12 Sep 2018 | 10.47 am
Mint-Tek Ekes A Niche With Circuit Board Supply
The Galway startup sources printed circuit boards and electronic hardware for engineers
12 Sep 2018 | 10.47 am
Research engineers spend a lot of time chasing parts for prototype builds. Mint-Tek Circuits in Galway has slotted into a niche of helping them find those parts.
Founded in 2014, the business works with suppliers to provide engineers with printed circuit boards (PCB) and electronic hardware prototypes, as well as dealing with PCB assemblers and designers on the engineers’ behalf.
Mint-Tek’s founders are Siobhán ní Chofaigh (pictured) and Georgina Kearney. They met while studying for an MBA in UCD Smurfit Business School; Georgina left Mint-Tek in 2017. Siobhán says that the idea for Mint-Tek came from her experience in the electronics sector.
“Our customers are inventors and designers, and we help them to source the components they need to build their ideas,” she explains. Mint-Tek sources PCBs and other electronics parts from manufacturers in Europe, China and Vietnam, and also works with assembly houses and designers in Europe and the US.
The founders kept startups costs low by working from home initially. To fund the business, they availed of Startup Refunds for Entrepreneurs (SURE), the tax incentive that provides a refund of income tax that you paid in previous years.
Outside funding followed from Enterprise Ireland (€55,000), Údarás na Gaeltachta (€60,000) and private investors (€112,000).
Mint-Tek’s target market spans corporates, OEMs and R&D departments in universities. It is also making inroads with startups looking for engineering expertise. The business started generating revenue from mid-2015, and startup losses amounted to €164,000 at the end of 2016.
“At the early stages the supports are really very good,” says Siobhán. “The support for fast scaling companies is good too with Enterprise Ireland’s High Performing Start Ups programme. If the company is growing more slowly, it can be tougher to find the support. It is there, but it isn’t as obvious.
“For example, we are working with Údarás on preparing for Brexit and a feasibility study for our supply chain. The agency’s advice and financial help is great, though it does take time and cost to fulfil the necessary conditions.”
Now located in Na Forbacha in Galway, Mint-Tek started trading in Ennis. “It became clear that we needed the community of small businesses to evolve with,” Siobhán recalls.
“We were invited to move to Bank of Ireland’s Startlab in Galway and we haven’t looked back. The city has a vibrant tech and business scene, with the added advantage of a can-do attitude.”
The venture is unusual in the electronics components space in that it was founded by two women and the venture employs more women than men. “I think electronics companies are really missing a trick by not being more accommodating to how women can work best,” says Siobhán.
“Meeting times, after work activities etc. can all deter women from achieving their capabilities. We work hard to enable them to work to their potential on their terms, within our limitations. It takes a little more imagination but the results are worth it.
“I have spent my career in the tech world and I can’t say I ever suffered from direct prejudice. However, I believe that an element of unconscious bias is not allowing women to reach their full potential.
“Programmes by Enterprise Ireland for females and the promotion of diversity on boards and panels are helping women realise that there is a plate they can step up to.”