Iheard a very inspirational interview on The Business Programme on RTE Radio 1 last Saturday morning. The interview was with Ray Coyle, a business man who made millions from farming potatoes in his early twenties, and then lost it all again in less than 10 years, owing the banks a small fortune ( in excess of 1M).
Left with nothing, he came up with a creative and highly unusual idea and raffled off his farm to pay the bank!
He subsequently went on to set up Largo Foods. Largo Foods manufacture iconic brands such as Hunky Dory and Perri crisps. He also acquired Tayto Crisps at one stage and increased its sales through a very innovative marketing campaign by creating the iconic Mr. Tayto character. He subsequently sold this business again to develop Tayto Park, which is now a hugely successful theme part and Zoo with a turnover of 16M annually.
For anyone interested in succeeding in business, there were a number of key take-aways from Ray Coyle’s story. When asked by Richard Curran how he came up with the idea of raffling off a farm, he said that ‘his back was to the wall’ and that this motivated him to think of ideas that would get him out of trouble, otherwise he would never have thought of the idea.
Ray also talked about the importance of innovative branding and marketing of products and the importance of packaging. He outlined how it took him 14 years to build up one brand of crisp to make it commercially viable. The message here is the importance of patience, resilience and pure persistence if you believe in your product.
It was evident from listening to Ray that he really loves what he does, and is now getting great enjoyment from running and further developing the Tayto Theme Park. When Richard Curran asked him what he did for leisure, he said that while he does have some hobbies he really enjoys what he does and enjoys walking around the theme park getting feedback and seeing both kids and adults enjoying the facilities.
I actually bumped into Ray Coyle accidentally in Tayto Park when I was on a day out there with my sister and nephew. He was doing exactly what he said in the interview, wandering around the park meeting and chatting to people. It was lovely to meet him that day and he was most kind to us and most especially to my nephew who has special needs and adores Mr. Tayto. Ray made sure that he got an audience and photos with Mr. Tayto that day.
The moral of the story:
You can be at your most creative when the chips are down!
If you want to succeed and grow in business you must be willing to take risk (despite previous failure)
There is no shame in failure, we learn from our failures and it can spur us on to next success
Innovative marketing, branding and packaging is key to product success
You will need financial support, patience and resilience as it can take many years of hard work to bring a product to profit
If you love what you do it will not feel like work and will give you tremendous enjoyment
No matter how tough business is — be kind to yourself and others.
You can hear this full inspiring interview with Ray Coyle (Crops, Crisps and Rollercoasters)in archives of The Business with Richard Curran which broadcasts every Saturday on RTE Radio 1, Ireland.