The Voice Of A Generation

Start-Up Of The Week: ROC Protection


All across the globe there is amazing young entrepreneurs building and creating the future. As a part of our Trendster ‘Start-up of the Week’ series, we will be showcasing the most promising student start-ups out there.

This week we spoke to Carl Cullen, one of the founders of ROC Protection, a new sports brand that at the moment is specializing in Hurling based products.

Q1. What is your elevator pitch?

Our company is called ROC Protection. We are a new sports brand that at the moment is specializing in Hurling based products. The first product we brought to market was the “ROC Hurling Protective Base Layer”, a tight-fitting compression top to be worn underneath a hurlers jersey during a match to stop the impact of a hurl or sliotar. Our second product, “The ROC SOC” is a Hurling shinpad. It differs from a standard shin guard as it is more like a sock and the padding is made of foam, not plastic to give a more comfortable feel.

Q2. How did you come up with your idea?

We started the company in transition year for the student enterprise awards, each group had to come up with an idea and this was ours. Little did we know at the time how far we were going to take a school project.

Q3. What makes your business unique?

The fact that we started the business in School makes us pretty different from most other businesses out there but besides that, our products are completely different from anything seen in Hurling before.

 Q4. What problem is your business solving?

Protection has been ignored for many years in the GAA, it’s only in recent enough times helmets have become mandatory, and it is only recently that Gaelic has introduced gum shields into the game. We’re adding to the safety of players on the field. 2/3 hurlers are forced off the field due to an injury each season, we believe we can greatly reduce this number.

Q5. How do you balance being a young entrepreneur and being in school?

It’s tough, we were in school from 8:30am in the morning till 8pm at night most days. Half our lunch breaks were spent each day replying to emails and making calls but that’s just what we had to do to make this work. We did put ROC on pause for the month of the Leaving Cert but since that’s over we’re straight back to working hard with no constraints of exams

Q6. What is the most important thing you have learned from being a young entrepreneur?

Optimism! When we first got going we were trying to get a bit of publicity going for the product. Between the 3 of us, we must have emailed every newspaper, radio show and website in the country. After months of emailing, we remained positive knowing somewhere will get back to us, finally, 1 did, RTÉ. After months of being turned away by everyone, The Late Late Show were the ones to give us our big break, that opportunity came through, an optimistic never takes no for an answer attitude.

Q7. What is your biggest achievement to date?

In 2017 we won the Student Enterprise Awards. That was crazy for us because we had seen friends enter before without success but out of the 22,000 entrees last year, we came out on top

Q8. Where is your long-term vision?

We’d love to expand our product range into different sports and really try and start making a big name for ourselves outside of Ireland. We’ll also continue innovating within The GAA with other new and exciting product ideas

Q9. Where can people find out more about you and your business?

All our products are available on and our social is @ROCProtection on everything

On Twitter, I’m @CarlCullen62 and Instagram @CarlCullen_


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