As part of their commitment to Backing Brave, AIB teamed up with The BASE Enterprise Centre to provide one lucky entrepreneur the perfect package to kick start their business through a competition which was launched in October.


Three start-up businesses were shortlisted to pitch to a panel of judges in a ‘Dragons Den’ type event which took place in The BASE on the 25th of November with judges from Enterprise Ireland, AIB Bank and Mulrines.  The judges were very impressed with all three pitches and with the professionalism shown by all participants.  Mary Boyle from Enterprise Ireland said “Enterprise Ireland was delighted to be part of the judging panel for the “Backing Brave” initiative which provided support and encouragement to young entrepreneurs who have the potential to be the next big Irish business success story.  Local businesses have a positive impact on job creation in towns and villages all over Ireland and are the life blood of the Irish economy.  I’d like to wish the winner Nicola all the best in the future.


Nicola McLaughlin founder of The Sequin Cinderella achieved the highest marks on the day making her the overall winner of the competition.   The Sequin Cinderella is an award winning global fashion blog which is currently being developed into a fashion line and an online store. Nicola is a fashion & print designer and has just released her own clothing range.  The blog has over half a million hits to date and with a huge following on social media, Nicola looks forward to launching the online store and clothing range to this vast online audience.


Nicola said “The Base/AIB competition was an amazing experience for me and I was so shocked to be chosen as the winner as the competition was extremely tough!  I look forward to taking up my position at The BASE and working with AIB to further develop my business


Nicola was presented with her prize by John Bowe, Regional Business Banking Manager of AIB and Donna Maskery Manager of The BASE Enterprise Centre on the 3rd of December at a special event held in the Ballybofey branch of AIB.  John Bowe said “We were delighted to be associated with this competition as part of our support for Start-Up businesses in The BASE.  It was a privilege to see the strength of local young entrepreneurs presenting and the passion they have for their businesses. I look forward to hearing about each of their business successes in the future


Donna Maskery, Manager of The BASE said “This is one of many initiatives that we are involved with that will directly support economic development at a local level through joint working with our partners and funders.  Nicola has a global business opportunity, the high speed broadband and purpose built facilities available in The BASE will help her to capitalise on this.  I’m delighted for Nicola and looking forward to being a part of her entrepreneurial journey.  Little things like this competition mean a lot to people starting out and I wish all three finalists success”.