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2013 Seedcorn Competition Winners SeeSense Chat to Startacus
by Startacus Admin
The May 29th deadline for applications in the IntertradeIreland Seedcorn Investment Readiness Competition is fast approaching. Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been taking a look at this all Ireland business competition which aims to help early stage businesses in Ireland to become investor ready by mimicking the real life investment process.
But far from being a very useful, but futile exercise, the Investment readiness competition has a substantial prize fund of €280,000 that will be divided up between the nine startups whose performance best pleases the judges.
One overall winner will be awarded €100,000, a best category winner will receive €50,000, six regional winners will be awarded €20,000 each, and a €10k award will be given to a company that is from a university spin-out or support programme.
Applicants to the competition will have the opportunity to compete in one of two strands, either A) the New Start Company category, for companies under 5 years old who want to raise equity funding of between €50,000 and €299,999, or B) The Early Stage Company category for those who wish to raise over €300,000.
With the deadline looming ever closer, we reckon the time has come to take a look at one of 2013's successful candidates to hear their experience of the competition and see if they have any advice for the 2015 budding hopefuls.
N.I. husband and wife team Irene and Philip McAleese have recently caused quite a lot of commotion in cycling circles with the creation of their highly innovative and unique bicycle light, which uses sophisticated technology to intuitively increase cyclist visibility on the roads. Basically, using highly tuned sensors SeeSense lights ‘know instinctively’ when to flash faster and brighter to make the cyclist more visible. That might sound like a fairly simple thing to do, but when you realise some of the factors that these lights are able to consider, it all becomes rather impressive indeed.
For example, SeeSense can detect scenarios where a cyclist may be at a higher risk. such as when; at a road junction, filtering in urban traffic, on a roundabout, travelling in low light, such as under an overpass or in a road tunnel, or approached by a car with headlights on. When the cyclist approaches one of these scenarios, the SeeSense light will alter its intensity and flash rate to optimise their visibility.
Irene and Philip were winners in last year’s Seedcorn competition, with SeeSense being named best early-stage company in Northern Ireland and Irene was kind enough to share her advice with us, specifically for anyone who is hoping to take part in the competition this year;
“Use the tools provided and as you go through the application process and various stages, don't be afraid to reach out to Connor and other people on the team for their guidance. The feedback we gained in the master class sessions around delivering our pitch was invaluable, and ensured we not only had a polished pitch, but that the fundamentals of our business model were sound and that our overall business plan was high quality. Be sure to listen, and keep an open mind about how you can improve. Demonstrate to the judges that you have been able to take on their feedback and develop.
The opportunity to participate in the finals, pitching for a chance of the £100k prize was an experience we will never forget. It required a tremendous amount of preparation on our part, but we have been rewarded tenfold over for the confidence and polish it has given us for future pitches and presentations”
She goes on to tell us that aside from the obvious financial assistance which comes with being successful in the competition, she was also very impressed with the other doors which were opened, by being involved.
“Winning best Early Stage Company in Northern Ireland at the Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition gave us great exposure in the press, generating much coverage. Another key outcome for us was the networks that we established. A contact we met at the finals, gave us an introduction to Chain Reaction Cycles, the largest online bicycle store in the world who subsequently agreed to stock our product. SeeSense is now seeking investment, and we have found that the investment community really do recognise and respect the achievement of our win. Indeed, many of the previous winners have gone on to become successfully funded, so it is definitely an endorsement of the process”.
As we mentioned, the deadline for applications is fast approaching (May 29th 2015) so if you are hoping to get involved then now is the time to do it!