Hole in one for Sofaer IMBA Venture Founder Dave McGeady

Irish entrepreneur and Sofaer International MBA alum Dave McGeady has had a hectic day at Wyldsson. It's all on the back of a tweet sent out by a member of a pop band praising a bowl of Pro 7 Gluten Free Muesli he has just consumed.

28 January 2015

This article was originally published in the Irish Indpendent on January 25, 2015

 

"James McVey of The Vamps sent out a tweet this morning which has created a lot of attention so there would be a fair few customers ordering today on the back of that," reveals the excited, but busy, McGeady.

 

The 34-year-old employs four people to make his healthy and nutritious snack products - such as porridge toppings and nut butters which don't contain gluten, dairy, added sugar, added sweeteners, colourings or preservatives. The products are aimed at top athletes - and the athletes just can't get enough.

 

With a background in investment banking, McGeady never envisioned his healthy snack company would be utilised by leading sports stars in such a short space of time.

 

 

Following an MBA at Tel Aviv University, a place which in McGeady's words is a "hotbed of entrepreneurism and innovation", the Lucan native was made redundant from a medical technology company in summer 2012.

 

"I stared looking around for jobs but there wasn't that many. One of the things I always wanted to do was start a business. I was 31 years of age, it was a case of now or never."

 

McGeady began playing around with ideas and one of the things that really annoyed him was the difficulty finding healthy snacks, with so few options out there.

 

"I couldn't understand why no one had ever tried to solve the problem.

 

"A few years ago I had a health scare - skin cancer - and that made me pay a lot more attention to what I eat. I started looking at the labels of what I was consuming, and it dawned on me that there wasn't enough products out there that were free of junk."

 

This would lead the now CEO of nutritious food company Wyldsson to search for ingredients to use in his breakfast and snack products. He eventually found a mix which include organic golden berries, organic Persian mulberries, Californian pomegranate, goji berries and mangoes from Guyana.

 

"The whole problem with this area is that it is really difficult for companies to strike a balance between something that is healthy and something that tastes good - that's the equation that the food industry can't reconcile.

 

"By using much higher quality ingredients, we can use interesting products that don't have the junk, but taste really good - such as organic bananas from Ecuador and Californian pomegranate - but are reasonable because we sell direct to our customers online and so cut out a bunch of middle men."

 

Wyldsson sell online only and have no plans to go into retail outlets, supermarkets or health food shops.

 

Despite a dazzling client list that includes members of the Irish, English and Scottish National rugby teams as well as Ulster, Leinster and Harlequins players, Team Sky Cycling, pro-snowboarder Aimee Fuller, stars of LA Lakers and QPR plus plenty of GAA players, golf was the first sport where the Wyldsson products took off.

 

"Our first high profile customer was Danish professional golfer Thorbjorn Olesen. You start off with this one guy and he likes your product so he tells his friends and it grows over time. Golfers talk to each other and watch what the other is doing and eventually Rory McIlroy came knocking on the door last year. He tried the stuff and really liked it. Then the rugby players followed, players from Munster were our first rugby customers.

 

"We have players from a bunch of pro teams in the UK as well - Harlequins, Scarlets and Exeter. But we don't put effort into promoting it, its all driven by word of mouth."

 

With athletes being one category of people who really care about what they eat, they are the most prominent of McGeady's customer groups.

 

"They bring a lot of attention to my product and the brand."

 

And what better publicity than world number one golfer Rory McIlroy munching on Wyldsson's ProMix tube (a mix of nuts, seeds and fruits) on live television.

 

The golfer from Co Down became a customer of Wyldsson last May after seeing other European Tour players eat the snack products.

 

As the TV cameras zoomed in on him at the the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool and two weeks later at the US PGA Championship at Valhalla in Kentucky, demand for the product soared overnight.

 

"It was absolutely huge. Rory was on television winning two Majors and eating our product - it was seen by millions of people around the world.

 

"It put a huge amount of attention our way - and a lot of seaches on social media, resulting in us having our biggest week ever. It was really something special."

 

A proud moment for Wyldsson's managing director too no doubt?

 

"This time last year, I never would have thought we'd get this far so quickly, so seeing the work pay off was amazing."

 

Wyldsson also supplied customised tubes for Team Europe in the 2014 Ryder Cup under Paul McGinley at Gleneagles in Scotland.

 

"It's only through perseverance do you refine and develop your concept further into something that's a winner," says McGeady.

 

McGeady also hopes to tackle the UK market in 2015, which is ten times bigger than the Irish one.

 

"We also signed a deal with a US company to licence the technology from their web store so that will be going live next month, which will be a big step forward for us."

 

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