Emma-Jane Power was a New Frontiers participant at Waterford IT in 2012. She started a business that offers a way for brands to connect with the media by putting high-quality imagery in an easy-to-use hub for journalists.
Emma-Jane joined the programme after seeing an advert in a local Waterford newspaper. Her business was already trading at the time, with a few clients on board, but she needed help to bring it to the next level.
“I had completed some Enterprise Board courses, but they were fairly basic and I had heard great things about New Frontiers”.
I met with Emma-Jane several months before she joined Phase 1 of New Frontiers. During our first meeting, I recognised from my own industry experience that Emma-Jane’s business concept had potential. Having worked as a journalist and a model she was familiar with her target users – journalists and brand owners – but she needed guidance and support in developing a business model.
Following our meetings, Emma-Jane started working on some of the ideas that we generated before even making an application for New Frontiers.
“I probably wouldn’t have applied if it meant travelling to Dublin,”
One important factor that made Emma-Jane decide to apply to New Frontiers was that it was local and she wouldn’t have to travel. “I probably wouldn’t have applied if it meant going to Dublin,” she recalls, “I could give up the time in Waterford to do it, but if I had had to commute to Dublin as well, it would have been impossible.”
Phase 1: Testing the business idea
Once on Phase 1 of New Frontiers, Emma-Jane put in a lot of work and effort in validating exactly what her target customer base was and what market problem she was solving. Emma-Jane had collated a significant amount of market information by the end of Phase 1, which allowed her to prepare a very strong application for one of the limited places on Phase 2 of New Frontiers.
Phase 2: Business planning
On Phase 2, Emma-Jane used every opportunity to accumulate knowledge about her target market and its customers. This meant that she was able to develop a clear customer value proposition that she then communicated to the market. Emma-Jane tested and tweaked her customer value proposition with live customers from early in Phase 2. By engaging with real customers, she was able to establish the value of the service that she was providing, her pricing structure and her route to market.
Phase 3: Business development
Emma-Jane exited Phase 2 of New Frontiers with a clear customer value proposition, a tested business model and an investor-ready business plan. All the work done by Emma-Jane on New Frontiers paid benefits and she secured private investment and Enterprise Ireland High Potential Startup (HPSU) funding within months of completing Phase 2.
“I was 100 per cent ready from their help and input,” she says, noting that the result was €500,000 in funding and €250,000 from private investors, with Enterprise Ireland matching this. Since then, PR Slides has raised a further €250,000 in investment from Kernel Capital and is turning over €24,000 a month, recently launching in the UK, employing nine people and recruiting a further 20 people in 2014.
“I’m certain that, without the programme, PR Slides would still be just a one-woman business. I needed the funding to advance to the next level,”
Power also teamed up with her business partner, Niall Harbison, through New Frontiers. She met him at the annual New Frontiers networking event at Enterprise Ireland’s headquarters in Dublin.
“I’m certain that, without the programme, PR Slides would still be just a one-woman business. I needed the funding to advance to the next level,” she says.
Emma-Jane has kept her links with Waterford; and while the company’s sales office is now based in Dublin, she continues to work out of Waterford.
About the author
Eugene manages the New Frontiers Programme at Waterford Institute of Technology’s Centre for Enterprise Development and Regional Economy (CEDRE). He is highly experienced in working with startups and delivers workshops on marketing, business model design and strategy to New Frontiers participants… [Read Eugene’s profile]