Belfast Telegraph

Newtownards cycle firms riding high on a wave of entrepreneurship

By Leslie Houston

A Newtownards cycling start-up is among a growing legion of entrepreneurs integral to Northern Ireland’s growth.

The success of the cycle light firm See Sense is mirrored by the findings of the latest Barclays and BGF Entrepreneurs Index report which revealed that between March 2013 and March 2014, there were 66,650 enterprises operating in Northern Ireland.

The Barclays report also revealed that in Northern Ireland there were 10 partial or full sales of companies that resulted in at least £0.2m of individual wealth being created.

The survey showed that 23.8% of companies here are considered high growth, and though that marked a 21.2% rise in the year to December 2013, there was a 0.1% decline in the number of enterprises compared to figures for 2013.

The index is the fifth in a bi-annual series measuring start-ups, growth and share sales.

Jonathan Dobbin, head of Barclays wealth and investment management said that while Northern Ireland has performed very strongly in terms of high-growth companies, the number of deals has decreased by 23% and the number of enterprises has remained flat.

“It is now important that business and policy-makers in Northern Ireland capitalise upon this opportunity and focus on ways in which they can support the business community to allow them to grow and unlock their true potential which, in turn, will benefit the wider Northern Ireland economy,” he said.

Irene McAleese, who co-founded See Sense with her inventor husband Philip, revealed that even before mass production of their “intelligent” lighting product commenced, orders were flooding in from across the globe.

See Sense, which has just celebrated a year in business after setting off on a business journey via crowd-funder Kickstarter, is preparing for a trade mission to the US next month.

The firm has also revealed future expansion into a number of new products for cyclists expected to be ready for the market by this time next year.

“We’re trading just over a year after launching on Kickstarter in October 2013,” said Mrs McAleese.

“About 80% of our sales are outside Northern Ireland and 60% are outside the UK. After our launch we were mentioned in the New York Times which drove an incredible amount of sales to our website when we were still in a pre-order phase and it really opened our eyes to the potential of the US market and now we are selling to over 40 countries worldwide.”

Meanwhile, another cycling entrepreneur will launch a product on Kickstarter this week. Fermanagh brothers Tim and Jonnie McCrea have invented Helmetor, a lightweight, durable, bike helmet holder that attaches to the front of a bicycle handlebar, to any wall, door or other flat surface.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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