Mary and Sarah Murphy, are two 16 year old Transition Year students, in Jesus and Mary Secondary School, Gortnor Abbey, Crossmolina, Co. Mayo.
The two aspiring young entrepreneurs established their own mini-enterprise company ‘Make a Mark’, as part of the Student Enterprise Awards Programme, earlier this year, creating a hand-held gun for applying marking fluid to sheep.
With Entrepreneurship, having always been something that they have been interested in and having seen the success of previous companies, the girls were ‘really looking forward to Enterprise in TY.’
Back in September of 2015, the girls commenced studying enterprise, as a subject in order to set the wheels in motion.
‘At the beginning of the school year, we had to come up with an idea for mini company as part of our enterprise class and this is where it all started. We had a prototype of the gun in use for the last two years so we decided to use that idea for our mini enterprise.’ Mary explained.Coming from a sheep and cattle farm based in North Mayo and having an interest in the industry from a very young age, the idea for their project was sparked, after realising ‘the difficulty of marking sheep’.
‘It is a job that nearly all farmers have to do but a job that is extremely messy, time-consuming and awkward. We then put our heads together to come up with a way to make this job easier.’ Sarah explained.The gun currently retails at €60, this includes a gun, a cartridge and a nozzle.
‘We have designed a hand-held gun for applying marking fluid to sheep. This product can benefit all sheep farmers in marking their sheep as it is fast, effective and efficient. It can be used opposed to the traditional brush or stick application method. The gun applies the fluid in a single dot position deep in the wool or in a straight line on the animal depending on which of the two application nozzles you use.
It is designed with a screw in refill cartridge that we offer in a variety of colours. Also for all the farmers currently using marking sprays this will make using marking fluid as easy. Using marking fluid has many advantages compared to the aerosol sprays. These include the health risks that go with the majority of the sprays. The marking sprays are most often in aerosol cans which commonly contain harmful chemicals and CFC's which are bad for your health and can pose a major threat to the environment.’
The pair took first place in the North Mayo and Mayo Finals of the competition and progressed onto national level, where they scooped 3rd in the Senior Category, in the National Finals of the Student Enterprise Awards Programme.
‘We were so fortunate to have done so well. At the national final in Croke Park, we also won 2 out of 20 places in a business bootcamp to be held in UCC in the coming weeks.’ Mary commented.Mary and Sarah hope to continue their project and develop a number of new products.
‘Our experience as young entrepreneurs has been nothing but enjoyable. We have met some great people along our journey in the Student Enterprise Awards and we appreciate all the help and support we have got from everyone around us.’
‘We feel this has definitely been a worth-while experience, and we have gained invaluable life experience. We learned how to run our own business and to work together as a team. We learned that difficulties will always arise but we also discovered that we can easily overcome these difficulties if we work together as a team.’
‘We have received great help from many different people including, teachers, parents, grandparents, family and local business people. Our enterprise teacher Ms.Kelly and technology teacher Mr.Gallagher have been of great help along with all the staff in Gortnor Abbey. Our Mentor Peter from Moy Valley Resources and all the staff there have helped us greatly and supported to us since the beginning. We have received great help and support from everyone who has stocked our products and from people who we have meet at competitions, meetings and shows we attended.’
‘We started with only one nozzle for the gun and now have three so we are already expanding. We are also hoping to develop a gun for putting tail paint on cow’s but at the moment we’re just concentrating on the one project.’ They added.Future Plans:
‘In the future we hope to continue selling our products and hopefully develop some new products. We also hope to be producing products on a bigger scale and be selling outside of Ireland.’