“Life is for living and you only live once” – CEO Q&A with Mike McGrath of Kwayga

By Business & Finance
20 December 2023
A headshot of Mike McGrath, CEO of, discussing the company's innovative eSourcing technology that streamlines supermarket buyer sourcing processes
Pictured: Mike McGrath, CEO, Kwayga

Mike McGrath is CEO of, the supplier sourcing engine that enables supermarket buyers to cut their sourcing times by 40% using its game-changing supplier sourcing technology, achieving in minutes what previously took months.

What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

As moves from start-up to scale-up, my main priorities are to set the growth ambitions of the company for the next 1-3 years and ensure we have the right resources in place to deliver upon our ultimate goal to become the fastest supplier-sourcing engine globally for supermarket buyers. My main priority is assembling and motivating the best team to reach this ambitious goal.

What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

We have great people at Kwayga, but like many Irish scaling businesses, it is difficult to attract the best talent as we compete with global tech firms with deep pockets. We are actively recruiting for sales, sourcing, and engineering talent, and we want to hire the most energetic talent to develop a world-class ambitious culture at

How do you keep your team/ staff motivated?

Our entire team is aware that we are on a mission to reduce supplier sourcing times from months to minutes, and we work hard to deliver greatness in this niche aspect of procurement. We have a North Star that bonds us together, and we are having fun along the way to solve this global challenge with smart technology. Regular communication and feedback on this mission is what keeps the entire team motivated.

What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?

eSourcing is at the cusp of a digital revolution with massive investments taking place across AI and automation technologies. There is no doubt that AI and automation can enhance eSourcing capabilities, but integrating these technologies effectively and ensuring they deliver sustained value is a challenge. Addressing these challenges will require ongoing innovation, collaboration, and adaptation within the eSourcing industry, as well as a keen focus on the needs of our customers and their evolving sourcing and procurement needs. Kwayga excels in this arena by combining breakthrough technology with sourcing excellence.

What new trends are emerging in your industry?

As above, there is a lot of investment taking place in smart technologies, but from a non-technical perspective, there is growing emphasis on ethical and sustainable sourcing practices. The importance of sustainable procurement diminished during the Covid years, but all sourcing professionals are now upskilling in this critical aspect of procurement ensuring supply-chain decisions are balancing the needs of profit and planet.

Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

Blockchain Technology has become uncool over the last few years, but we expect a lot more adoption within the sector over the next 5 years, as the use cases for Transparency and Trust are undeniable. Blockchain will be increasingly used to establish transparency and trust in the procurement process, and it would be great to see improved case studies, references and educational support for this smart technology.

As an employer are you finding any skill gaps in the market?

As we push the boundaries of smart technologies like AI and machine learning, we are seeing a lack of domain expertise with such technologies when applying them to sourcing and procurement challenges. Considering these nascent technical skills are in high demand across global tech firms, it does create skill gaps for scaling Irish businesses.

How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?

I’ve been working in sourcing and procurement for 15 years, and having an unrelenting focus on cost control and supplier management has served me well in the meantime. Cost savings and supplier benchmarking are a cornerstone of our solution’s offering, which resonates with all our customers who are professional buyers.

How has Brexit affected you?

Kwayga was created to solve Brexit challenges for European food and drinks companies. Brexit has been a great opportunity for our global eSourcing business, as the turmoil from Britain’s departure from the EU continues to impact companies in western Europe every day. We are in the minority where Brexit has been good for business, but our clients that benefited from our Brexit solutions were also more resilient when Covid-19 and the Ukrainian invasion disrupted food supply chains too.

How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your business/sector?

Kwayga was a Covid creation as the enforced lockdowns gifted us with time to research and develop new technologies to address global supply chain problems. Covid-19 has fast-tracked technology adoption and millennial decision makers are naturally expecting digital sourcing solutions, with low barriers of implementation. Kwayga has benefited from this technological wave and digital-first perspective from our pioneering customers.

How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

Success comes from the self-satisfaction and accomplishment of a worthwhile goal, and I spend lots of time setting short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. This challenging and goal-oriented focus drives me to succeed in business, in sport, for my young family, in fitness, and for personal development.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

I was lucky enough to take part in the first Entrepreneur Experience in Garryvoe Hotel in 2011, and one of the seasoned entrepreneurs told me to make sure my business proposition addressed a “big problem for a small number of people, and not a small problem for a big number of people”. This advice was very relevant then and it is advice I give to other start-up entrepreneurs regularly as they embark on new ventures.

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

Thankfully we have had many highlights and customer wins this year, but we’ve got some real third-party validation of our mission too when we closed our first funding round, with a €1 million investment in the company, led by The Redesdale Food & Beverage Fund. Investment is a huge vote of confidence in our ground-breaking technology.

What’s next for your company?

Following our recent funding, we are busy recruiting to accelerate our growth across Europe as we continue to build high value relationships with significant UK and European buyers, reducing their sourcing time and costs by rapidly connecting them with the best European suppliers. We have a clear product roadmap with improved automation throughout the process, plus ambitious sales targets particularly in the UK, to focus on for 2024.

Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

Kwayga is currently working with all the main supermarket buying teams in Ireland so our plan is to replicate that success and engagement with the main supermarket buying teams in the UK in 2024. Brexit has not yet been fully implemented by the UK Government so as that continues to disrupt food supply chains in 2024, Kwayga will be there to provide the fastest sourcing engine for supermarket buyers to minimise food and drinks shortages on UK shelves.

What advice would you have to others starting out in business?

Don’t waste time on a business plan, but obsess about the business model canvas. The business plan can follow, but this tool provides a visual framework for developing, describing, and analysing a business model, which is vital when developing a new breakthrough solution.

What is the best book you’ve ever read (non-business) and why?

Finding a non-business book in my collection is a challenge! However, I thoroughly enjoyed Bounce by Matthew Syed as I spend time myself coaching kids, and Bounce shows you that training trumps talent every time, by explaining the science of deliberate practice. As a parent, it was also enlightening to learn from Syed that we need to adopt the attitude of praising commitment and perseverance, rather than defining skill as a natural talent. Over years, research has demonstrated that children who are encouraged and told that their persistence will pay off, are more likely to solve complex puzzles and problems.

What is your favourite hobby and why?

I love triathlons. I enjoy the variety of training and exploring new destinations, especially on a summer’s day. There’s a great community involved in triathlons too to learn from and improve.

What is your mantra for life?

Life is for living and you only live once.


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