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10 Seriously Impressive Female Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2018

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

Women are making some very big waves in the world of business right now. Ireland is a hotbed for innovative start-ups that seem simply destined for great things and more than a few of those companies owe their existence to promising female entrepreneurs armed with some exciting ideas.

Here are just 10 inspirational individuals whose careers you should start following immediately…

Anita Finnegan — Nova Leah

CEO Anita Finnegan co-founded Nova Leah with the innovative idea of developing cybersecurity systems designed to protect vulnerable connected medical devices. Through their efforts, the company makes maintenance on expensive equipment more efficient, reduces costs on product recalls and potential lawsuits, securely shares information between devices and reduces risk to patients.

Finnegan has grown the business internationally and is set to continue expansion, Dr Joe Healy of Enterprise Ireland discusses his admiration for Finnegan when he said: “Enterprise Ireland has worked closely with Dr Anita Finnegan over the past five years and has seen first-hand how the college-based research, and then the start-up company Nova Leah, has gone from strength to strength. [We] look forward to working with Nova Leah to continue to support their growth ambitions.”

Anita Finnegan - souce

Courtney McDonnell – Courtney McDonnell Studio

Set up in 2017, McDonnell’s practice is a multi-disciplinary design studio providing Contemporary Architecture & Interior Design. McDonnell’s aim is to bridge the gap between the two industries, providing an umbrella of services under the one roof which focus on reflecting their clients’ personality, daily lifestyle and work regimes.

We caught up with Courtney to find out more about her career path and where her inspiration came from.

Fidelma McGuirk – Payslip

Fidelma McGuirk is a well-established entrepreneur at this point, having previously founded and was the CEO of It’s with this entrepreneurial spirit that saw her launch fintech cloud payroll start-up in 2017. Having spent years dealing with the arduous and time-consuming task of finding payroll companies for international operations, McGuirk saw an opportunity to simplify the whole process — and that’s exactly what she’s done. By creating a user-friendly software solution in Payslip, McGuirk has managed to take the pain out of the payroll process.

Fidelma McGuirk - image source

Lisa Toner – ETTCH

Senior Marketing Manager at Hubspot and a long-serving volunteer for Childline in Ireland, Lisa Toner set up her own company, ETTCH, in late 2017 with a view to make a real difference. Focusing on the area of mental health, ETTCH stands for ‘Empowered Thinking for Teens and Children’. The business is based on a subscription service where colourful boxes are delivered each month to children and teens containing items designed to help them build their confidence in areas like body image, relationships, school pressures and bullying. Given the rise in depression and anxiety amongst children we are excited to see the future impact ETTCH will have.

Lucinda Kelly – Popertee

Founded by Lucinda Kelly, Popertee applies AI to social media and behavioural data in an effort to provide brands with in-depth insights on which locations work best to ‘pop-up’. Kelly is an ex-apprentice star as well as ex-Paddy Power marketer. The idea for Popertee stems from Kelly’s admiration of the Airbnb concept, she wanted to explore the area of shared economy further and thus, in 2015 Popertee was born.

Dr Nora Khaldi – Nuritas

Awarded the Woman of the Decade in Business and Leadership Award in 2017, this is one entrepreneur who is definitely going places. Khaldi started Nuritas in 2014 with a humble goal in mind: to predict the future of health on a global scale. Upon winning the award, WEF founder Dr Harbeen Arora said: “Women like Nora are changing the world and we want to support, recognise and celebrate their groundbreaking accomplishments.”

By analysing DNA using machine learning technology, Nuritas is looking for chemicals known as peptides which could potentially be used to combat some of the planet’s most deadly diseases.

Watch Khaldi in action below:

Rosanne Longmore – Coroflo

Given that Rosanne Longmore’s company won the ESB Spark Of Genius competition, as well as the Virgin Media Business Voom Tour mini-pitch competition in 2017, we’re fairly confident she has a good idea on her hands. Coroflo has created a patented nipple shield and app designed to make the breastfeeding process much easier for new mothers. The only device which can accurately track and measure exactly how much breastmilk your baby is getting, Longmore saw a gap in the market and went for it!

Rosanne Longmore - image source

Sonia Neary – Physiolinked

Doing pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, PhysioLinked was co-founded by Sonia Neary and Dr Greg Martin in order to help patients and physios, well, link. The practice management system makes it quick and easy to find physios near you, schedule appointments, and pay for their services online. With plans to soon launch in the UK & South Africa, the next big step is to take the business to the US and Canada which is Neary’s ultimate goal for 2019.

Rosanne Longmore - image source

Sophie Cafolla & Dr Vicky O’Dwyer – The Stork Box

These two sisters started their own business in May 2017 to give new parents a helping hand. With Sophie’s background in marketing and Vicky’s expertise as an obstetrician and gynaecologist, the pair came together to create The Stork Box, these parcels contain useful products and information for mum and baby, making pregnancy that bit easier… and even more fun. In their first year they’ve already managed to find themselves listed in The Sunday Business Post’s, Hot 100 Startups in 2018.

We caught up with Sophie to find out more about The Stork Box concept and how she’s finding start-up life.


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