Tag: funding & support

4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly New Frontiers Entrepreneur programme (1)

4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly

4 actions entrepreneurs need to take to scale up quickly New Frontiers Entrepreneur programme (1)

So, you think your startup is scalable. You’ve looked at your turnover, you’ve studied the market and you believe your business could handle a bigger piece of the pie. That’s great, but growing your business successfully requires not only a shift in operations but a change in mindset.

With all the research and speculation that goes on in the business industry, you can be sure there are known habits and practices that successful entrepreneurs adopt to grow their business. We’re going to share a few of them with you to get you started on your road to success.

Scale up your startup with these great business tips

1) Visualise success and set a deadline for it

The first step to getting where you need to be is to visualise success for your business in practical terms. Try asking yourself, what does my business look like at double or triple the value? “Scaling up” is a nice idea and a handy phrase to throw around when talking to investors, but it doesn’t come with a guidebook tailored to your business. The good news is that you know your business inside out and you know what resources are available to you. Use this knowledge to drive real action that contributes to business growth. Visualise what you want to achieve, give yourself a deadline to get there and then design a map. As with any goal, the deadline is crucial, so don’t be tempted to skip over that part!

2) Stop micromanaging and start delegating!

We’re sure you’ve heard this one before, but the question is, have you actually put it into practice yet?? There is no understating how important delegation is when it comes to growing your business. As an entrepreneur, you’re used to wearing many different hats and taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to everything you do. It’s this trait that makes the entrepreneur who they are, but you need to recognise when the time has come to take a step back and work on the business rather than in it.

To use the cliché, a healthy business is like a well-oiled machine, meaning it can run on its own. Your role needs to change from a management one to a leadership position so your business can have true value that exists beyond your name and your personal network. It’s time to create a strong senior management team that you trust to make important decisions on a day-to-day basis. When you have successfully done that, the next thing to do is to take a holiday. Yes! That elusive thing people with extra time do! If the business can run itself for a week or two, then pat yourself on the back because the value of your business has just increased.

3) Outsource the nonessentials

We recently wrote a blog covering this topic in more depth to help entrepreneurs decide if outsourcing is right for them or not. Have a read of it, and if you find it does make sense for your business, then we advise you to get going on it! Outsourcing is a fantastic way of getting access to high-quality skills at a cost-effective price. By outsourcing the nonessentials, you can focus on what you do best, streamline your processes and invest in the areas that really matter for business growth. As for those areas you can’t afford to outsource, automate them as much as possible.

4) Share wealth and opportunities amongst your team

We have already recommended that you should delegate by building a strong senior management team. However, if you’re going to invest in doing this, then you would want to make sure these key employees stick around for a while. For any business looking to grow, a high turn over of staff is a killer and a clear sign that something has gone wrong at the heart of your business. Hard working, loyal and talented people who want to help your business grow are vital to the lifeblood of a business looking to scale and you simply won’t compete on an international scale without them.

It’s a good idea to share wealth and opportunities amongst your key team members. This means not only paying your employees what they’re worth but incentivising them in other ways, such as offering them opportunities for self-development, investing in team bonding (whether that’s on-site or off-site), creating a pleasant workplace that has its own distinct character and perhaps even offering them shares in the company. Finding star employees is hard and so is keeping them, so it’s worth taking the time to make them feel valued because they are essential to the growth of your business.

If you’ve just finished the New Frontiers Programme, you might be wondering what comes next. If you’re looking to scale, you should definitely keep an eye out for the next Competitive Start Fund call. Providing access to fantastic one-on-one mentorship opportunities as well as funding, you’ll get all the support you need to take your business to the next level!

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

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

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

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

Winners of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Awards (IBYE) announced

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 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]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

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

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

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

Winners of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Awards (IBYE) announced

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

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

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

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

Winners of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Awards (IBYE) announced

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. New Frontiers – The National Programme For Developing Entrepreneurs 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

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

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

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

Winners of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Awards (IBYE) announced

Innovation: give your SME a competitive edge with SBIR

Innovation: give your SME a competitive edge with SBIR

Innovation: give your SME a competitive edge with SBIR

Young companies tend to be perfect micro-cultures for the development of novel approaches to common problems. Enterprise Ireland manages a national pre-commercial procurement programme, Small Business Innovation Research Ireland (SBIR), designed to tap into this well of innovation.

Does your start-up have the drive and vision to come up with a workable prototype to overcome a societal problem? If yes, keep reading to find out what is involved in this great public-private partnership!

Public-private partnership through SBIR

SBIR is a global innovative pre-commercial procurement initiative. It aims to address public sector needs and more generally benefit citizens, through engagement with the private sector. The public sector body (or challenge owner) in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, identifies an unmet need or unresolved problem. The idea is for small businesses to present innovative solutions to government agencies and public sector bodies to resolve societal problems. Each problem statement is tested through a competitive challenge.

Each challenge is divided into two phases. Phase 1 is a technical feasibility study, and enables the company to really understand the scale of the problem. At the end of this phase, the companies present their findings and recommendations for Phase 2. A smaller number of companies are selected for Phase 2. Successful companies develop working prototypes that are tested in the field. Illegal dumping, flooding, and increasing the number of cyclists on city roads are just some of the challenges local councils have put to market through SBIR.

SBIR Smart Dublin announcement

(l-r) Therese Langan, Transformation Project Manager, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Marguerite Bourke, Manager, SBIR Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Nicola Graham, Smart Dublin Regional Data Coordinator.


SBIR Smart Dublin announcement

(l-r) Maeve McGonnell, LexIcon Library, Tony Lawlor, Challenge Champion (Bathing Water Quality) Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Therese Langan, Transformation Project Manager, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Marguerite Bourke, Manager, SBIR Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Ronan Herron, Digital Strategy Officer, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Mary Hegarty, Challenge Champion (Internet of Things) Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

SBIR Advantages for SMEs

SBIR is a unique and practical approach with benefits for both the public and private sectors. Public procurers can drive innovation in a direction that meets their needs. Young businesses are given the opportunity to put their prototypes to the test, giving them that all-important competitive edge upon entry to the market. An SBIR award is not a grant, rather it is a 100% funded development contract, where the company get to work hand in hand with the specifiers to address the problem at hand. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!

SBIR also provides opportunities for businesses to collaborate with other key stakeholders. After demonstrating success through a public procurement process, many products will go on to provide other real-world applications. Companies retain intellectual property rights over their product with certain rights of use retained by the contracting department. This enables the company to replicate the SBIR success in other public and private markets globally.

Thinking outside the box

Local authorities face a variety of challenges when managing cities and counties. Traditionally, when going out to procurement, authorities specify the type of solutions they were seeking. These pre-conceived specifications often made it difficult for companies to come back with novel approaches.

The beauty of SBIR is that it allows innovators from outside the local authority to look at a problem with fresh eyes, providing much more innovative solutions. Now, authorities can access and test new technologies that they might not otherwise have considered.

“For many years there hasn’t been the fast pace of technology, while searching for municipal solutions councils would have spent a lot of time developing what programs to put in place and what kind of infrastructure they might have. SBIR means that things move much faster and it’s much easier to go to the market and say ‘here’s our problem’.”

Philomena Poole, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County council

SBIR’s impact on Irish SMEs

By providing a budget for product development and feedback from reference customers, SBIR helps start-ups overcome obstacles to the commercialisation of their prototypes.

Take Sparrowatch as an example. This SME produces smart, low-cost security cameras. Company founder and CEO, David Tunney, had been developing and experimenting with different security camera ideas for a while and, through the SBIR Challenge, his security cameras became the solution to illegal dumping that local councils needed. Before he got in contact with SBIR, the business was not yet trading!

The growth and expansion of Sparrowatch is a typical example of how an unmet need in the public sector was addressed by the technological development of a small business. David Tunney is certain that the benefits of the SBIR programme were invaluable for his business and “unique, in that you can actually talk directly to your customers and get validation on your concepts”.

Sparrowatch is now working with all four Dublin local authorities in partnership with Enterprise Ireland in a bid to tackle illegal dumping and fly-tipping.

Case Study: Liberty Bell Project – safer cycling in Dublin

Conor Cahill and Síle Ginnane run a development company called FluidEdge Innovation. Conor has a keen interest in cycling and as well as volunteering with Dublin Cycling Campaign, he had worked on a wearable medical device and was keen to work on more Internet of Things projects. By chance, he attended an event where Sarah Scannell, the Walking and Cycling Promotion Officer for Dublin City Council, introduced the Smart Cycling Challenge, which aimed to increase cyclists in Dublin City. It felt like fate to Conor, and although there was less than a month until the deadline, he decided to submit a proposal.

The solution put forward by FluidEdge was deceptively simple. The only touchpoint for participants was a bell on their bike which they used to record actual or perceived obstacles to safe cycling, as well as positive experiences. But plenty was happening behind the scenes: the Bluetooth-connected device was generating data about hotspots, which were highlighted in real time so that authorities could be alerted to poor road conditions or poor behaviour by other road users. Unlike the numerous audit solutions already available, FluidEdge’s solution collected qualitative, as well as quantitative, data about the cycling experience.

SBIR Cycling challenge

(l-r) Mark Bennett of BikeLook, Conrad Christensen, Philip McAlesse, Conor Cahill (FluidEdge, creators of Liberty Bell)

Liberty Bell successfully completed Phases 1 and 2 of the scheme, with feedback from the various stakeholders being continually fed back into the project. Apart from the funding that supported the development of the Liberty Bell project, having Dublin City Council as the first customer was a huge benefit for Conor and Síle, and opened many doors for them. They have since gone on to win the international Bicycle and Pedestrian Challenge run by the Colorado Department of Transport (CDOT) and are looking for new cities to run the project in. You can find out more at libertybell.io.

Thinking of throwing your hat into the ring?

Niall Doolin of Cara Ireland had the following tips for small businesses thinking about participating in Enterprise Ireland’s SBIR programme:

  1. Be attentive to the needs of the client – remember the SBIR process is demand-driven.
  2. Keep it as simple as possible – good ideas are not always complicated (as demonstrated by the Liberty Bell solution)!
  3. Don’t lose sight of future expansions and add-ons – the potential for commercialisation is a major advantage of participating in the SBIR process.

Enterprise Ireland’s SBIR programme provides fertile ground for small or young businesses to put their innovative ideas to the test. The programme has a dedicated fund to co-support innovative and competitive challenges. The experience provides a route to market for products that may, unknown to their creators, be the solution to an ongoing public service challenge.

Next steps

SBIR Ireland is managed by Marguerite Bourke. You can get in touch with the SBIR office at sbirireland @ enterprise-ireland . com or by calling 01 727 2178. You can also follow them on Twitter.

You can check out what SBIR projects are currently open for offers by logging into your eTenders account, or you can see a preview by visiting the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) section of the Enterprise Ireland 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]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

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

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

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

Winners of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Awards (IBYE) announced

Phase 2 New Frontiers launch at Galway-Mayo July 2018

12 high-potential entrepreneurs commence New Frontiers at GMIT

Phase 2 New Frontiers launch at Galway-Mayo July 2018

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

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

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

The 2018 cohort reflects a wide variety of sectors:

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

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

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

Barry Egan, Enterprise Ireland Director West, commented:

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

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

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Merrill

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

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

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

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

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

Winners of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Awards (IBYE) announced

New Frontiers programme Blancharsdtown graduation group 2018

New Frontiers Phase 2 graduation at the LINC – IT Blanchardstown

New Frontiers programme Blancharsdtown graduation group 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The LINC – New Frontiers class of 2018

Ciaran BRENNAN graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownCiaran BRENNAN

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

Catherine COFFEY graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownCatherine COFFEY

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

Bernard HAYES graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownBernard HAYES

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

Chantel KANGOWA graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownChantel KANGOWA

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

Noel McKEOWN graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownNoel McKEOWN

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

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

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

Simon RUDDY graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownSimon RUDDY

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

Derya SOUSA graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownDerya SOUSA

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

Morgan THUNDER graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownMorgan THUNDER

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

Raef TYRRELL graduation New Frontiers programme BlancharsdtownRaef TYRRELL

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

About the author

Colm ÓMaolmhuireColm Ó Maolmhuire

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

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

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

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

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

Winners of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Awards (IBYE) announced

New Frontiers -a crowdfunding conversation with Crua Outdoors

A crowdfunding conversation with Crua Outdoors

New Frontiers -a crowdfunding conversation with Crua Outdoors

Donncha Hughes, New Frontiers mentor and trainer, shares tips and insights about crowdfunding, including a video of a recent conversation with New Frontiers alumnus Derek O’Sullivan.
I recently met up with Derek O’Sullivan of Crua Outdoors in the Tom Crean Centre, IT Tralee, for a chat about crowdfunding. This article will highlight some of the key takeaways from the conversation. We spoke about what they have learned during their Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns and how they raised significant equity funding using Seedrs

Crua Outdoors: A Kerry and New Frontiers startup success story

I first met Derek O’Sullivan several years ago when delivering training on the New Frontiers programme in IT Tralee, and I have kept an eye on their progress online in the intervening period – as discussed at the end of the video interview, Crua Outdoors is a very successful business with:

  • 5 employees plus partners/base in the US
  • Range of 20 products, with a new hammock about to the launched
  • International sales across 43 countries
  • Completed several crowdfunding campaigns and have raised external equity investment using Seedrs and traditional sources to include Enterprise Ireland HPSU.
  • Turnover tripled from 2016 to 2017 and on target to triple again in 2018
  • Seriously looking at 7 figure investment in a production facility in Kerry

Key to this success is a brilliant product and a deep understanding of the customer which leads to great brand loyalty.

Deep crowdfunding experience

In the YouTube video, Derek acknowledges that Crua Outdoors would not be around today without crowdfunding. It provided a large part of the finance for the first and subsequent production runs. They are learning all the time about the crowdfunding process.

In 2015, they successfully raised €50,891 with 175 backers. According to Kickstarter’s website, they have (at the time of writing) 3,887 live projects, with 141,606 completed projects funded by a total of 14,432,333 backers.

Kickstarter is not a store. It’s a way to bring creative projects to life.
Kickstarter does not guarantee projects or investigate a creator’s ability to complete their project. It is the responsibility of the project creator to complete their project as promised, and the claims of this project are theirs alone.

Kickstarter website

Derek identified the following as the Three Big Factors to manage in a crowdfunding campaign:

  1. Market research
    make sure you are offering something that people actually want.
  2. The video
    needs to be professional and focus on the problem being addressed.
  3. Drive traffic to your site
    have a plan to source and convert visitors to your campaign page.

Derek believes that crowdfunding should be utilised more by startups in Ireland – it is ideal for product companies particularly those that have a tech or innovation angle. See the New Frontiers article Financing: alternatives to business bank loans, which runs through some alternatives to bank loan finance, listing crowdfunding as one option.

InterTrade Ireland equity crowdfunding resource

It was a happy coincidence that as I was arranging the meeting with Derek, that InterTrade Ireland published a superb resource on equity crowdfunding as a downloadable PDF.

“Equity crowdfunding has established itself as a real complement and alternative to traditional equity funding sources for High Growth Potential Start-Up and Growth Stage businesses in the UK and Ireland in recent years.”

Source: Equity Crowdfunding Resource, InterTradeIreland (page 2)

The InterTrade Ireland reports presents (page 4) the following table gleaned from the Beauhurst report on 2017 UK Start-Up investment activity ‘The Deal’, reflecting the deal volume activity of the lead UK-based equity crowdfunding platforms. The lead private players in the UK are Seedrs, CrowdCube, SyndicateRoom and VentureFounders.

Equity CrowdFunding in UK

The resources section is very well written (only 22 pages). It provides the necessary background information on equity crowdfunding compared to reward-based crowdfunding and the usual sources of startup funding. It also provides four case studies in the form of two pages summaries with all the pertinent details across set headings to include money raised, equity offered, and campaign preparation.

Crowdfunding is not a case of ‘build it and they will come’… it’s never that simple

Derek stresses in the video that crowdfunding is not a case of ‘build it and they will come’. This point is echoed in the InterTrade Ireland resource on page 11 and by their HouseMyDog case study.

“A business launching a fundraising campaign typically cannot solely rely on the Equity Crowdfunding platform.”

Source: Equity Crowdfunding Resource, InterTradeIreland 2018

Proactive management of crowdfunding campaigns to include significant preparation in advance is required.

HouseMyDog Crowdfunding textWatch my conversation with Derek

Please note that this was one take – and the full interview was uploaded – edited subtitles have been added to the video to complement the audio.

About the author

Donncha Hughes profileDonncha Hughes

Donncha Hughes is a former incubation centre manager and has worked with startups for almost ten years. A big advocate of Lean Startup, his areas of expertise include: marketing, sales, business models, supports for business, business plans and financial projections. An EI mentor and member of the CSF Evaluation Panel, Donncha specialises in working with early stage startups… [Read Donncha’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

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

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

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

Winners of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Awards (IBYE) announced

New Frontiers National Networking Event - March 8th 2018 - Red Cow Hotel Dublin

The importance of networking for New Frontiers participants

New Frontiers National Networking Event - March 8th 2018 - Red Cow Hotel Dublin

Joe Healy, (Divisional Manager, High Potential Start-ups, EI) – Minister Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Business Enterprise and Innovation – Maria Gavin (Programme Manager New Frontiers, EI)

Of all the feedback received from entrepreneurs over the years, one key benefit of the New Frontiers programme stands out consistently: how crucial networking and peer support has been for their entrepreneurial journey.
New Frontiers participants get a wide range of supports on the programme. For some, learning sales and marketing skills, or successfully pivoting their idea, or preparing for export are the difference between success and failure.

But another characteristic of the programme is that it’s cyclical, and all entrepreneurs (typically, around a dozen at each location) start at the same time and work out of the same incubator. They face their business hurdles together, even though they’re each working on their own project, and celebrate milestones with their fellow participants. Insights and learning are swapped on a daily basis, as the focus is on collaboration, not competition.

So it’s an added bonus that Enterprise Ireland organises a yearly networking event, where all the participants from the previous year – from the 16 locations around the country offering the programme – can come together and network. From speeches, presentations and inspirational talks from alumni in the morning, to dedicated one-on-one networking sessions in the afternoon, it’s a day not to be missed.

An annual networking event

This year’s networking event was held in Red Cow, Dublin, on 8th March. It was opened by Minister Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Business, Enterprise & Innovation, who has some particularly good news for the programme:

“I’m pleased to learn that 2017 proved to be a record year for the New Frontiers programme with 164 entrepreneurs moving through Phase 2. Enterprise Ireland, together with the Institutes of Technology, work to continually develop and improve the programme and so, I’m delighted to tell you that a third phase is currently being developed and will be piloted later this year. This will no doubt be of immense benefit to those participating!

The Government of Ireland, through Enterprise Ireland, is very supportive of the New Frontiers Programme. €3 million was allocated in 2017 to be spent on this programme across the Institutes of Technology. However, it is important to continue investment in programmes such as this. I am pleased to tell you, therefore, that a further €400,000 has been allocated in the 2018 budget to bring the annual spend to €3.4 million this year.”

New Frontiers is the perfect way for early-start companies to position themselves for further HPSU supports. Over 30% of Competitive Start Fund awards go to New Frontiers alumni, with the potential then to become Enterprise Ireland clients and play an important role in the Irish business community.

After the Minister’s address, Maria Gavin, Manager of the New Frontiers Programme at Enterprise Ireland, gave an overview of the day and thanked everyone involved in making the programme such a success.

“I’d like to underline the uniquesness of New Frontiers as a truly national programme, having a significant regional outreach through the IoTs enabling would-be entrepreneurs from all differing parts of the country to benefit from a professional and comprehensive educational programme.

Today is a chance to rightly celebrate and elevate New Frontiers, in addition to thanking all those who make it such a success: the New Frontiers graduates – I admire your bravery and tenacity in entering the start-up arena; the 13 Programme Managers, whose tireless work and dedication benefit all participants; the LEO staff, whose involvement is pivotal in the start-up ecosystem; and to my Enterprise Ireland colleagues – both HPSU & Regional DAs – for their collaboration and commitment to New Frontiers. All of you are invaluable!”

The morning was packed with information. There was a presentation of the HPSU Unit from Sarita Johnston, Manager of HPSU Start at Enterprise Ireland, a Q & A, and a panel discussion with previous participants. Attendees were also treated to some fascinating insights from three highly successful alumni, James McElroy (HouseMyDog), Michael O’Dwyer (SwiftComply), and Ross O’Dwyer (Pundit Arena).

Download the slides from the various presentations

Collaboration and networking

Feedback from attendees was extremely enthusiastic. Everyone agreed that the opportunity to meet with the wider New Frontiers community was invaluable, and the afternoon’s pre-booked networking sessions proved very fruitful.

Many entrepreneurs disclose that isolation is one of the key limiting factors when building their business in the early days. A programme such as New Frontiers helps to beat this phenomenon with its collaborative approach, incubation facilities, group training events and access to mentoring. Events such as the annual networking event are the cherry on the top!

If you have a business idea and are interested in applying to New Frontiers, discover more here!

Discover a few of the entrepreneurs from the class of 2017!

Vicki O’Donnell – Wilder Wander

Joe Fernandez – Data Origami

Charlotte Matabaro – Mohecan Male Grooming

Mel Clohosey – Socialfeedia

Carol Ann McGowan – Heartstone

Joe Perrott – Remote Signals

Michelle Baxter – The Clinic Space

Ciaran Brennan – PaidAde

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

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

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

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

Winners of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Awards (IBYE) announced

Competitive Start Fund Regional New Frontiers Enterprise Ireland

Take your startup to the next level with Competitive Start Funding

Competitive Start Fund Regional New Frontiers Enterprise Ireland

Are you a start-up based outside of County Dublin? The latest call for Competitive Start Funding (CSF) is currently open and offering ten startups up to €50,000 each in equity funding. In support of regional enterprise development and job creation, this call is specifically for all regional entrepreneurs with global ambition.

Enterprise Ireland’s CSF is for the startup that is ready move up a gear and bring value to Ireland on an international scale. Does your product or service have overseas market potential? CSF can accelerate the growth of your early stage company, so you can reach internal and external milestones with a sustainable business.

Call closes: Tuesday, 13th March at 3pm

It is time to think big! CSF welcomes applicants which are companies or individuals, but if you really want to stand out from the crowd, prove to the adjudicators that your startup can scale. To grow on a global scale, a startup needs a strong team. This team would ideally be made up of individuals with diverse skills that complement each other. It is fundamental to the application that you can create 10 jobs in Ireland and realise sales of €1 million within three years. This is support for the long haul, so aim high!

To apply for this round of CSF, your early-stage company must be based outside of County Dublin and be in manufacturing or internationally traded services. Subsectors of this include the following: internet, games, apps, mobile, SaaS, cloud computing, enterprise software, lifesciences, food, cleantech and industrial products. The full list of requirements, and lots of other tips and information, are available on the Enterprise Ireland website. There have been many success stories since the CSF first started. Take a moment to get inspired by reading these two case studies from New Frontiers alumni who successfuly applied for CSF.

CSF, the perfect next step after New Frontiers!

Did you know that 30% of the startups that go on to get CSF funding are New Frontiers alumni? The programme is a great way to prepare your business for success, so it’s not really a surprise that after New Frontiers, many startups find CSF the natural next step to take.

Collette McGowan, Founder & CEO, Kollabro

TCollette McGowan, Found & CEO, Kollabrohe Competitive Start Fund (CSF) allowed Collette McGowan to expand her team and invest further in her software development.

Kollabro is a client communication and task management software that instantly saves time and money for digital and creative businesses through clear client communication. Kollabro eliminates the need for phone calls, emails and meetings during a project by having all the project communications in one place.

Challenges

I faced plenty of challenges starting Kollabro, but ultimately everything in business comes down to sales and cash – that is what my accountant tells me anyway! Cashflow is hard to push through but when you have good people around you, passion, drive and the belief and vision in your concept you will find ways around the challenges you face. I do like to think that challenges are opportunities to learn, pivot and grow.

Applying for CSF

I applied for CSF when we had just completed the New Frontiers programme in IT Sligo. I knew that an investment of €50,000 into our company at that stage would allow us to bring our software successfully to market. We had applied for CSF funding six months previously, but we weren’t ready.

Growing the Kollabro team

Winning CSF funding was an amazing opportunity for Kollabro because it changed everything in terms of our future planning, strategy and growth. It was a huge boost for our team as it gave us the drive and focus to move Kollabro forward. We were pre-revenue at the time, so the €50,000 allowed us to expand our team and invest further into our software development.

Talk to previous applicants

Applying for CSF is not easy, and my advice is to allow for plenty of time for the application process and don’t rush it. Talk to other successful applicants and ask them about their application process and get their tips and advice. Make sure to practice the video pitch – this is the first time the panel will see you, so you need to clearly get across your products or service.

Launching Kollabro

We are currently on the Startlab and The Female High Fliers programmes which will really help us get our marketing and sales strategies in place and allow for our market entry when we launch Kollabro in April 2018. We are currently signing up founding customers who are pre-paying for our software. This is something that we are excited about as there is proving to be a very strong demand for our software pre-launch. We are also going for further investment and HPSU later this year. With this further investment, we hope to expand our team, opening an international office and launching Kollabro into the educational, financial and architectural sectors.

Sean Ó Tuama, CEO, Firemole

Sean Ó Tuama, CEO, FiremoleHaving gone through the New Frontiers programme in Cork, the Competitive Start Fund (CSF) was the obvious next step for Firemole. 

Firemole is a company that focuses on fire prevention rather than fire detection. Our first product, also called Firemole, is a safety tech gadget that warns users of high temperatures from the surface to which it’s attached by sounding an inbuilt alarm, potentially preventing a fire from occurring.

To date, we have shipped over 1,000 units across the EU, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and Firemole will be available in stores nationwide in the coming months.
We are currently working with some of Ireland’s top research centres on the next generation gadget and we are very excited to see the impact we can have in reducing fires and saving lives.

Getting started

The stand-out challenge of the first year was learning about the product development phase and manufacturing. It’s a very steep learning curve and not only is the physical process itself challenging to learn, but you also need to learn the lingo; ‘BOM’, ‘Tooling’, ‘Shots’ and the list goes on. There have been many awkward meetings where all I could do was nod, smile and take a mental note to google that phrase later.

The important thing to do in these situations is to take a step back and really dissect what is being said, as most of the time it’s manageable.

Applying for CSF

Having gone through the New Frontiers programme at Cork IT, CSF was the obvious next step for Firemole. It is an initial stamp of approval that shows private investors that this start-up company is not just all talk.
The CSF is also the next step in getting full High Potential Start-up status which is a huge achievement for companies.

CSF success

The CSF funding bridges the gap between New Frontiers funding and raising an initial investment round. Enterprise Ireland connections are also a huge benefit to me as my company looks to move into the UK market and further afield.

The funding has also been a huge support in allowing me to protect my company; it allowed me to file patents which are currently covered internationally, we have fully registered designs on how the product looks, and trademarks that are registered in the EU and filed in the US and Canada.

The funding has also allowed me to get retail ready and set up an efficient supply chain and drop shipping location, so orders can be sent directly to the person or distributor who has ordered them.

Advice for future CSF applicants

Listen to your Enterprise Ireland advisor as they know the criteria inside out. Differentiate yourself, prove traction in the market and prove that you’re not a one-trick-pony by showing a solid product pipeline.

What’s next for Firemole?

Our shorter-term goals are optimising Firemole.com and progressing with a nationwide distribution deal. Moving distribution into the UK and mainland Europe is the goal by the end of 2018, while also launching the smart version of the product to the market.

Over to you!

Ready to get started? Make sure you are registered on the Enterprise Ireland Online Application System and commence your application from there. As the application process includes a video pitch, we recommend you start preparing right now and don’t leave it to the last minute! For further reading, take a look at our blog post Making a successful Competitive Start Fund (CSF) application.

Everything you need is here on the Enterprise Ireland website.

Good luck!

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

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

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

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

Winners of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Awards (IBYE) announced

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