Sharon Keegan is an alumni of the UCD Innovation Academy Graduate Certificate in Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

This piece written by Charlie Taylor was originally published in the Irish Times, April 29th 2021.

Irish entrepreneur secures Dragon’s Den investment.

Irish entrepreneur Sharon Keegan has secured £100,000 (€115,137) in investment for her business after appearing on the Dragons’ Den television programme in Britain.

Ms Keegan, founder and chief executive of athleisure wear brand Peachylean, pitched to the Dragons on the show on Thursday seeking £100,000 in return for an 11 per cent stake in her business.

Three Dragons – Touker Suleyman, Sarah Davies and Tej Lalvani – offered Ms Keegan money with the entrepreneur deciding to bring all three backers on board in return for a 30 per cent stake in Peachylean.

“Pitching to the Dragons on the BBC was greatly symbolic, and a big turning point for me as I had to battle my inner dragon first. The battle to believe I could achieve such a momentous win, was, in itself a breakthrough,” said Ms Keegan.

“To receive three offers from such well-respected businesspeople shows the financial viability of the idea which as a founder is incredibly gratifying,” she added.

Peachylean, which has previously secured €250,000 from Enterprise Ireland, was founded in 2018. Ms Keegan describes the company as an “inclusive” activewear brand for women that “supports and instils self-esteem and confidence.”

The Dubliner established the brand after struggling to find supportive gymwear while she exercised in a bid to lose her ‘mummy tummy’ following the birth of her two sons.

Ms Keegan, who previously worked in management for over twenty years prior to founding her business, was formerly behind the launch of Pieminster in the Irish market. After having children, she returned to education and is a postgraduate of the UCD Innovation academy, where she was named its ‘entrepreneur of the year’ in 2018.

A short time later she took part in the DCU Female Highfliers Entrepreneurship Accelerator, winning its ‘Pitch of the year’ award. Her company went on to win the ‘new emerging business’ prize at the Small Firms Association awards in 2019.

“Peachylean dream of a world not of comparison, competition, and criticism, but of love, compassion, and support, for everybody and every body,” said Ms Keegan.

Learn more about the courses offered at the UCD Innovation Academy.