Tipperary Entrepreneur’s Innovative GAA Ponchos For Sale Online

EVERY year, thousands of GAA fans from towns and villages across Tipperary invest in jerseys, scarves and hats to show everyone what team they support but when it rains, all the effort is lost, as the coats and jackets come on and their club colours are lost in the crowd.

Ballyporeen entrepreneur Valerie Sheehy has set out to change all this with her innovative GAA county coloured ponchos, so that come rain, hail or snow, GAA fans can show their team colours with pride. Valerie’s business is young and she has been watching it evolve since she appeared on RTE’s Dragons’ Den last year.

Whether fans are on the sidelines rooting for Roscrea or Clonmel, Ballylooby or Aherlow, Valerie has a poncho to match.

GAA PonchosThe Tipperary business woman came up with the idea when she was watching a GAA match on TV. Before her eyes, she saw the sea of county colours transform into one dark colour, as the coats and jackets were donned.

“I watched in horror as the rain fell and the GAA county colours just disappeared.”

Not sitting on her laurels, Valerie set about researching the market and had a prototype made. When she entered The Den for the popular RTE business show, she was armed with the backing of the official GAA license.

She entered The Den hoping to part with 20% of her business for €40,000, but like many entrepreneurs who go into The Den, she ended up giving away more than that as Dragons Peter Casey and Barry O’Sullivan pledged double the equity share, giving her €40,000 for 40% of her business.

“When you go in, you are prepared to give away a portion of your business but you go in hoping that they won’t want half of your business.”

Valerie would be quite business minded and before she set up myponcho.ie, she lived in the UK for 14 years working in sales and finance before moving back to Ireland four years ago. Even though she set up an office in Clonmel, Valerie decided from the outset that she would only sell her product online, as it ties in with rising internet sales.

“Everything is online and mobile nowadays and there are a lot of shops closing. My vision was to sell my product online. This makes the process more manageable, as it’s just me and the customer.”

At the moment, she sells ponchos for Tipperary, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Longford, Wicklow, Roscommon, Derry, Tyrone, Louth, Donegal, Leitrim, Meath, Galway, Westmeath and Kilkenny. These colours also tie in with 29 GAA clubs across Tipperary.

Valerie Sheehy GAA Ponchos

Valerie Sheehy came up with the concept of the GAA Ponchos

Valerie also has plain ponchos for sale and speaking about the versatility of the ponchos, she explained that they are a perfect companion for festivals and concerts. All ponchos can be customised with company or club branding. The GAA ponchos retail online at €20 (free postage and packaing). Prices for clubs or corporates vary, depending on the order size.

While Dragon’s Den gave Valerie great exposure, she decided to walk away from the Dragons last summer and take back full ownership of her business. However, as a result of her appearance on Dragon’s Den, Valerie was approached by an Irish International brand. She realised that she didn’t have to give away a chunk of her business to get the advice and support she needed.

“They helped me source a supplier, which was a very big obstacle to overcome. It has all been a learning curve so far. The fabric changed from the initial design, but what I have now is top quality with a good waterproof element.”

Since the business started, Valerie has had support from LEADER and the South Tipperary Enterprise Board, while she was also a member of the Women in Business Group and the Chamber of Commerce in Clonmel.

Myponcho.ie got its best endorsement at the National Ploughing Championships last year, where both Michael D Higgins and Micheal Martin met her in the LEADER village and commended her for the innovative product.

For more information or to place an order, visit www.myponcho.ie, see MyPoncho.ie on Facebook or follow MyPoncho_ie on Twitter.

Comments are closed.