Starting Strong

/Starting Strong
Starting Strong2021-03-08T12:01:06+00:00

Starting Strong is the most recent in the suite of complementary initiatives and is designed for ambitious female entrepreneurs                                                            who are at an early stage in the development of their business. The business will typically be in the early revenue stage. Starting Strong is aimed at exceptional female entrepreneurs, whose length of pre- revenue development, degree of innovation and growth potential are all significantly greater than the norm.

It was recognised that Starting Strong participants would have less resources available to them than Going for Growth participants, as many of them are at an early revenue or pre-revenue stage and would need further supports. Accordingly, as well as the funding for Going for Growth, which underpins the basic costs of running Starting Strong, additional sources of funding were sought to meet these additional needs.

We are delighted that the following corporate sponsors have become Starting Strong Supporters for 2021 – BeauchampsBootsGlandore, KPMGPaypal and Softco. The support by these corporates meant that Starting Strong participants have a specially tailored programme; they will attend several relevant topic based workshop. A major celebratory event will also be held at the end of the cycle.

Lead Entrepreneurs

The 3 Lead Entrepreneurs facilitating the Starting Strong Round tables in 2021 are:

Discover Participant in 2019 Discover Participant in 2018 Discover Participant in 2017Our supporters


Below are some testimonials from the Starting Strong Participants:

Áine Kerr Kinzen

Starting Strong is a rejuvenating program that encourages you to take a holistic review of your company, vision, strategy, tactics, and assumptions, while learning from fellow new entrepreneurs and accomplished business owners. It gives you new tools and skills that can help springboard your company to the next level of growth. But most importantly, it connects you with a network of incredible women who will make you realise you are not alone.

Aisling Flanagan Velvet Cloud

Participation on this programme has been hugely beneficial. The support and motivation I have received from fellow participants and our Lead Entrepreneur; being with people who are dealing with or have dealt with similar challenges; the network it has opened up to me as a female entrepreneur in Ireland. All have been invaluable.

Andrea Linehan GRID Finance

The peer learning in Starting Strong was phenomenal. The entrepreneurs in my group were smart, ambitious and generous with their support and experience. The learnings from these sessions will continue to influence my decision making as GRID scales.

Aoibheann O’Brien Bia Food Initiative

Starting Strong is a great opportunity to meet entrepreneurs at a similar stage of development, to share challenges, opportunities and connections and to support each other, all under the watchful stewardship of a Lead Entrepreneur who has come through the other side!

Breda Colgan Salutem Advisory & Training

The programme went beyond all my expectations. The drive and focus you get on your business just act as a springboard. Your plans may change, the direction you were heading may adjust, but the outcomes will be worth it.

Edel Littleton Shape My Plan

One word I would use to describe Starting Strong is motivating.  After the first session, you have the feeling that anything is possible.  During the round table sessions, I realised that every business no matter how successful they are now has had moments of doubts and struggles. I also learned how important it is to step back from the day to day running of the business and take time to look at the business – set realistic goals and plan ahead.  The advice I received on grants from other participants has secured our business with an online training and priming grant which will make a huge impact on our business.

Erica Sheehan Homespun Foods

I enjoyed and benefited from every single aspect of the programme - meeting with inspiring female entrepreneurs, learning from subject matter experts and top class industry professionals in bespoke workshops, and tapping into the superb strategic advisory support provided by mentors who have been there and done it. I would highly recommend the programme.

Gina Cassidy Purcell & Woodcock

Starting Strong is a unique opportunity to gain invaluable advice from hugely successful businesswomen who give their time and energy so generously. It will force you to step back from the operations of the business and challenge you to believe that anything is possible. It will offer networking opportunities at the highest level and the insights into proven business models and strategies will be instrumental to your business. I cannot recommend the Programme highly enough to ambitious entrepreneurs. I am confident that Purcell & Woodcock has started strong and I look forward to continuing my journey within this fabulous community.

Irene Queally Pip & Pear

I found Starting Strong a huge benefit to me and my company. There was so much learning from the group and from the Lead Entrepreneur. It can be a lonely place setting up a new business and all the stress that goes with it. I found great support in the fact that I wasn't alone in making mistakes and through the process found lots solutions. The programme is practical and professional and I am very glad to have been able to be part of it.

Jacinta Mandyam Pivot Cloud Solutions

The Starting Strong programme went beyond the mere conveyance of important information in terms of valuable legal, financial, and accounting presentations. It embodied a spirit that was at times inspirational, nurturing and challenging that enabled me to clarify and focus my business objectives in a very practical way.

Jane Asple Emma by Jane

Starting Strong was an incredible programme for mine and my business growth. To have a group of women support and inspire each other is amazing and I loved every minute of the programme.

Jennifer Nickerson Tipperary Boutique Distillery

I was delighted to be accepted to the Starting Strong programme and it has been a fantastic experience. Our business has really benefitted from the round tables and advice from our Lead Entrepreneur, which has given us a clearer structure and motivation for growth. An additional bonus that I wasn’t expecting was the sounding board provided by my Starting Strong group. This has been transformative for me personally and professionally, as it’s provided me with a peer group with a wide range of experiences and skills on which to bounce ideas and to request advice. I’d recommend the Starting Strong initiative to any woman who is serious about growing her business.

Jennifer Rock CleanseOffMitt

It’s refreshing to be among like-minded women with huge global dreams – no apologies, just determination. It’s also given me a network that has been, and will be, invaluable to my business. I found the whole experience challenging and insightful.

Jess Kavanagh Olann

Initially it was great to share my goal and vision for my company - the objectives and milestones that we had to put in place helped focus my mind for not only the six months of the cycle but also for the next twelve months. Beyond that though, the connection made between the women at our round table was fantastic, the ability to lean on and receive support throughout the six months was incredible. It is often said being an entrepreneur is a lonely experience, but I truly felt we had formed an honest, supportive and encouraging group. Our Lead Entrepreneur also gave us the courage to deconstruct our businesses, look analytically at them and then reassemble it.

Joan Woods Waters + Wild Organic Perfumery

Starting Strong has been a great experience. Meeting like minded women going through the same trails, tribulations and highs of running your own business. Sharing information honestly and supportively with the help of a knowledgeable leader. An invaluable experience.

Karen Kirby Kirbee Designs

I cannot recommend Starting Strong highly enough. It was an absolutely amazing experience from start to finish. What a fantastic opportunity to be exposed to such highly established entrepreneurs in business. It was invaluable. My hope is to continue to grow within this wonderful community.

Karen O’Reilly Employmum

Starting Strong has been a great experience. The advice shared with us by our Lead Entrepreneur has been practical, informative and inspirational. Meeting fellow entrepreneurs and learning in a round table fashion is so collaborative and supportive. I feel I have a whole new set of cheerleaders as I continue to grow the business of Employmum.

Lucinda Kelly Popertee

I have met some of the most ambitious, focused and kind girls who have similar motivations to me, looking to grow a global business. Having this strong network has enabled us to bounce ideas o? each other, learn specialised topics as part of our sessions and ultimatelyhas contributed to the successful closing of the Popertee seed round during the course of the programme

Martina Skelly YellowSchedule

Joining a network of passionate, committed and extraordinarily ambitious female entrepreneurs has motivated me to think bigger and push harder in my own business. The structured topic-based meetings enable participants to distil the key learnings and apply them to their business. I am privileged to have taken part this year. I highly recommend participation to female entrepreneurs who are serious about building their business.

Mary O’ Brien VideoDoc

I loved Starting Strong experience. The whole process is brilliant, we had an amazing Lead Entrepreneur, who inspired us by showing us what was possible and being so generous with her time, advice and feedback. I moved to setting realistic and concrete goals as a result on the participation in Starting Strong. What's great is you not only get to work with your own Lead but it is a brilliant oppurtunity to meet other business leaders. The programme is a really unique environment and I would highly recommend anyone starting out to apply, everyone you meet are incredibly generous with time, advice and sharing their own experience.

Moira Kiely Xhail

Starting Strong was a fantastic experience. The comradery between the participants was extremely positive. The group provided a sanity check when I needed it most. They were a great support.

Niamh Ryan Ella & Jo

This is the single best thing I have ever done for my business. Challenging, thought provoking and most importantly taking a pause. The programme has stopped us in our tracks and made us realign our goals and focus. I would encourage every Irish female entrepreneur to apply for Starting Strong or the Going for Growth programme. We are so lucky to have this amazing opportunity- grab it with both hands!

Ollwyn Moran Creeper Crawlers

Being a participant on this year’s Starting Strong programme has been a transformative experience. I have changed the way I view myself in business. I feel more empowered, focused, energised and ‘brave’. Having Susan Spence as my Lead Entrepreneur was absolutely inspiring and having such a wonderful group of peers around the table, was not only supportive but eye opening to realise that despite being in different fields, we all were experiencing the same struggles.

Pamela laird MOXI LOVES

Having like minded peers you can pick up the phone to or send over an email to looking for feedback is invaluable! No man is an island and I now feel part of a community.

Roz Martin Martin Biotech

Taking part in Starting Strong has helped me define a clearer, more focused strategy on how to scale our business and in particular design the architecture how to do that the way we want to do it. At the beginning of the course, I was somewhat apprehensive that we would all come out of Starting Strong with a prescribed, one size fits all business model, and one that I didn't want to adopt. However, working with our Lead Entrepreneur, I began to develop the business model that not only suits our business but also makes it a profitable and scalable one. It has reignited the excitement in the business. I have come away from Starting Strong with a top level view of the business, as a business owner rather than a day to day business operator.

Sam Synnott Buddy Bench

The Starting Strong programme was invaluable to me at this stage in growing our business. The female hive mind setting of the round table supported and guided me in many applicable areas. Listening and learning from others' experiences was so beneficial and our Lead Entrepreneur was inspirational and extremely informative.

Sharon Keegan Peachy Lean

Starting Strong was a fun, 6-month accountability adventure, shared with some strong, ambitious, smart women.   I feel so honoured to be a part of this community of super talented female founders all with great successes ahead of them.  This “girls club” will give you the confidence and support you need to push your business to its true potential.

Siobhan Ni Chofaigh Mint Tek Circuits

Starting Strong for me was a monthly check in with people of diverse experience and expertise. They positively asked 'why' when I struggled and applauded when I suceeded. I hope I did the same for them. I made some brave decisions in their protective custody.

Susan Keating Seagreen Bio Limited

Starting Strong is full of energy, ambition and great people. The programme itself, the mentors that facilitate each group, and the other participants set you up to think beyond the limits for your business from the start. The group sessions provide an environment within which you can safely share any business challenges and they enable (or force!) you to step back from day to day operations to reflect on your business in a more strategic way. I would highly recommend applying/participating.

Tracy O’Rourke Vivid Edge

The opportunity on Starting Strong to engage with a group of talented women with such diverse backgrounds, skills and aspirations but all facing similar challenges is a rare and invaluable support. It's such an engaging and supportive network. Our Lead Entrepreneur was a terrific sponsor and role model. I took learnings away from every session and there was an extra bounce in my step on the days we met.

Una Kearns myPatientSpace

It was a privilege to be selected as part of the 2019 Starting Strong group.  As a female founder of an early stage start-up it was extremely valuable to connect with others at the same stage and to get guidance from my Lead Entrepreneur who has been through the entire process. What I enjoyed most is that our group comes from all types of businesses and we can all learn from each other. Many thanks to Paula and her team at Going for Growth!

Vanessa Creaven Spotlight Whitening

Beginning the cycle I expected I would gain a lot of expertise, but I had no idea as to the extent of that expertise, or the friendships I would make along the way. Thank you.