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'We dropped 20,000 coffees to frontline staff': How this Kerry events company used tech to give back

Elite Event Management organises mass participation sports events.

Image: Oliver Kirwan/Elite Event Management

“RATHER THAN LITERALLY closing the door and turning off the lights, we decided that we had to do something about this.”

When it was announced last March that the country was going into a full lockdown, the team at Elite Event Management knew it meant their business would suffer. 

The company, which organises mass participation sports events, was set to have its biggest year in 2020.

Instead, Oliver Kirwan, Director of Elite Event Management and founder of a new fitness app called Hotfoot, found himself having to think on his feet and diversify into a whole new industry.

“In 2020, we had our record breaking year all set to go with 14 different events all over Ireland and the UK. We had 30,000 people doing our events. And then COVID hit. We were the first people to close and we’ll be the last people to open back up again.”

With a global pandemic putting halt to their plans, Oliver, his business partner Caitriona O’Callaghan and the team decided to put their skills and initiative to good use – and to help others along the way. 

Screenshot 2021-02-05 at 14.20.54 Source: The Green Wave/Instagram

“When the pandemic happened first, we wanted to help out so we set up this initiative called The Green Wave with my former colleague Kelly Crichton where we got people to donate the price of a cup of coffee for a frontline worker,” says Oliver.

We delivered them all over Ireland to hospitals and healthcare settings. We delivered 20,000 cups of coffee in the first couple of months of the pandemic. And that kind of kept us busy… We weren’t getting anything from it. It kept us focused, kept us going.

A few months in, the team realised that the pandemic wasn’t going anywhere, and they needed to think of an idea to “keep the lights on,” says Oliver. This is when Box of Smiles was born – a collection of gifting boxes, each featuring local products from a specific part of Ireland.

The idea was so successful that it earned the team an appearance on The Late Late Show before Christmas, plus a €16,000 prize from Vodafone. That was the start of Oliver and his team’s relationship with the tech and communications company – and they haven’t looked back.

The Vodafone relationship came at a perfect time for Elite Event Management, as they’re in the middle of developing a new sports fitness tracking app, Hotfoot. 

“Hotfoot contains thousands of running and cycling routes, multi-sport routes all over the world that people create on the app to share with people on the app, in these like mini events, so to speak,” explains Oliver. “And on the routes, there are audio cues in the ear and GPS tracking.

Vodafone like the fact that we’re transitioning from a bricks and mortar event company into a tech company.  

Working with Vodafone has allowed the development of the app to go seamlessly… even from the side of a mountain in Co Kerry.

_MG_4868 Source: Oliver Kirwan/Elite Event Management

“We’re in a rural area as well, we’re not in Dublin. We’re just outside Killarney in Co Kerry. So it was great that we had the Vodafone broadband that could connect us all together. That was the first thing that the technology helped with.

“When we’re working on Hotfoot we could be on the side of a mountain checking routes. I mean, to be able open up our laptop and open up the map and the tracking system there is amazing.”

With plans to launch Hotfoot in June, Oliver is glad that the company had the opportunity to do something to help support others. 

“We’ve a great team that work with us, but also say, all 30,000 people that take part in our events, they’re people we feel like we have a connection with. And they have helped so much with the events, we felt like we’ve got to give something back here.”

Are you part of a small or medium-sized business? For technology as resilient as you, talk to Vodafone Business about our range of solutions. Visit Vodafone.ie/business to find out more. 

Source: Vodafone Ireland/YouTube

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