Ardee-based Simply Fit Food was the big winner at the Louth county final of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur on Thursday evening – as co-founder Evelyn Garland was named the overall winner of the competition, meaning she will now go forward to he regional finals next month.
Garland, who runs the wildly successful Simply Fit Food from the North East Food Hub at Ardee Business Park alongside business partner Luke Judge, won the title of Louth’s Best Young Entrepreneur. Earlier in the evening, she was named the owner of the Best Start-Up in the county.
Run by the Local Enterprise Offices across the country, IBYE is supported by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland. Since starting in 2014, this year’s competition attracted almost 1,500 applications nationwide.
23-year-old Evelyn wasn’t present to accept her awards on the night – she and Luke have spent the last three weeks in Thailand – but her parents Emer and Tom were both on hand to take their temporary place in the spotlight and take home the awards (below).
Writing on social media, Evelyn and Luke wrote, “We can’t quite believe it! What a year it’s been for Simply Fit Food. We are ending it on such a high. Best New Business in Louth 2017, Best Social Media & Digital Marketing Award 2017 – and last night we won Best Start-up & over all winner at Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur in Louth!
“We now represent Louth at the Regional Finals next month. All in the space of just one year in business. We would like to once again say a massive thank you to our customers, followers, families & friends. Without you this year would not have been possible.
“We’d also like to say a huge thank you to LEO Louth who have continuously supported us since we have been in business. They have helped us a tremendous amount this past year through mentoring & advice. We were well represented at last night’s awards by our parents as we travel home from our trip to Thailand.
“Christmas has come early for us but we are more excited and motivated than ever to continue building our premium healthy meal brand nationwide.We have so many exciting plans for 2018 – this is only just the beginning.”
The duo – who have also appeared on RTE’S Dragons Den in 2017 – watched the ceremony via live stream from their holiday in Thailand, which they returned from over the weekend.
“The search to find Ireland’s best young entrepreneur began in August and we were delighted with the calibre of entries, “Louth’s Head of Enterprise Thomas McEvoy, also a competition adjudicator, remarked. “After a very successful Enterprise Day, Bootcamp and County Final, it’s great to know that the future of enterprise and job creation in Louth is bright.”
As well as Evelyn’s win for Simply Fit Food, Nikki Reddy of Celtic Adventures in Clogherhead was named winner of the Best Established Business award. Stephen Mulligan, of Fighting Fit in Dundalk, was the runner-up in this category.
With Simply Fit Food crowned Best Start Up, the judges had to award two runners up prizes – to John Sullivan of Loud Fades in Drogheda and Leanne Muckian of the Dundalk Study Academy.
34-year-old Colin Marry of The Bacon Tour at Marry’s Pig Farm won through in the Best Business Idea category.
Looking forward, Louth’s IBYE co-ordinator Sarah Mallon said, “Each of the winners and runners-up will share in an investment fund of up to €50,000 from the Local Enterprise Office to help grow and develop their business.
“The 3 category winners go forward to the Regional Finals in January. The team in Local Enterprise Office Louth will be providing intensive supports between now and then to prepare them for the regionals and hopefully Louth will have a representative at the IBYE National Finals in March.”
The awards on the night were each presented by Louth County Council cathoirleach and Ardee Municipal District councillor Colm Markey and were attended by Chief Executive of Louth County Council Joan Martin, Director of Services Frank Pentony, Cllr. Maeve Yore, Cllr. Emma Coffey and Presidents of Dundalk and Drogheda Chambers Michael Gaynor and Paddy Callaghan.
Simply Fit Food’s success is a considerable boost to the relatively new North East Food Hub in Ardee. Sitauted at Ardee Business Park, the timeshare kitchen aims to help small food producers in production and staff training. The premises is where Simply Fit Food’s produce is made fresh daily.
The company provides customised nourishing, healthy meals and snacks – all delivered straight to their customers doors – meaning that fast food doesn’t have to be junk food and there’s no excuse not to opt for the healthy option.
Sourcing the freshest, locally sourced ingredients for use in all of their meals, Simply Fit Food’s meal plans take the stress out of healthy cooking and health-concious eating.