Tag: New Frontiers

Featured startup Bruno Lanvin, Dmbook New Frontiers

Featured startup: Bruno Lanvin, Dmbook

Featured startup Bruno Lanvin, Dmbook New Frontiers

Dmbook Pro is a Dublin-based company providing ICT solutions for hotels. With over 10 years in hotel management, Bruno Lanvin recognised flaws in the traditional spreadsheets, paper and email communication network used in hotels all across Europe. It was this initial observation that lead to the creation of Dmbook Pro.

Bruno has worked in the hospitality industry in France, Scotland and Ireland, but he didn’t initially plan on transforming hotel communication networks. But as Front of House Manager, once having identified a problem, it was in his interest to form a solution. Hotels are an old establishment, but like every business they rely on the need for effective communication between personnel,

“I had this pain of trying to make sure the communication was efficient between all the teams and all the shifts rotating around the clock.”

Making sure the right people have the right information whilst changing shifts and working on separate teams was an everyday struggle. It was this ongoing problem that caused Bruno to develop a concept which started out very simply – an online diary, “a platform to put everything [on] where people could access information.”

Building on a simple prototype

Bruno’s brother, Rémi Lanvin, a web developer, helped create this online diary as a side project. At this stage, the online diary functioned by allowing users to simply go between dated pages (today, tomorrow, last year, next year) and input simple text entries. Particularly useful was how users could set goals and mark them as done. Bruno brought this prototype to the hotel he worked for and from here the stone that caused the ripple of interest across the hotel industry was thrown. After 18 months, whilst still working full time and developing this project on the side, Bruno and Rémi had paying customers. It was this growing interest that caused the brothers to stop looking at their creation as a project and instead as a company. They created a business plan and within one year secured 85 customers across 8 countries, including the USA.

Dmbook platform New Frontiers Enterprise Ireland

New Frontiers – direction in uncharted territories

As much as they could value their strengths, they could also recognise their weaknesses.  Bruno knew that his in-depth knowledge of hotels, although key to his success so far, would not be enough to take his company to the next goal – a multimillion euro international business. As he says, “Hotels are not start-ups,” and so Bruno visited a Start-Up Ireland event in Cove. It was here he learnt of New Frontiers and after sending his application was invited to pitch for Phase 2.

“We made more progress in the six months with New Frontiers than in the six months before.”

Bruno attributes this to the direction they received regarding finances: how to raise finance, how to approach investors, who to approach, how to duplicate the success they had had so far, and how to secure more clients. Other invaluable support included sales and marketing advice, and valuable networking – being a part of a community of knowledge for start-ups, they could ask questions and get the answers they needed, while also exchanging experiences and learning opportunities with other participants.

Going forward

Dmbook Pro has expanded from its brotherly beginnings to a company with five employees and big ambitions. With this new expertise on board, they have created a fully functioning website, are currently developing a mobile app for Dmbook Pro and are targeting English-speaking markets, including the USA. Their goal is clear: to be in over 3,000 hotels by the end of year 3 in western Europe.

About the author


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

New Frontiers -Enterprise Ireland - Competitive Start Fund CSF

Calling New Frontiers alumni! Competitive Start Fund now open

New Frontiers -Enterprise Ireland - Competitive Start Fund CSF

If you’re a New Frontiers startup in manufacturing or internationally traded services including internet, games, apps, mobile, SaaS, cloud computing, enterprise software, lifesciences, food, cleantech and industrial products, then the latest call for Competitive Start Fund applications could be the funding opportunity you were looking for!

What is on offer?

A total of €1.5 million in startup funding will be available from Enterprise Ireland when two Competitive Start Funds (CSF) open for applications on Wednesday 21 June 2017.

Up to 30 successful applicants will receive high-level business development support and an investment of up to €50,000 each through the Regional Entrepreneurship and Fintech CSFs.

Startups located outside of County Dublin are invited to apply to the €1m Regional Entrepreneurship CSF – this fund is also open to participants of the New Frontiers Phase 2 programme nationwide. Applications to the €500k Fintech CSF will be accepted from early-stage companies offering a Financial Technology (Fintech) product or service.

What can CSF do for you?

Enterprise Ireland’s CSF is designed to accelerate the growth of startups and enable companies to reach key commercial and technical milestones. The goal of CSF is to provide support for companies that have the capability to become High Potential StartUps (HPSUs). What defines an HPSU? The potential to develop an innovative product or service for sale on international markets and the potential to create 10 jobs and €1 million in sales within 3 to 4 years of starting up.

At the time of the call’s launch, the then Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, said:

“The launch of Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Entrepreneurship and Fintech CSFs, amounting to a total of €1.5 million in funding, will provide valuable financial and business support to early-stage companies who have global ambition for their businesses. Companies based outside of Dublin who successfully apply for the Regional Entrepreneurship CSF will avail of critical early-stage funding and support for their businesses, while the Fintech CSF aims to stimulate start-up activity in the Fintech sector as part of the IFS2020 Strategy.”

The funds are open to companies active in manufacturing and internationally traded services including internet, games, apps, mobile, SaaS, cloud computing, enterprise software, lifesciences, food, cleantech and industrial products.

Joe Healy, Divisional Manager – High Potential Start-Ups, Enterprise Ireland said:

“Ireland is a hub for Fintech innovation and a key focus of Enterprise Ireland is to encourage and support more entrepreneurs through the Fintech CSF in the areas of Payments, Banking, RegTech, Security, and InsurTech as well as Fintech solutions that leverage Blockchain, IoT, AI and Data Intelligence technologies. Up to 10 companies will receive up to €50k each through this fund and we are also delighted to announce that this year’s Fintech CSF will be accompanied by a programme of tailored business development supports and incubation space in partnership with Bank of Ireland’s innovation team.”

What is new this time around?

Good news for applicants outside of County Dublin

Joe Healy continued,  “For the first time, up to 20 companies outside of County Dublin may be approved up to €50k each through Enterprise Ireland’s largest ever Regional Entrepreneurship CSF, valued at up to €1 million. It’s also the first time that we are specifically targeting participants of the New Frontiers Phase 2 programme.”

This call is open to anyone who has participated in Phase 2 of the New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme at some point in the past 3 years.

Access to a new incubation startlab at Bank of Ireland

David Tighe, Head of Innovation at Bank of Ireland says:

“Bank of Ireland are delighted to provide incubation space to this year’s Enterprise Ireland Fintech CSF, our new startlab based in Camden Street will incubate these high potential startups and alongside desk space also provide access to a full range of tailored business supports including mentorship and support from our dedicated Innovation and Enterprise team. We look forward to welcoming the Fintech CSF companies to Camden Street as we continue to support the innovative and thriving fintech and start-up community today in Ireland.”

How to apply

Applications open on Wednesday 21 June 2017. In addition to written online applications, companies will be asked to prepare an online video pitch. Companies must meet certain eligibility criteria and applicants may apply for either the Regional Entrepreneurship or Fintech CSF, but not both.

Both competitions will close at 3pm on Wednesday 5 July 2017. If you’re interested in applying, take a look at our previous article, Making a successful Competitive Start Fund (CSF) application, which explains the marking system and has a variety of additional tips and resources.

The Enterprise Ireland website also has some great CSF case studies and videos with entrepreneurs who have previously received funding.

About the author

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

Gavin Duffy, Eleanor McEvoy, Alison Cowzer, Chanelle McCoy and Barry O’Sullivan - RTE Dragon's Den promotional imagery by Ruth Medjber www.ruthlessimagery.com

New Frontiers alumni find success in the Dragons’ Den

Gavin Duffy, Eleanor McEvoy, Alison Cowzer, Chanelle McCoy and Barry O’Sullivan - RTE Dragon's Den promotional imagery by Ruth Medjber www.ruthlessimagery.com

Some fantastic New Frontiers startups have appeared on RTE One’s Dragons’ Den. The programme is addictive viewing for anyone interested in entrepreneurship, investment and business, with founders from every industry squaring up to face the Dragons’ tough questions.

We decided to catch up with two alumni who secured investment during the latest season of Dragons’ Den. What made them step into the Den? What’s it like to pitch to such a formidable panel? What, if anything, would they do differently?

Art McArdle – Heat Hero

Art McArdle Dragons Den New FrontiersArt and Adrienne McArdle founded Heat Hero in 2015. Their product is an innovative solution to improve the efficiency of solid fuel heating systems. The manifold can be retro-fitted onto any system, and because it doesn’t have any electrics or moving parts it requires no future maintenance.

Art is the technical know-how behind Heat Hero, while Adrienne runs the day-to-day of the business. They had originally applied to Dragons’ Den in 2016, but as it was quite early in their startup journey, they didn’t get through the application process.

They joined the New Frontiers programme at Dundalk Institute of Technology, and used an Innovation Voucher from Enterprise Ireland to carry out further research into the product. They were teamed up with a mentor to help them develop the business, and Heat Hero went on to win a Best Innovative Product Award at the SEAI’s Energy Show 2016.

The next step was to get their product tested and approved. This testing was carried out by independent UK experts, Kiwa Gastech, and Heat Hero was awarded its safety certificate. The solid fuel body, HETAS, now lists Heat Hero as an approved product (in both the UK and Ireland). Art and Adrienne took all the critical steps needed to corroborate the effect of the Heat Hero on a solid fuel system – it has now been proven to improve the efficiency of a solid fuel heating system by up to 30%.

With this validation in place, Art and Adrienne reapplied to Dragons’ Den. With their product now stocked in 100 stores around the country, they had the sales and feedback they needed to prove the viability of their business. There are 300,000 solid fuel stoves in Ireland alone. With the backing of a Dragon – the investment they bring, but also their experience and networks – the market potential is huge.

“The Dragons’ Den team are very hands-on, they really help you prepare and they get you ready for the pitch in every way. They talk you through your messaging, the approach you’ll take once you’re out there, how you will demonstrate your product. They also have a pitch coach to help you get word-perfect.”

As Art was going to be the one to pitch, Adrienne coached him relentlessly on the minutiae of the company’s financials, popping random questions at him out of the blue so that he was ready for anything.

“We practiced the pitch in different venues, with different audiences, and with a camera too. I told people to ask me anything, and not to hold their punches. Then two days before shooting, I stopped practicing completely and let myself relax about the pitch, so that I didn’t arrive too stressed out.”

What viewers may not realise is that interviews with the Dragons can sometimes go on for an hour and a half, far longer than the short scenes we see in the final programme. Every aspect of the business is covered; the Dragons ask all kinds of questions before coming to their decision of whether or not to invest.

“By the time you walk out in front of the Dragons, you’re so outside of what a normal day feels like that you almost get what I would call a second wind. You’re really nervous, but you’ve come so far that you know you can’t let the nerves get the better of you. I knew I only had one shot, and that was it!
The Dragons started firing their questions at me, but once I was through the initial pitch I felt a lot more relaxed about answering them. I’d learnt my financials by heart, and wasn’t worried about answering any technical questions. I was a bit thrown when Gavin asked me specifically about sales numbers from February, and I had to dig deep to remember what the figure was!”

The Dragons were very impressed with Art’s pitch, with Gavin Duffy saying, “The potential is limitless.”

Art was one of those lucky entrepreneurs who gets competing bids for investment: an offer of €60,000 for 32% from Eleanor McEvoy and €60,000 for 30% from Gavin. He asked the Dragons if they would consider investing together, but that idea didn’t appeal to Eleanor… after some consideration, Art chose to accept Eleanor’s offer, even though she wanted a slightly higher percentage.

“Gavin and Eleanor were the two Dragons I had in mind when I went in. I would have been very happy with Gavin and I know that he would have been 100% behind the product. But at the same time Eleanor had all the contacts in the energy sector. You couldn’t ignore that.”

What came across during Art’s pitch was the simplicity of his solution and the pains he had taken to prove its effectiveness. It was obvious that his open and friendly manner had endeared him to the whole panel, as summed up at the end by Alison Cowzer after he had left the room, “What a promoter! What an honest, authentic guy. You’ve got a really good business partner there, Eleanor.”

Participants can’t publicise their appearance until two weeks before the programme airs, but once the embargo is lifted, a canny entrepreneur can maximise the publicity generated by an appearance on a prime weekend TV slot. During those two weeks, Art and Adrienne spoke to as many contacts and prospects as they could, and got in touch with local newspapers and radio stations.

“The media coverage and the feedback we’ve had has been fantastic. Dragons’ Den has been an amazing platform for our business; the phone and email haven’t stopped! I know of lots of people who threw their stove out because it just wasn’t performing the way they expected it to. Now that so many more people know about Heat Hero, that won’t happen anymore.”

The next steps for Art and Adrienne will be to look at working directly with County Councils to install the Heat Hero at the same time as the heating system goes in, as well as extending their retail network in Ireland and pushing into the UK market. They also have a new product coming out that will make wood systems work better, which is an important development because so many people would prefer to use a sustainable fuel like wood instead of fuels such as coal.

“I just can’t believe the response we’ve had, I’m so happy we went on the programme. Heat Hero is the future for all boiler stoves… it’s out there now and this was just the stepping stone we needed!”

Olive O’Connor – MediStori

Olive O’Connor MediStori - New FrontiersThe MediStori is an organiser that allows patients or their carers to keep all their health information in one place. It’s a paper-based system that takes the stress out of managing an illness or health condition – you can keep hospital correspondence, notes, prescriptions, appointments, medical cards, and health records in an easy-to-reference booklet that never needs recharging!

Olive’s three children suffered from acute illnesses when they were young, and Olive herself has an ongoing health condition. It was as a result of having to manage multiple health and medication regimes within the family that she developed a notebook system that eventually became the MediStori health organiser.

With help from New Frontiers, HSE backing, and extensive research with patients, carers and health professionals, Olive designed a family health manager suitable for monitoring all types of chronic illness, or even just keeping track of a new-born’s development. In January this year, Olive decided it was time to take her business to the next level. She had signed a big supply contract and cash flow was going to be an important part of making sure her business was sustainable.

Olive researched a few investment options and decided to send an application to Dragons’ Den. She met with the producers, who took her through the financials of the business and the other elements required. She was accepted to go forward to the show, and went through the second application phase. However, no part of the process is shared with the Dragons, they know nothing about the business until they meet the entrepreneur in front of the cameras.

Appearing on the show involves a long day at the studio. It’s not just your pitch you have to worry about – there are pre interviews and post interviews too, plus the obligatory trip to hair and makeup! Pitch coach, Catherine Moonan, is on hand to help the promoters refine their pitch and prepare for the Dragons’ questions.

“Overall, it’s a really lovely and worthwhile experience. Everyone does their best to put you at ease and address any concerns you have. They also set up your product demonstration for you, so you don’t have the added stress of having to do that.”

Olive prepared for the Den with two mentors, Attracta Burke and Donncha Hughes, and met with an entrepreneur who had successfully been through the Den experience. She rehearsed her pitch with friends, but also told them to ask her all the tough questions they could think of to prepare her for any curveballs that might come her way.

“I’ve done lots of public speaking, so I’m used to being on a stage. The difference this time was that I didn’t have my usual PowerPoint to guide me, which made it harder to get my timing right and remember what I wanted to say. I practiced a lot in the two weeks leading up to filming, always focusing on answering the key questions: problem & solution, market competitors, costing & future growth.”

An important part of Olive’s pitch was the story behind her startup. For some people it might be their education, or their experience in a market, whereas the reason behind Olive’s startup was a deeply personal one.

“I wasn’t trying to win the Dragons over because of sympathy for my personal situation. The important thing for me was to show that I knew my product inside out because I had lived through the experience of having children who were unwell. They say that investors make their decision based 80% on the promoter and 20% on the business, so it’s very important that you don’t forget to include yourself when telling your story.”

There was a moment during Olive’s pitch where confusion arose about the figures she gave for her monthly outgoings. Chanelle McCoy declared herself out based on the company’s running costs being too high, but the figure Olive had given was actually for projected costs based on future growth.

“My one regret was not listening to the question properly. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t know my financials, but that I had answered a different question. I knew immediately I had made an error and luckily Barry picked up on it and I had the chance to put it right at that point. But it did mean I lost a potential investor. Thankfully, Chanelle, true to her word, has been a great support since the show.”

Going into the Den, Olive had already identified Barry O’Sullivan and Chanelle McCoy as her ideal investors, although she would have been delighted to work with any of them. Barry offered her the full €80,000 investment, with a small royalty payable on each product until his investment is recouped. Just how hard did Olive have to think before accepting?

“The Dragons can bring you so much more than investment. They also bring their personality and values, and I knew Barry had similar ones to mine. Relationships are everything, and if you don’t get on with your investor it’s going to be a hard road.”

The future is looking very busy for Olive. She has signed a contract with United Drug Consumer, and sales of the product soared after the show aired. MediStori will be in another 80 pharmacies by the end of the month, which is twice as many as Olive’s target. She is opening up both B2B and B2C opportunities for the business, and has been careful to ensure her PR and marketing strategy is positioned to benefit from the amazing exposure that TV and radio appearances bring (she was also on the Ryan Tubridy show the following day, and then the Today Show with Maura and Dáithí later that week).

One unexpected result of appearing in the Den was the huge volume of traffic that the MediStori website got. There were 10,000 visitors in the 24 hours after the show aired, with another 15,000 checking the site during that week. The website couldn’t cope with the traffic and went down, which meant Olive had to very quickly connect with anyone and everyone who might be trying to get in touch or purchase a product. She sent out personal emails to all her contacts, and kept everyone in the loop on social media with regular updates.

“It’s so important to not be afraid to say that something’s gone wrong. As long as you explain why it’s happened, people won’t worry. We didn’t get any negative feedback at all, even though the site was offline for a good while.”

Another smart thing Olive did was get lots of momentum going in the lead-up to the programme, reaching out to all her contacts to let them know she would be on Dragons’ Den and sharing the relevant Twitter hashtags. She got a lot of response on social media, with 22% of the company’s sales that weekend coming from Twitter.

“It was interesting to see the kind of connectivity we got. I’ve noticed in the past that some people who appear on Dragons’ Den don’t really interact with what people are saying to them on platforms like Twitter. I personally responded to everybody, whether they had positive or negative feedback, and thanked people for their comments. People buy from people, if you get an opportunity like Dragons’ Den, you have to use it. Don’t underestimate the power of social media!”

Are you thinking of stepping into the Den?

Quite a few New Frontiers participants have appeared on Dragons’ Den over the years, and a number of them have been successful in raising investment. This year saw Sarah Kiely, founder of Sadie’s Kitchen, win over Alison Cowzer in Episode 2, for an investment of €50,000. Evan and Gerard Talty appeared in Episode 7, and secured investment from Alison for their startup, Wild Irish Seaweed. Noreen Doyle, of the Irish Biltong Company, was also offered investment earlier in the season, but chose not to accept the Dragon’s offer.

If you’re thinking of stepping into the Den, the consensus is definitely: GO FOR IT! Even if you don’t win the investment you were hoping for, it’s an invaluable experience and will prepare you for future pitching opportunities. The process of going through your financials and business proposition is very useful, too; it will help you to firm up your business plan and get feedback from experienced business people which could lead to a pivot or new opportunities you had never even considered. And, of course, there’s no such thing as bad publicity… simply appearing on the show will get you the kind of exposure that other startups can only dream of!

[Dragons’ Den is made by Screentime ShinAwil for RTÉ. Featured image courtesy of Ruth Medjber – Ruthless Imagery]

About the author


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

Eamon Crosby BriteBiz New Frontiers programme

Case study: BriteBiz – business management solution

Eamon Crosby BriteBiz New Frontiers programme

BriteBiz is a Galway-based technology company that specialises in end-to-end business management software. The company’s CEO, Eamon Crosby, took part in the Enterprise Ireland New Frontiers programme in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.

Since qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with PwC 12 years ago, Eamon Crosby has been involved in founding and managing a number of different companies, mainly in the service and events industry. “I had been involved first hand in managing and scaling various companies. We constantly came up against roadblocks with the amount of administration load involved and continually sought ways to streamline processes. Although we were always using modern management tools such as Salesforce and Quickbooks, there was no efficient way to integrate them and create a streamlined, end-to-end solution.” notes Eamon.

A lack of end-to-end solutions for SMEs

He points out that, “Over my years at PwC, I had worked with several large blue chip companies that used highly bespoke and integrated systems, such as SAP or Oracle, but this same streamlined process did not seem to be available for small and medium sized companies, particularly those that wanted a cloud solution.” After many failed attempts to find a better integrated cloud-based solution for SMEs, he decided to go it alone and set about developing the solution for himself – and so the adventure began.

“We developed the software in-house over a two-year period, and began to deploy it within a small number of beta customers. It really did have a hugely transformative effect, allowing companies to scale more rapidly and cut costs significantly through integrated systems,” says Eamon. “BriteBiz acts as an end-to-end solution from lead generation and capture on your website to product and service management, from quotes and e-contracts to booking management, from credit control to payment processing. BriteBiz also has many unique features not available in any other system currently on the market, such as client portals and worksheets for each individual deal, as well as resource allocation. Essentially, it takes the best parts of a CRM, project management system, payments platform and resource management and bundles them all together in a beautiful, easy to use cloud application. BriteBiz makes it easy for companies to do business, particularly companies in service industries.”

A solution that works across many sectors

After a successful deployment within the initial early adoption customers, Crosby and the rest of the team started to notice that other companies across different industries, and across the world, were suffering from the same problems and pain. The application has become a particularly good fit for the hospitality industry. “We work with several hotels and provide them with powerful tools for their sales and marketing teams to manage weddings and events,” notes Eamon.

“We knew that there was a huge potential market for BriteBiz, but there was a significant challenge in developing the correct sales and marketing strategy to achieve this. We became aware of the GMIT New Frontiers programme and decided to apply. The programme has been hugely beneficial in formulating a strategy and developing the best route to market for BriteBiz, we would highly recommend it to anyone starting off a new business, particularly in the tech sector,” says Eamon.

Britebiz is currently scaling from its Galway office and now has customers across Ireland, the UK and the US. “We are looking at bigger markets outside of Ireland, particularly the US. We are targeting the SaaS (Software as a Service) marketplace, which is estimated to reach $300 Billion by 2025. As BriteBiz also has a payment platform, we will also be targeting other high-value markets such as construction industries, the legal profession, IT and healthcare sectors. Our payment platform is currently being expanded to included digitised direct debit, and we will be working more on the payments part of our system over the years ahead, as Fintech technologies continue to develop.”

The company plans to grow its workforce within Ireland over the coming months and years. If you are a company looking for the perfect end to end business management solution, or you are looking for a role with an exciting tech company, take a look at the BriteBiz website. The New Frontiers programme at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology is delivered at Innovation Hubs in Castlebar and Galway.

[The image above shows Eamon Crosby from BriteBiz receiving the New Frontiers Best Emerging Business award from Conor O’Dowd, KPMG]

About the author

GMIT School of Business New FrontiersPhotograph by Aengus McMahonTony O’Kelly

Tony is the New Frontiers Programme Manager in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). His main expertise lies in finance, manufacturing, sales and procurement across a wide range of business sectors. He has experience in automating business processes and managing projects from conception to delivery; skills he brings to the structure and delivery of New Frontiers in GMIT…  [Read Tony’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Dr Chris Horn & Audience at the DIT IADT New Frontiers Showcase

Valuable insights at the DIT/IADT New Frontiers Showcase

Dr Chris Horn & Audience at the DIT IADT New Frontiers Showcase

Cast your mind into the future and imagine that your ‘start-up’ is employing more than 1,000 people in 22 offices around the globe, has clients such as Boeing and has just been acquired for more than $160m. Then imagine that the investment bank handling the sale goes belly-up, taking with it all the proceeds of the sale. That’s the doomsday scenario which Irish tech legend, Dr Chris Horn, avoided by a mere 48 hours in 2008.

48 hours from disaster

Dr Chris Horn at the DIT IADT New Frontiers Showcase

Dr Chris Horn

Speaking at the recent 2016 Showcase of the DIT/IADT New Frontiers Programme, Chris recalled a Friday afternoon in September 2008 when he received a call from Lehman Bros to advise that the sale of Iona Technologies to Progress Software had completed and that all shareholders had been paid. Two days later, Lehman Bros – then the fourth largest investment bank in the US – filed for bankruptcy: an excruciatingly narrow escape for the founders and shareholders of one of the greatest Irish tech start-ups.
Dr Chris Horn

Reassuringly for the start-up founders listening to Chris, the early days of the Iona success story were marked by many of the same ups and downs as they too are experiencing along their start-up journey.

Minister MMOC at the DIT IADT New Frontiers Showcase

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD

In essence, the Trinity College graduates behind Iona were setting out to compete against global players like IBM and Oracle, so it’s not entirely surprising that early approaches to banks, seed investors and VCs yielded a resounding ‘No!’ In those barren financial days, the team did ‘anything semi-legal on the streets of Dublin: file-ups; consultancy… whatever brought in much needed money.’ Heading to their first trade show in the US, the team still weren’t entirely sure who their customer would be until such time as Sun Microsystems not only became interested in Iona’s products but also offered to invest in the company in 1993. Four years later, in 1997, Iona completed the 5th largest IPO in the history of the NASDAQ, before its subsequent sale to Progress Software in 2008.

When asked for a few words of advice for the founders present at the event, Chris underscored the importance of building capability AND aspiration among indigenous founders. Ask yourself if you want to be truly global in scale and, if you do, align yourself with a really strong mentor who brings deep experience – ‘someone who has seen the movie before’ – in the case of Iona’s non-Executive Chairman, Kevin Melia. Chris also noted how Brexit impacts on the logic of approaching the UK as a first export market.

Minister MMOC, Dr Chris Horn and Participants at the DIT IADT New Frontiers Showcase

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, Dr Chris Horn and participants of the Showcase

Reflections from the other end of the startup journey

Kindly hosted by William Fry Solicitors, the event saw a number recent programme participants join in a panel discussion to share their experiences of launching a startup. The key theme emerging from the Q&A session was the importance of figuring out who your target customers should be, both in terms of fit with your product or service, but also as regards the time it might take them to commit to purchasing your product or service.


Co-founder of fin-tech startup Cambrist, Jacob Clafin, admitted to being perhaps a little arrogant in the days before New Frontiers:

We felt we were all pretty experienced in the finance space and knew exactly what we were doing. Looking back now, we didn’t have a clue about actually getting anyone to buy the product!

Minister MMOC and Martin O'Connell founder Nasal Medical

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD and Martin O’Connell, founder of Nasal Medical

Cambrist’s multi-currency processing platform enables card issuers and processors to optimise the FX rates and margins applied to their customers’ international payment transactions. In the early days, the team set out to sell their platform to major banks. Jacob now looks back humorously on his early interactions with banks.

I thought we nearly had the deal across the line just because these guys had agreed to have coffee with us. I now know that we hadn’t even registered on the sales cycle of the banks that we thought would be our first customers.

Minister MMOC, Dr Chris Horn and Erica Sheehan founder Homespun Foods

Erica Sheehan, founder of Homespun Foods, Dr Chris Horn, co-Founder, former CEO/Chairman of IONA Technologies and Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD

Demonstrating one of the key competencies of any startup team, Jacob and his co-founders took stock of the slowness of their progress and reassessed their target market, soon pivoting towards credit/debit card issuers and processors, who have proven to be much more receptive and faster to move.


Peter Devlin, founder of Local, echoed Jacob’s sentiment. Despite a long career as a member of Dublin music group the Devlins, Peter took a while to figure out the right audience for his startup. Peter initially pitched Local to a number of airlines as an app which would provide passengers with information on their destination city.

Peter Devlin - Local at the DIT IADT New Frontiers Showcase

Peter Devlin, Local

He soon figured out that ‘the only things that move fast in the airline sector are the planes!’ Faced with that never-ending sales cycle, Peter reoriented his pitch towards hotel groups, offering a virtual concierge service, providing valuable opportunities to engage with guests and generate ancillary revenue for the hotel. Immediately, Peter found the decision-making process much faster and soon secured a range of hotels and chains as customers, while also securing investment from a key player in the tourism sector in Ireland.


Lucinda Kelly Popertee at the DIT IADT New Frontiers Showcase

Lucinda Kelly, Popertee

Lucinda Kelly of Popertee highlighted the importance of really understanding what it is that your customers are looking for. Popertee started out as an online marketplace to match owners of available space with businesses looking for venues for pop-up shops, promotions or events. Conscious of competition from similar players, Lucinda felt Popertee needed to strengthen its competitive differentiation. The answer lay in listening closely to what corporates were asking about, notably data like footfall and population density. Popertee is now marrying that sort of data with content on properties available for short-term lets, strongly reinforcing the company’s value proposition.

Success for our 2016 alumni

Orla Battersby, Head of the HPSU Division of Enterprise Ireland, congratulated the participants and noted how 11 of the 30 founders who completed the programme in 2016 have already secured investment through the Competitive Start Fund. Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, also applauded the participants’ courage and tenacity, and reassured them by quoting James Cash Penney, founder of JC Penney Stores: ‘It is always the start that requires the greatest effort.’

About the author

New Frontiers Dominic MullanDominic Mullan

Dominic is 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]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Featured startup Aidan Duff Fifty One Bikes New Frontiers

Featured startup: Aidan Duff, Fifty One Bikes

Featured startup Aidan Duff Fifty One Bikes New Frontiers

Aidan started his career as top level amateur cyclist in Ireland, going on to race in France for over six years. When he returned to Ireland, he naturally started working in the cycle industry, initially in retail and then moving into distribution.

The early beginnings of Fifty One, Aidan’s startup, can be traced back to a trip he took to some of the most reputable bicycle manufacturing facilities in Italy and Germany. Despite their reputations, Aidan came away somewhat underwhelmed by the standards he saw in the processes and finishing involved.

Despite the lack of manufacturing facilities in Ireland, Aidan was convinced that he could do better. With his solid industry background – Aidan had already established one of the largest distributors on the island of Ireland – manufacturing his own range of world class bicycles was the logical next step.

Custom-made in Ireland

fifty one bikes new frontiers startupIn early 2015, Aidan started Phase 2 of the New Frontiers programme, at the Synergy Centre in Tallaght. With the feedback and validation processes that the programme takes entrepreneurs through, Aidan decided that while his concept was strong, the delivery itself could be improved on. He needed to establish a real niche, a truly unique selling point. The programme is not for the fainthearted, and you need a lot of drive and motivation to take part. Market research, and trial and error, are both vital parts of the process. As Aidan put it:

“My idea was a really, really good concept, ticking a lot of the New Frontiers boxes, but when I put it out to people within the industry, the feedback was a little bit muted. People I trusted were saying: look, you can do that better than this, you need to go back and redesign it. On paper it looked good but the feedback from industry mentors and contacts was that it wasn’t enough. I felt a little bit embarrassed, because I was developing something within an industry that I knew, and here I was, a third of the way through New Frontiers and I literally had to rip it up and start again, so I started to feel a little bit of pressure at that point.”

Aidan cannot stress enough how much respect he has for his fellow New Frontiers participants. It’s a great mix of people with very diverse backgrounds, tackling projects that are sometimes very far removed from their previous experience. In many ways, Aidan was working from the safety of a known industry and well-established relationships, but he was also aware of the competitive and ruthless nature of the industry. Aidan concentrated on the elements he felt were the most important, and which would add to his core competencies:

“The great thing about New Frontiers is the unbelievable network you have at your fingertips – you come into contact with specialists you would never normally meet and certainly couldn’t afford as a startup. The New Frontiers programme is a fantastic tool for anyone wishing to start an export-oriented business. The benefits are too long to list but the course content and the structure it gives you are remarkable. It’s also a potential gateway into Enterprise Ireland CSF (Competitive Start Funding) and HPSU (High Potential Startup status), which is very useful for scaling companies.”

Following a clear plan

fifty one bikes new frontiers startupAidan says the early stages of startup are vital to get things moving. He recommends creating the best network you can as early as possible. Although no one is going to grow your business for you, you’d be surprised at the help you will get if you reach out. Define what the overall goal or mission is, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Break jobs into bite-size chunks, define a road map and tick the boxes along the way. It takes time and you will go off course on a number of occasions, but a concise plan forces you to regroup and regain focus regularly.

Aidan reiterates how ideal the structure of New Frontiers is, as it essentially sets out this roadmap and helps you overcome the challenges that every startup is bound to face at some point. It’s structured around milestones and prevents you going around in circles. Sometimes, it can be hard to keep on top of the programme work AND keep your own project progressing. Aidan says, inevitably you derail from time to time, but that’s where your support network comes into play. The course managers have seen it all before so they can advise you on where to go from there. The consultants giving the workshops are all very experienced, too. Aidan worked closely with trainers such as Alan Costello, who helped put potential problems and issues into perspective. Aidan’s accountants, solicitors, trade marking, etc. all came from people he met on New Frontiers. Aidan says the best way to overcome inevitable challenges are with skilled, passionate people by your side.

Bringing it all together

Last year, Fifty One secured substantial investment in Ireland and from an industry-specific source in Germany. This will facilitate entry into the German and overall European market and give them a little more weight with suppliers. Fifty One is also an Enterprise Ireland HPSU (High Potential Startup). The carbon fibre framesets for the bikes are manufactured here in Ireland – instead of opting for lower-cost mass production in Asia, frames are custom-made to the precise specifications of the customer. The result is a completely bespoke bike that allows the owner to be part of the design process, which ironically is how bikes used to be made when Aidan first started out. The company is also developing a customisation tool that will allow customers to design and order their perfect bike online.

Aidan has a clear long-term plan for his startup, and with the right use of technology and customer focus will achieve his ambitious scaling goals.

“In short, to scale for the first phase of our growth plan, we will need to hit our revenue and employment numbers and establish a brand in a niche premium segment. From there we will have the credibility to leverage the brand image and add additional products, territories, and revenue streams.”


About the author


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

The New Frontiers Internet of Things Summit at GMIT

New Frontiers IoT Summit GMIT

The New Frontiers ‘Internet of Things (IoT) Summit’ at GMIT was held on 26th February and proved to be a major success with hundreds of delegates from across the country in attendance to hear about internet-connected objects and opportunities for new businesses and new business applications.

GMIT New Frontiers start-up BriteBiz won ‘Best Emerging Business Award’ in the pitching competition which ran as part of the overall conference. Entrepreneur Eamon Crosby of BriteBiz was presented with a €10,000 prize fund from sponsor KPMG. BriteBiz provides an end to end SaaS Business Management Software Platform for companies in service based industries. It is designed to integrate and streamline processes from lead generation to sales and marketing automation, booking management to client and staff portals, and payment processing to business reporting.

Second place was awarded to New Frontiers start-up Tr3Dent, based in GMIT’s iHub, a 3D visualization software platform providing companies, cities and organisations with the ability to create, plan, visualize and manage IoT ecoysystems by using interactive and dynamic 3D models. Entrepreneur Kevin McCaffery was presented with a cheque for €3,000, sponsored by AIB.

Pure Glan Food Ltd, based in Mayo, supported through the GMIT Mayo iHub, won third place in the pitching competition for their Mariko product. Entrepreneur Christine McAndrew received €1,000 from AIB. Mariko is a new beverage brand created to give choice in the soft drinks sector, offering a zero calorie natural brewed Green tea that assists with weight management and general good health and wellbeing.

Eamon Crosby (centre) of BriteBiz, winner of the GMIT New Frontiers IoT Summit pitching competition, with Today FM The Sunday Business Show presenter Conall O Móráin (IOT Summit MC), and Tony O’Kelly, GMIT New Frontiers programme manager (left).
Eamon Crosby (centre) of BriteBiz, winner of the GMIT New Frontiers IoT Summit pitching competition, with Today FM The Sunday Business Show presenter Conall O Móráin (IOT Summit MC), and Tony O’Kelly, GMIT New Frontiers programme manager (left).

GMIT IoT 6 delegates and sponsore KPMG
L to R (front): Tony O’Kelly, Manager, New Frontiers, GMIT, Karl Flannery, CEO, Storm Technology, Conor O’Dowd, KPMG, Conall O Móráin, Today FM broadcaster (The Sunday Business Show), Dr Fergal Barry, President GMIT, and Declan Lyons, New Frontiers Manager, Enterprise Ireland.

IoT GMIT crowd shot1
Delegates attending the New Frontiers Internet of Things (IoT) Summit in GMIT on Friday.

GMIT IOT pitchcomp participants
L to R: Kevin McCaffrey, Tr3Dent (2nd place), Joanne Coyne, Express Empire, Michael Furey, Jemstone Technoloies Ltd, Louise Gibbons, The Inspired Network, Eamon Crosby, BriteBiz (first place), Christine McAndrew, Pure Glan Food Ltd (third place).

GMIt IoTgroup1
Delegates attending the New Frontiers Internet of Things (IoT) Summit in GMIT on Friday.

L to R (front): Conall O Móráin, Today FM broadcaster (The Sunday Business Show), Tony O’Kelly, Manager, New Frontiers, GMIT, Dr Fergal Barry, President of GMIT, and Karl Flannery, CEO of Storm Technology.

About the New Frontiers IoT Summit

This year’s event was moderated by Today FM broadcaster Conall O Móráin, presenter of The Sunday Business Show, who paid tribute to the organisers saying the event was even better than the Web Summit and that it ranked in the top three trending subjects on Twitter on Friday (26 February), despite it being General Election day!

We have received incredible interest in this event. With major players in the field such as Dell, HP, Intel and IBM in attendance coupled with exhibitions from all leading national research institutes, it is not surprising the event booked out so quickly.

Out of the 51 participants that have come through New Frontiers since 2012, 46 new companies have emerged and 25% of those have attracted considerable investment. This demonstrates that New Frontiers has achieved significant success in supporting the establishment of new business in our region.

The Internet of Things

According to Business Insider, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the next Industrial Revolution – it will change the way all businesses, governments and consumers interact with the physical world. By 2020, it is predicted to be a $19 trillion industry with over 6 billion objects connected to the Internet.

The GMIT IoT conference also saw the launch of VT Networks, a GMIT iHub client and member of the 2015 New Frontiers programme, along with IoT demonstrations and Ireland’s IoT network in action, information on practical applications, case studies, and opportunities to network and connect with key experts, opinion formers and IoT businesses.

Speakers included Mark Bannon of VT Networks; Fergal Barry, GMIT President, Ronan Furlong, MD of DCU Alpha, Kevin Maher of Sigfox, Fergal Concannon, Advantech B+B SmartWorx; and Professor Peter Corcoran IEEE fellow and Irish Patent hall of fame member.

About the author

GMIT School of Business New FrontiersPhotograph by Aengus McMahonTony O’Kelly

Tony is the New Frontiers Programme Manager in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). His main expertise lies in finance, manufacturing, sales and procurement across a wide range of business sectors. He has experience in automating business processes and managing projects from conception to delivery; skills he brings to the structure and delivery of New Frontiers in GMIT…  [Read Tony’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Perfect pitches and robust questioning at Business Competition Final

New Frontiers-Programme-Pitch-Competition

Business leaders, owners and investors turned out in force last Thursday evening in the Regional Development Centre (Dundalk Institute of Technology) to witness the head to head final of the New Frontiers Programme Pitch Competition. The competition brought to an end the 2015 New Frontiers Programme which is a national programme funded by Enterprise Ireland and delivered in the North East by DkIT in collaboration with DCU.

The competition was judged by Patrick Joy (EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2013), John Phelan (Halo Business Angels Network) Michael Farrell (PKF-FPM), Amanda Murphy (AIB) and Aidan Browne (RDC) with a prize of €15,000 for the winner. The eight finalists are all early-stage startups, many of whom gave up employment within the past 12 months to pursue their dream of building their own business.

Opening the event DkIT President, Ann Campbell, remarked: This evening’s event provides an opportunity for us to see the cream of business startups in the North East as they pitch to an esteemed panel of judges, for a prize that will make a major difference in the development of their business.

As the pitching got underway it was clear that the President’s remarks were on the button, as each and every one of the promoters gave excellent presentations for their business proposal. Following each five minute pitch the judges grilled the promoter’s proposition, uniqueness and financials. Nobody was given an easy ride.

Following a heated judges’ deliberation session, Amanda Murphy (AIB) and Michael Farrell (PKF-FPM) – the main sponsors of the event – took to the podium to announce the winner. Congratulating all eight promoters on the pitches and their businesses, Amanda noted: all the judges were extremely impressed with the quality of the pitches on show and that each and every promoter would be a deserving winner; however, there was only one prize on offer. Fellow judge Michael Farrell echoed these sentiments and added: the winner was chosen for the potential of the business to scale and internationalise. The winner was Paul Rogers of Semper Security.

Paul receives a prize fund of €15,000 in cash and services from the sponsors AIB, PKF-FPM, Averian IT and the Regional Development Centre. A clearly delighted Paul thanked the sponsors, including the media sponsors The Argus and Drogheda Independent, the New Frontiers Programme team and all of those who supported and believed in the business over the past 12 months. Semper Security provides a security auditing platform for credit and debit card processing providers. With customers in Dublin already using the system, it won’t be long before this determined businessman takes his product to the US and further afield.

The participants of the Pitch Competition

Rachel Hanna, Bell MediaRachel Hanna, Bell Media Ltd

Established in September 2014 and already trading, Bell Media is developing on-line, interactive digital publications for the education sector in Ireland and is managed and directed by Rachel Hanna, an experienced salesperson with over 12 years industry experience. In whatever spare time she has, Rachel enjoys film, theatre, travel and eating out.

Paul Rogers, Semper SecurityPaul Rogers, Semper Security

Semper Security is a FinTech (financial technology) company that helps credit card merchants and acquiring banks comply with payment card industry data security standards. Headed up by Paul Rogers, Semper offers compliance management software, policy framework documentation and compliance consultancy support.
Paul has worked in the financial services sector for over 23 years in New York, Manchester and Dublin. Educated in UCD Computer Science and with a BA from the University of Phoenix, Paul is a member of Cuchulainn Cycling Club and also likes to play golf.

Phyllis Coyle, Weight MonkeyPhyllis Coyle, Weight Monkey

Weight Monkey is a new web application designed to assist people on their weight loss journey and to generate bookings for the weight loss, health and well-being industries. Weight Monkey enables people to find weight loss classes, products and services in their own area, all on one platform.
A Software Developer and Project Manager who also has experience in Sales and Marketing, Phyllis has a keen interest in the Health and Fitness Industry and enjoys playing sports, hillwalking and relishes the pressures of Entrepreneurship.

Aideen McDermott, Fluid Language AssessmentAideen McDermott, Fluid Language Assessment

Fluid Language Assessment is developing software to allow language teachers assess their students’ abilities in reading, writing, listening and speaking in the classroom, in real-time, using a mobile device. Based on observable evidence teachers can give feedback and set learning goals, which has been proven to increase retention levels. Aideen will launch a pilot in secondary schools in Louth and Meath over the coming weeks.
Aideen has worked in the language teaching sector in Ireland and Mexico and was a Director of Studies, teacher trainer and was also involved in assessment and syllabus design in a number of organisations. This is Aideen’s first start-up.

Conor Duff, Tactic SportsConor Duff, Tactic Sports

Tactic is an Educational Sports Application developed to promote game awareness, understanding and anticipation in sport. It gamifies sports footage in a fun and educational way.
Conor has a background in User Experience Design and worked on projects for many premium brands including Maserati. His Master’s degree focused on the integration of Technology in Education, that and the fact that he plays Rugby and also coaches his sons U10 rugby team sparked the initial idea for Tactic.

Sinead Geraghty, StowAwaySinead Geraghty, StowAway

Stowaway is the home storage solution specialist! A producer of unique, ceiling storage units that appeal to urban dwellers who want to maximise their limited living space. The first of the Stowaway range is a ceiling mounted bike storage unit.
Sinead has a passion for e-commerce and comes from a strong sales and marketing background. Whenever she gets a chance, she loves to escape to the mountains and go hiking.

Mila Khokha, Baked With LoveMila Khokha, Baked With Love

Baked with love is a family run bakery that produces premium artisan breads and pastries with an Eastern European twist.
Originally from Belarus, Mila came to Ireland over a decade ago working in the food sector. Setting up the bakery to follow her dream and aspiration that one day Baked with Love will become a brand of choice producing unique products handed down through three generations of her family.

Adrienne McArdle, Heat HeroAdrienne McArdle, Heat Hero

Smart Innovation Products Ltd has developed and is commercialising a patentable manifold system called Heat Hero that maximises efficiency in a solid fuel heating system by improving heat circulation by at least 48%.
Adrienne held a number of senior management positions before starting a heating system and stove retail business with her husband Art. Smart Innovation Products has recently spun out of the retail business to commercialise a number of innovative products for the plumbing and heating sector.

The staff of the Regional Development Centre, DkIT, would like to wish each of the finalists the best of luck in the future and continued success in their business.

About the author

Garrett-Duffy-New-FrontiersGarrett Duffy

Garrett is the New Frontiers Programme Manager at Dundalk Institute of Technology. He has a background in engineering and has lectured in information systems, computer applications and new venture creation. He has been the Enterprise Development Manager at DkIT’s Regional Development Centre since 2007… [Read Garrett’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

The New Frontiers programme: 2015-2016

new frontiers entrepreneur startup support grant

Happy New Year to all our website visitors and programme alumni! I thought I would take this opportunity to look back at 2015, and to outline a few of the changes that will be coming to the programme in 2016.

2015: our best year yet!

The programme

2015 was a great year for the Enterprise Ireland team that oversees the New Frontiers programme. It was the fourth year the programme has been delivered across Ireland. So, not only were we able to discover the exciting new startups being created, but we also witnessed the amazing progress made by the entrepreneurs we have supported in previous years.

During the course of 2015, 1,121 people expressed an interest in the programme via this website. We had around 900 completed applications to Phase 1 and/or Phase 2 of the programme, with 150 entrepreneurs accepted to the 14 Institutes of Technology that deliver the programme on our behalf.

There has been great engagement from the community on social media. At the time of writing, our Twitter account has 1,221 followers and our LinkedIn community has 1,094 members.

More anecdotally, we have noticed an increased awareness of the programme, with even some enquiries from overseas.


Our participants and alumni have been going from strength to strength. It was certainly a busy year for awards, with many participants finalists or regional heat winners in awards such as:

Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Finalists: Declan Bourke (YourWeddingPlanner) Enda Mahon (Mahon Solutions), Mark Bannon (VT Networks), James McElroy (HouseMyDog), Gail Condon (Writing for Tiny), and Shane Hassett (Wazp).

Google – Adopt A Startup Awards

Finalist: James McElroy (HouseMyDog).

BOI Startup Awards

Finalists: Hannah Wrixon (Last Minute Minders), Tara van Zyl (FeelsRight), Mike Morrissey (MyDealDoc), Sharon Kavanagh (Luminosity), Ryan Scott (DropChef), David Craig (Dublin Design Studios), and Conor Nolan (WattSpot).

I must point out that this is only a representative sample of the many and varied awards that our participants and alumni received. We know that many more of them were placed or winners in a range of business and industry awards, and we congratulate them all on their successes.

Enterprise Ireland

New Frontiers is proud of its role as a springboard for great startups. In 2015, 12 New Frontiers companies were awarded HPSU (High Potential Startup) status by Enterprise Ireland, and 29 were awarded a CSF (Competitive Start Fund) investment of €50,000 by the agency. These are substantial achievements, as only the most promising businesses are selected.


The New Frontiers national networking event was held on 5th November at the Northwood Crowne Plaza in Dublin, attracting around 180 current programme participants. The chance to network with other participants from around the country is always greatly appreciated by attendees. This year, we decided to facilitate this even more, with a highly successful ‘speed networking’ session. We also had a keynote speech from Raomal Perera (Adjunct Professor at UCD and INSEAD, and serial entrepreneur), and an afternoon of proactive round table discussions.


This year saw the first regional training days for Phase 2 participants. Training is provided by and held in the local Institute of Technology, but we wanted to open some of these up to Phase 2 participants from other locations, to offer more chances of networking and getting to know participants from elsewhere in the country. We held an event in Dublin, at Enterprise Ireland’s East Point headquarters, and another in Cork, at the River Lee Hotel. Facilitated by Alan Costello, these events focused on sales pipelines and finding customers, with valuable insights from speakers and plenty of opportunities for participants to ask questions relating to their own businesses.

Alumni Survey

In 2015, we also surveyed our past participants in order to gain more insights into their entrepreneurial journey and businesses. We had over 400 responses, spanning the four years the programme has been running. Respondents reported a total of 1,300 jobs created and a total annual turnover of €41 Million.

What’s to come in 2016

Our commitment to the programme remains strong. We have secured Enterprise Ireland board approval for the New Frontiers programme up to 2020, which has allowed us to plan for the future and to restructure the programme slightly – continuing to provide the proven format, but with some improvements.

In order to provide longer-term support to participants, and to keep our relationship with entrepreneurs going beyond Phase 2, we’re restructuring the way the programme will work in the future.

We have shortened the core phase of the programme (Phase 2) from six to five months, in order to provide a more focused, business-like environment. There will be a greater focus on follow-on support, including a total financial support package of €20,000 to successful participants. We have increased the programme intake, from 150 to 175 participants nationwide. We will also be implementing a consistent lean startup methodology across the programme.

As part of our ongoing commitment to New Frontiers, we have started to offer professional development for our Programme Managers across the country, which includes a two-day training course.

We will, of course, hold a national networking event again in 2016, and we will be expanding the number the number of regional training events.

All the best to our participants and alumni

Don’t forget, we’re here to support our alumni, no matter when you left the programme. Join us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and don’t forget to share your company news with us so that we can spread the word. And if you’d like to write for the blog, do please get in touch.

About the author


Declan Lyons

Declan is Technology Infrastructure Programmes Manager at Enterprise Ireland and oversees the delivery of the New Frontiers programme. He has a background in Engineering… [Read Declan’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Tips for making a successful Phase 2 application

apply phase 2 new frontiers

There are some basic mistakes often made by applicants to Phase 2 of the New Frontiers programme. Here are my tips on how entrepreneurs can craft a compelling argument and avoid the most common pitfalls when it comes to preparing their applications.

Entrepreneurs are positive, energetic and driven people; they believe they can do anything they set out to do.  But if they come across someone who doesn’t believe in their idea the way they do, it can lead to doubt and uncertainty.

Applying for Phase 2 can be one of those times when these two perspectives collide. You know all the good things about your business proposition – why can’t they just agree with you?! Having been a business person and Programme Manager for a number of years now, I’ve come to the conclusion that where there is a mismatch in understanding such as this, it’s usually down to communication. The entrepreneur doesn’t hear what the programme requirements are, and those reviewing the application don’t see what they need to know, written down in black and white on the form.

The Phase 2 application form

It’s a form with two sections: Section A is for your personal details and Section B has 14 questions covering your business proposition, market, past experience, business model and proposed implementation. It’s a lot of detail. Given the very competitive nature of the application process, you need to put your best foot forward. Complete ALL the questions, do not leave blanks. Give sufficient detail to answer the questions, and do not just copy and paste texts from elsewhere.

Relevant, in-depth answers

Read and answer the actual question asked. For example:

  • In Section 1.2, you are asked to describe the attractive & credible market opportunity you have identified. This does not mean that you should describe the product/service features again; it means identify the scale, value and possible growth of your identified target markets.
  • In Section 3.2, you are asked to give details of your primary competitors. This does not mean that you should list three company names; instead provide a comparison/landscape, and demonstrate your Unique Selling Points and sustainable competitive advantage
  • In Section 4.2, you are asked if you have any current or potential reference customers. ‘No’ is not an adequate answer, even if you are at concept/pre-startup stage. You need to show that you can think of a customer, as well as think like one.

Convince and convert

The questions on our application form are designed to elicit answers that enable you to show that you are the one who can build a strong, sustainable business – from where you are now to where you plan to go, with the help and support of the New Frontiers programme. It’s about selling you (and your team, if you have one) as well as the business – not just about the product/service.

Phase 2 is all about preparing participants to make their case to external, professional investors. You must be able to show your ability to communicate what you are setting out to achieve – clearly and professionally, in both your writing and presentation. It’s good to be positive and ambitious, and have substantial goals, but you also need to be credible and prepared to back up your claims.

The pitfalls to avoid

The most common mistakes that let an application down are as follows:


Please re-read your form one last time before you send it – spelling mistakes and other errors at this level are indicative of a lack of professionalism. It’s not an English exam, but error-free text helps to create a positive initial impression.

Using an application form for a completely different programme

I have received applications clearly mentioning other agencies and even jurisdictions.

Not updating copied and pasted content

If your text comes from somewhere else, the chances are that you aren’t providing us with the relevant information we need to make our decision.

Not showing the innovative nature of your idea

Innovation is the fundamental differentiator for New Frontiers participation and is specifically referenced in Section 1.1. Make sure your application is clear about how and why you consider – and your customers/the market will consider – your product/service to be innovative. Many weak applications fail to address this point at all.

Not enough progress

Many applicants do not show enough momentum achieved to date (Section 4.3) or a detailed set of SMART goals for the six months ahead (Section 5.2), all of which have and will contribute to the success of your business venture, as well as a positive outcome for your participation in the programme.

If you want a positive outcome for your application, against very strong competition, remember what you’re doing, where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. And then tell the reader.

The New Frontiers programme is designed to support entrepreneurs as much as the business idea itself and we want to say YES! It’s worth taking the time to communicate your proposition in terms that address all the elements of the whole programme, which incidentally are also the elements behind a successful startup venture. Good luck with your application!

About the author

Colm ÓMaolmhuireColm Ó Maolmhuire

Colm is the New Frontiers Programme Manager at IT Tallaght. He has nearly 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

Sign up for our newsletter!
Get the latest from the blog and updates from the New Frontiers community.
We will never share your information or spam you.

Enterprise Ireland's national entrepreneur development programme Register your interest