for clubs, creating and selling the products and giving the club a substantial 20% of the sales price which provides an invaluable source of funds.

It’s onwards and upwards from here with loads of exciting new things in the pipeline.

Written by Noel Cahill. For more information visit

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