Starting Strong

/Starting Strong
Starting Strong2024-07-19T13:19:26+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 2024 – Beauchamps,  Glandore, KPMGPaypal and Manverton. 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 4 Lead Entrepreneurs facilitating the Starting Strong Round tables in 2024 are:

Discover Participant in 2024 Discover Participant in 2023 Discover Participant in 2022 Discover Participant in 2021 Discover Participant in 2020 Discover Participant in 2019 Discover Participant in 2018 Discover Participant in 2017


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.

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.

Eliza Ward NutShed

Being part of Starting Strong has been a game changer for us at NutShed, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The support system and structure it has given us has been instrumental as we plan our next moves as a company. With plans for exporting, expanding online and upscaling our operations, Starting Strong has ingrained the belief in us that everything is possible.

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.

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.

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.

Kasia Gaborec-McEvoy My Name is TED

I would highly recommend Starting Strong. Being part of the female entrepreneur network is very valuable and gives you support and advice from like minded women who are in a similar position to you and can share experiences which can make a difference to your business and mindset.

Kate Fleming LawEd

Starting Strong was the first time I actually gave myself time to work on the business and not in it! It was like a business degree in 6 months and touched on everything that was so relevant to a business like mine. The power of the round table was immense and the will to share, help and assist at all times. It showed me that you need to evolve and be agile in business but the most important part is that you need to be stubborn and passionate about your vision.

Leonie Lynch Juspy

Starting Strong does what it says on the tin. It helps you to start strong. What it doesn't mention is that it helps you to finish stronger. Each one of us looking back at where we started can clearly see how far we have come in the 6 months on the programme. While every day the juggle struggle is hard in doing what we do, on Starting Strong you are reminded each time that your problems are shared. Each one of us around the round table experience the same challenges just at different times. This means that we can all help each other under the experienced guidance of our Lead Entrepreneur. It's a fantastic programme and an even better community at large.

Lisa Reburn UX Effect

The programme has connected me with so many wonderful people, from the participants to the Lead Entrepreneurs and organisers. I've made amazing connections, lifelong friends and new business contracts from working with the participants of Starting Strong.   The sessions on topics such as how to attract investors, business supports, understanding your finances and protecting your IP were invaluable to growing my business.   Thank you to the wonderful and dedicated team in Starting Strong.

Loretta Dignam The Menopause Hub

I am thrilled to have been selected for Starting Strong. I found the community of female entrepreneurs to be challenging yet supportive. We shared our rollercoaster experiences, learned new skills and were superbly led by an experienced and successful entrepreneur, Dr Anne Cusack.   And beyond the programme I feel I have tapped into a support network and made friends that will make my journey less isolating.   I highly recommend this invaluable female entrepreneur community that is Starting Strong.

Michelle Lawlor The Nude Wine Co

There are so many positive things about participating in the Starting Strong Programme, it is hard to know where to start.   What we found particularly beneficial to the business was the guidance and sessions for putting structure around the business which grew so quickly. Personally, as an entrepreneur navigating through the world of business, I loved being in a room with like-minded peers who were experiencing similar issues to me. It was great to enter a network that provided help, inspiration and insights.   I would highly recommend Starting Strong to anyone in a business experiencing growth in the business. The programme is invaluable.

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.

Olwen McAuliffe Mimi & Bowe

I have recommended Starting Strong to so many women in business that I know. I cannot recommend it enough. It has given me the confidence to believe that anything is possible, we just need to have goals and set tasks to achieve these goals. It has also given me a great knowledge on the funding/ grants available. Finance, legal, HR are topics that are covered in depth which is invaluable. We had a hugely inspiring Lead Entrepreneur who was so generous with her time and advice and also a lovely supportive group of highly ambitious businesswomen.

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.

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.

Silvana Landa McAdam LANDA

Being part of the Starting Strong cycle and Going for Growth Community in general has been one of the best things I did this year. The entrepreneurial energy shared by all the female founders is so powerful that you cannot help but grow! Paula, the Leads and guest speakers are very inspirational and make every topic feel relatable and achievable.   This community has been instrumental to my business growth and I couldn't recommend the programme more. I feel very privileged to have been a part of it.

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.

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.

Wendy Slattery The Beauty Buddy

I would absolutely recommend participating in Starting Strong especially if your mindset is to scale your business. The round table sessions allow for practical, open discussions between like minded women who are all facing similar situations. The group of women on my table are amazing. I look forward to continuing to support and celebrate them on their journey.