An entrepreneur from Randalstown who took part in the popular TV show Dragons Den now has his own business manufacturing and selling hurling sticks thanks to support from the Go For It programme in association with Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
The project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.
Emmet Martin (25) has been making hurls for over a decade since first turning his hand to the ancient skill as a 15-year-old schoolboy. He then decided to turn his passion into a reality and launched Martin Hurls.
Martin Hurls manufacture hurling sticks which are made from ash and supply local clubs and customers across Ireland.
Martin said: “I always had an interest in hurling and hurling sticks and when I was at school I would repair the hurls for local players and that moved on to making a few on the side.
“I believed there was a gap in the market, especially locally. There isn’t many hurley makers in the area and I felt that I could meet the demand.”
When Emmet launched Martin Hurls, he felt slightly confident as he had a number of years’ experience of hurley stick making behind him.
He said: “When I finally launched Martin Hurls, I did feel a sense of calm and contentedness. I have been making hurls for about ten years now, so I have quite a bit of experience behind me and it was about increasing the workload.”
When he was in his teens, Emmet appeared on the entrepreneurial show Dragons Den Junior where he pitched his idea in front of five established entrepreneurs.
Emmet said: “Appearing on Dragons Den Junior in Ireland would probably be my biggest achievement. I was only 17-years-old and it opened a lot of doors for me and it’s something I can keep with me for the rest of my life.”
The 25-year-old businessman admitted with the current global uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war, he has struggled to get materials.
“There is always a hurdle in this business, between Covid-19 and the Ukraine was, trying to find a steady supply of ash has always been a problem and we are constantly fighting a battle to meet demand.”
Martin was first introduced to the Go For It programme through his local enterprise centre.
He said: “The programme showed me different opportunities that were available to me and with the help of my mentor, Ken, we are trying to open some new doors.
“The business plan is still ongoing and between finance and marketing, it has given me the confidence to prove that my business is going to be a success.”
The Go For It programme is delivered free of charge by a team of experienced business mentors through Northern Ireland’s wide network of enterprise agencies. It provides expert advice and help with developing a robust business plan to help turn ideas into a commercial enterprise.
For anyone that is considering starting up their own business, Martin recommends getting in touch with the Go For It programme:
“If you have a drive and passion for something and you think you can turn it into a business then absolutely go for it, with their help my business is growing from strength to strength.”
Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Stephen Ross said: “I am delighted to see how Emmet has brought his passion to life through the Go For It programme. Starting a new business takes hard work and determination; Martin Hurls creates unique, handcrafted products for the local market and beyond. Emmet should be very proud of the business he has built.
“Entrepreneurs are key to our local economy and we aim to support businesses right from idea stage, through Go For It and our other business growth initiatives, from mentoring to digital support.
“As the first step in our business support initiatives, we are proud of the Go For It programme and the help it provides. Considering entrepreneurship for the first time can be challenging, and I would encourage anyone thinking of being their own boss to access the programme.”
Business Adviser, Ken Nelson said: “Emmet was able to get support with business planning, looking at the market research, seeing what his products were and where he needed to go to market. Then he got help with where the support was available and to be able to know how to access that help.
We put together a business plan that would work for him. It’s exciting to see somebody who is as dynamic as Emmet – he is a real entrepreneur. He has worked exceptionally hard and taken an idea, a love and a hobby and has turned it into a business. He has taken Martin Hurls from an idea.”
Go For It
This project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.
Invest Northern Ireland
Invest Northern Ireland works with individuals, companies and organisations in manufacturing and tradable services which show the ambition and commitment to grow by being more innovative, more entrepreneurial, and more internationally focused.
Invest NI’s full range of support and services are delivered through local offices in Belfast, Coleraine, Ballymena, Craigavon, Londonderry, Newry, Enniskillen and Omagh, and an international office network.
When I finally launched Martin Hurls, I did feel a sense of calm and contentedness.