A SKIBBEREEN teenager is in the dough after coming up with a winning formula making foolproof baking kits.
Field’s SuperValu can’t keep Tim O’Driscoll’s Fastnet Foods products on the shelves: they started flying out the proverbial door when word went round about how good they are. The 16-year-old is not joking when he says 1,000 mixes were sold in the first 10 days through a network of SuperValu stores and local shops.
Tim, a transition year student at Skibbereen Community School, explained to The Southern Star how he turned his lockdown experience into what looks like the makings of a highly successful enterprise, a move that has also earned him the distinction of being Field’s youngest supplier.
He got the idea to make mixes – not just for traditional brown bread, but also for flapjacks, chocolate cupcakes, scones, and crumble – after he completed making a confection for a Home Economics project.
‘There was so much waste,’ he said, ‘I had left over flour, cocoa powder, icing sugar and caster sugar, and it occurred to me that there must be a more economical way of doing this.’
Tim began working on the business during his school holidays in 2019 and, throughout the year, he kept chipping away, doing market research, testing recipes, and engaging with the authorities in relation to health and safety regarding food produce.
He even created his own website.
Lockdown merely accelerated the development of his business: it allowed him time to finish branding, packaging and product labelling, as well as all of the legal requirements, so he could get to market at a time when consumers were looking for something that did not involve complicated recipes, or a hunt for unobtainable ingredients.
Adam Walsh, Field’s general manager, admits he’s impressed. He said: ‘I think Tim is an inspiration to all young people. The fact that he came up with a product concept and brought it to market at 16 is impressive. His research and attention to detail belies his young years.’
Both Adam Walsh and Barry Dempsey, who is the assistant manager in Field’s, encouraged Tim every step of the way with product development while four more local shops – including Spar Cork Road, Costcutters, Drinagh and Londis – are happy to have it on their shelves too.
They know good business when they see it and Tim has a steady stream of customers who like the fact that Fastnet Foods offers tasty, reliable, and affordable, all-in-one baking mixes.
Tim is thrilled with his company’s success so far. But, this, he said, is not his first business. At the age of 10, he established a thriving ice-cream stall at Skibbereen Farmers’ Market. ‘I have always wanted to go into business, and I was always coming up with different ideas, but Fastnet Foods is one concept that I kept working on.’
Tim says he has no plans to leave school early, but ‘most definitely’ has plans to see Fastnet Foods go nationwide.