Derry welder turned entrepreneur wins top prize at 'Yes You Can' pitching competition
DERRY welder turned entrepreneur Laura Mulkeen has been named overall winner of a £20,000 ‘Yes You Can’ pitching competition at the inaugural All-Island Female Entrepreneurs Conference.
Hex Workwear, which specialises in creating purpose-built workwear for women within STEM Industries, took the £5,000 top prize in the competition, which is backed by Women in Business, Invest NI and the 11 councils.
After spending years as a coded pipe welder, Laura put her first-hand experience of the challenges caused by poor workwear, including burns and other hazards, to good use to create the company.
“I am absolutely thrilled,” she said. “The Yes You Can programme, and this year’s five finalists have all taught me so much, and it was an honour to pitch alongside them. Winning the pitching competition will support me greatly in two ways: to test and manufacture the products, and also to deliver an effective launch.
"I am currently in talks with an established manufacturer which has received the highest global awards for ethics and sustainability.
"It will also enable me to collaborate with a marketing agency to build awareness and anticipation around the brand to win customers globally; something I could not otherwise hope to do.”
The five runners-up, who took £3,000 for their respective ventures were:
- Rachel Coulter of Stable Manager;
- Jenny Greg of Crafted Equestrian;
- Michelle Donnelly of Freds Threads;
- Catherine Deegan of Doc Elite;
- Lynette Valerie McHendry of Spear and Arrow Bone Broth.
Nicky Scott head of programmes at Women in Business, said: “This is what the Yes You Can initiative is all about – empowering female entrepreneurs and business owners to platform their business ideas and gain invaluable feedback from their peers.
“A big congratulations to Laura for her inspirational pitch, and to our five regional winners this year who dared to say, ‘Yes I can’."