Tag: entrepreneurship

New Frontiers Common startup mistakes entrepreneurs

Have you made any of these common startup mistakes?

New Frontiers Common startup mistakes entrepreneurs

It’s human to make mistakes. We all do it. Early-stage entrepreneurs are juggling a lot of balls, so mistakes are bound to happen. The important thing is to not beat yourself up about it and instead invoke the wise adage of Samuel Beckett:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Learning from your mistakes is what will make you successful. And you can even get a head-start by learning from the mistakes of entrepreneurs who have gone before! There are common mistakes that startups make, such as not listening to their customers, not pivoting when they should, or not getting their branding right. Today, though, I’m looking at four key mistakes that entrepreneurs often make running the business itself.

Not having a proper partnership agreement

When times are good and you’re enjoying some success, the thought of drawing up a proper partnership agreement can seem unnecessary. However, growing a business is rarely straightforward. There will be bumps in the road. There will be turmoil. There will be disagreements. None of these detours should deter you from your overall goal too much, but if you have failed to draw up proper contracts with your partner(s) it could be easy to make a mountain out of a molehill.

It is vital to get a partnership contract in writing. Remember, this is not only about protecting yourself but also your partner(s) and the families dependent on the income from your startup. This contract should cover essential information such as the division of ownership, the duties of each partner, the duration of the partnership, what happens in the case of disability or death, how a partner can buy their share and how a partner can be terminated.

Waiting too long to get the next round of funding

Securing your first round of funding is a reason to celebrate. But don’t spend all that money at once! When you see that row of zeros sitting contentedly in your account, it can be tempting to pull out all the stops and get the best of everything: best office, best location, best candidates, best gadgets, and best website! Not only would we suggest not blowing your seed fund, but we’d also recommend you get going on organising the next round of funding at soon as possible.

Securing funding always takes longer than you expect, even though you have now established yourself in the startup space. The worry is that investors who are interested in later-stage funding will be more risk-averse and expect to see more results before they part with their money. This can make attracting the right investor trickier than you might expect. Therefore, the best thing you can do is give yourself as much breathing space as possible and start working on the next stage of funding long before your money has a chance to run out.

Recruiting for technical skills and not soft skills

Having a limited budget will influence the decisions you make in all kinds of areas. Given that salary is one of the biggest costs for any company, it makes sense for a business owner to be judicious in who they recruit. You know what you bring to the table, which makes it easy to see what your startup needs to move forward. Therefore, hiring based on technical skills alone can seem like the wise choice in this early stage.

However, those first hires are going to be instrumental in what kind of company your startup becomes. They will influence the culture, the processes and client relationships. That’s why at this stage it can be a mistake to hire the moody artist or the aloof genius! Look for technical skills but also make sure to hire someone who has those crucial soft skills, such as being conscientious, communicative and trustworthy. It will serve you better in the long run.

Forgetting to delegate (or worse, micromanaging!)

Entrepreneurs wear many hats. They are the doers. The makers. The movers and shakers, as poet Arthur O’Shaunessy called them. The problem with all this doing and making is that entrepreneurs often don’t know when to stop. When you know how everything is done and expect a certain standard, it can be hard to share responsibilities. But if you’ve decided to expand your startup and are in the process of building your team, it would be wise to take some time to reevaluate your role in the company.

Your startup won’t grow if you continue to control everything. Trying to complete every task on your own will not only burn you out but will also stop your team from growing. There will be a trial-and-error period in the beginning so it’s OK to keep the training wheels on for a little while, but eventually you will have to give your team the space to shine. If you’re struggling to get to grips with this new phase of your startup, a great way to gain some clarity is to pull out a pen and paper and create a whole new role for yourself with a specific list of responsibilities.

What mistakes have you made as an entrepreneur? Perhaps you nearly made a big mistake but caught it just in time? We’re always keen to share the insights of our startup entrepreneurs, so if you are a past or present New Frontiers participant and would like to share your story, let us know!

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman runs a content-first marketing agency, Engage Content, and is Editor of the New Frontiers website. 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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Spilling The Beans event provides great insights for food sector startups New Frontiers

‘Spilling The Beans’ event provides great insights for food sector startups

Spilling The Beans event provides great insights for food sector startups New Frontiers

Dominic Mullan, former New Frontiers Programme Manager at the Institute of Art, Design & Technology (IADT), Dún Laoghaire, recently organised an event called Spilling the Beans, delivered by TU Dublin and IADT for food sector programme participants and alumni from across the country. In this article, he shares some of the insights from the event.

‘Sure, launching a start-up is so much easier these days, with all sorts of tech tools and open-source options drastically reducing upfront costs and time to market,’ or so they say! While that may be true of purely digital plays, the same can’t really be said for food ventures. A chat with any food founder will undoubtedly involve tales of the strife associated with raising investment, establishing an efficient production model and building strong channels for distribution. It was this trio of challenges that the Spilling the Beans event aimed to address for current and past New Frontiers participants with a focus on food.

Programme alumni Shane Ryan of fiid (LIT) and Alison Stroh of Dr Coy’s (IADT/TU Dublin) joined us to share the learning points they have amassed along the road to scale. Providing further valuable insights were Stephen Twaddell, Chair of the Food Investment Syndicate within HBAN; Louis Eivers from the HPSU team at Enterprise Ireland; and Jacquie Marsh, the driving force behind the growth of the Butler’s Pantry up to its sale in 2018.

Stephen Twaddell, Chair of the Food Investment Syndicate within HBAN
Jacquie Marsh, former Director of Butler’s Pantry
Jacquie Marsh, former Director of Butler’s Pantry
Louis Eivers, HPSU team at Enterprise Ireland

Investment: When, and how, to raise money?

On quite when is the right time to raise money, both Alison Stroh and Shane Ryan would recommend holding off as long as you can before completing a seed round. Instead, make the most of supports like Local Enterprise Office (LEO) funding, Foodworks Ireland and Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund (CSF) to build a more investable proposition. For Shane, this allows you to demonstrate to potential investors just what you have been able to achieve with a small team and limited resources. Clearly, as Louis Eivers of Enterprise Ireland pointed out, be careful not to stretch things too far before taking investment and possibly missing out on the commercial opportunity or running out of cash entirely.

Assessing your investment proposition

Jacquie Marsh shared her checklist for assessing a food sector investment proposition:

Product: Does it address a problem or a need experienced by a lot of people on a frequent and repeat basis? What is its unique point of difference? Crucially, is the consumer prepared to pay a proper price that will avoid the need for discounts and offers that erode margin?

Strategy: Is there clarity in terms of the short-term and long-term strategy? Is the focus on growing a family-owned business, for example, or on the type of dynamic growth that could lead to a trade sale?

Founder: Is the founder ambitious and passionate, as well as bringing expertise in the product area or in sales and marketing? Do other team members and key hires offer strong complementary skills? Are the founders well equipped to network proactively and positively with possible advisors and investors?

Synergy: Is there a strong sense of culture and values within the team? Are these aligned with the founder’s own values and outlook?

Customers & Sales: Is there evidence of significant sales and an ability to generate sales? Have the founders been able to build good relationships with their early customers?

Finance: What have the team achieved so far with their limited start-up resources? How far will the immediate investment requirement carry the venture before focus needs to return to the hugely time-consuming process of raising more money?

Adding to this, Stephen Twaddell encouraged founders to remember that they themselves are the core element of any investor proposition. He said, “You can change and influence most things in a project, but it’s hard to change people.” So don’t be shy about telling of your passion and your story so far.

Stephen also flagged a positive development in the food ecosystem recently which saw Hilliard Lombard (ex-CEO of Valeo Foods) and David McKernan (ex-Java Republic) launch Biavest – Ireland’s only dedicated food investment vehicle – with their first investments being with Nobó and Offbeat Doughnuts. For Shane Ryan, this type of smart sector-informed money trumps non-specialist investors every time.

The production dilemma

Alison Stroh

While the question of in-house or outsourced production seems to offer only two possible answers, the third and resounding response from our panellists was that, while your production model is important, it pales into insignificance against the potential power of your brand. This, for investor Stephen Twaddell, is where the magic lies and where the most value can be created. Generally, your customers will not know and will probably not overly care if you produce in-house or through production partners. It is your brand and the quality of your product that will influence their buying behaviour.

The possible exception to that is where your brand story specifically ties in with a method or place of production. Take by way of example the Wicklow Wolf Brewing Company, of which Stephen is Chair and whose brand story includes messaging such as Independent by Nature and beer brewed the Wicklow Way.

In the case of fiid and Dr Coy’s, both notably offering ambient products, specific technical requirements meant outsourcing production to partners in the Netherlands and Belgium respectively was the only realistic option, and the model has worked well for both. Louis Eivers of Enterprise Ireland clarified that outsourcing production within the EU presents no obstacles to High Potential Startup (HPSU) investment, provided the venture is still likely to create 10 jobs in Ireland. Bord Bia support on the other hand is typically predicated on production being within the Republic of Ireland.

For Jacquie Marsh, who built a business focused on short-shelf-life products, The Butler’s Pantry’s in-house production model was underpinned by two key strategic considerations: firstly, achieving a margin that would not have been possible otherwise; and, secondly, being nimble and adaptable in terms of offering quality and variety to the customer.

As for any entrepreneur, the risk of seeing outsourced partners effectively stealing your product ideas was on the mind of a number of our New Frontiers participants. Shane Ryan was quick to point out that, yes, they probably will copy your ideas, as will other companies and quite possibly your retailers too, which brings us back (once again!) to the key role of brand, brand, brand! As Jacquie Marsh pointed out, the big players are afraid of emerging, nimble players with brands that are so much more engaging and relatable for the consumer.

The distribution challenge

Shane Ryan

The “biggest challenge for food start-ups in Ireland” and “a total nightmare” was how Alison Stroh and Shane Ryan characterised the whole area of distribution, and both had lots of helpful perspectives for food founders who are looking to establish strong distribution channels.

Both companies deliberately managed their own distribution for extended periods before securing central listings or significant distribution agreements. The donkeywork of supporting dozens of stores across Ireland yielded huge value in terms of learning about the marketplace and building relationships with store managers.

On the question of central listings with retail chains, Alison sounded a note of caution: yes, central listings mean that store personnel can order in your products from their hand-held devices, but “if only they did!” It is more than likely that you will still need to engage a merchandising team to visit stores and encourage managers to place orders.

For Shane of fiid, relationships built with store managers in the early days have proven to be the foundation of major in-store campaigns which might not have been feasible or affordable otherwise.

Both fiid and Dr Coy’s now work with major distributors, which allows them to focus less on logistics and more on brand, which is all the more important when you are likely to be competing with the likes of Unilever for your distributor’s attention.

For Jacquie Marsh, it’s crucial to focus on retailers that really fit your brand and customer profile, while Stephen Twaddell would encourage any food start-up to focus initially on developing quality growth with one retailer before spreading yourself thinly across multiple retailers or geographies.

Key conclusions for food startups

So a conversation that was intended to focus on three aspects – investment, production and distribution – kept coming back to the same theme time and time again: brand, brand, brand!

About the author


New Frontiers Dominic MullanDominic Mullan

Dominic was the Innovation, Commercialisation & Development Manager at IADT – Institute of Art, Design & Technology in Dún Laoghaire – and the New Frontiers Programme Manager at the Media Cube. Dominic has worked closely with startups since 2000, and his expertise spans both the public and private sectors… [Read Dominic’s profile]

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The 7 Deadly Sins Of Bad Elevator Pitches

You may have a fantastic startup idea, but unless you can effectively communicate it to investors that is all it might ever be – an idea. The good news is that even the most terrible elevator pitches can be polished and honed until they sing.

If you’re looking for secrets to pitching success, then it starts with knowing what not to do…

1.     You’ve forgotten that you’re pitching to a human being

This is a very common mistake entrepreneurs make when they first start pitching. Rather than recognising that investors can be persuaded to be as passionate and excited about your startup as you are, it is easy to fall into the trap of treating them like the inscrutable sphinx. Yes, they need the hard facts but never forget that when you pitch, you are essentially marketing your business idea and the best marketing succeeds because it tells a story. Not sure what your business story is? We advise taking a big step back so you can rediscover what makes your particular business different from the competition.

2.     You haven’t said what problem your startup is solving

They say everyone has a book in them, and it seems we all have a startup idea as well. However, just like the likelihood of getting your book published is low, so too are the success rates for startups. You’ve probably heard the infamous statistic that 90% of new businesses fail. There are many reasons this occurs, such as bad financial management, insufficient growth, and poor leadership. However, one of the top startup killers is that the product/service did not solve a specific customer problem. We hope for the success of your startup that you have recognised the pain point that your business idea alleviates, and if you have then make sure to mention it in your elevator pitch!

3.     You don’t know your numbers

If you ever watched Dragon’s Den, you’ll know that investors love numbers! We’ve already explained how telling a story will stimulate the appropriate emotional response, but now you need to prove how this great idea of yours also works in real-world conditions. If you want an investor to part with their hard-earned cash and take a chance on your business, you will need to reassure them of your financial judgement with some compelling reports. More than anything else, investors want to know how exactly your idea is going to make money – so show them!

4.     Your elevator pitch is too fast

Whether due to nerves or because you’re trying to cram as much information into your elevator pitch as possible, speaking too fast can kill a pitch. People can only retain so much information, therefore it’s your job as the pitcher to make it easy for your audience to remember as much of what you say as possible. Forcing people to try and keep up with you is not going to win you any points. If you’re looking for some inspiration, bring to mind the most captivating human voices in film and television; the languid tones of David Attenborough, Morgan Freeman, Joanna Lumley, and Alan Rickman should come to mind!

5.     Your business idea is too abstract

Right now, you’re in the trenches with your startup. You’re up close and personal with every aspect of it and your head is chockfull with all the different ways it could go. Perhaps you’re deep into research and development at the minute or maybe you’ve been designing your marketing strategy. Before you approach an investor, it is important to distill all these jumbled thoughts down to what is actually important. At this early stage, they do not need to know every minute detail of your business (hence the term “elevator pitch”). Avoid sounding too abstract and knuckle down to precisely what your business is, who your customers are, and why that particular investor should care.

6.     You don’t have a use case

If you really want to stand out from the rabble of entrepreneurs vying for investors’ attention, a great way to do it is by sharing a real-life example of how a customer has already used your product. This ties in well with deadly sin number 2 because it helps you get to the crux of what your business idea is all about – solving a real customer problem. Nothing is as persuasive as showing that real businesses/customers have handed over real money – this gives potential investors confidence in your ability to gain traction. It also is a valuable device to use in your overall business story as well as a perfect opportunity to thread in some impressive numbers to really win them over.

7.     You didn’t practice your pitch

You’ve come to the end of another New Frontier’s blog and we are delighted to still have you with us, but in the words of economist E. F. Schumacher, “An ounce of practice is generally worth more than a ton of theory.” Pitching is a learnable skill just like writing or singing, so pitch repeatedly, into the mirror and to your friends, and make tweaks along the way. While you don’t want your pitch to sound over-rehearsed, you do want to be very familiar with it so that when the opportunity knocks you are always ready to answer!

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman runs a content-first marketing agency, Engage Content, and is Editor of the New Frontiers website. 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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5 powerful habits of successful business leaders new frontiers

5 Powerful Habits Of Successful Business Leaders

5 powerful habits of successful business leaders new frontiers

Humans are creatures of habit. This might not be a ground-breaking revelation, but the extent to which we are controlled by our habits is remarkable. According to a study conducted by Duke University, over 40% of our decisions are habitually made rather than consciously decided.

If our habits are bad, this could be pretty scary! But the good news is that we can, with effort, change our habits and even influence them to work in our favour. Aristotle famously said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit”, and we agree. If business excellence is your goal, then we suggest practicing the following business habits.

1. Write your $10 million cheque

In 1985, Jim Carrey wasn’t yet the world-famous comedy actor he is today. Instead, he was a struggling comedian finding it hard to make ends meet. Despite the precariousness of his situation, he wrote himself a cheque worth $10 million for “acting services rendered” and dated it for 10 years into the future. It just so happened that in 1995 he shot to fame in the $247 million dollar movie Dumb and Dumber. This story exemplifies the visualisation techniques recommended by so many business psychologists. The secret to visualisation is the details – Carrey identified success as a specific amount of money being attained at a specific point in time and for a specific skillset. So instead of chasing some vague idea of success, start visualising precisely what success looks like for you.

2. Schedule me-time into your calendar

Organisations of all kinds depend on the performance of people. Therefore, it makes sense that if you are not taking care of yourself, your business will suffer. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done because not only are business owners generally run off their feet, but too often they wear the status of workaholic as a badge of honour. This is an outdated concept that only leads to poor decision making, bad management and ultimately becoming burnt out. How to beat these business blues is to regularly schedule “me-time” into your calendar, as you would any other task. You can spend this time meditating, exercising, indulging in a hobby and/or spending time with family. The only rule is that it cannot be work-related!

3. Set goals for your day

At New Frontiers, we love business plans. After all, how can you get to where you want to go unless you know the way! Short-term and long-term goals are necessary stepping stones to success, but great business leaders take the practice of goal-setting to the next level with daily goals. Trying to achieve success can be a daunting task when it is perceived as a singular overarching target looming in the distance. However, if you construct success as the achieving of daily “wins” that keep you going in the direction of that “mega goal”, then not only are you much more likely to get there but you won’t pull all your hair out along the way!

4. Eat the frog!

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” – Mark Twain

This often-quoted line from Mark Twain only grows in prominence as our world becomes increasingly demanding. There are a hundred and one tasks you could be doing on any given day as a business owner, but how do you decide which one to tackle first? Twain is suggesting to start with the task you want to do the least and many business leaders agree. Brian Tracy, in his book, Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, advocates this time management technique and highlights that it should not only be the least appetising task that you act on first but also the one which will create the biggest positive impact on your life once it is completed.

5. Surround yourself with talented people

Entrepreneurship is often depicted as a lonely road and it can be, but wise entrepreneurs ensure that it isn’t. Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. By surrounding yourself with the right people, you get access to new perspectives, fresh ideas, different skillsets and alternative opinions. In the fast-paced world of business, developing tunnel vision will dramatically impede your development. But with the right people on your side, you can spot new industry trends on the horizon and become aware of great opportunities that otherwise would have passed you by. Whether they’re peers in your network, people on your team or a business mentor, as long as you are continually having conversations about your industry with talented people, you and your business will continue to grow and develop.

What about you? What habit has kept you both sane and successful? Or what habit do you really want to develop but have been unable to?

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman runs a content-first marketing agency, Engage Content, and is Editor of the New Frontiers website. 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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Enterprise Ireland’s Action Plan For Women In Business targets diversity - New Frontiers programme

Enterprise Ireland’s Action Plan For Women In Business

Enterprise Ireland’s Action Plan For Women In Business targets diversity - New Frontiers programme

Enterprise Ireland has launched the Action Plan For Women In Business, an ambitious and wide-reaching strategy to achieve greater representation of women in business and, particularly, in business leadership across Ireland. We spoke to Sheelagh Daly at Enterprise Ireland to find out more.

Numerous studies prove that having women in executive positions and on boards leads to better outcomes for organisations – with better financial performance and higher employee engagement. Putting women in decision-making roles improves all kinds of business metrics, but we are still not seeing gender parity in business.

An ongoing commitment to gender balance

Focusing on gender balance in business is not new for Enterprise Ireland. There have been a number of initiatives over the past years aimed at improving the ratio, such as Going For Growth or female-only Competitive Start Fund (CSF) calls. The success of these is evident, with Enterprise Ireland investing in three times more women-led companies in 2019 compared to 2011.

Looking forward, it was clear that as the national agency for economic development, Enterprise Ireland had an important role to play in improving diversity in business. CEO Julie Sinnamon asked the agency to put together a plan.

“Harnessing the full talent and expertise of our diverse population will result in better businesses and faster economic growth. Unleashing the creativity and skills of more women represents an unparalleled opportunity for fuelling economic growth in Ireland.”

Julie Sinnamon – CEO, Enterprise Ireland

The plan has been piloted by Sheelagh Daly, Entrepreneurship Manager at Enterprise Ireland. She spent a year putting together the strategy and identifying the first 24 actions for 2020. She started by asking four key questions about the lack of female participation in enterprise: What are the reasons? What are the barriers? What needs to change? What additional supports are required?

“Women in leadership roles means increased profits, improved productivity, better returns on assets, and overall superior performance. We want companies making smart decisions about the senior management team that will help them be the best they can be.”

Sheelagh Daly – Entrepreneurship Manager, Enterprise Ireland

An evolving plan with multiple themes

Action Plan For Women In Business

Research demonstrates that – in general – women take a different approach to business, so the plan includes a commitment to working on a one-to-one basis with women as well as addressing systemic barriers that women tend to face. An excellent example of concrete action is a new grant for Enterprise Ireland clients that offer part-time leadership roles. While a grant already exists for full-time roles, this new funding reflects the reality that many women ready to take on such responsibilities may need more flexibility.

The scope of the plan is broad and in addition to the horizontal focus across Enterprise Ireland activities, we will see initiatives developed in partnership with other agencies, stakeholders, the private sector, and government departments. Input into policy development is likely to be significant as the plan evolves.

But if you were thinking this strategy is just about startups, think again! Research and development, education, mentoring, investment and venture capital, networking, leadership development, showcasing successful businesswomen, and bringing experienced female leaders back to work are all going to be a feature of the Women in Business plan.

“People with more senior management experience in their industry are more likely to spot opportunities for innovative new businesses, plus the beliefs and skills to go ahead with the idea. These people are also more likely to have the all-important network of connections that will make things happen in the business.”

Sheelagh Daly – Entrepreneurship Manager, Enterprise Ireland

The objectives of the Women in Business plan

In total, the plan comprises four main objectives, each with six associated actions that Enterprise Ireland has committed to starting in 2020.

Objective 1: Increase the number of women-led established companies growing internationally

  1. Drive the Women in Business action plan in each division of Enterprise Ireland
  2. Engage with financial institutions to deliver a finance and funding landscape that is accessible and inclusive
  3. Develop a #GlobalAmbition campaign featuring Women in Business leaders and initiatives
  4. Offer increased one-to-one engagement to women-led companies to effectively support growth ambitions and expansion into new global markets
  5. Ensure all Enterprise Ireland programmes and supports are designed to maximise participation by women
  6. Explore proposals for new finance offers to support scaling for women-led established companies

Objective 2: Increase the number of women in middle and senior management and leadership roles

  1. Introduce a new grant for Enterprise Ireland-supported companies to facilitate the recruitment of part-time senior managers
  2. Promote the benefits of diversity to enterprise and provide funding support for diversity planning to Enterprise Ireland-supported companies
  3. Work with external stakeholders to influence national policies to address identified barriers to women’s participation in enterprise
  4. Work with key stakeholders to facilitate Irish companies to improve gender diversity on their boards
  5. Target women managers in Enterprise Ireland-supported companies and within Enterprise Ireland for participation on leadership development programmes
  6. Promote a focus on diversity in the development of skills and talent for Irish enterprise through the National Skills Fora and within Enterprise Ireland

Objective 3: Increase the number of women becoming entrepreneurs

  1. Partner with key stakeholders to drive better access to finance and funding for women at all stages on their enterprise journey
  2. Collaborate with the Local Enterprise Offices to develop and grow female entrepreneurship in every county
  3. Target more women to become founders, mentors, and investors
  4. Ensure enterprise and entrepreneurship policy is aligned with the objectives of the Enterprise Ireland Women in Business plan
  5. Develop, support, and promote a national network of role models to interact with and inspire future entrepreneurs
  6. Promote a focus on women in business in the actions and funding of Regional Enterprise Plans

Objective 4: Increase the number of women-led start-ups with high growth potential

  1. Appoint a dedicated team in Enterprise Ireland to develop and drive initiatives directed at female founders
  2. Issue a series of funding calls targeting women entrepreneurs, and women researchers from third level institutions
  3. Pilot an initiative to include women leaders/senior managers in project teams spinning out from third level institutions
  4. Explore the potential to establish a women-focused seed investment group with key finance industry stakeholders
  5. Roll out national and regional communications campaigns showcasing women entrepreneurs
  6. Offer increased one-to-one engagement to women-led HPSUs and support female founders through mentoring with experienced entrepreneurs who have scaled their businesses

The Women in Business plan addresses a broad range of factors contributing to the underrepresentation of women in enterprise and will help to initiate sustainable and enduring change in the Irish economy. If you’d like to know more, you can download the action plan brochure, visit the Enterprise Ireland website, or talk to your Enterprise Ireland/Local Enterprise Office advisor.

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman runs a content-first marketing agency, Engage Content, and is Editor of the New Frontiers website. 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

Alumni profiles: An epic journey towards the dream

Alumni profiles: Breaking the code, building the dream

Alumni profiles: Unlock your potential, back your dream

New Frontiers Comes To NovaUCD At University College Dublin

Top tips for dealing with late-paying clients - New Frontiers programme

Top tips for dealing with late-paying clients

Top tips for dealing with late-paying clients - New Frontiers programme

We’re not pointing any fingers, but you know who we’re talking about! When it comes to late-paying clients, there are always a few stragglers. Although it’s not personal and usually just an indicator of clunky business processes, if you’re a small business trying to grow it is hard to be sympathetic. However, if most of your late-paying clients also happen to be your biggest clients, your problem is a bit more of a challenge.

According to ISME, the Irish SME Association, 55% of companies experience payment delays of two months or more (Q2, 2019). CEO Neil McDonnell points out that:

“Smaller businesses do not have working capital to wait for payment as long as big businesses. 36% of multinationals are taking longer to make their payments, showing a total disregard for SMEs.”

It all comes down to big companies wanting to have as much ready cash available to them as possible, but this can turn into a serious problem for SMEs in the long run.

Although no healthy business should be reliant on any one client, this worrying trend of late payments can be detrimental to a small business if not managed correctly. That’s why in this blog we’re going tackle the credit-control challenge head-on.

Should you be giving credit at all?

Providing credit is not uncommon in business, but it is not the rule and you are not obliged to offer it. If you’re a small business ticking over with only a handful of clients and you can’t afford to give credit, then perhaps you shouldn’t. In the creative industries and for freelancers, payment on delivery is the most common payment term. For larger or longer projects, it’s typical to pay half upfront, or even staged payments throughout the life of the project. Maybe your business could adopt a similar model? Take a close look at your current cash flow situation and determine what kind of figure you should be starting the month with. If getting to that figure requires bringing those invoice deadlines closer, then don’t be afraid to put your foot down. Remember, it’s your business and you make rules, not your debtors.

Set clear terms before you start

When a new project or contract comes through the door, it’s tempting to show how keen you are for the business and dive in as soon as possible. But not setting clear boundaries from the outset can be something you come to regret. If you do need to offer credit, then agree in advance what that will be and get it in writing. Ideally, this will already be laid out in your Terms and Conditions, but even so it’s worth drawing the new client’s attention to what these are. If you don’t have Ts & Cs already, or if you want this client to stick to different payment terms, make sure to get this agreed in writing beforehand including a) at what point(s) you will invoice, and b) how many days they will have to pay. If they subsequently don’t stick to these terms, you can start chasing straight away and draw their attention to the agreed terms.

Offer an early-payment discount

As with everything in business, you are dealing with human beings, which means that incentives and motivational tactics can work a treat – especially when it comes to saving money! You don’t necessarily have to offer this to all your clients, but you can pick a select few who you think would be open to the idea. You can offer them a discount for paying within, say, 10 days if that is helpful to your cash flow situation. The only drawback with this strategy is that payments may still be unpredictable. It is up to your client whether they take you up on your offer, and even if they do you won’t be sure exactly when they’ll pay.

Penalise those naughty late payers

Did you know that you are entitled by law to charge interest on late payments? It doesn’t just apply to your Irish customers, as this is a European Union regulation. The majority of businesses don’t do this, perhaps because they don’t know they can, don’t want to rock the boat, or think it isn’t worth the hassle. But you can do this for any commercial transaction and you don’t even need to send a reminder first; you can start charging as soon as the invoice is overdue. The Late Payment Interest rate is currently 8%. This means that if a client was a month late paying a bill of €2,000 + VAT, you’d be able to charge them €16.13 in interest. You can use this online interest calculator to work out what you are due.

In addition, you are automatically entitled to “compensation for recovery costs” without needing to provide evidence of having incurred recovery costs or issuing a reminder. This is a flat fee entitlement. If you had a particularly tricky situation and had to hire a solicitor or debt collection agency, this would obviously be a whole different situation. The automatic compensation you are entitled to under the regulation is:

  • Up to €1,000: €40
  • €1000 – €10,000: €70
  • Over €10,000: €100

Automate the credit control process

These days, there is a software solution to alleviate any business ailment. If you’re tired of payments dribbling past the finish line like the world’s slowest snail race, the time has probably come for more proactive credit control. There are lots of fintech solutions for debt management out there that make it easy to chase late payers. Some examples are Chaser and Fluidly.  With Chaser, you simply connect with your Sage, Xero, or QuickBooks account and set up auto-reminders so that your clients are prompted when their invoice is past due. Solutions like this allow you to personalise these prompts so that your business brand is kept intact. You can also control who gets reminders and how often, and even escalate the reminders to get more serious the longer the debt is outstanding – for instance by changing the recipient and sender of the reminder to more senior counterparts in your respective businesses.

Leverage outstanding bills with invoice financing

A 60- or 90-day credit window can become too much to bear for some small businesses. It’s a situation many businesses try to suffer through but there are ways to get around this problem if chasing your clients isn’t enough. If existing credit terms are now proving challenging for your company’s cash flow, you could look into invoice financing. Invoice financing is a finance facility that allows businesses to borrow money against outstanding customer invoices. Typically, you’ll receive a large portion of the funds immediately and when your client settles the invoice, you’ll receive the rest (minus a fee for the service, of course). This isn’t an ideal scenario in the long-term, but it can get you through a challenging period.

As you can see, there are many ways to manage late-paying clients. The key is to find the solution that works best for your type of business as well as your clients. It can be uncomfortable talking about this issue with clients, but never forget that you deserve to be paid for your hard work. Asking for what you are due is a fair and reasonable thing to do!

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman runs a content-first marketing agency, Engage Content, and is Editor of the New Frontiers website. 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

Alumni profiles: An epic journey towards the dream

Alumni profiles: Breaking the code, building the dream

Alumni profiles: Unlock your potential, back your dream

New Frontiers Comes To NovaUCD At University College Dublin

Big business trends to watch out for in 2020 - New Frontiers Programme -Enterprise Ireland

The big business trends to watch out for in 2020

Big business trends to watch out for in 2020 - New Frontiers Programme -Enterprise Ireland

2020 is upon us and we STILL don’t have flying cars. It’s a disappointing realisation that we are entering yet another futuristic-sounding year without even one DeLorean to have taken to the skies. Alas, we’ll have to curb our expectations for now and be content with cars simply driving themselves. Joking aside, 2020 is looking to be a very interesting year for business with great advancements and transformations happening in technology, the workplace, customer relationships, and more.

If you’re craving some sharp insights into what kind of year 2020 is shaping up to be, then look no further! We’re going to share with you 4 business predictions we’re putting our bets on for 2020.

Our top 4 business predictions for 2020

Irish businesses will need to get 5G ready

True, we didn’t need to check a crystal ball for this one! The fifth generation of cellular networking is here, but how exactly will it impact your business? This wireless technology is estimated to be at least 10 times faster than 4G, which means faster communication, faster business processes, and faster results for your clients. Currently, the average time it takes data to upload from a device is 50ms with a 4G network, but with 5G it will take just 1ms.

However, we’re not claiming 5G will be in every single household by the end of 2020. After all, there are still houses in rural areas stuck on 3G. But according to Intel, the rollout will be in full swing in 2020 so they advise businesses to get ready:

“For 5G to become a reality, businesses need to replace fixed-function equipment with virtualised software-defined networks. Switching to the cloud will be vital as 5G relies so heavily on virtualisation.”

Customer Experience will benefit from automation

Customer Experience, or CX, has been a hot topic for a few years, but until now businesses have been struggling to know how to implement it as practical business processes. With increasing accessibility to high-quality automation tools, 2020 will be the year in which we see CX truly take off.

A great example of this is the strides being made with chatbots. The chatbots of 2020 won’t simply trot off a couple of generic messages and then hand the conversation over to a real customer service agent. Instead, chatbots will use intelligent voice messaging to tailor responses to the individual and automate payments in real time.

Customer expectations are increasing constantly as people get used to using more smart devices, such as virtual assistants, in their own home. With Qualtrics finding that 60% of businesses think the mobile experience they are providing is good but that only 22% of customers feel the same, it pays to bulldoze those blind spots, listen to customers’ needs, and invest in the technology you use to drive successful customer relationships in 2020.

Will your business take advantage of the growing remote working trend?

Remote working used to be something that employees who wanted more flexibility pushed for while management looked on sceptically, unsure of whether a divided labour force could really manage to be productive. How times have changed! According to FlexJobs, 75% of people work remotely because there are fewer distractions and 86% say it reduces stress, which all directly feeds into increased worker productivity. In 2020, the encouragement for remote working is coming from the top as employers reap the benefits of this cost-effective, timesaving, and fully customisable work structure.

There are many great reasons as to why remote working is gaining in popularity, but for Ireland specifically we would throw the combination of high rent prices in the capital and long commutes into the ring. On average, it takes commuters in Kildare and Meath one hour and nine minutes to get to work, which is equivalent to, if not quicker than, those taking public transport from Dublin’s suburbs. The Luas and Dart have become notorious for congestion, which not only increases travel time but makes getting to work a very stressful and exhausting experience. Therefore, if not just for productivity then for employee health and happiness, remote working could be a great trend to jump on in 2020.

Gen Z will enter the workforce

They’re coming and they’re going to make up 20% of the workforce in 2020, but what does that mean for your business? This generation is composed of digital natives in the truest sense. Born between 1995 and 2010, they do not know a world without the internet. This puts them in a strong position entering the workforce as we are very much in need of their technology skills! However, to leverage their skills you’ll need to attract them and being a tech-first company is essential.

According to a study by Dell, 91% of Gen Z considers the technology offered by an employer to be a critical factor when choosing a job. Generation Z, or Centennials as they are also known, expect to not only exercise their skills but to continuously improve them. Therefore, it is in the business’s interest to provide these opportunities. Despite being glued to their screens, Gen Z appreciates authentic face-to-face conversations and shows a strong interest in being tech mentors, which can only be a good thing for other members of your intergenerational team!

Running an Irish startup in 2020 is going to be both challenging and rewarding. If you’re about to take the plunge and would like some extra support, why not consider a programme like New Frontiers?! We have locations around the country and start dates throughout the year. Take a look at what’s involved and register your interest today.

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman runs a content-first marketing agency, Engage Content, and is Editor of the New Frontiers website. 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

Alumni profiles: An epic journey towards the dream

Alumni profiles: Breaking the code, building the dream

Alumni profiles: Unlock your potential, back your dream

New Frontiers Comes To NovaUCD At University College Dublin

coworking vs traditional office - new frontiers programme Enterprise Ireland

Coworking space vs the traditional office – which will you choose?

coworking vs traditional office - new frontiers programme Enterprise Ireland

Congratulations! If you’re thinking about expanding your workspace then you must be enjoying some startup success right now. You have secured enough customers to have the confidence to make the big move and you want to be fully prepared to take on any extra work. It’s an exciting time, but important decisions need to be made!

With coworking spaces popping up all over Ireland, it is no longer a given that a startup should have its own private office. There are advantages and disadvantages to both scenarios and which work environment you should choose all depends on your specific needs and priorities. However, we can provide you with some helpful food for thought to guide you through your decision-making process.

Coworking spaces as a budget-friendly option

The main draws for opting for a coworking space are flexibility and cost-saving. Renting private office space is a big commitment and cost for any business, but the return of Celtic Tiger pricing is exacerbating the issue. If you’re looking to rent office space in the capital in 2019-20, you can expect boom-era prices at over €60 per square foot! This doesn’t take into account the cost of insurance, rates, utility bills, cleaning services or the added expense of furniture and technology.

On the other hand, coworking providers offer more affordable hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and annual rates, so you can find a payment option that suits you with a predictable, fixed cost. Dogpatch Labs, for example, is a popular choice for its impressive facilities and is located at the heart of the city centre. They charge €200 per month to hot desk and €400 per month for a dedicated desk. Included in this cost is all utility bills, all service charges, access to meeting rooms, the kitchen, fibre-based internet, the receptionist, as well as refreshments. Another high-quality coworking space is The Tara Building, which keeps a busy calendar of events for its members to get involved in and offers a private, lockable office at €350 per desk. It’s worth shopping around and find the best fit for you.

Compromising on security and productivity

There is an ongoing debate as to whether coworking spaces end up costing businesses with regards to security and/or productivity. While there are advantages to working alongside other business professionals, it can end up being more of a hindrance than a benefit if your work style doesn’t sync well with an open-plan coworking environment.

Privacy is scarce in coworking spaces. If you are hot-desking, you will literally have no idea who you will be sitting beside from day to day. By relinquishing control of fundamental elements of your work environment – such as noise levels, atmosphere, space and seating arrangements – you take the risk that every day is different and not necessarily in a good way. While we all like to think everyone is as courteous and considerate as we are, this is not a given and dealing with these issues in a coworking environment is not as straightforward as it would be in your own private office.

Apart from the potential distractions that come with sharing your work environment, security is another concern. Consider the kinds of discussions you will need to have on a regular basis with your employees, investors, advisors, and clients. How often do you need to discuss sensitive information? Determine if you’re happy for this information to be potentially overheard by other businesses. If your only concern is the weekly meeting, then coworking could still be a good option for you. All you need to do is book the meeting rooms which are available in most coworking spaces.

How beneficial is networking for your business?

If you are just starting out and find that growing your network of business contacts is proving more of a challenge than you expected, deciding to work in a coworking space could be the perfect solution. Coworking spaces are a hub of creative activity. These unique ecosystems enable business professionals, with their various skills and levels of experience, to come together and create coworking communities.

The best thing about this is that most of these companies will also be startups. By entering a coworking environment, you have instant access to entrepreneurs who are going through all the same trials and tribulations as you are! You will have the opportunity to learn from each other, share your stories and act as each other’s sounding boards. The invaluable business opportunities that can be fostered in this kind of environment are limitless.

Many coworking spaces capitalise on this attractive networking opportunity by holding events, primarily for the purpose of aiding the development of supportive business relationships. These can vary from a simple breakfast spread to yoga sessions to happy hour to guest speakers. You’ll easily find an event that will suit you and attract the type of people you would prefer to work with. But if you want our advice, we say dive right in and try them all! You never know who you could meet and how far that relationship could take you and your business.

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman runs a content-first marketing agency, Engage Content, and is Editor of the New Frontiers website. 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

Alumni profiles: An epic journey towards the dream

Alumni profiles: Breaking the code, building the dream

Alumni profiles: Unlock your potential, back your dream

New Frontiers Comes To NovaUCD At University College Dublin

5 tips for recruiting a stellar first hire for your startup - New Frontiers programme

5 tips for recruiting a stellar first hire for your startup!

5 tips for recruiting a stellar first hire for your startup - New Frontiers programme

Making the first external hire is a big step for a startup. It’s a significant commitment with all kinds of obligations and logistics to consider. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some tactics to help you make recruitment less of a risk.

Before you start, make sure you do really need to hire someone at this point. If you’re running a startup, it’s a good guess that you’re run off your feet and wish you had a second you to make the workday less crazy. However, it’s important to recognise whether this is just the typical whirlwind of getting a new business off the ground or whether the time has come to grow the team.

The first step is to take a careful look at the finances and financial projections to see if you can afford an employee. Consider all the costs associated with this – salary costs plus hidden costs such as equipment, office space, insurance, software, training, etc.

The second step is to consider which area of the business could best be supported by a second pair of hands. There should be enough workload to add up to a new role, and what needs to be done should bring real value to the business and contribute to your bottom line (for example, supply chain or customer services). If your plate is overflowing with smaller tasks that don’t add up to a particular business role (for example, bookkeeping) then rather than making a new hire you should lighten the load by outsourcing specific jobs.

Finally, be careful of making your first hire a big, expensive role. For instance, it’s not uncommon for founders to want their first employee to be the salesperson, because it’s typically a role they aren’t confident in. However, these salaries are usually very high and it can be hard to find the right salesperson on the first attempt (see more about this in our interview with Nicky Bowman).

So, having decided the time is right for your first hire, here are 5 ways to make the transition from founder to employer a little easier.

How to successfully hire your first employee

1.      Identify your startup’s weak spots

Your first hire should not be a jack-of-all-trades. In fact, no hire should be! It’s particularly tempting for startups to seek out that unicorn individual who has a bit of experience in everything. The problem with this approach is that they’re not properly solving any one problem. A much better approach is to identify specific weaknesses in your business that are taking up a lot of time or particular gaps where you can really start to grow revenue and aim to hire someone who can take this on and have a transformative effect.

2.      Document procedures for tasks

You want your new employee to hit the ground running when they arrive. Do not wait until the last minute to figure out how they are going to do what you need them to do. It’s probably clear in your mind how the tasks that need doing should get done, but don’t assume this will be obvious to your new hire. They aren’t familiar with your business or how you work yet. If you’re not used to onboarding employees, you’ll be surprised how many small things need to be communicated in the initial stages.

List the responsibilities attached to this new role and then take the time to document procedures for each one. Trust us, it’s worth it. As an entrepreneur, you’re used to doing everything yourself, which means you have your own set of standards. If you want to maintain those standards and avoid resorting to micromanagement, then procedures are a lifesaver.

3.      Don’t underestimate the importance of culture fit

Skills are not the be-all and end-all, especially at this early stage of your business. Your first hire is going to be working in close quarters with you and, inevitably, will have an influence over how your team grows. This is not the time to take a punt on the aloof genius, the rebellious leader or the troubled artist! Rather trust, integrity, and good communication skills are the kind of characteristics you want to invest in with your first hire.

If there is more than one business founder, we’d advise giving everyone the opportunity to meet with the potential candidate so they have a chance to air their opinions. The last thing you want is your office split down the middle by an employee who gets along swimmingly with one founder and is at loggerheads with the other! This exposure to key people in your business is also a great way to show the candidate that you envision them to be there for the long haul.

“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.”

Sandra Whelan, Immersive VR Education
read our interview with Sandra

4.      Have them demonstrate their skills

It really is the only way to know for sure that they can do the job. There are many great interviewees out there. These people are personable, passionate, quick with winning answers and they’ve researched your company inside and out. But none of these attractive qualities necessarily means they will be good at the tasks you have in mind for them.

To combat this, don’t be afraid of having more than one stage in your recruitment process. It may be time-consuming, but this is not a hire you want to make in a rush. The first stage of the interview could be designed to whittle down candidates by their skillset and the second stage could be for finding out if they have the right personality fit for your company.

5.      Have a trial period

This is your first hire and there’s a lot riding on it. Feeling a little stressed about getting it right is only natural. Overthinking it won’t make it any easier, however having a trial period can take a lot of the pressure off. Recruitment is a speciality industry for a reason so if you’re not a professional recruiter, it makes sense to buffer the risk with a probationary period. Ensure it is included in the new employee’s employment contract and define clearly the duration of the trial period. Under Irish law, a probationary period must be one year or less in duration.

Making your first hire is a big decision, especially when you are bootstrapping. As with most things in business, careful planning will help you avoid the most common pitfalls. Be clear about what you expect and what you are offering from the outset, because high staff turnovers will only negate the benefit of having the extra help. Also, remember that although you will be able to move over a large part of your workload to a capable colleague, employees do require management, so factor in enough time to oversee their work. 

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman runs a content-first marketing agency, Engage Content, and is Editor of the New Frontiers website. 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

Alumni profiles: An epic journey towards the dream

Alumni profiles: Breaking the code, building the dream

Alumni profiles: Unlock your potential, back your dream

New Frontiers Comes To NovaUCD At University College Dublin

Listen to your market and always be ready to pivot your idea - New Frontiers - Pierce Dargan

Listen to your market and always be ready to pivot your idea

Listen to your market and always be ready to pivot your idea - New Frontiers - Pierce Dargan

In this blog, New Frontiers alumnus Pierce Dargan discusses his decision to pivot his business idea and what has gone into building a strong and successful startup. Pierce was careful to get extensive feedback from prospective customers and research his idea thoroughly before making his decision.

When I started working on my own business, over four years ago, it was on a very different idea. Part of the entrepreneurship module for my masters at Trinity College was working on a startup idea. Mine was a marketplace for farmers to look for products and services in their area – such as feed, fencing and manure disposal services – so they could compare prices and make informed choices about suppliers. My background is equine farming, and I felt that a price comparison site, which is very common in a lot of markets, was lacking in farming. I won a number of awards for this idea, including the Trinity College All-Tech Innovation competition.

The importance of validating your market

During the validation phase of my startup, when I started to talk to the farmers I was hoping would become my customers, many told me that price was not their biggest pain point. People generally felt that price was not the big issue for them and in fact they stayed with suppliers because of factors like quality assurance, quick delivery times or credit terms. I spoke to people across Kildare, Cork and elsewhere for this validation phase, and I was very fortunate to meet people who were honest with me about the idea before I spent both time and capital developing a solution. It is important to listen to your potential customers rather than just people in your immediate circle, such as advisors, friends and family. The customer is always the most important person.

When the people I was talking to told me price comparison wasn’t their biggest issue, I always asked what their biggest problem was. Time after time, people in equine yards told me that they were having issues keeping up with the large amounts of paperwork required because of frequently changing equine welfare regulations. Racing trainers and equestrians have to keep medication records for their horses to satisfy regulators and drug testers. Some yards have hundreds of horses, each with their own drug and vaccination regimen. It gets very complicated very quickly and if records are wrong it can lead to heavy fines and, in the most serious cases, prosecution. The yards I was talking to said that if I could develop a solution for this issue, they would be very interested.

Always listen to your target customers

It was at this point I realised that there was a large opportunity to try and build a regulatory technology system to be an education tool that would help ensure compliance for equine yards and help promote equine welfare and transparency. It was a difficult decision to pivot the idea. I had won awards for my original farm marketplace idea and it was hard to let go. However, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says, always listen to your customers. It is a common trap that entrepreneurs fall in love with their ideas and don’t listen to what their customers actually want.

Once I pivoted my idea, I knew I would need a CTO who had experience in digitising regulatory paper processes. It just so happened that I ran into a friend from secondary school, Simon Hillary, who had just finished optimising workflows from paper to digital systems for the Oireachtas. Simon came on board, and we started the process of getting our system deemed compliant as a medicines register by the Turf Club (the horseracing regulatory body) here in Ireland and their equivalents in the UK and France.

Early-stage development with support and funding

I completed Phase 1 of New Frontiers at IADT mid-2017. From there, we were accepted onto the Trinity LaunchBox, and I completed Phase 2 of New Frontiers as well. Our Local Enterprise Office has been very supportive, and we’ve had a priming grant and business expansion grant from them. This has all been very helpful, because in all pivoting the idea took two years – refining our solution and getting into the finer details of the regulation.

By 2018, we were ready to launch with an initial cohort of users. That’s when my brother, Finlay, who has a background in finance, joined as our COO. Our app manages the whole compliance process for yards, centrally tracking the what, when, why, and how of medications being administered. Trainers or owners can invite vets and staff onto the system so that everything is tracked and recorded safely and securely.

Our pivoted startup: Equine MediRecord

We already have hundreds of yards on our system across Ireland, the United Kingdom and France, tracking thousands of horses. Our system is the first and only system to be approved as compliant to replace the paper regulatory documents, and the only system in the world ensuring compliance in the equine industry. We won a number of competitions, including the One Zero Conference, ‘Best Use of Mobile’ at Energia Digital Media Awards, and Most Innovative Equine Technology in the UK. We were also accredited with the Business All Star in ‘Regulatory Technology’ at the All-Ireland Business Summit. I also made it into the final 24 (out of 1,600+ applicants) of Ireland’s Best Yound Entrepreneurs, representing the Irish Midlands Region and Kildare at the national competition in September.

As we all become more aware of animal welfare issues, regulations are being strengthened and people need systems to ensure medical record compliance for their animals. Equine MediRecord is looking to enter new markets by the end of the year; we’ve just signed clients in the USA and Argentina and are talking to regulatory bodies inside and outside Europe. We’re also diversifying into other types of equine activity, such as horse breeders and polo teams. None of this would have happened if I had fallen in love with my original idea and been unable to pivot.

About the author

Pierce Dargan Equine MediRecord New Frontiers alumnusPierce Dargan

Pierce Dargan is a fifth-generation racehorse owner and breeder, ex-professional rugby player and New Frontiers alumnus. He is the co-founder of award-winning tech startup, Equine MediRecord… [Read Pierce’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Alumni profiles: An epic journey towards the dream

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New Frontiers Comes To NovaUCD At University College Dublin

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