The Man In The Mirror!

By Blog, Media

The Man In The Mirror!

– a lookback by a former SEP winner on his journey to entrepreneurship

Hi. I’m Jack and I took part in the Student Enterprise Programme in 2019, winning the ‘Best Commercial Potential’ prize at the National Final with my company Mirr ( Well over a year later and I’m still working on Mirr and we are preparing to step into the world of manufacturing.

Mirr is a touch screen smart mirror. This was new technology and the business was driven on innovation, but through the process of bringing it from a cool piece of engineering to a product I had to make sure it was something people actually wanted. Not that I was just making something for me.

This distinction of who the innovation was for was perhaps the most valuable learning I gained from the experience; the value of feedback and testing in innovation.

All businesses are selling solutions to a problem -and whether you’re coming up with a solution to an unsolved problem, or offering an alternative to an existing solution, you’re still innovating. The easiest way to make sure you’re on the right track is to test your solution and take in feedback from your users. The best way to start this is to clearly outline the problem you aim to solve, and find people with the same issue. Present them your solution and take any and all feedback, making sure to keep notes and document it all.

Here are my top tips!

-I’d recommend inserting each feedback session into a spreadsheet, trying to quantify as much as you can. That way you can easily identify trends, problems and recommendations. The next stage is to use this feedback to make changes to your product, then rinse and repeat as frequently as necessary.

-I would encourage early on in the product development to test and innovate the product as frequently as possible.

-Don’t wait to add multiple changes at once, implement each change after a feedback session and then document and test it again. That way not only are you showing constant acceleration in innovation but if you make a change that negatively affects the solution it’s much easier to identify and you wont spend valuable time and effort developing a feature that may not work. It’s also a great way to keep implementation simple, innovation is rarely about the complexity of the input.

-If you plan to implement in the a barebones version of a feature you can then receive feedback on it and choose to only develop the useful aspects of it – simplifying the input but keeping the desired change in the output. This is in essence an off-shoot of the ‘Lean Development Method’ but simplified and generalised not just for software development. If you’ve further interest in the Lean Method, there’s a great guide by Roadmunk (

That’s all I’ve got – I wanna keep this simple and to the point. If anyone is taking part this year in the Student Enterprise Programme and would like any advice or just feedback on anything please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at MIRR. We can be found on Instagram or twitter @mirr_ire or feel free to email

Best of luck!


 2020/21 SEP National Intellectual Property Awards

By Blog, Media

 2020/21 SEP National Intellectual Property Awards

The Student Enterprise Programme is delighted to announce that we will once again be awarding three prizes in the area of Intellectual Property at the National SEP Final on Friday 14th May 2021.

The awards are kindly sponsored by The Intellectual Property Office of Ireland and are open only to students taking part in the National Final 2021.

Students will be judged on their understanding of the area of IP for business and how they considered the various IP issues in relation to their own student enterprises. For example, how a team researched the uniqueness of their brand, identified IP rights owned by others that they need to request permission for,  and if and how they have looked into how to protect their own IP for their student enterprise.

Award Categories:

  • Intellectual Property Award (Junior Category)             €200 voucher + trophy + cert
  • Intellectual Property Award (Intermediate Category) €250 voucher + trophy + cert
  • Intellectual Property Award (Senior Category)             €300 voucher + trophy + cert

How to Enter:

Senior Category: Students should include a section on Intellectual Property in their business report submitted for the National Final which must be submitted by Friday 16th April 2021 to our National Co-ordinator.

Junior & Intermediate Categories: To enter, students should include a section on Intellectual Property as a one page appendix to their business poster submitted for the National Final which must be submitted by Friday 16th April 2020 to our National Co-ordinator.

All entries should be submitted to our National Co-ordinator by the Local SEP Co-ordinator in your region.

2021 Virtual National Final Date

By Blog, Media

National Final 2021: Friday 14th May 2021 (VIRTUAL EVENT)

Business Report/Business Poster Deadline: Friday 16th April 2021



  • Mini-Company: Overall winners in the Junior, Intermediate and Senior categories at County Finals go forward to compete at the National Final.
  • ‘My Entrepreneurial Journey’: Overall winners at County Level go forward to be considered for national prize.
  • ‘Most Creative Business Idea’ video competition: Overall winners at County Level go forward to be considered for national prize.

2020-21 Student Enterprise Programme Launching Soon!!!


By Blog, Media

Media Release

27th May, 2020





A magnetic hose holder aimed specifically at parlour hoses for dairy farmers, developed on the farm of a Kilkenny All-Ireland winner, has taken top prize in the Senior category at today’s Student Enterprise Programme National Finals, run by the Local Enterprise Offices.


The Handy Hose by student entrepreneurs Jack O’Mara and Daniel Ruddy from CBS Thurles, on behalf of Local Enterprise Office Tipperary, fits to the hose to enable it to attach easily to the any metal surface within the milking parlour.


Along with an endorsement from four-time All-Ireland winner and farmer Lester Ryan where the students developed the idea, the product has also received the backing of Farmer of the Year 2019, David Russell, who has several in his parlours.  The enterprise, J&D Engineering, make the attachment themselves and had sold over 200, before the Covid-19 pandemic, but continue to sell online.


The other categories saw wins for Dublin City and Monaghan.  In the intermediate category, the Aim-It Board, from students in Loreto College, St. Stephen’s Green, on behalf of Local Enterprise Office Dublin City was named the overall winner.  The board is based on a basketball hoop and backboard but is designed to highlight where a certain throw will land helping students with physical activity but also understanding angles and the physics of throwing a ball.


The winner in the Junior category was the Sofatop, created by students from Ballybay Community College on behalf of Local Enterprise Office Monaghan.  The Sofatop is s stylish flexible tray that can safely hold a cup of tea within reach on a couch.


For the first time since the Student Enterprise Programme began in 2003, the National Finals took place online.  Having originally been scheduled to take place in Croke Park on the 1st May, the Local Enterprise Office run awards, were announced virtually today, 27th May, via live stream on the Student Enterprise Programmes Facebook and YouTube channels.


The students and teachers from across the country logged online to the event hosted by RTE’s Rick O’Shea and he was joined during the ceremony by previous winners and Student Entrepreneur Programme Ambassador, Josh Van Der Flier.  The rugby star previously took part in the initiative when he was a student at Wesley College in Dublin.


In the Senior Category this year’s runners up were “What About Me” from Dunmore Community School in Galway in third place and “The Last Straw” from Tullow Community School in Carlow in second place.


In the Intermediate Category, third place went to “Bookworms” from St. Clare’s Comprehensive School in Manorhamilton, Leitrim and second place was “Sala Sios” from Castleisland Presentation School, Kerry.


In the Junior Category the runners up are “Castaways” from Castleisland Presentation School in Kerry who finished in third place and second place went to “Bee Wrappi” from Summerhill College in Sligo.


There was a record number of 85 student enterprises competing in Ireland’s largest entrepreneurship programme for second level students. The initiative, funded by the Government of Ireland through Enterprise Ireland and delivered by the 31 Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities throughout the country, saw close to 26,000 students from almost 500 secondary schools across the country take part.


Heather Humphreys, T.D., Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, congratulated the students today; “This is a challenging time for students all across the country but today is a day that they get to celebrate all the hard work they have put into their businesses since last September.  To the winners today my congratulations, but to all the finalists, you have achieved something truly exceptional.  The ability to devise a business, set it up and run it, is something that will stand by you forever.  Ireland has a history of great entrepreneurs and no doubt many of you today will go on to achieve greatness in business and we will ensure we are there to support you every step of the way.”


Michael Nevin, chair of the Local Enterprise Office’s Enterprise Education Committee, said; “It has been another outstanding year for the Student Enterprise Programme and that is reflected in the quality of finalists.  The programme has helped over 200,000 students create and run their own businesses since 2003 and that in itself is a reflection of the entrepreneurial genes in our young students.  Not only do today’s students want to create a good business, they want to create a business that improves society or helps the world around us and that has to be commended.  So to our winners, finalists and our whole class of 2019/2020, well done and we can look forward great new businesses you will be starting in the future.” 


The National Final students, who competed across three categories, Junior, Intermediate and Senior, saw judging take place virtually via electronic submissions.  Each student enterprise was challenged with creating, setting up and running their own business, which must show sales of their service or product.  The judging panel included business owners and representatives from enterprise agencies and associated bodies.


This year’s Programme also saw two new pilot competitions across the Junior, Intermediate and Senior categories.  The first, the “My Entrepreneurial Journey” pilot was run in the Junior and Intermediate cycle and open to any students involved in wider competition.  It required them to map out the life of a successful entrepreneur and how that could be achieved.  This year’s winners were Fiachra Murray of Patrician College, Carrickmacross, Monaghan in the Junior Category while Nathan Ryan from Colaiste Eamonn Ris in Kilkenny


In the Senior category there was a new “Go Green: Be Sustainable Creative Business Competition”. In this new pilot competition students could push their most innovative business ideas via a video pitch, without having to produce a product or service and was open to all senior students taking part in the wider competition.  The winner of this new category was Kieran Spaight from Tarbert Comprehensive School in Kerry.


Since 2003, over 220,000 students have taken part in the Student Enterprise Programme.  Last year again there was great variety across the entries, and the winners.  In the Junior category, Specrest from Fingal in Dublin designed a 3D printed biodegradable clip that will secure glasses on clothing.  Smooth Remove from North Cork, a device for shoe removal won in the Senior category while Crios Mhadra from Kerry, a dog safety harness for car travel took home the Intermediate prize.


Full details of all this year’s 85 national finalists are available on the Student Enterprise Programme website at




For further information:

Suzanne Meade – Fuzion Communications – 086 413 3031 /

Declan Lee – Enterprise Ireland – 087 695 7451 /

Sarah Bohan – Enterprise Ireland – 087 653 9936 /




Junior – Sofatop, Ballybay Community College, Monaghan

Intermediate – Aim It Board, Loreto College, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin City

Senior – Handy Hose, CBS Thurles, Tipperary



Junior – Specrest – Educate Together, Portmarnock

Intermediate – Crios Mhadra – Presentation Secondary, Castleisland, Kerry

Senior – Smooth Remove – Boherbue Comprehensive, North Cork



Junior – Complete Caman – Presentation Secondary School, CastleIsland, Kerry

Intermediate – Lift Arm Assist – CBS Kilkenny

Senior – Abbey Bread – Cistercian College, Roscrea, Offaly



Junior – Daisy’s Pawesome Bowties – Our Lady’s Secondary School, Drogheda

Intermediate – Scott Engine Tables – Colaiste Chill Mhantain, Rathnew, Wicklow

Senior – ROC Protection – Clonkeen College, Blackrock, Dublin