Niall Horgan and Diarmuid McSweeney, Gym+Coffee
UCC graduates Niall Horgan and Diarmuid McSweeney are two of the founders of Gym+Coffee, an athleisure company which gets its inspiration from the active lifestyle the lads enjoyed while travelling in Australia and California. The business has gone from strength to strength with stores in Dublin, Cork and Limerick and a growing online market in the U.K. and U.S.A. Rugby legend, Brian O’Driscoll, has even come on board to lead their successful ‘Summer Stretch’ outdoor workout series. Fresh from winning Image Media’s nationwide competition, ‘The Pitch’, we catch up with Diarmuid and Niall to talk startups, work placement and UCC GAA.
Gym+Coffee founders, Diarmuid McSweeney and Niall Horgan, are proud advocates for UCC’s BComm programme. While studying for the popular degree, they forged a strong friendship that led to a future business partnership and the establishment of a successful lifestyle brand. Both Diarmuid and Niall had a passion for marketing, majoring in the subject in final-year. This background was to prove invaluable in their career. As Niall explains; “the course is a perfect launchpad for those interested in business as it equips you with a practical grounding in all the essential aspects”. Diarmuid agrees, “UCC has helped me massively in my career to date. I think the way the campus is set up, ensures you are always interacting with a wide group of people and that pays off years down the line when you realise you have a great network”.
They are particularly enthusiastic about the work placement they availed of while studying for their degree. Niall elaborates; “After I completed the BComm it was nice to have a mixture of business learnings and real-world experience. I was able to begin my career at some amazing companies like Sky, Twitter and Slack”. Diarmuid adds; “Work placement really set me down a path in marketing that I was very passionate about”.
Outside of the classroom, both Diarmuid and Niall relished their time as students. For Niall, the Commerce Balls and Graduation Dinner stand out, while Diarmuid has fond memories of playing freshers hurling and the lifelong friends he made. “We all came together in Commerce and have been friends ever since. I was very lucky to have fantastic lecturers in marketing too who were sharing their knowledge of innovative thinking that was quite new at the time as well as decades-old theories”.
Despite having such a hectic schedule in college, the lads still managed to find time for clubs and societies, with both Diarmuid and Niall heavily involved in UCC GAA. Diarmuid played freshers hurling and “made a lot of good friends from that team”. Niall also played GAA for four years including Sigerson football and Fitzgibbon hurling. “I was secretary of the Football Club for two of these years”.
With the benefit of hindsight and their own positive university experience, what is their advice to today’s students? Niall advises; “Get involved in as much as you can while you are at college, whether it be clubs, societies, projects, work experience, J1s or anything else you can think of”. Diarmuid agrees. “This might sound contradictory but towards the end of your degree, having an idea of what you want to do afterwards is beneficial. Then you can really use all the resources of the university, which are incredible”, he says.
Diarmuid and Niall feature in the Local Enterprise Offices' national campaign, Start (www.startupnow.ie), where they tell their ‘Startup Story’ through video, podcast and written case study. Start is aimed at ensuring innovative startups and entrepreneurs get the funding and supports they need to develop their business or grow a business idea.