Startup of the day: SeaHorse Atlantic

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Startup of the day: SeaHorse Atlantic

07:22, 22 March 2012 by Philip Connolly

Sunday Business Post, May 7th 2012

Sarah Jane O’Sullivan, founder of SeaHorse Atlantic

Company: SeaHorse Atlantic

Founder: Sarah Jane O’Sullivan

What it does: natural equine and pet supplements from seaweed

Status: Active

Funding: West Cork Enterprise Board feasibility grant (€26,000)

…..

Anyone who has travelled around the coast of Ireland will have noticed one natural resource we have in abundance: seaweed. While many would dismiss the plant as detritus on the shore, it has a lot of nutritional value.

A Cork-based marine biologist saw an opportunity to use the plant for her other passion, horses.

SeaHorse Atlantic was started by Sarah Jane O’Sullivan to sell natural equine and pet supplements, all made from seaweed. O’Sullivan came up with the idea while studying for an Masters degree in marine biology in UCC. The startup received support from the West Cork Enterprise board, which gave the company a feasibility grant. The company employs two people and has its own facility in Castletownbere.

SeaHorse Atlantic collaborates with Dingle Bay Seaweed to farm the supplement in Ventry Bay.

“I researched a particular type of seaweed that I knew had good nutritional properties for horses,” said O’Sullivan. “It is lower in iodine concentration and is really high in other trace minerals.”

The company was assisted by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the seafood development center in Clonakilty. While developing the product, O’Sullivan also got onto the Ignite program run by University College Cork (UCC), after responding to a newspaper ad.

“After I finished my masters at the end of 2010, I spent a year in the Ignite program researching and getting the company going,” said O’Sullivan. “I was the only girl on the program.”

O’Sullivan said the UCC startup program helped the company get off the ground. The company conducted veterinary trials on the product, which produced positive results. For six weeks, the supplement was given to horses at Kennedy’s Equine centre and to horses housed in the stables of a trainer, Tom Cooper.

“A Kenmare vet, Henk Offereins, monitored the effect, before and after the treatment,” said O’Sullivan. “We got positive results. The general appearance of the horse had improved, along with coat condition and hoof quality.”

The seaweed also boosts the immune system, said O’Sullivan. The products are now vet-approved.

SeaHorse Atlantic also developed a second supplement for pets from a different type of seaweed.

“We now have the website up and running, and we are just about to start selling with the online shop,” said O’Sullivan. “Hopefully from there we will go into a couple of shops and distributors. We are hoping eventually to start exporting. There has been a lot of interest in Europe.”

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