Martin O'Connell, Nasal Medical

When cattle on Martin O’Connell’s family farm in Kerry contracted TB it sparked an idea which formed the genesis of the Irish medical device company, Nasal Medical. Having heard about the financial support and mentoring provided through Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund (CSF), he made his application – read how the CSF supported his business and his advice on the CSF process.

Martin O'Connell Nasal Medical
Martin O'Connell, CEO, Nasal Medical

Nasal Medical - addressing major global problems 

Nasal Medical specialises in anatomically designed nasal products to aid comfortable and effective breathing. Covering five target markets including pollution, allergies, sleeping disorders (mild sleep apnea and snoring), congestion and sport enhancement, we address a myriad of major global problems - alleviating sleep disorders, protecting against the inhalation of seasonal allergies/contaminated air & enhancing athletic performance. 

Having launched two of our four products, the Discreet Snoring Aid, and the Allergy Nasal Filter, our user-friendly designed devices are innovative and competitively priced so they are affordable to all. The Travel Nasal Filter and Sport Enhancement Aid will be launched by the end of 2017. 

Concept born out of crisis 

The ‘light bulb moment’ came through an unfortunate event on my family’s farm in Kerry, when our cattle contracted Tuberculosis. I knew that I had to come up with a solution to prevent a reoccurrence, and from this, the concept for Nasal Medical, and a filter for humans, was born. Acknowledging the pollution problem in Asia, we knew there was a bigger market for humans. During our research and development with slight modifications, we discovered we had a second application for the device. 

Put simply, due to the ongoing support of Enterprise Ireland, which has proven invaluable to our success, I am constantly inspired each day when we receive positive user feedback from satisfied and grateful customers. It is rewarding to know we are addressing and solving global problems. Because we are working with world class universities and researchers in Ireland, I am genuinely excited that our products and pipe line of products will give us a competitive edge.

Starting up 

No doubt, the first year of business is challenging - you’re trying to get the business off the ground, everything is new, and there are so many obstacles to cross before you can even hold your product. The challenges we faced in our first year were mainly to do with securing patents and ensuring we had our regulatory compliance in order. Packaging and of course raising finance were also issues.


Financial support and mentorship 

Before we could launch the product to the marketplace we had to have our patents and regulatory compliance in order. We had heard about the CSF and knew it was a great initiative for both financial support and the mentorship programme. 

Getting the CSF helped grow our business, because it validated what we were trying to do, and gave us the confidence to grow. We were teamed up with our mentor, Terry O’Sullivan, who came from the same sector as us. He was able to offer us first-hand advice and guidance, and played an integral role in making sure that our patents and regulatory affairs were in order. Terry also helped secure our manufacturer in Ireland, who believed in the company so much, they came on as investors. 

The CSF helped get our product ready-to-sell, in terms of packaging, literature, and finance for our first order. Enterprise Ireland also gave us Development Advisors, Maria Jennings and TJ Hughes, who have supported us every step of the way. Because we are based in the Guinness Enterprise Centre, we are also supported by Dublin BIC.


Application advice 

Be well prepared and have a clear, well thought out and cogent business plan. Know exactly where the money will be assigned to within the business and make sure key areas are prioritised. Have a clear vision of what you want to do with the money, and where you want the company to be in five years time. 

It’s a tough application, so be organised and be prepared. Have your financials and a robust business plan in place. Also, another key piece of advice would be to speak to someone who has gone through the process before.

Looking to the future 

Since we began trading in July 2016, we have proven that we have a market in Ireland, and will be entering the UK market in 2018, with the US and Asia in our sights following that. With the receipt of the Feasibility Grant from Enterprise Ireland, we are now strongly positioned to utilise consultants with comprehensive knowledge and expertise in the overseas markets to launch abroad and build strong relationship with global distributors. 

With the assistance of the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher, we teamed up with the Royal College of Surgeons and University College Dublin (UCD) to develop a revolutionary app for sleep apnea and snoring sufferers. The app will be launched at the end of this year, coinciding with the launch of our two new products. 

Given that we have worked closely with Dr. Paul Carson, a leading allergy specialist, and David Carson, who has developed a HayFever relief App, I look forward to building on this aspect of the business. Furthermore, we are partnering with Dublin City University to carry out trials on our Sports Enhancement Aid, while also collaborating with Trinity College on two other projects.


Interested in applying for the Competitive Start Fund – All Sectors? Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply here