Two Clonmel High School students are planning for the future after ‘Dan & Mike’s Ice-cream’ earned a seal of approval in the Dragons Den.
South Tipperary young entrepreneurs, thirteen year old Daniel Traas and fourteen year old Michael Barlow were in celebratory mood this week after a successful appearance in the Dragons Den on RTE last Sunday. The initiative of the young business duo was rewarded with a €2,000 bursary in a nerve wrecking appearance on the show.
The boys made an impressive pitch and the decision went down to the last dragon Sean O’Sullivan who awarded the bursary. Daniel and Michael will invest the money on customised tubs and will purchase mobile ice cream carts with freezers. They plan to travel the country this summer selling their produce at music festivals and sporting events.
The business partners received a huge welcome when they returned to the High School on Monday from teachers and classmates and their proud families in Clonmel and Ardfinnan have been inundated with messages of congratulations since the show. Not only were the boys granted the bursary but their product, ice cream and sorbet made using surplus fruit from Daniel’s family fruit farm, was given a massive endorsement by Dragon Gavin Duffy who described their ice cream as the best food product he has ever tasted in the Den.
“That was amazing, we were delighted he said that on the show. It was fantastic to get the bursary but to get that recommendation from Gavin Duffy was brilliant for us,” said Daniel.
Daniel said they had a lot of confidence in the product and they were determined to develop the business.
“We were nervous, my legs were like jelly but we knew if they tasted the ice cream they would be impressed by it,” he said.
Daniel, son of Con and Trina, and Michael, son of Anne and Stan, were among four hundred and fifty 12 to 18 year olds from all across the country who entered the competition to bring their ideas into the Den. A series of regional heats held by the Bank of Ireland culminated last December with the young people behind the top 100 ideas gathering in Dublin for the national finals with the best twenty winning the chance to pitch their business ideas to the Dragons. The Dan & Mikes Ice Cream concept was created as part of a school business project and when that got cancelled they decided to continue on their entrepreneurial path. Then the Dragons Den opportunity arose and they decided to go for it.
“We never thought we would get this far with the idea. It started out in first year in the High School as a project for YES scheme and it went on from there”, said Daniel.
He paid tribute to the teaching staff in the High School. He thanked teachers Tony Gleeson, Martina O’Reilly and Paul O’Mahony for the role they played and also to school principal Shay Bannon for his support. Daniel said he was looking forward to bringing the product, which is on sale at the Trass family fruit farm, The Apple Farm, at Moorstown between Clonmel and Cahir, to festivals that were taking place in Clonmel and around the country during the summer. The boys have already selected a design for their tubs and are delighted to be in a position now to use the bursary to introduce it to their business. Michael said that after managing to get into the Dragons Den with the project after the long qualification process, it was a relief to finally get to make the pitch.
“We were a little nervous at the start but once we started to make the presentation everything was okay,” he said, adding that a lot of hard work went into bringing the project this far and he was looking forward to the challenge of developing the business.