Edwin Doran of Doran Vineyards told IIBN in an inteview – When I sold my major travel business to Tui Travel plc in November 2008, I had money to burn. When you’re in this situation, you should not buy a boat, a racehorse or a vineyard. I did the latter.
You can visit the Doran Vineyards website here
How did you get the idea/ concept for your business?
People tell me I always had a great interest in wine. I thought owning a boutique little number would be lovely – max 20ha. I bought a farm as big as Monte Carlo – 179ha.
Give a brief account of your education background.
I went to the National School in Leixlip followed by 10 years in Belvedere College, Dublin.
Did you always know/ever think you would become an entrepreneur when you were younger?
At 26, I decided I wanted to run my own business. I spent two years gaining the necessary experience before I set out on my own on July 1st 1974.
Is entrepreneurship a common trait in your family?
Yes, my father inherited his business and all my three brothers have their own businesses.
Did you have prior knowledge of the industry before setting up your company?
I’d done a number of long-haul overseas wine tours which helped my with some technical knowledge about wine. But, not the economics.
What was your previous work experience (if any)? Do you think this gave you an advantage when setting up your business?
Two other jobs in the travel business influenced me especially with the wholesale and retail sides of the wine business.
How did you initially fund your business? (self-funded, government funding, etc)
Both wine businesses were self-funded from the sale of my major travel business.
Looking back, would you have changed the method of funding you chose?
No. I had the cash.
Did you encounter any financial difficulties in the first year of operation? If yes, what did you do to surpass them?
The only difficulty I encounter every year with the wine farm was selling enough wine. I’ve now changed the direction of this business so that we are less reliant on wine for revenue. Fattening 40 calves every six months brings the equivalent profit of selling 21,000 bottles of wine!!
What characteristics do you feel benefited you most when starting your business?
One of the great characteristics we all have is being Irish. This makes us quite unique in many ways. Our personalities make it easier to sell. Our desire for top class service means that we deliver. Our desire to be successful is the engine that drives us on.
To what do you attribute your company’s success/growth to?
Not to be quoted but I made a mistake by putting an icon in charge of the business and trusting him thinking he knew it all. I have now completely reformed the business especially using management information e.g. to decide on two things (a) pruning the wines for the sale of grapes to a Co-op (say 24 tonnes per hectare) and (b) only crushing the amount of grapes we need for the amount of wine we will sell (6/8 tonnes per hectare).
What is your opinion on the importance of a professional network for an entrepreneur?
The IIBN have been very important to me. Again, I revert to the uniqueness of the Irish in that the word “network” does not accurately describe our fellow country people and their desire to assist. The genuine way Irish people want to help each other is genuinely amazing and much to be admired. That’s how I was able to sell wine to so many Irish institutions like the Embassy, Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, Doyle Hotels, LIC, ICC, Myrtle’s Restaurant etc etc.
Do you think entrepreneurship has changed in recent years?
Most definitely. Technology has changed so many of the ways we now work. I’m not sure the job is as enjoyable because you have less face to face contact. A downside is that it is so much easier to not respond to so many communications received through the various channels.
Would you ever consider starting another company or involving yourself in new start-ups again?
Yes. I’ve been involved in quite a few businesses as a consultant and really enjoyed turning them around. I’d be mad at 74 to start a new business but it wouldn’t stop me. Examples as to how we are increasing footfall are our gourmet canapé and premium wine evenings plus our Virtual Wine Tastings.
If you had one piece of advice for a new entrepreneur, what would it be?
Get your numbers right from the start.