Carve Cases, a homegrown start-up that makes Apple accessories from wood, has just secured its second round of funding and will create 10 new jobs in the next year. The funding comes from Paul Kenny, the recently crowned Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year whose Middle Eastern web empire is growing exponentially.
I like how things go full circle in the technology industry. In the early days of the internet in Ireland I like many others admit to have been charmed and enchanted when Des Kenny of Kenny’s Bookshop in Galway – the second bookshop in the world to have its own website – spoke passionately about basic principles of online commerce.
Like many others again I was impressed when Paul Kenny from the same family and who put in time at Kenny’s Bookshop as an online marketing administrator won this year’s Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year this year for his success with Middle Eastern-focused online commerce site Cobone.com which has 1.5m customers, 600k followers on social media and has saved its customers more than US$50m on their online purchases.
That gut feeling of being enchanted by a new online venture returned in July this year when I spoke with Dónal Maloney of Carve Cases, one of the winners of Simply Zesty co-founder Niall Harbison’s recent €10,000 competition for start-ups.
Here was an entrepreneur who created beautiful and relevant items for a world market and was potentially creating local jobs for local craftsmen. In essence, that is the beautiful opportunity of the web – the ability to bring items from books to iPhone cases or whatever to people around the world using your skill, knowledge, passion and applying the basic tenets of good customer care.
So it seems highly appropriate that the second round investor in Carve Cases is none other than Paul Kenny.
Carving out a global online business
Maloney now has two employees on board and is expanding his product range beyond iPhone 4, 4S and 5 to include iPad cases.
“I’m thrilled that Paul is now involved,” Maloney said. “His track record speaks for itself. What really impressed me was his enthusiasm for the company. The first time we spoke, it was clear that he understood exactly what we’re trying to do. When Niall became a part of Carve it was the same. They both understand how important it is to create great quality products that people are going to have in their hands and use every day.
The connection between Kenny and Harbison was firnly established this year when Harbison was one of the finalists for Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year. Harbison is the co-founder of social media agency Simply Zesty which he and Lauren Fisher started in a spare room three years ago and sold it for stg£1.7m to UTV plc (potentially rising to stg£5m) this year.
“I met Paul through the Entrepreneur of the Year programme and we clicked instantly,” Harbison recalls. “At the same time I was watching Dónal struggle with the volume of orders, hiring and scaling a fledgling business so the fit of adding Paul to the team felt perfect. Paul is a world class entrepreneur who has excellent execution skills and a huge network so that can only be a good thing for the business and we are lucky to have him on board.”