Tag: entrepreneurship

New Frontiers 2018 One to Watch Sponsored by AIB Magda Rzepkowska WallPee

Magda Rzepkowska (WallPee) is the ‘one to watch’ in 2019

New Frontiers 2018 One to Watch Sponsored by AIB Magda Rzepkowska WallPee

This year’s New Frontiers national networking event (held in March) featured – for the first time ever – a pitching competition sponsored by AIB. Each New Frontiers location put forward their strongest candidate, selected by their peers, who went head to head with 11 other entrepreneurs from across the country. The overall winner of this inaugural competition was Magda Rzepkowska.

We spoke to Magda about her journey so far, her startup, and her plans for the future.

Madga, tell us a bit about yourself.

Today, it seems like my previous career in the casino industry was from a different lifetime! It was steady and rewarding; until it wasn’t. In 2016, the time had come to part ways with the company I worked for and the one thing that was obvious to me was that I wanted to run my own business. I tried a few different things and after a couple of years a friend of mine showed up with the WallPee idea. My intuition told me to jump on board and I became the business head of the project in February 2018.

Where did the inspiration for the WallPee come from?

My co-founder, Greg Komsta, has worked on countless construction projects in Ireland and abroad. He identified that there was a big issue on sites that no one had addressed yet – sanitation. When facilities are provided, they will only ever be at ground level of the construction site. If a building is 10 floors high, the urinals/facilities will be placed close to the canteen, which means miles away. What can one do when nature calls but there are no toilets in sight?

Sadly, the norm would be an empty bottle at best. Considering all the advancements in this sector, we believe that sanitation has stayed far behind. Hence WallPee, a portable urinal for the construction sector and beyond!

The key to our solution is that, unlike standard portable toilets and urinals, WallPee is tank-free and waste-free. It eliminates liquid waste and because it’s much more compact and lighter than standard facilities, it can be placed in all locations. By introducing WallPee to large-scale building sites, there will be no contamination, the product will boost productivity and improve health and safety standards.

Working on product development must have been a learning curve. What was that process like?

The product development piece is where the magic happens. Greg approaches all technical things like a true craftsman, he needs to touch every part, makes endless drawings and cardboard models before any real wireframe gets made. He made three proper metal prototypes with different versions of the internal structure all by himself. When he got stuck he drew inspiration from the most surprising places, like the WallPee inlet which was designed based on a document holder.

When we moved onto outsourcing suppliers and manufacturers, we realised that our assumptions in terms of costs and timelines were far from reality. But keeping chins up and looking at all roadblocks as a learning curve is the way to go. We have had loads of fun in the process and although there is good progress every week, we still see WallPee technology development as a long adventure with different outcomes at the end.

Our previous versions were tested by builders in an off-site environment. We received very positive comments in terms of the usefulness of the device and a few suggestions related to user experience.

How do people react to your product when you tell them about it? 

Magda Rzepkowska - New Frontiers alumna - and Greg Komsta from WallPee

Magda Rzepkowska and co-founder Greg Komsta

Most people don’t even realise that there may be places like construction sites without proper facilities. If you work in an office, you have easy access to a toilet and having to use a bottle is unimaginable. We find that when talking to the general public WallPee is an eye-opener; there’s a growing realisation that in the 21st century, sanitation conditions should be better. When we talk to potential clients, we meet a lot of interest not only in the product but in the patented technology behind it.

WallPee had its world premiere at a portable sanitation exhibition in Germany last March. We opted to exhibit a testing prototype to validate the product in a place where all big European leaders in the industry show up. We not only received orders for WallPee units but interest from the leading manufacturers in the technology itself.

When will the WallPee be on the market?

We are doing all we can to be sales-ready in six months’ time. We are currently in negotiations with a manufacturer and once a factory prototype is ready with safety certificates in place we have a number of companies willing to trial the product.

We plan to deliver orders to clients as soon as possible so that we can start generating revenues and prove that sanitation standards can be much improved!

What are your plans for this product?

We do have ambitious – but top secret – plans for WallPee! A recent milestone for us is that we have been invited to join Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Startup (HPSU) programme and will certainly have the best supports available to make our plans come true.

It is important to say that construction is only where this idea was born but there is a wider scope for WallPee in the events sector, i.e. music festivals, large outdoor events and everywhere where men are present but there are no facilities. So we’re looking to target portable sanitation hire companies. They supply the construction sector as well as other industries with portable sanitation demands. The portable sanitation hire market was worth approximately €4.5 billion in Europe in 2016. In 2017, there were 143,000 portable units with 90% usage in Ireland and the UK. The market is lacking innovation while noting steady growth in demand. We believe that this is the perfect moment for WallPee.

[Featured image, l-r: Paula Carroll – New Frontiers National Programme Manager, Enterprise Ireland; Catherine Moroney – Head of Business Banking, AIB; Magda Rzepkowska – Beta Inventions; Mark Christal – Divisional Manager Regions & Entrepreneurship, Enterprise Ireland]

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Merrill

Scarlet Merrill is Editor of the New Frontiers website and founder of her own startup, Engage Content Marketing. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

A strong employer brand is essential for attracting top talent

Financial advice every startup entrepreneur needs to hear

6 start-up friendly events you can’t miss out on in 2019

Grow smarter and faster by automating tedious work tasks

Financial advice every entrepreneur needs to hear - New Frontiers - Ireland (1)

Financial advice every startup entrepreneur needs to hear

Financial advice every entrepreneur needs to hear - New Frontiers - Ireland (1)

Make sure the money coming in is more than the money going out – that’s the crux of accounting, right? Well, that’s not bad advice, but it’s not exactly helpful either. The day-to-day, month-to-month monitoring of a company’s finances requires a more detailed approach if you aim to make a profit, identify new opportunities and grow your business.

If you want your company to thrive beyond the shaky startup phase, past the inevitable “bad year” and towards a stable and profitable future, then you need to ensure your company is financially healthy. What does that mean? A financially healthy company has the appropriate strategies in place to maintain regular cash flow, be protected during rainy days, secure profits, invest wisely and be ready to scale up. If that sounds good to you, then check out our 4 financial tips below that will whip your finances into shape.

4 financial tips for startups

1. Tighten up your cash flow

For most startups, the issue with cash flow is lagging debtors. Debtor days is how long it takes a client to pay you for your services and chances are some of your debtors are more casual about it than you’d prefer. At the beginning, when you’re trying to get your business off the ground, slow debtors can cause a lot of stress and frustration. The best thing you can do is nip this in the bud from the being.

Firstly, decide if you can afford to provide a credit period. If you can’t, then you need to plainly outline this in your service contract. Some companies ask for part of the payment up front. However, if you are going after bigger, more established clients, chances are they will expect a credit period that can range from 30 to 60 days. Manage this by setting a clear credit period that suits you and prompt clients to pay with a friendly reminder approaching the end of their payment window. If this goes unrecognised, have a second reminder quickly sent from a more senior team member. If you still have no success, then send a legal follow-up and stop doing business for this client until payment comes through.

If you are trying to build up a book of clients in the early stages of your business, this approach may sound aggressive, but in the long run it’s better to have an established process in place to manage debtors because it directly affects your cash flow which is the lifeline of your business.

2. Get financial and tax advice

If you’re not an accountant and you don’t employ the services of an accountant, then chances are you are missing out on many opportunities to make tax savings for your business. From Entrepreneur Relief to Startup Refunds for Entrepreneurs (SURE) to R&D tax credits, there is a lot of support available in Ireland for startups. A financial advisor that specialises in small businesses can provide you with invaluable tax advice that is vital for giving startups the breathing space they need to grow.

There are also numerous state and private funding sources for startups, from microfinance loans to incubator funding to angel investment. A good place to start is your local LEO, and the Enterprise Ireland website also has extensive information on their funding supports (so both tax saving and funding sources). Of course, we can’t but mention our own programme, New Frontiers! We are Ireland’s only national entrepreneur development programme, and as well as providing office space, mentoring, and training, the New Frontiers programme offers Phase 2 participants a €15,000 tax-free stipend.

3. Have access to a bank overdraft

Getting a loan and being financially healthy may sound contradictory, but bear with us! We’re returning to the issue of cash flow. Let’s say for some reason or another your business stops making a profit for a few months. Perhaps your premise was flooded, or you lost a few big clients in a row. Do you have a strategy in place to weather the storm?

Bank overdrafts are not always easily accessed when you suddenly need one. After all, what bank wants to loan money a business when it’s failing? It is much better to set up this facility in advance, when your balance sheet is looking healthy. That way everything is ready to go when disaster strikes, and guess what? With this lifesaver overdraft facility at the ready, it’s not such a disaster after all. It’s just another bump in the road on your way to success.

4. Consider outsourcing

When you’re expanding your business, you might imagine everything you do will be inhouse because you want to retain as much control as possible. However, outsourcing can be a lot more cost-effective if your ambition is to scale up. Doing everything yourself makes sense when you’re a startup, but if you plan on growing your business then this can prove too costly. Hiring an in-house team of marketers or accountants or IT professionals is expensive, and that’s before you take into account the office space and equipment that comes with them. Outsourced services don’t only make financial sense, but you also gain access to the valuable insights of experts in their field. Now you can focus on what you do best and save money at the same time.

If you have a startup idea and would like to take it to the next level, read more about the New Frontiers programme and see our calendar of upcoming application deadlines around the country.

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Merrill

Scarlet Merrill is Editor of the New Frontiers website and founder of her own startup, Engage Content Marketing. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

A strong employer brand is essential for attracting top talent

6 start-up friendly events you can’t miss out on in 2019

Grow smarter and faster by automating tedious work tasks

New Frontiers Showcase for the TU Dublin and IADT cohort

6 start-up friendly events you can’t miss out on in 2019 - New Frontiers - Enterprise Ireland

6 start-up friendly events you can’t miss out on in 2019

6 start-up friendly events you can’t miss out on in 2019 - New Frontiers - Enterprise Ireland

Get your calendar at the ready! We’re going to keep you busy in 2019 with some fantastic events that will sharpen your professional skills, strengthen your network and inspire your imagination.  Let’s go…

Women’s Empowerment Summit, 13th April

With the Women’s Empowerment Summit just around the corner, you’ll have to act quickly if you want to secure your ticket! This fantastic event is all about bringing like-minded women together to support and learn from each other. This is not an event for shoptalk, but rather it is about helping women reach their full potential in every aspect of their life. With the odds too often stacked against women on their path to personal and professional success, it is as important as ever to provide opportunities such as this for growth and empowerment. With a stellar line-up, including actress Deirdre O’Kane, television presenter Maura Derrane, Irish Rugby Player Sene Naoupu and 3 times bestselling author Donna Kennedy, we expect this year’s summit to be as much if not more successful than the years before.

3XE UX – The User Experience & Design Thinking Conference, May 16th

Looking to learn about user experience design from the best in the business? 3XE UX is an event that aims to give you practical, actionable insights that you can immediately take away and apply directly to your business. The best way to make the most of this event is to get involved with their range of workshops that they describe as providing how-to know-how. These workshops include “7 tactics to convert your social media audience into sales” from Content Plan, “Driving Conversions with Performance Video” from Google, “The Biggest Search Marketing Myth – Busted!” from Wolfgang Digital, “Winning with CRO: Seeing is Believing” from VWO, and “Finding hidden site speed gems and ways to fix them” from Under 2. If you feel like you could learn a thing or two and brush up your user experience skills, then make sure to get your hands on some tickets because this one will sell out!

Southeast Digital Picnic, 20th June

Every business knows the significant effect clever social and digital marketing can have on their success. If you’re serious about improving your online presence and finding out how to generate more leads, then the Southeast Digital Picnic is where you’ll want to be! This event is catered towards start-ups, small business owners as well as anyone passionate about marketing. All your questions about online advertising, community building, video, influencers, and social media will be answered in the beautiful surroundings of Wells House and Gardens in Wexford. The organisers are going out of their way to inject some summery vibes into the traditional business conference by taking the event outside with a BBQ theme. Fingers crossed they get the weather!

HPSU Founder of the Year Awards, 26th June

Are you a member of the HPSU Founders Forum? If you are a CEO receiving Enterprise Ireland investment support, then this is definitely something worthwhile to get involved in. The Forum is a great way to receive invaluable insights from experienced practitioners about your specific business challenges and surround yourself with a strong network of CEOs who have come up against the same hurdles as you. Every year, the Forum awards one founder the grand title of HPSU Founder of the Year award. The event brings together entrepreneurs and investors and is a fantastic opportunity for high-performing, innovative Irish start-ups to get the recognition and support they deserve.

Innovation Arena, 17th – 19th September

Are you an agri-tech innovator? If you are, then this should be the highlight of your calendar! Being held at the National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore, you can be sure this will be a great day out for you and your business. The Innovation Arena will be exhibiting talks and seminars as well as providing networking opportunities for entrepreneurs throughout the three-day event. There is even an opportunity for you to win €15,000 for your company! If you fancy yourself as a pioneering innovator in the agri-tech sector, then you can put your name in the hat for categories such as best agri-technology start-up, young innovator of the year, best agri-engineering established company and best agri-environmental enterprise. Get involved in this Enterprise Ireland event by sending in your application online before the 31 May.

MoneyConf (at Web Summit), 4th – 7th November

Dublin may be the home of MoneyConf, but this year it is heading to Lisbon. Not only that, but the conference is expanding from two days to three! If you don’t know what we’re talking about, MoneyConf is THE fintech event that brings banks, tech firms and start-ups together under the one roof. Enterprise Ireland will be running a half day event focused on bringing clients and potential buyers together in pre-arranged one-to-one meetings. If you’re heading to Web Summit you’ll be happy to know that your ticket will give you access to everything MoneyConf has to offer.

If you want to know about the numerous events organised by/in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, head over to the events section of their site.  

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Merrill

Scarlet Merrill is Editor of the New Frontiers website and founder of her own startup, Engage Content Marketing. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

A strong employer brand is essential for attracting top talent

Grow smarter and faster by automating tedious work tasks

New Frontiers Showcase for the TU Dublin and IADT cohort

Synergy Centre: New Frontier Phase 2 Showcase Day

Unleash your inner cyborg and start automating tedious work tasks! - New Frontiers - Enterprise Ireland

Grow smarter and faster by automating tedious work tasks

Unleash your inner cyborg and start automating tedious work tasks! - New Frontiers - Enterprise Ireland

The buzz around automation is only intensifying as companies continue to discover new ways technology can make businesses smarter and more efficient. The human element of work is evolving as we get better at using technology to our advantage, allowing us to give more time to the areas that need our attention the most. In fact, our relationship with technology has become so symbiotic that leading tech entrepreneur Elon Musk believes we are already cyborgs!

The definition of a cyborg accord to Oxford Dictionaries is:

“A fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body.”

Your smartphone may not be directly wired up to your brain just yet (watch this space, Musk is working on ‘neural lace’) but as he explains, “You can answer any question, you can video conference with anyone, anywhere. You can send messages to millions of people instantly. Just do incredible things.” The question is, are you ready to embrace your inner cyborg? If you are then you’ll find you can easily automate tedious work tasks with your not-so-secret superpower – technology.

5 ways to automate tasks in your company

1. Clean up your inbox!

We might as well start with the bane of your working life – your inbox! The emails never stop coming, and god forbid you should go on holiday because when you return you’re going to have to spend a whole day tunnelling through that backlog! The average worker receives 121 emails a day and sends 40, so how can automation help?

Most email platforms, such as Gmail and Outlook, have inbuilt automation tools so you can easily categorise emails by importance. Smart Labels in Gmail or Rules in Outlook allow you to automatically sort your incoming emails based on the sender’s details or keywords. Both email platforms allow you to schedule emails to be delivered at a specific time. You can do this in Outlook by clicking the more options arrow in the ‘Tags’ section of your email or use the plugin Boomerang for Gmail. You can also design email templates for messages you find yourself sending repetitively to save time and avoid errors.

2. Start using voice-to-text software

Sometimes it’s the simplest pieces of technology that can save the most time at work. No one marvels at the wonders of a calculator anymore, but it is one the handiest pieces of office equipment! This is the kind of automation we need in other areas of our working life, a solution that completes a task quickly and precisely every time. Voice-to-text software is just that. Dictation solutions have come on leaps and bounds in recent years and for anyone who finds themselves writing at length on a daily basis, this is a must! If you’re looking for a free version, GoogleDocs Voice Typing is a great choice.

3. Be an automation whizz with Zapier or IFTTT

If you’re serious about automating tasks at work, then you probably have heard about IFTTT and Zapier before. Both applications allow you to sync various solutions so that you can have your Gmail talking to your Dropbox account, or your Twitter triggering messages in your preferred Slack channel. These platforms perform by letting you design rules that in practice look like this: if X occurs then Y must happen.

X could be your company name being tagged on Twitter and Y could be the notification of this in a Slack channel. This one would be very handy for the marketing department, but there are useful rule combinations for everyone in the office. If you’re not sure what you need automated, that’s not a problem – take a look at their library of predesigned rules and find out what’s popular with other users.

4. Get real financial insights with Xero or Bullet

Human error is inevitable, but you don’t want it to happen in your financial accounts. Accounting solutions such as Xero and Bullet (an Irish company) can help you automate repetitive tasks while also providing business intelligence that would otherwise get lost! They enable you to automate payroll, invoicing, expense claims, approval processes, payments, and reports. If your bank allows live feeds, reconciliation becomes a breeze.

Knowing which of these is best for you will depend on your needs, but they both have time-saving features the overworked entrepreneur will appreciate. Bullet, for instance, does automatic mileage calculations and can post Revenue returns directly to ROS. Xero is powerful for growing startups because of the hundreds of other systems it can connect to – stock control, POS, project management, booking, time tracking, CRM, and other business tools. These are cloud accounting solutions, which means everything is safely backed up and encrypted in the cloud, allowing you to always have access to what you need, when you need it.

5. Automation for customer relationship management

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is the go-to for businesses that have a lot of customers to manage and want to design an effective sales pipeline personalised to each individual. With CRM tools you can automate many different aspects of your company’s communication with your customers, such as the initial “Welcome” email, follow up emails, automatic reminders that a subscription is coming to an end and automatic updates to customer profiles and calendars. With customer-centric automation such as this, you can nurture long-lasting customer relationships, boost your brand reputation and capture more leads.

Automation results in higher productivity, reduced operating costs, streamlined processes and the protection of your competitive edge. What’s not to like? Beep-bop-boop, cyborgs are go!

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Merrill

Scarlet Merrill is Editor of the New Frontiers website and founder of her own startup, Engage Content Marketing. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

A strong employer brand is essential for attracting top talent

New Frontiers Showcase for the TU Dublin and IADT cohort

Synergy Centre: New Frontier Phase 2 Showcase Day

Nicky Bowman chats about sales strategies and finding your first customers

Drone Consultants Ireland wins European Satellite Navigation Competition

Drone Consultants Ireland wins European Satellite Navigation Competition

Drone Consultants Ireland wins European Satellite Navigation Competition

Bruce Hannah, (Irish National Space Centre), Ian Kiely, Peter Downey and Keith Tracey (Drone Consultants Ireland) at the Galileo Masters

A huge congratulations to New Frontiers participant, Ian Kiely, and his team at Drone Consultants Ireland on being announced as the winner of the 2018 European Satellite Navigation Competition (aka the ‘Space Oscars’).

A Media Cube (IADT) company, Drone Consultants Ireland offers a range of aerial solutions and develops UAV ideas for companies looking to improve efficiency and safety. The company also runs Drone & Tech Expo in the RDS.

The European finals of the competition took place in Marseille as part of European Space Week. Drone Consultants Ireland’s entry, Jack in the Box,  is used for UAV Persistent Surveillance. Self-contained, tethered, and aircraft-deployable, the system provides real-time visual data and pinpoints locations to assist emergency services and disaster relief in remote or inaccessible areas. It monitors up to 300 square kilometres from a fixed position, with flight times up to 500 hours. It can also operate in adverse environments without risking lives.
Jack in the Box can provide reliable positioning data to support emergency services, environmental protection, government bodies, civil defence, and border control on land, at sea, and in remote locations. It offers benefits such as reliable real-time data, extended flight times, re-usable hardware, the ability to network multiple devices, variable payload options, and cost-efficiency compared to standard aircraft.

Drone Consultants Ireland New Frontiers company wins European Satellite Navigation Competition

Peter Downey, Ian Kiely, Keith Tracey (Drone Consultants Ireland) with Bruce Hannah, (Irish National Space Centre)

Congratulating Ian Kiely on winning the European Finals, Dr. Annie Doona, President of the Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dún Laoghaire praised the winning submission:

“We were delighted when Ian Kiely, a New Frontiers DIT/IADT graduate company from the Media Cube, won the recent Ireland Regional Competition of the 2018 ESNC Awards. To win the overall European Award is a remarkable achievement. I would like to congratulate Ian Kiely and his team and thank him for his engagement with the staff and students at IADT.”

Jessica Fuller, Head of the Directorate of Creativity, Innovation & Research at IADT commented:

“It is uplifting when a New Frontiers graduate flourishes on the programme and Ian’s success is well deserved. “The real value comes from the mentoring and financial supports available through the Media Cube. We are always looking to support entrepreneurs and innovators with a thirst for international success. It’s wonderful to see innovators like Drone Consultants Ireland being acknowledged and awarded for the risks they take. A considerable amount of effort and research made the Jack in the Box vision a reality. We look forward to working with Ian and Drone Consultants Ireland on future projects’.

The Media Cube works in partnership with Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Office in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Council and beyond. It provides state-of-the-art facilities including office space, meeting rooms, boardroom and canteen facilities, serviced reception areas and of course the best sea views from its rooftop terrace!

Ann Marie Phelan, Enterprise & Innovation Manager at the Media Cube and New Frontiers Programme Manager in partnership with DIT Hothouse, works closely with client ventures to help them formulate and refine their proposition and navigate the investment options available to support the growth of their start-up. She is delighted with how well the company is doing:

The success of Drone Consultants Ireland centres on the fact that they started from the premise of building their technology around the problems faced by the emergency services in dealing with natural disaster events. The technology was specifically tailored to address the problems of trying to properly survey inaccessible locations, the need to speedily determine whether there were injuries or fatalities and the need to identify the most efficient rescue route out of the disaster area. A classic example of responding to the pain points of those they wished to serve.

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Merrill

Scarlet Merrill is Editor of the New Frontiers website and founder of her own startup, Engage Content Marketing. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

A strong employer brand is essential for attracting top talent

New Frontiers Showcase for the TU Dublin and IADT cohort

Synergy Centre: New Frontier Phase 2 Showcase Day

Nicky Bowman chats about sales strategies and finding your first customers

Cork 14 entrepreneurs on their way to success - New Fronteirs

Cork: 14 entrepreneurs on their way to success!

Cork 14 entrepreneurs on their way to success - New Fronteirs

September 2018 marks an exciting milestone for 14 new start-up businesses in Cork, as they embark on a full time six-month intensive development programme to support their business growth. The New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme is delivered locally at the Rubicon Centre in Cork Institute of Technology.

These 14 participants follow in the footsteps of 97 other start-up founders who have completed the programme at CIT, which has supported over 1,000 entrepreneurs nationally.

14 innovative startup ideas

The 2018 cohort reflects a wide variety of sectors:

  • Christina O Dwyer
    who is developing a new ostomy baseplate and bag to provide users with a reliable, ergonomic appliance.
  • Daniel Mulcahy
    who is providing a cost-effective way for airline passengers to join together to share taxi journeys, initially from and to airports.
  • Dave Jeffery
    is developing a platform which enables users to convert a business web app into a desktop app.
  • Loretta Kennedy
    is launching a healthy ketchup which promotes a healthy gut as well as reducing the incidence of dental cavities in children.
  • Marian Kennedy
    is developing hygienic products to assist with the post-partum care of sensitive areas for women after birth.
  • Michael O’Neill
    has created a screen time management platform designed for students, parents, teachers and lecturers focused on enabling undistracted learning and engagement.
  • Nora Irwin
    has developed a range of solid perfumes made using organic beeswax, natural pure essential oils and absolutes that can be layered to create different fragrances.
  • Patrick Corrigan
    has developed a knowledge base management and collaboration tool for businesses which allows IT to create and maintain branded documentation quickly.
  • Paul McCabe
    is developing an online platform that files tax forms for international students.
  • Pedro DaSilva
    is focusing on developing a product development service for smart charging devices, targeting the Internet of Things (IoT) industry and its demand for smart charging solutions and low power management services.
  • Ryan O Neill
    is developing a centralised online management platform supporting health, fitness and wellness professionals run their business more effectively and efficiently.
  • Seán Barni
    is developing a digital shield that puts individuals back in control of their privacy, through email, phone, virtual payment cards and identity management.
  • Stephen Fleming
    has a cloud-based software service that systematically gathers and interprets IT user experience data to generate industry-standard metrics, benchmarks and insights.
  • Tara Zuluaga Dorgan
    is creating a range of gut-centric functional foods combining ancient nutrition with modern science.

New Frontiers at Cork

Alison Walsh Programme Manager said:

“It is wonderful to welcome 14 new participants to join our latest cohort of the New Frontiers Phase 2 programme in the Rubicon centre. The standard of applications was extremely high this year and it was a very competitive recruitment process. We are delighted to have such strong projects and will work intensively with each company over the coming 6 months and beyond to help them drive the growth and success of their start up business.”

Paula Carroll, National Programme Manager for Enterprise Ireland, said:

“The New Frontiers programme delivered by the team in the Rubicon has a great reputation for developing entrepreneurs who go on to build successful businesses. We have no doubt that many of this new cohort will follow in their footsteps.”

Since the programme started in 2012, 97 New Frontiers CIT start-ups have raised over €1.050 million through Competitive Start Funding (CSF) and a further €6.478 million in public and private investment.

If you have a startup idea and would like to take it to the next level, read more about the New Frontiers programme and see our calendar for upcoming deadlines around the country.

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Merrill

Scarlet Merrill is Editor of the New Frontiers website and founder of her own startup, Engage Content Marketing. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

A strong employer brand is essential for attracting top talent

New Frontiers Showcase for the TU Dublin and IADT cohort

Synergy Centre: New Frontier Phase 2 Showcase Day

Nicky Bowman chats about sales strategies and finding your first customers

Lean Startup using customer-focused development processes

Lean Startup: using customer-focused development processes

Lean Startup using customer-focused development processes

Originally published in 2011, The Lean Startup by Eric Reiss was an important moment in the history of startups. The book sets out a clear approach to developing new products and services that has established itself as the standard framework that startups now use to turn ideas into companies.

At its core, The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses proposes that startups use a build, measure, learn framework in an iterative product development cycle that places the customer at the heart of the process. With each iteration, the lean startup method brings the company closer to achieving product-market fit by developing a product that serves a real customer need.

Get out of the building

The Lean Startup How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful BusinessesThe customer-focused development process which was originally developed by Steve Blank is at the heart of the lean startup. The answers about which features to build and which markets to target are to be found out in the field talking to customers, not at the whiteboard. The only way an idea can be turned into a successful business is through a process of validated learning and the lean startup lays out key steps to achieve this:

  • Identify your key “leap of faith” assumptions about your product and customer
  • Build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to test these assumptions as quickly and cheaply as possible
  • Measure your customer reactions
  • Learn from the data collected during the customer development process
  • Change direction if your hypotheses are disproven (pivot or persevere)
  • Iterate on your original idea based on the feedback

Building a Minimum Viable Product – perfection is the enemy

The goal with an MVP is to push it out rapidly with a minimum of time, development effort and expense. If your team is in a position to develop a software product in-house it is easy to become obsessed with the quality of your offering and spend too much time building features and refining the user experience.

The unfortunate fact is that quality is irrelevant if nobody wants what you are building. Rather than building out out a fully realised product and then starting to look for feedback, in the lean startup approach, the idea is to build the most basic demo possible and iterate on it early and often with customer input. If your potential customers complain about missing features this can be used to drive product development in the next iteration.

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder

IMVU – a harsh lesson in customer validation

In The Lean Startup, Eric Reiss details how his startup IMVU spent months coding a complex backend system that would allow interoperability of various instant messaging clients. Once it was ready to ship they found that no one would even download their new 3D messaging client it in the first place, so the entire development effort went to waste. They had failed to test some of the most basic assumptions about their customers before committing to a development effort. The author comes to the crushing realisation that they could have learned just as much about their customers by creating a simple sign up page where they could have gauged early interest without committing to a costly development process.

Dropbox – a highly effective MVP

As a counterpoint to IMVU’s failure to validate with customers, the author describes how the founder of Dropbox used a cleverly edited video to show how Dropbox would work in practice, long before any actual software had been developed that would allow it to work in real life. Overnight, this video allowed them to sign up over 70,000 people who wanted to use the service, proving they were meeting a real market need.

Customer development over product development

Most startups that don’t make it have usually failed due to a lack of customers rather than a lack of product development. Placing the customer at the heart of the development process, as outlined in the lean startup, is crucial for a successful outcome.

Lean Startup methodology, along with Steve Blank’s customer-focused development process and Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas, provides an excellent framework that any startup can use to test its hypotheses with the market and develop products that serve real customer needs.

About the author

Dara Burke ShowhouseVR New Frontiers ProgrammeDara Burke

Dara Burke is a past participant of the New Frontiers programme in the north-west and the founder of ShowhouseVR, a virtual reality startup that enables users to visit spaces before they are built… [Read Dara’s profile]

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Phase 2 New Frontiers launch at Galway-Mayo July 2018

12 high-potential entrepreneurs commence New Frontiers at GMIT

Phase 2 New Frontiers launch at Galway-Mayo July 2018

12 ambitious entrepreneurs with innovative startup ideas have made it through a competitive selection process for Phase 2 of the New Frontiers programme in Galway, funded by Enterprise Ireland and delivered by Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.

The future business leaders started the programme yesterday, which is delivered by GMIT at its Innovation Hubs in Galway and Mayo. For the next six months, they will dedicate themselves full-time to the development of their early-start companies – receiving support in the form of training, mentoring, networking, R&D input, office space and more. A stipend of €15,000 is paid to each participant, subject to satisfactory performance and development reviews.

These 12 participants follow in the footsteps of 83 other startup founders to complete the programme at GMIT, which has supported nearly 1,500 entrepreneurs nationally.

The 2018 cohort reflects a wide variety of sectors:

  • Alan Preims, who is working on a soundtrack library for game developers;
  • Gerard Keane, who plans to develop risk management software for businesses;
  • Jipe Kelly, who is developing a platform to attract foreign students to third level colleges and universities;
  • Maneesh Kaushik, who is using artificial intelligence (AI) technology for preventive and diagnostic heart care;
  • Patricia MacEoin, who has a concept for an intravenous fluid delivery system for the equine industry;
  • Roisin Kelly, who is looking into internet safety education for children;
  • Kieran Barry, who is developing friction technology to reduce the drag on ships;
  • David McIntyre, who is creating a sensory booth for people with special needs;
  • Ferdia Kenny, who is building a recruitment platform for part-time staff;
  • Francis Bonner, whose innovative idea for functional food will blend coffee with plant oil;
  • Liam Moffatt, who is working on an athlete performance system;
  • Mark Basquille, who is developing a food supplement for athletes.

Tony O’Kelly, New Frontiers Programme Manager at GMIT, is looking forward to his seventh year supporting innovative startups on New Frontiers.

“114 new business ideas were submitted for consideration this year. It is a great indication of the strength of entrepreneurship in our region! The economic landscape in Galway continues to develop. Not only is GMIT extending the IHub to double its current capacity, other local initiatives – the Portershed, which opened two years ago; two new Bank of Ireland centres; the Start-lab, Work Bench, Agtech and NDRC accelerators; plus the BioExcell Medtech Accelerator and BioInnovate Ireland programme at NUIG – bring a wide range of supports to businesses and startups.”

Barry Egan, Enterprise Ireland Director West, commented:

“The entrepreneurs selected for this accelerated business start-up process are top quality, with great potential. We look forward to the development of the next wave of successful businesses in the West.”

Since the programme started in 2012, 23 GMIT New Frontiers start-ups have raised over €1 million through Competitive Start Funding (CSF) and over €10 million in private plus High Potential Start-up (HPSU) investment. Find out more and see our calendar for upcoming deadlines around the country.

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Merrill

Scarlet Merrill is Editor of the New Frontiers website and founder of her own startup, Engage Content Marketing. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

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Negotiating is like going into a church - New Frontiers Simon O'Keeffe

Negotiating is like going into a church

Negotiating is like going into a church - New Frontiers Simon O'Keeffe

Negotiating is like going into a church or temple. It’s different. There are different rules and etiquette. People behave differently once they are there. Like a church, negotiation has a special purpose that makes it different from ordinary, humdrum conversations. Its purpose is to reach an agreement.

But to leave it at that would be like saying that a church’s purpose is to keep out the rain. There’s more to it than that. Done properly, negotiation can deliver a rewarding and enriching experience as well as a good agreement. You can learn more about yourself by reflecting on a negotiation. You can find out more about others in the negotiation and deepen your relationships with them. Negotiation can provide space for great creativity. It’s often a chance to show and receive generosity that will repay itself many times over.

So, back to the church analogy – say a famous cathedral in a foreign city. How many times have we gone in, let the biggest decision be whether to go clockwise or anticlockwise, trudged around and left? I’m not at all religious but I remember once visiting an Armenian Catholic monastery on San Lazzaro degli Armeni, a small island in the Venetian Lagoon. Luckily for me, I was with somebody who always prepared well, so I had clear expectations about what I’d see, hear and feel. It was a visit full of wonder and I came away with a new respect for others’ practice of their religion and celebration of their history.

Of course, few of our negotiations bear comparison with visiting San Lazzaro! I don’t want to overplay the comparison. My point is this: you can reap additional rewards from a negotiation if you see it as a process to steadily and deliberately reach an agreement. The better you become at working the process, the more time you will have to spend on the people involved and on researching and understanding the issues. This is rewarding in and of itself and it will lead to a better agreement and stronger relationships.

The process of negotiation

The process of negotiation that derives from Roger Fisher and William Ury’s seminal Getting to Yes is simple to grasp, even if it’s quite hard to discipline oneself to use it! If you’re facing into a negotiation into which you’re going to commit effort, it’s well worth working on the imperatives of a negotiation that Fisher & Ury put forward. It’s even more worthwhile if it’s a negotiation into which you know the other side is going to commit effort because it helps to ensure that a principled approach will prevail.

The imperatives are:

  • Separate the people from the problem.
  • Focus on interests, not positions.
  • Generate a variety of options before deciding what to do.
  • Insist that the result is based on objective criteria.

You can approach this in stages: Analysis, Planning, Discussion, Bargaining and Agreement.

Analysis

The first stage is Analysis. Spend some time, preferably with others, trying to diagnose the situation. Gather information, organize it, and think about it. Consider the people problems of partisan perceptions, hostile emotions, and unclear communication, as well as to identify your interests and those of the other side. Note options already on the table and identify any criteria already suggested as a basis for agreement options.

Planning

During the ensuing planning stage, you deal with the same four elements a second time, adopting a point of view about the people issues and what the real interests at stake are. That forms the basis for productive work to generate additional options and additional criteria for deciding among them.

Discussion

During the discussion stage, differences in perceptions, feelings of frustration and anger, and difficulties in communication can be acknowledged and addressed. Each side can and should come to understand the interests of the other. Both can then jointly generate options that are mutually advantageous and seek agreement on objective standards for resolving opposed interests.

Bargaining

Then, in the bargaining stage, you can go hard on resolving the opposed interests and yet go easy on the people. By using the give and take of bargaining, you narrow and close the gaps and leave everyone with something.

Agreement

Finally – and this is often forgotten – it’s essential that you jointly record the agreement reached. All to often, you’ll hear “but I thought you meant…”, so, write it down and agree what’s written!

So, negotiating is like visiting churches. The more you know about them, the easier it is to appreciate the specialness of one you’re visiting this time. Similarly, the better you become at working a negotiation along the lines described here, the more rewarding the process itself will be and the better the agreements you reach will be.

About the author

Simon O'Keeffe New Frontiers programmeSimon O’Keeffe

Simon O’Keeffe has over 20 years’ experience in business strategy and operations. He has been involved in leadership training of New Frontiers participants since 2011… [Read Simon’s profile]

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New Frontiers programme Blancharsdtown graduation group 2018

New Frontiers Phase 2 graduation at the LINC – IT Blanchardstown

New Frontiers programme Blancharsdtown graduation group 2018

New Frontiers Programme Manager at IT Blanchardstown, Colm Ó Maolmhuire, says goodbye to the latest Phase 2 cohort. 10 entrepreneurs developed their early-stage business ideas during the six-month programme, with support and training from industry experts and the staff at the Learning and Innovation Centre (LINC).

When we started on this challenging full-time programme in the cold days of November 2017, it was the energy and enthusiasm of the entrepreneurs that reminded me we were heading into the bright days of early summer 2018. Those days have now arrived and I am delighted that 10 strong, committed entrepreneurs are leaving us – in a good way!

As any startup entrepreneur knows by now, it’s chiefly yourself who will be putting in the hours – the vast bulk of the work done in an early-stage startup is by the founder and any co-founders. The real benefit of participating in a support programme such as New Frontiers is exactly that – the support.

We provide structure, time and space to develop from a well-presented business case to a ‘rocking & rolling’ enterprise. Well, that’s the plan anyway! The formal outcomes of the programme are an investor-level business plan and pitch. But, in order to get there, many other actions have to be started and completed.

Three main thoughts occur to me about entrepreneurs, startups and programmes, and how we can help support their progress:

  1. Time is short
    I joked with this group in our first workshop that six months of Phase 2 would go faster than the six weeks of Phase 1. They didn’t believe me, until it did go faster! Phase 2 requires such a step up in all aspects of starting up that the best advice is to have an action plan and milestones; then work to them. That’s the benefit of the reviews within the programme – keeping on track and adapting at the same time, in a very tight timeframe.
  2. Progress is the main thing
    Each entrepreneur and enterprise makes progress at a different pace. It depends on so many different things – product or tech development, market engagement, financial planning, costs and funding. Even though everyone starts on the same date, we don’t all finish in the same place. Progress is relative, but so are setbacks. It’s what you do next that’s now important.
  3. Thank you for your trust
    Given the energy and enthusiasm, risk and workload, and the serious challenges involved, I have the utmost respect for the real entrepreneurs who have trusted us to support them on this early part of their journey. If you do well, we do well. Thanks, and good luck!
Graduation group 10 New Frontiers programme Blancharsdtown

Blanchardstown Phase 2 graduates with Programme Manager, Colm Ó Maolmhuire (right)

The LINC – New Frontiers class of 2018

Ciaran BRENNAN graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownCiaran BRENNAN

Ground Up’s first product to market, PaidAde, addresses a huge pain point for tradesmen. Tradesmen hate paperwork. After many years working in the construction industry, Ciaran knows and understands this pain point. Through experience and market feedback they have developed PaidAde, a tool that gives tradesmen back their evenings and weekends by digitally removing the paperwork tasks from their business.

Catherine COFFEY graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownCatherine COFFEY

Lexi is an online platform that teaches non-native English speakers job-specific vocabulary. By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, Lexi aims to change how people learn languages. They provide personalised, bite-sized language courses that are tailored to suit users’ preferred career path – that way they are learning the English they need to succeed in a working environment. Courses are constantly changing so that the content being learned is up to date and relevant.

Bernard HAYES graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownBernard HAYES

Fanled.ie is an Irish company that plans to save the music industry. They are bringing back real ownership for music fans and giving musicians the power to create their own future. This new crowdfunding platform allows fans to own a piece of publishing of a song they like, while at the same time giving direct revenue to the artist. Their goal is to be an agitator in the 21st-century music industry model and give both music lovers and music creators the power reap what they sow.

Chantel KANGOWA graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownChantel KANGOWA

Lucca Diagnostics will produce a non-invasive medical/life science diagnostic device to detect and diagnose Urinary Tract Infections. The device will make the collection, sampling, detection and diagnosis of live samples of urine and faeces a more efficient and infection-controlled process. The device is primarily aimed for use on unwell: paediatrics (0-16 years), pregnant women, the elderly, people suffering from urinary incontinence, and people who are incapacitated due to illness.

Noel McKEOWN graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownNoel McKEOWN

Teeze is a dating app with a difference. It focuses not only on people matching but meeting face to face. Teeze makes it easy to break the ice, chat and more importantly organise dates. 90% of matches in mobile dating do not meet up. Teeze uses technology and innovative features to make dates happen.

Cormac O'BEIRNE graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownCormac O’BEIRNE

RYPT is an online platform for gyms and personal trainers to market themselves, attract new clients and add value to existing clients. It provides them with the tools they need to train their clients online, and motivate them to reach their health and fitness goals. Using RYPT’s platform, individuals can find the right personal trainer for their individual needs and get all the expert advice they need to reach their fitness goals, from workout programmes to nutrition plans to wellness monitoring, right at their fingertips.

Simon RUDDY graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownSimon RUDDY

Dilution Solutions has developed a dilution device that makes it more cost-effective, safe and environmentally prudent to work with concentrate chemicals used at home and at work, for example, horticulture, cleaning and industrial chemicals. The device will be designed into a range of products for use in domestic and commercial settings.

Derya SOUSA graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownDerya SOUSA

Kianda is a cloud-based business process automation platform that provides a very simple way for non-technical users to build complex process workflows made of professional-looking online forms, without the need for coding knowledge. It enables companies to streamline not only internal but also external business processes, opening up an entirely new perspective to inter-company collaboration.

Morgan THUNDER graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownMorgan THUNDER

Bubblbook is a new way for activity providers to get in front of group organizers and take provisional bookings online. It’s also a new and easy way to organize group outings with automatic bookings triggered by interest. Bubblbook cuts all the hassle out of agreeing on the ‘who, what and when’ to focus on what matters – people getting together.

Raef TYRRELL graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownRaef TYRRELL

Ekho works to provide improved experiences and analytics for tourist attractions. Their aim is to make every visit count. Ekho uses BLE beacons and an application on a user’s mobile device to provide a proximity-enabled guided experience in a tourist attraction. Their client-base is tourist attractions, who are offered a content management system and analytics dashboard accessed via the Ekho website to manage and observe the status of their guided experience.

About the author

Colm ÓMaolmhuireColm Ó Maolmhuire

Colm is the New Frontiers Programme Manager at IT Blanchardstown. He has 20 years’ experience operating as an independent, professional management trainer, mentor and consultant. His main areas of expertise are in finance, business planning/analysis and management skills… [Read Colm’s profile]

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