Ciara O’Halloran, Co-founder of RedBank Food Co.

9th November 2015

Posted In: Women Who Launch
Ciara O Halloran

Every month we speak to women entrepreneurs who have just launched into the business world.

In the hot seat for November’s Women Who Launch is: Ciara O’Halloran, co-founder of RedBank Food Co.


The Elevator Pitch

The Redbank Food Company primarily exports live shellfish, such as Oysters, Mussels and Clams, now also expanding into Lobsters, Crabs and other Irish premium seafood products.


The Operation

We are based along the Flaggy Shore, New Quay, Co. Clare where the Burren Hills meet Galway bay. The operation is relatively small with big aspirations! There are currently two of us on a day to day basis – myself and my father Gerry O’ Halloran, with a plan to take on more staff in the coming months.


The Financials

The business finances itself for the most part, with assistance from a bank loan and BIM Grant for our current refurbishment and upgrade of our shellfish holding tanks and dispatch centre. We have also received an Enterprise Ireland Innovation voucher and marketing grants from Bord Bia.


Target Market

Our main target market is ABC1 – the 4*and 5* hotels and restaurants based in Europe, The Middle East and Asia. We will soon launch direct-to-consumer-market here in Ireland with our Fresh Seafood Baskets.


Brands You Love

Godiva Chocolates and Apple for their branding. Virgin, Patagonia clothing and Toms Shoes for their company values.


Biggest ‘Win’ To Date

At the moment, the biggest win is always securing new customers, the other was securing finance for our building refurbishment which will allow us to further develop and expand.


Biggest ‘Slap in the Face’

Not receiving funding on first application was a slap in the face at the time– but the result of that encouraged me to drive sales and work harder to make sure all my ducks were in a row for the next time I applied.


Are You Social When It Comes To Media?

I have only just started social media for The Redbank Food Co. but already have found it incredibly important for connecting with people globally and in particular in developing a brand for our Flaggy Shore Oysters. As we are exporters, by creating an online presence it assures we do really exist. It also allows me to promote our work and values as we’re in the process of upgrading our website.


Technology & Innovation

Innovation plays a part in developing and providing the best ways of packaging the live seafood that is best for the species, and the environment. On a daily basis, the internet and apps such as Whatsapp, Viber, Skype and Webchat along with emails is how we do all our business with local and our International customers as internet works better than the phone network most of the time!


A Business Model You Would Like To Emulate

I am relatively new to for-profit business, having previously worked for non–profits. I like the idea of marrying the two models in the area of value based businesses, whereby a company’s values are transparent in their business style. It encompasses the right people and planet values along with profit at the core of the business


If you had a blank cheque:

I would develop phase two and three of our business plan now! I am already there in my head but in reality it may take a few more years for it to take shape! I would take on a team of staff that would allow me to step away from packing oysters and work on promotion…. Or perhaps even hire a great team for that sector also!

I would further develop our social responsibility plan. I would like to partner with organisations and startups in developing countries in particular in seafood sector offering support and mentorship in getting products to market.


Best Traits

– Passionate,

– Hard working and determined

– Compassionate


Worst Traits

– I’m self critical and I probably over analyze too much

– My time keeping is not always the best – but I’m working on it

– I’m not great at prioritising and try to do too much.


Best Business Lunch Date

Arianna Huffington, Richard Branson or Caroline Keeling. All three would be amazing and in reality I’d probably not know what to say!


Ideal Business Partner (dead or alive)

I’m pretty lucky to be already in business with my father who has a wealth of knowledge and experience in this industry and sector, and we haven’t tried to kill each other yet. So, I think I’ll stick with him!


Best Advice to pass on

There will be challenges and success. Acknowledge the successes, regardless how great or small, and buckle up and ride through the challenges. Don’t forget to give yourself the pats on the back and encouragement as you would to someone else.