A question we often ask ourselves is: Where do we want to be in five years time? What sort of life do we want to lead? As we only have one spin on this merry-go-round of life, it’s critical that we do what’s important to us individually. There really is no point looking back in five years time and regretting that we didn’t choose the path we wanted to pursue.
Being an entrepreneur is increasingly a path Irish people want to take, and this is a significant shift.
The rise of entrepreneurship in Ireland
According to business information specialist, Vision-net, 14,757 new companies were formed in Ireland in 2011. By the end of last year this figure has jumped 32% to 19,472. Locally there was a healthy 10% growth in the number of new firms formed in Galway last year compared to 2014. Interestingly this is double the growth rate of 5% for Dublin.
Enterprise Ireland focuses on High Potential Startup (HPSU) businesses – those with both an innovative idea and export potential, that will employ more than 10 people and generate €1m in sales within 3 to 4 years of starting up. In mid-February, Enterprise Ireland announced it had invested €31m in startups in 2015. An important element of this investment was the announcement of 105 HPSU companies planning to create 1,550 jobs over the next three years throughout every region in Ireland.
So, you want to be an entrepreneur?
So, you have an innovative idea or have been thinking about starting your own company, but haven’t taken the plunge yet. Or maybe you are in the early stages of starting and want to grow. Yes, it is hard work. And yes, you are going to face many challenges. But the good news is that you are not alone. Many people have gone down this road ahead of you – and they are willing to share their experiences and learnings, and help you to de-risk your venture. And it is easy to get their advice and insights. Just ask – either directly or via someone in the start up community.
Help and support for innovative startups
In addition, I’m proud to say that Ireland has one of the best eco-systems in the world for supporting startups. There are always ways in which we can improve – but the range of supports available in Ireland is impressive… from incubation space, mentoring, access to specialist advice, Start Your Own Business & other valuable training courses delivered by the Local Enterprise Offices, entrepreneur development programmes funded by Enterprise Ireland (in the West these include the New Frontiers Programme delivered by GMIT in Castlebar & Galway; the BioInnovate programme delivered by NUI Galway; the Food Works Programme delivered by An Bord Bia, Teagasc and Enterprise Ireland; StartLab delivered by Bank of Ireland). In addition, Enterprise Ireland is currenly seeking applications from organisations to partner with us in delivering Accelerator Programmes outside of Dublin.
Enterprise Ireland also supports WestBIC and the Halo Business Angel Network to provide access for early-stage startups to investment from individual Business Angels and also to syndicates of Business Angels. In addition, Enterprise Ireland is also very active in nurturing the creation of Seed and Venture Capital Funds, which provide equity investment to the Irish startup community. Also, the Local Enterprise Offices, Údarás na Gaeltachta & Enterprise Ireland have a suite of financial supports which provide much-needed fuel to fire up innovative startups locally. Terms and conditions do apply, but if you are going to develop a venture which will create jobs through selling a product or a service internationally, then please do reach out. Many of these supports and more are listed in our handy start up guide for the West region.
So, the question is where do you want to be in five years time? If you are tempted or already committed to starting an innovative start up, do check out the option of applying to participate on the New Frontiers programme. It may be one of the best decisions you ever made.
About the author
Barry Egan is Regional Director for the West Region with Enterprise Ireland, based in Galway. He works closely with the local New Frontiers team, as well as the entrepreneurs on the programme; chairing the evaluations panel and ensuring support and access wherever it is required… [Read Barry’s profile]