Niamh McHugh

Startup Salon July 2015 Panelist

During our chat about how Pucker came to be, co-founder Niamh McHugh confided ‘I always wanted to own my own business’.As is the case with many a dream like this, it can only come true if the dreamer believes that they can make it happen and then takes action to make the dream a reality.  Often action comes when events unfold and present opportunities which the dreamer makes the most out of.   The event in Niamh’s case was redundancy.  The word has loomed ominously over the Irish workforce since 2008 but when it happens to people audacious enough to set up their first business while still a student – as Niamh did in her third year in college with, – well, they see the event as an opportunity not a threat.Niamh said that at the time she thought: ‘I have to do this’ and set a plan to ‘give it 6 months and go for it’.

So instead of heading straight back into the job market, Niamh and co-founder Louise Dunne, had an app made that was to be a directory for beauty businesses.

Often ideas morph into something else; something bigger and better, taking the brains behind them down another path.  The other path these women went down was the one provided by StartLocal. Niamh explained the reason for the change in direction ‘we’re perfectionists and we realised it [the directory] wasn’t the direction we wanted to go’.

So how did they come to join the startups in StartLocal? ‘I follow Popdeem and I found out from their Twitter feed that StartLocal were looking for companies to join their incubator program’ she said.

And it seems Niamh and Laura are in their element, working alongside other startups, like Popdeem ‘they’ve been so helpful to us’.  You get the sense that there’s a great spirit of community in the StartuLocal office, as Niamh said: ‘there are different levels of startups, it’s a real community with all of us 100% talking and connecting‘.

As a busy women with little time to spare for indulging in girly pampering, let alone for searching online for appointments, I’m looking forward to getting onto Pucker and getting some much needed beauty TLC!  This is a service that you feel can only go one way and that’s onwards and upwards, and it seems all the signs are pointing to this as Niamh said ‘orders are coming through and we have customers who can give us feedback, so we’re constantly improving our service’.

We spoke about the importance of role models for women, especially in industries like Tech, where there are fewer women available to inspire and mentor their junior counterparts. Inspiring stories make you believe that you can do something extraordinary with your life too, as Niamh said about the story of how the founder of the beauty website Into the Gloss, Emily Weiss, launched her own skin care range: ‘it’s not like these things don’t happen to people’.

Pucker’s story is a lesson in how important it is for aspiring entrepreneurs to position themselves to take advantage of opportunities that come their way.  By following and learning from companies who inspire you on social media and grabbing opportunities as they come, you never know what new paths will open up to you, on which are opportunities that will change your life.

We spoke about entrepreneurship as something that does this;  for those up for a challenge and willing to work extremely hard to execute an idea that seeks to solve a problem, owning a business is a gratifying and exciting work-life choice, as Niamh said: ‘Before I attached negativity to work – I was dreading going in on a Monday’ but of course there’s always a downside, as Niamh admitted ‘you become consumed by it; I’m thinking about it so much’. However, the sparkle in her eyes, and her uncontainable enthusiasm for what she’s doing, told me there’s no way this kick ass women would turn back on the path that she’s now following.