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Starting a Business in Coleraine

If you are in the process of planning your business, have just started trading or have been in business for some time, Causeway Enterprise Agency can provide you with the tailored support you need to manage it more efficiently, productively and profitably.




Guest speaker Karise Hutchinson Provost at the Ulster University Coleraine chatting with attendees at the Power of 4 Program run by the Causeway Enterprise Agency in association with Women in Business.

March has ended on a high for the Power of 4 Programme with Dr Karise Hutchinson delivering a powerful session on action planning at the last of the four training sessions.

Power of 4 is a Business start-up programme delivered by Causeway Enterprise Agency for women of all ages and backgrounds and has 18 participants with a wide range of business ideas, from workshops for children and services for the elderly to bespoke crafts to are all ready to take those ideas into action.

Running every Tuesday over March, the training has been jam packed with input from local successful women in business.

DAY 1,REFINING THE IDEA, was all about the ideas and focused on what motivates the customer to make a purchase. Karen Yates, our first role model, told her story of being involved in Zing Marketing Design and Print, and how she was driven to set up Taylor Yates,her thoughtfully designed and beautifully made range of handbags. Karen’s gorgeous bags definitely instilled ‘desire’ among the group!

DAY 2, MARKETING, the input was all about effective marketing and selling. Camilla Long of Bespoke Communications underlined the importance of communication and networking – especially in a place like Northern Ireland. People buy from people – we sometimes forget this in such a busy online world. The afternoon, the energetic Debbie Rymer of SAND Marketing extolled on the benefits of effective social media and set up the closed Facebook page for the group which has worked a treat, with lively interaction going on between the training session. Thanks Debbie!

DAY 3, THE MONEY, we focused in on finance with input from Vincent Lusby, Invest NI. Client Executive about the sources of funding available for innovative start-ups.

DAY 4, PLANNING, Our second role model, Sue McLoughlin, founder of BlueBird Care Coleraine, spoke to the group about starting up nine years ago and the challenges and achievements she has faced along the way. Sue and Karise both emphasised the importance of making time for planning if you want to make a business succeed and grow.

Po4 helps participants build confidence and take their ideas from concept to launch, along with offering both practical and specialist support.


The next element of the programme will be monthly evening networking meetings with input from expert and peer mentors. Expert mentoring will cover such start-up areas as finance, marketing, planning and tendering.

Developed by Women in Business NI more than 60 women have benefited from the support the programme offers to date. With a success rate of 67% of participants making their business idea a reality, Power of 4 is a hugely successful model.

Thanks to Women in Business NI for providing the funding for Power of 4 Causeway programme and enabling the women of the North Coast to avail of this support.

View full galley here

If you have a business idea or need some help contact Causeway Enterprise Agency on 028 7035 6318 or email or Women In Business NI on 084 5607 6041 or email

Powerful Women encouraging Female Entrepreneurship


Sarah Travers hosting the Q&A session with entrepreneurs Tracy Hamilton of Mash Direct, Terese Charles Tech Entrepreneur, Grainne Kelly of BubbleBum, Edel Doherty of Beyond Business Travel and Celebrity Chef Paula McIntyre at the 2nd Annual Female Entrepreneurs Conference 2018 held at Galgorm Resort and Spa organised by Women in Business and the Causeway Enterprise Agency

Have you forgotten already? We hope not, we are of course referring to the amazing panel of female entrepreneurs that we all got the chance to listen to at the Be Bold for progress conference two weeks ago. As promised this is the second blog in our series with the thoughts and ideas we captured on the day. Time flies and we would like to bring you back into the room that day and help each one of you to grow and learn from the best.

This year’s panellists were, Tracy Hamilton from Mash Direct, the mashed potatoes, Paula McIntyre, author, broadcaster, chef, and cook, Therese Charles, tech entrepreneur, educator, researcher, and wannabe Astronaut, and Edel Doherty from Beyond Business Travel, who knows everything there is to know about business trips….

The panel were interviewed and challenged by the lovely Sarah Travers and joined by one of our key note speakers Grainne Kelly from BubbleBum.

We are lucky to know people in business that are prepared to share their personal story, but this panel showed extreme bravery, honesty and integrity by sharing huge personal and business challenges with us.

Tracy Hamilton was first up. Mash Direct was established with her husband Martin, after they decided to diversify their farm business by adding value to their wholesale farming business. Fourteen years on, Mash Direct is a flourishing farming and food production enterprise and exports its innovative range across the world. Tracy has been instrumental in turning Mash Direct into a household name and Brand Leader throughout the UK and Ireland, ranged in over 5,000 stores. In fact, they have now launched in the USA but Tracy explained the difficulties of running the farm and the business, the challenges and benefits of working with your husband and now her children. She keeps it altogether with her own brand of tenacity, determination and ‘if it’s not in the diary its doesn’t happen’, under Tracy’s leadership the business has not only grown, it has won over 125 awards, truly inspiring.

Therese Charles was probably largely unknown to most of you, in truth that’s how she likes it, but we are pretty sure that most of you still remember her story…Therese explained that school, ‘didn’t work for me’, she didn’t know why, she knew she wanted to be an Astronaut but her teachers had a different view stating in one school report that, “Therese’s imagination runs away with her to the detriment of her English and grammar”. So she became a Rally Driver, as you do, competed, did well and broke her back in an RTA when she was 18 years old. She was told she probably wouldn’t walk again, the first of 7 surgeries was carried out on her 21st birthday. It was 1994, she couldn’t be an Astronaut or a Rally Driver, she went back to school, fell in love with technology, found she had a skill, completed 2 degrees and decided she wanted to research the addictive nature of games and help ‘kids like her’ to learn. Do you remember how quiet the room was when Therese told her story? She created Silverfish in 2011 along with her team of geeks, she made apps, educational games and applied game technology in other sectors like healthcare. Often this would be the end of the story where the clever entrepreneur reaps the benefits of all their hard work, for Therese there have been more challenges. Her fit and healthy appearance on the day belied further health problems that she has bravely fought through, she is driven by wanting to help those ‘kids like me’, she gets up everyday to do just that. What got you out of bed this morning?

Edel Doherty was a director of Selective Travel management for 17 years before she started her travel management company BEYOND Business Travel 7 years ago. The Business under Edel’s leadership has grown year on year to the successful company it is now with a turnover of £13 million and a team of 20 people. Experts in travel management for ambitious companies BEYOND make sure everyone is at their best no matter where they are in the world delivering world class service and cutting-edge technology. Softly spoken she may be but there is no end to this business woman’s achievements, she selflessly praised her team as key to the company’s success and glowed at the client feedback, a few days before following the chaos caused by the ‘beast from the east’. Her team had worked late and over the weekend to get people home. One client had managed to get home on Sunday night to see his family before he left again on Monday and her team had also managed to get another client home in time for the birth of his first child. Edel understands that her business doesn’t just book flights and move people from A-B, they deliver a service that enhances their life and often enables them to have a life, a great example of putting the customer at the heart of the business.

Paula McIntyre, fell in love with restaurants when she was 14, she begged her mum and the local restaurant, McDuff’s to give her a job, she got to wash the dishes but she loved being there. She went to college in Belfast, got a scholarship to America, owned her own restaurant in Manchester and then decided to move home. She describes herself as a Cook, not a celebrity chef, a Cook. She believes you ‘make your own luck’, her career has developed organically. Today she divides her time between lecturing students at NRC, judging the Radio 4 Food & Farm awards, she is a director of Slow Food, regularly contributes to Kitchen Cabinet and Farming Life and is a huge advocate and champion for NI Food. She was heading off to do some more food demos in Borough Market in London. Put simply in her own words Paula said, “At the end of the day I cook and I love food and I’m lucky,” wise words from the girl that started washing dishes age 14.

We captured the final piece of advice from the panel below:

Tracy – “keep talking, keep sharing and doors will open”

Paula – “if someone offers you help, take it”

Edel – “setting goals is key and helps keep you focussed”

Therese – “Don’t die with the music still in you”

Over 200 delegates attended the Female Entrepreneurs Conference 2018, made up of business owners, entrepreneurs and start-ups. The event was supported by Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council. Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, Causeway Chamber, Enterprise Northern Ireland & Ulster University Business School.

If you have a business idea or need some help contact Causeway Enterprise Agency on 028 7035 6318 or email or Women In Business NI on 084 5607 6041 or email

View the full Gallery from the event HERE

Join Women in Business NI HERE

Join Causeway Chamber HERE

What do Business Trips, Astronauts, Cooks and Mashed Potatoes have in common?



Tourism and Hospitality students at Ulster University Coleraine recently took part in a Lego Serious Play workshop and apart from the obvious fun of spending the day playing with Lego, the students learnt some serious Boardroom lessons!

The Serious Play workshop was organised by Causeway Enterprise Agency as part of Creativity Month with support from the Department for Communities and Ulster University. The concept of playing with children’s toys may seem strange but LEGO Serious Play is a powerful method to solve problems, explore ideas and achieve objectives. The process of building bricks and making something prompts the brain to work in a different way, and encourages creativity and new thinking.

Students started the day by competing against the clock and against each other to fulfil a simple brief to build the tallest tower out of Lego. In delivering on this simple project, students applied what they learnt to a business scenario of bidding for a £1m contract and learnt a very valuable lesson - to give the customer what he wants.

The students then recreated their goals and challenges in brick and came back together to discuss their creations. This helped to stimulate debate and really engaged all the participants and helped build their confidence in talking in front of the group.

Five local tourism businesses also joined the workshop sessions and students were presented with real life business challenges. Instead of articulating the problem, students were able to build it, and visualise how to solve it. By building a physical 3D model, students expressed what they might not otherwise be able to put into words. This method got participants to use metaphors and it helped to unlock their imagination.

By looking at problems through a different lens the Lego Serious Play workshop served as a basis for problem-solving, creative thinking and decision making.


View the full gallery from the event HERE


The power of play



IT’S NEVER TOO YOUNG TO START UP! …That’s the message from Causeway Enterprise to the Lil’ Divas and the younger members of the Bushmills Residents and Environmental Forum.

With support from the RBS Skills & Opportunities fund, Causeway Enterprise have officially launched their new enterprise programme with the Bushmills group. The programme consisting of creative classes and enterprise workshops will focus on developing skills in the craft/designer maker sector and the wider creative industries.

Through a series of hands on, fun activities the young entrepreneurs will engage in a number of sessions where they work on the early stages of launching a fledgling business. Through the programme they will learn the importance of teamwork and learn more about different roles that contribute to running a business while also developing their design and creative skills through hands on creative workshops.





It's Never Too Young to Start Up!



Attending the 2nd Annual Female Entrepreneurs Conference 2018 held at Galgorm Resort and Spa are l-r conference host Sarah Travers, Jayne Taggart CEO of the Causeway Enterprise Agency, keynote speaker Norah Casey Broadcaster and Publisher, from Women in Business NI Roseann Kelly and keynote speaker Grainne Kelly inventor of the BubbleBum Booster Seat. The conference was organised by Women in Business and the Causeway Enterprise Agency along with sponsors Causeway Coast and Glens Council, Mid and East Antrim Council, the Ulster University Business School, the Causeway Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise N.Ireland. 

If you grew up in Northern Ireland or anywhere in Ireland for that matter, the chances are that at some point you will have been told, ‘not to be so bold!’ Last week at the 2nd Female Entrepreneur Conference over 240 female entrepreneurs, one brave man and a 10 week old baby girl were encouraged again to Be Bold.


It was International Women’s day, at Causeway Enterprise Agency we have been hosting an event on this day for 17 years. Last year we decided to take it up a notch, along with the team at Women in Business and our supportive sponsors, this year we did it again, with new speakers, a new panel and a new challenge to #be bold for progress. As always our host was broadcaster and entrepreneur Sarah Travers, this year we were at the stunning Galgorm Resort and Spa. There was so much to learn and share so we have decided to make this blog 1 of 3, we have the beginning the middle and the end of this insightful day, starting with our first speaker of the day.

Grainne Kelly a mum-of-two, authentic ‘Derry Girl’ and former travel agent who revolutionized the child travel industry by inventing Bubble Bum: the world’s FIRST inflatable booster seat, burst on to the stage to tell her story, with humour, honesty and integrity and a single minded determination to succeed. According to Grainne, “No is just a temporary obstacle,” this certainly resonated with a few people at our table, what do you think?

Grainne told of how she wasn’t always destined to run a business, in fact as often is the case she had been told at school that she was, ‘a waste of a brilliant mind’ but instead of believing what she was being told she said this was the first time in her life that she recognised resilience. At that moment she knew that she was the only person that could affect her life, it was up to her.

She went on to save up for University with her babysitting money, decided not to go, worked for a construction company where being the only woman was, ‘no bother to her’ but wasn’t to be. She moved to the travel industry and found success largely by competing with herself to be at the top of the leader board. During this period and due to frequent trips to England with a young family, to visit a poorly relative, Grainne had the idea for what today is known as BubbleBum. Her mantra of ‘No is a temporary obstacle’ came in handy as she was frequently told her idea wasn’t possible.

We heard how she kept pushing, put the work in, understood how to get her product made, crash tested, the first time this had ever been achieved, and ultimately started to look for a manufacturer in China.

There were plenty of bumps along the way, securing to her patent, costly legal battles, moving to the USA without enough money. Throughout it all Grainne advised, “its always important to do the right thing and ask yourself, would my mammy be proud of me for this?”

BubbleBum is now being sold globally and has been successfully crash tested in the states. Grainne has said no, yes and no again to the worlds largest retailer Walmart because they simply weren’t a good fit. She has overcome a serious road traffic accident involving her kids and health problems that brought her to the brink. Her story of sheer determination, passion for her purpose and resilience, let the audience in awe.

She left us with some final thoughts – “For every inhale there has to be an exhale or you will combust”, self care and family is important, Grainne answers her phone to her family wherever she is in the world. The final word went to her beloved Dad, ‘there is no such word as canny’

From Derry girl to global entrepreneur with a business that saves children’s lives everyday, not bad for a girl that was told she was a waste of a good brain…


Over 200 delegates attended the Female Entrepreneurs Conference 2018, made up of business owners, entrepreneurs and start-ups. The event was supported by Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council. Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, Causeway Chamber, Enterprise Northern Ireland & Ulster University Business School.


If you have a business idea or need some help contact Causeway Enterprise Agency on 028 7035 6318 or email or Women In Business NI on 084 5607 6041 or email


View the full Gallery from the event HERE

Join Women in Business NI HERE

Join Causeway Chamber HERE

Were you told not to Be Bold when you were growing up?


At the Armstrong Medical stand for the Careers Convention are l-r David Grainger of the Causeway Business Education Partnership, Sam Goodchild of Armstrong Medical, student Sean Gillen, Edward Montgomery of sponsors The Honourable the Irish Society, Jayne Taggart of the Causeway Enterprise Agency, Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council Business Development Officer Bridget McCaughan, student Emma Farren and Helen Canning of Armstrong Medical at the Causeway Business Education Partnership Careers Convention sponsored, through the Causeway Enterprise Agency and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, by The Honourable the Irish Society. 

The CBEP Careers Convention which is held annually to assist careers decisions for Year 11 and Year 12s took place on Friday 2nd March at Lodge Hotel. The event welcomed 1400 students from the CC&G area on the day.

There were over 40 exhibitors supporting the event. Exhibitors were drawn from across the UK; with Universities there from England and the local universities, Ulster University & Queens University strongly represented too. The Law Society NI were a very welcome new exhibitor this year, with their stand proving very popular with the students!

Local employers were out in force this year; Nicobrand, Hutchinson's Engineering, McAuley Engineering, Cranswick Country Foods, Armstrong Medical and Lacpatrick were there to educate the students about the career opportunities available in their local workplaces.

The further education colleges, NRC & NWRC demonstrated again this year that Apprenticeships and Careers are high on their agenda, offering qualifications in Hairdressing, Performing Arts, Media, Catering, Business and Computing, Engineering, Bricklaying, Joinery and Sports Science among others.

The highlight of the day had to be the NRC Performing Arts students “Flash Mob”, which promoted a career in Performing Arts. The daring students added a dramatic element to the day, showing off their skills in performance and dance to the crowd there. It was delightful to watch our local creative talent flourishing.

Chairman of CBEP, David Grainger said on the day "Fantastic day - great to see the students so engaged with the exhibitors. So much potential in our Borough. Proud of the young people in all our schools."

A busy day was had and the students were keen to find out their careers options, with high levels of engagement reported by the exhibitors and the students this year. Another successful event this year, now looking forward to next year!

The event is organised by Causeway Business Education Partnership and was supported by the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council as part of Enterprise Week 2018, The Honourable The Irish Society, and managed by Causeway Enterprise Agency.


CBEP Careers Convention Helps Students to Make Careers Decisions in 2018