Tag: entrepreneurship

Immersive VR Education builds on startup success with a strong team

Immersive VR Education builds on startup success with a strong team

Immersive VR Education builds on startup success with a strong team

In 2018, Immersive VR Education became the first New Frontiers startup to be listed on the Irish Stock Exchange’s Enterprise Securities Market. Just four short years after it was founded, Sandra and David Whelan’s company went public with a valuation of around €21.6 million, the first Irish tech firm to be listed on the exchange since its inception.

How did the company create an offering that has landed it clients such as the BBC, JESS Dubai, Oculus, and the University of Oxford? We spoke to Sandra Whelan, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, to discover what goes into building the team that drives a successful tech startup.

Q1. Everyone has their own route to startup. Where did your business idea come from? How did it all come about?

It all began when my husband, David, saw a Kickstarter project for a virtual reality headset called the Oculus Rift. He invested, and sometime later the headset turned up at the house. We all tried it out – David and I, and our three children. The technology wasn’t very advanced at that point, but I could see the potential. We all recalled information we’d seen much better than we would from reading a book. It was evident to me that there were a lot more useful applications for this than what was available, especially in education.

This is what got David interested in the sector. He started a site to review VR technology – called Virtual Reality Reviewer, very original! Running that site is what led to us realising there was a gap in the market for educational solutions using VR. We created our own Kickstarter for a project involving the Apollo 11 mission. That gave up 30 days to raise €30,000 and we actually raised €36,000! That’s the moment we knew we had hit on something that could work. David sold his web design business and Immersive VR Education was born.

Through the Local Enterprise Office in Waterford, we were pointed in the direction of New Frontiers. David went through the whole programme and it was absolutely brilliant. He learnt all about the financial projections we needed to do, how to formulate a business plan, and how to pitch it. Before this, he had no experience of public speaking or pitching to investors.

It was evident at that stage that if we were going to go ahead with it, I would need to be involved in a bigger way. Up until then, I was working full-time as a logistics manager while working on this in the evenings. I was going to have to give up my job, which was scary because we have a house and three kids to look after. But we felt that we’re either going to give it 100% or we’re not. David was so passionate too and he really believed in the idea, so I thought, OK, let’s do this together.

Sandra Whelan and David Whelan Immersive VR Education New Frontiers Past participant

Sandra Whelan with her husband and co-founder, David Whelan, CEO of Immersive VR Education

Q2. It is a very niche business you’re in, so how did you go about growing a team?

In January 2016 we moved into our new office, and that’s when we made our first hire: Mike Armstrong. Mike was someone we met through the Virtual Reality Reviewer website, so we already knew him. He is now the Lead Technical Developer for our platform. He actually moved over from America with his girlfriend who he has since married and they now have two beautiful children. By permanently relocating, Mike really has come along the whole journey with us.

To make our second hire, we held a VR party in our office. We thought that if we put out the invite on the right messenger boards and explained that anyone interested in working in VR should come along, then we might find the perfect fourth member of our team. That’s how we met Bobby. So, our first two hires were pretty unorthodox, but after that, we started using LinkedIn and recruitment agencies to hire people.

Q3. Did you have a recruitment strategy?

Initially, our strategy was very much determined by the business plan David had developed on New Frontiers, because that was how we secured funding in the first place. In the business plan, we had stated how many developers we needed, so we always knew this was what that money would go towards. We started by putting up ads on LinkedIn and our own website, but there was nothing really coming through.

The skills we were looking for were not available in Ireland at that stage, so we started to look further afield with recruitment agencies. The result is that today only 10 of our team are Irish, and the rest are either American, European, or Argentinian. We do use Indeed sometimes, but a lot of our hires are through recruitment agencies. The fees for recruitment agencies can be on the high side, but we find it is worth it because it saves us a lot of time and we end up with people who are fully qualified for the position.

Q4. How does hiring people from abroad work in practice? What kind of interview process do you have?

We have a relocation package available for people which comprises of us finding them a house, putting down a deposit on the house, providing their first month’s rent, covering moving costs and also paying for their flights. It is something I took responsibility for from the beginning and I have helped relocate numerous candidates at this point. As you can imagine, it is time-consuming, so it helps that the recruitment agency takes control of the other side of the process. We don’t meet the hires face-to-face until they arrive in Ireland, but we do have Skype interviews.

The first interview with potential candidates is held over Skype and would be a technical interview. Depending on the position applied for we will get them to do a test that they could send back in four or five days. The next stage would be an interview with David and myself, because even though someone may be technically fantastic that doesn’t necessarily mean they are a good fit. For me, that’s more important than anything else and it has been the reason I’ve turned down very good technical people. I know the team they are going to have to work in and if I don’t think they will fit in there is no point in hiring them, no matter how talented they are from a technical point of view.

Q5. Considering your background isn’t in people management, why do you think you’ve been so successful at building a team?

It was a steep learning curve because I don’t have a background in people management. However, before this I was a client manager, so I am good at understanding people. I think it helps that I’m very hands-on in my role. There is no HR manager, it is just me and has been from the beginning, so I get to know everyone individually and I love that. I understand their little nuances and help them get settled when they arrive. Of course, it was more challenging as we grew. We started with a four-person team in January 2016 but that quickly grew to seven people, then 10, then 12 and by March 2018 we had 21 people. Today we have nearly 40 but I think the culture we’ve managed to nurture here is key to our success.

We have a very diverse team with people coming from all kinds of background, which is fantastic, but it also needs to be managed carefully. We decided from the outset to be very transparent by letting people know exactly what we expect from them. We have a very relaxed environment at VR Education, and I am happy as long as the work gets done. That’s why, when someone new starts at the company, we explain how relaxed the work culture is here but make sure to point out that at the same time they cannot take advantage of this.

I also make sure the team receives a lot of feedback. Because of what we do, the workday is mostly people sitting at computers with their headphones in, so I like to give people time to talk. I make sure everyone gets one-to-one feedback from their line manager every month. There is no point in me living in a happy rose-tinted bubble in my office, not knowing what is actually going on outside and there is nothing worse than letting problems fester. So it’s important to give people a chance to air any issues they have at these meetings.

Q6. Is there an example of a problem you came across that you found a solution for?

I noticed in the mornings when people came in there would be a lot of yawning going on. I decided it would be a good idea to push the morning meeting back because people weren’t exactly firing on all cylinders! But we also didn’t want anyone getting burnt out because they all work very hard. That’s why I went a step further and offered the team the option of working a four-day week every second week, as long as they had their work done. I thought this would be great for people travelling back and forth from the UK and Europe to visit their families.

It was voluntary, and about half the staff tried it. But in our feedback sessions, we found out that in reality, people were becoming more exhausted by trying to squeeze a full week of work into four days! It was at this point I asked them if there was a solution that they felt would work better. In the end, the introduction of core hours was the answer because everyone was able to design a workweek that would suit them best. Those up early dropping off kids at school were happy to start earlier and finish earlier, while those who felt like they were only really awake at 10 am could push their day forward. Being able to talk and listen to people in this way means we can get the most out of the team and they can get the most out of their job.

Q7. Are there any other perks you offer your staff?

We offer two team-building events every year, the Christmas one and the summer one. That’s always great fun. We close every Good Friday and we do a full shut down over Christmas, but it’s not counted against people’s holiday entitlement. We hold game competitions in the common area of the office to encourage people to get away from their desks. We also have a fully stocked canteen.

Q8. Do you have any top tips for start-ups trying to build a great team?

Ask your team what they want. I could guess what would work best for everyone, but that’s just my opinion. I think getting real feedback is essential to determine what is and is not working. Also, we try not to differentiate between management and everyone else. I have my office, but my door is physically always open for people to come in and out. Our management team have their desks out on the floor with everyone else. After all, when it comes down to it, we all work for the same company and our goal is exactly the same.

Another thing that I had to learn myself over time was to not be too swayed by other people’s recommendations for potential hires. I found that I have had many hours wasted by talking with someone about a role based on a recommendation. Always make up your own mind on matters like that because you know your company and your team and what works somewhere else won’t necessarily work for you.

To find our more about Immersive VR Education, read our article about their IPO last year or visit their website.

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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A framework for founders: how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments

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A framework for founders how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments - New Frontiers

A framework for founders: how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments

A framework for founders how one VC thinks about pre-seed investments - New Frontiers

‘When Frontline say we invest early, we mean it.’

At Frontline, 70% of our investments have been pre-revenue and 60% pre-product. At Pre-Seed and Seed, there is little to be learned from intensive quantitative analysis pre-investment (woo). That said, over the past year and a half at Frontline, I’ve built a qualitative framework, designed around four key questions, to help me quickly assess the companies I meet. Together, I believe that these four questions are critical in predicting success. 

1. Can you convince me to quit my job?

The first question I ask myself is, would I quit my job at the fund and work for these people on this problem? I know, it seems like a completely crazy idea, you (the founder), are here for the VC’s money, not to get them to join your team. Consider this though; when you pitch to a VC, you are looking to inspire and excite. At our stage of investment, it’s about taking a leap of faith and believing in your vision and your team’s potential. Surely, this is also what you do when pitching talent you are looking to hire. So, if you can convince a VC to invest in you, great. If you can get a VC to actually join your team, all the better.

Sarah Tavel was so excited after meeting the founder of Pinterest that she invested and swiftly left Bessemer to join the company. Pinterest is now a $15 billion business. It wasn’t that way when Sarah joined — it was still another startup trying to break through the noise.

So, why is this is a good heuristic to access early-stage companies? The key assumption we’re making in venture is that you’re going to build a big business and the essential ingredient in building a big company is the ability to hire the best. In the early days, you’re unlikely to be competing on compensation, option grants are a long way from ever paying the bills, and the hours will likely be long and hard. The one thing that will attract top talent is your ability to tell a compelling story, display a truly unique insight into the problem you’re solving and to be overwhelmingly impressive when you first meet candidates. The team isn’t assessed just on who’s in the room, it’s imagining who might be in 12 months time.

2. From Chihuahuas to exit, can you find a big enough market to scale?

At Frontline, we track all the reasons why we pass on companies — market size, competitiveness, price, strength of team, etc. We then review all the companies we’ve passed on and check in on how they’re doing using the metric of funds raised (not ideal, we know, but it’s a simple public indicator of success).

Surprise, surprise; our data has shown us that multiple cases where we liked the team but passed on the opportunity because we thought the market was too competitive, we were often wrong. The reality is that good teams can succeed in hot markets. In those cases where we also liked the founders, but passed because we felt the market was too small, we have found that founders go on to struggle.

“When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact.”

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffet lives by this mantra and the data proves it.

Even if you’re good — when you go after a small market in the early days you tend to go deeper into the niche rather than expanding outwards. This can cap your upside and in venture, if we don’t think there’s a viable route to an investment returning half our fund, we are likely to pass on it. Here’s how that practically plays out, on the back of an envelope:

  • Frontline Ventures Fund II: $70 million
  • Target ownership at exit: 10% – 20%
  • Required company value at exit: $150 million – $300 million
  • B2B SaaS forward revenue exit multiples: 5x – 10x (if growing minimum 2X YoY)
  • Company revenue required at exit: $15 million – $60 million
  • You can usually never expect to own more than 10% of any market, so the smallest addressable market we consider for an investment is about $150 million — in reality, to find that market segment you need to look for +$1 billion markets (or be able to make the case that the market is growing or that you can create it)
  • This is fund by fund. Some funds don’t care about ownership/exit multiples – they just care if they think you can build a $10 billion company and can they get a slice of it.

Larger target markets give you flexibility in the early days to figure things out. Longer-term, you must then narrow your focus as you get closer to your customer because once you go deep on a customer segment, it becomes much harder to get back to a larger market without pivoting the company.

One of the best (non-software) examples of this is Chihuahuas. (Yes, you read it correctly). Imagine you’re starting a pet-food business and you decide to start with gourmet, home-delivered meals for Chihuahuas. Let’s say it’s a $50 million market (🤪) that no one is addressing specifically, you can get a big slice of this right? Sure, there are plenty of Chihuahua owners. Plenty of them might have a high willingness to spend on their dogs’ health. But what if it turns out Chihuahua owners aren’t as loose with their wallets as you thought? You’ve gone too deep too early and now all that adorable marketing collateral goes into the bin.

What you could have done is start with the pet food market (multi-billion dollar market). Move down into the dog food market (still multi-billion dollar market). Then go gourmet. Still a huge market and very competitive. But if you follow the rule that you’re never going to own more than about 10% of a market in a best-case scenario, it is always wise to target the larger opportunity. Chihuahuas might turn out to be the right answer — but so might the Maltese or perhaps Pugs. (Analogy inspired by the very cool Butternut Box.)

3. Can you spot the shift beneath your feet?

The world is changing by the day. Yet, major shifts in platform and underlying technology only really happen once every couple of years. The shift to mobile in 2009/10 and the shift to cloud in 2012/13 spawned dozens of new unicorns. In the UK, the opening up of financial regulation in 2014 has since spawned some of the most successful breakout European companies in recent memory.

Often the way these changes empower startups is by opening up new distribution channels. Founders are up against sophisticated sales teams with great brand awareness and multiple routes to reach their customers. But what these incumbents gain in scale they lose in awareness and speed. New routes to customers inevitable open up – and founders that can find these channels early are on their way to building great companies.

One of the best examples of this is the rise of self-serve in SaaS. Founders like Melanie Perkins of Canva that recognised the early trend rode the wave of lower acquisition costs and viral distribution when it was at its peak, and has now built a huge company. Older companies such as Hubspot had to transition from an inside sales-driven growth model to a freemium product-led strategy. For a company like Hubspot, making that transition is expensive and hard. As a startup, you can do it tomorrow.

As a founder, it’s important to recognize key changes in technology and/or customer behaviour that will allow you to create new value. Was there a missing piece of functionality that previously did not exist, and that you can now leverage? Old products become bloated by features whilst new paradigms make better, faster and cheaper products possible. This is a startup’s opportunity. Think about mobile-GPS enabling ride-sharing and food delivery, or AJAX enabling fast content consumption in a browser, or accessible machine learning frameworks like TensorFlow opening opportunities for new analysis.

4. Who are your beachhead customers?

Finally, when meeting new founders, I am always looking for beachhead customers. If a product is to be adopted by new customers, a general rule of thumb — pulled from Zero to One — is that it has to be 10 times better than the existing alternative.

Of course, on day one your product isn’t going to be 10x (lol) better for all your potential customers. It’s not even going to be close for a lot of them. But customer pain is a sliding scale. For most customers, your initial product might only be a 2/3x improvement. But there will be a group for whom the pain you are solving is most acute.

Find these customers and obsess over solving their problem. When you do, nurture them. Grow a loyal and effective group of early advocates who love your solution. Leverage this group to raise capital and as you develop your offering you’ll find you’re a 10x solution for more and more of the market.

TL;DR

Early-stage VCs don’t look that closely at the product or the technology as those are rarely the things that trip up early-stage founders. It’s almost always one of the below:

  • The team isn’t right.
  • The market is too small.
  • The market isn’t ready.
  • The company is unable to find early customers.

If you’re speaking to us, know that this is the lens through which I evaluate an opportunity. I know it isn’t perfect, but I hope this gives you some guidance on how to shape your approach. And, if a VC turns you down, don’t be too disheartened. I got turned down by Frontline when I was in the early days of fundraising.

There are myriad reasons why you can be rejected; some subjective, others less so. At Frontline, we try to give constructive feedback to all the companies we engage. It can be hard to tell a founder you don’t believe in them personally, but more often than not, that’s the real reason. For founders, figuring out why VCs make the decisions they do is another part of what it takes to build a big company.

And remember, the ‘picking’ part of venture is tough. It’s as much our job to get it wrong as it is to get it right (+50% of pre-seed investments fail). But we want to partner with founders as early as possible – and as soon as you have a vision and a plan together. Ping me on finn@frontline.vc if you want to chat or just tell me why most of the above is wrong.

About the author

Finn Murphy Frontline Ventures New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development ProgrammeFinn Murphy

Finn Murphy is an Associate at Frontline Ventures, an early-stage venture fund specialising in B2B software. He loves working one-on-one with entrepreneurs and helping them find their path to building world-changing companies… [Read Finn’s profile]

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The food business: when is a trend not a trend?

New Frontiers - the food business when is a trend not a trend

The food business: when is a trend not a trend?

New Frontiers - the food business when is a trend not a trend

Understanding and using trends to develop sound business opportunities can be a complex area. In the food sector, for example, there are numerous macro and micro trend reports published every year, but what does a start-up food company really need to consider, when determining whether an idea is actually commercially viable?

Trends can mean different things to different people. It’s a much bandied about term, mainly used to describe things that are currently popular or that are predicted to become popular. Essentially, broad shifts in consumer behaviours, attitudes and values drive changes which become identifiable, marketable trends.

Typically, trends are (or should be) the starting point for a good business idea. A way of quickly and inexpensively road-testing your idea is to assess it against the key trend indicators for your sector. Your idea should meet a clear and defined need, solve a problem and align with at least one trend.

The 7 real trends shaping the food industry

Without fail, at the start of every year, a deluge of lists emanates from a myriad of sources, telling us what we ate last year, what we will be eating this year and, of course, what we should be eating. These lists are fun to read, but are linked in many ways to what is being sold by the source, whether it is a data house looking to sell more reports; food delivery companies promoting their businesses; or chefs/food gurus/influencers looking to build their profile.

The question is, how can you discern the wheat from the chaff? What’s a real trend versus a fun fad? It’s clear that a focus on health, community and the environment have taken centre stage of late in the food sector, along with a keen focus on “management of self” in a frantic, always-on, digital era.

Below is my take (please note, far from exhaustive!) on some key trends that a food start-up needs to consider before taking the plunge, along with a few examples of products that meet the trend test.

Food industry trend #1: Changing Meal Patterns

What some commentators describe as the “Fourth Meal”, this trend reflects the growing fragmentation of eating occasions. In our topsy-turvy and less structured world, with mobile and flexible working becoming the norm, breakfast has morphed into lunch and snacks have become mini-meals. Also, the final meal of the day is often a treat more than sustenance, which brings its own challenges. Products such as nutritional bars – a substantial and relatively healthy snack – have been trailblazers in this trend, with Fulfil at the forefront (followed by a long tail of competitors).
Food industry trends - Orla Donohoe - New Frontiers

Food industry trend #2: Health is Wealth

Food & Beverage products in the health space cover a vast spectrum of interest areas and preferences, including disease prevention and holistic well-being all the way through to practical health management tools. Products that claim to aid sleep are a new phenomenon as people find it increasingly difficult to unwind, digitally detox and prepare for rest in the evening. Hot beverage brands such as House of Tea have capitalised on this trend by promoting the features and benefits of variants such as their “Sleep Well” product which has very specific (relaxing) ingredients.

Food industry trend #3: Nutritional Nurturing

It can be very difficult to communicate positive health messages to children that aren’t boring for them and at times it feels that a constant battle is being waged against sugar, which the parent is doomed to lose. I have therefore been eagerly awaiting the arrival of newly launched Hidden Heroes in my nearest Dunnes, and am hoping that my young son will no longer refer to vegetables as the “emeny”. The brainchild of Aileen Cox Blundell, these are junk-free vegetable snacks with 100% natural ingredients which tick all the boxes. Convenient (frozen), guilt-free (quality product) and with a razor focus on a child’s nutritional needs.

Food industry trend #4: Real People, Real Food

The artisan movement is no longer niche and there is huge interest now in knowing where your products come from and who has made them. On social media platforms, posts relating to product provenance generate strong engagement and empathy and add significantly to the user experience. Earlier this year, a small company in the west of Ireland garnered huge publicity following an appearance on a business makeover programme. Aran Islands Seaweed Pesto, an authentic product produced by likeable, relatable people, charmed the public as their journey from idea to product on a plate was shared. Catnip for Millennials.
The 7 real trends shaping the food industry - New Frontiers

Food industry trend #5: Kits are King

Meal kits are one of the fastest-growing segments in the market and have extended in all sorts of directions. Not just focused on meals any more, there are now kits for bread, cakes, biscuits, condiments, cheese and even beer. My absolute favourite is the recently launched Gin Fusion Kit from the Dublin company Drink Botanicals, which aims to enhance the gin experience. Interestingly, in the US, Amazon has introduced a new range of meal kits in Wholefoods, which link with Alexa-enabled devices to provide recipes and cooking instructions – appealing to gadget lovers who also seek convenience.

Food industry trend #6: Plant Protection

Interest in plant-based proteins is at an all-time high. Even children in their early teens (and sometimes younger) are choosing to follow meat-free diets. My own locality of Stoneybatter on Dublin’s north side could well be a candidate for vegan capital of Ireland (three vegan restaurants opening in the last few months). And it is becoming mainstream. California-based vegetarian burger company Beyond Meat has been the best-performing public offering in the US this year, currently holding a market capitalisation of $11.2bn, above Macy’s and Trip Advisor. Definitely not niche.

Food industry trend #7: Green Me

Now more than ever, there is a strong and growing sense of personal responsibility to effect positive changes and address the world’s increasingly pressing and worrying environmental issues. Reducing usage of packaging (especially plastics), commitments to green causes, effective management of food waste – consumers now demand and expect that food (and other) businesses will take their concerns more seriously. There are many great examples here however I particularly like Insomnia’s Mission Compostable campaign, which aims to replace all single-use items with either reusable or compostable alternatives by 2020. Clear, time-bound and accountable.

When you are sure your service or product meets at least one clearly identified trend, the first and most pertinent piece of advice you will receive on New Frontiers and elsewhere is to validate it. Be aware that research can be maddening! Just when you are sure your proposition is fully birthed and ready for launch, someone will throw a curveball. When this happens, take a deep breath. Embrace the feedback. Make any necessary changes, taking advantage of the many resources that are available. And above all, enjoy the experience, as I did.

About the author

Orla DonohoeOrla Donohoe

Orla Donohoe is a trends analyst, food sector advisor, and content writer. She has a background in international business development, and a career spanning over 20 years in market and client facing roles in Bord Bia’s Dublin, London and Madrid offices… [Read Orla’s profile]

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How to decide whether to outsource or keep everything in-house - New Frontiers

How to decide whether to outsource or keep everything in-house

How to decide whether to outsource or keep everything in-house - New Frontiers

Growing your business beyond the startup phase means making some big changes with regard to how your company operates. In a startup, it’s an all-hands-on-deck situation for the close-knit team; communication is a breeze because the company isn’t a sprawling organisation yet and at any given moment you, the founder, can be found jumping between roles, keeping tight control over everything.

However, as you scale up, it quickly becomes apparent that the advantages that made you a startup success could now be the very things that are holding you back. The small team needs to grow so you can keep up with demand and remain competitive, it’s no longer efficient for you to be the last one to sign off on everything and each department in your company needs to start regulating themselves.

As you figure out how to navigate this evolution of your business, there will be a big question that you’ll have to answer early on, and that is “Should we outsource, or should we keep everything in-house?” We’ve narrowed down the primary determinants when considering this question to 1) Expertise, 2) Cost, 3) Time, and 4) Control. In this blog, we’re going to look at the pros and cons concerning each to help you decide which is the best solution for you.

The pros and cons of outsourcing vs keeping it in-house

Expertise

Your business has a core skillset that allows you to offer certain products and services in the marketplace, so it makes sense to keep these types of skills in-house. However, when it comes to other areas – such as marketing, IT, accounting, or recruitment – you may find your team is lacking. You can hire individuals with these skills, but how many people will you need and at what level of experience? Do you have the right knowledge to be able to recruit the correct individuals for the role?

One of the main advantages of outsourcing is that you get immediate access to a team of specialists highly skilled in their area. Rather than hiring someone who knows just a thing or two about IT, for example, outsourcing provides you with technology experts dedicated to getting you results. On the other hand, you may prefer growing your expertise from the inside so you can ensure you have your own stamp on every project while also learning from experiences.

Cost

Outsourcing is by far the more cost-effective solution when compared to an in-house option. The outsourced agency doesn’t require benefits, training, space, tools, holiday pay, or a Christmas bonus. You don’t have to waste resources on a recruitment process, and instead of paying a salary, you only pay for hours worked or input received. Some will say that this doesn’t matter if there is a loss in quality, which can happen when you give an outside source control over an aspect of your business. However, this is simply a matter of doing your due diligence before choosing which outsourced agency or consultant to partner with.

Time

One of the primary motivations for outsourcing is because it gives you more time to focus on your business. Many hours can be eaten up trying to get to grips with financial budgets, marketing analytics, or troubleshooting technical difficulties if these are not your areas of expertise. However, you will only save time by outsourcing if you have good communication channels available.

There are four main reasons why working with an outsourced company can prove problematic if communication is a problem:

  1. Projects slide because you’re not used to working with people remotely.
  2. Project briefs are not clear enough, therefore resulting in inaccuracies and multiple revisions.
  3. You haven’t built up a proper level of trust with your outsourced agency and end up spending a lot of time micromanaging their work.
  4. You and your outsourced agency are working in different time zones.

However, it is worth noting that most of these problems can occur with bad in-house time management as well. Employees working from home can become isolated from their team, vague briefs can result in mistakes, micromanaging employees can take up a lot of time and, if you have expanded internationally, you may find your team is working across different time zones. The lesson here is to find a way to improve those communication channels early on in your business’s progression, whether you choose to outsource or not.

Control

Working with an outside firm is often viewed as a partnership rather than an employment situation. Therefore, instead of having ultimate control over employee work processes, determining how you prefer things to be done from start to finish, you have a situation in which you hand over a project to a team of experts in another company and they get you results their way. Of course, you will be able to specify certain details, such as how many leads you want, the budget, the expected outcome, etc., but the core impulse behind outsourcing is that you recognise the agency to be more experienced than you in a certain area and that is why you are willing to hand over control to them. You have to decide whether this is something you are happy to do when deciding to outsource a service or keep it in-house.

Scaling up? Enterprise Ireland provides funding for established SMEs in areas such as developing your management team, market research and internationalisation, developing your management team, productivity and business process improvement, as well as company expansion. Find out more on their Established SME funding page.

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

Startup events to help you end 2019 on an entrepreneurial high

4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly

A new cohort commences Phase 2 at GMIT’s Innovation Hubs

Four of the Mid West’s most promising New Frontiers startups

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

Startup events to help you end 2019 on an entrepreneurial high

4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly

A new cohort commences Phase 2 at GMIT’s Innovation Hubs

Four of the Mid West’s most promising New Frontiers startups

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

Startup events to help you end 2019 on an entrepreneurial high

4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly

A new cohort commences Phase 2 at GMIT’s Innovation Hubs

Four of the Mid West’s most promising New Frontiers startups

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

Startup events to help you end 2019 on an entrepreneurial high

4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly

A new cohort commences Phase 2 at GMIT’s Innovation Hubs

Four of the Mid West’s most promising New Frontiers startups

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

Startup events to help you end 2019 on an entrepreneurial high

4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly

A new cohort commences Phase 2 at GMIT’s Innovation Hubs

Four of the Mid West’s most promising New Frontiers startups

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

Startup events to help you end 2019 on an entrepreneurial high

4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly

A new cohort commences Phase 2 at GMIT’s Innovation Hubs

Four of the Mid West’s most promising New Frontiers startups

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

Startup events to help you end 2019 on an entrepreneurial high

4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly

A new cohort commences Phase 2 at GMIT’s Innovation Hubs

Four of the Mid West’s most promising New Frontiers startups

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