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Irish Startup? Applying to All Ireland Seedcorn Comp - our Insider Interview
by Startacus Admin
With just under one month to go until the Intertrade Ireland Seedcorn Competition closes for entries we got the inside scoop from Connor Sweeney, competition Project Manager, on the competition, why an Irish Startup should apply, what they look out for in applications and perhaps most importantly (for applicants) what common mistakes that startups make when applying.
Connor, great to speak to you. In terms of Seedcorn, could you give us your pitch on why an early-stage or growing startup in Ireland should apply?
Companies may have a fantastic business idea, but a common issue is that they may not be able to get their product to market without adequate funding. For many new startup and early stage companies, an equity investment is the only real option open to them as they probably will not have sufficient trading history / customers / turnover to convince traditional lenders that they are a fair risk. If a company is looking for an equity investment, the Seedcorn Investor Readiness competition prepares companies as best as they can be prepared before they go an approach a potential investor.
Most importantly, for Irish Startups who've not applied as yet, give us the all important details in terms of timescales and the application process.
The competition is open for initial applications now. Closing date is 29th May at 13.00. The initial application process is a two part format – companies should complete a simple application form and submit this along with a visual representation of their business idea. This can either be a short video clip outlining their business proposal, or their presentation slide deck which we suggest they record a narration to. The shortlisting process will be completed by the end of June and companies who are successful will be invited to submit their business plan by early September. Once again, shortlisting takes place and the regional finalists are selected by the end of September. Regionals take place in early November with the all-island final taking place in Dublin on 25 November.
Looking back over the history of Seedcorn, it's now in its 13th year of running. What notable success stories have there been in terms of the Regional and National Winners and how much of an impact do you think Seedcorn has had in that success?
There have been so many companies through the competition that it would be unfair to single one out. But there have been many successes!
You get to see a load of startup applications from both the North and South of Ireland - over the last few years have there been any identifiable patterns in the type of startups that apply?
We’ve noticed a trend away from the high-tech companies in the past few years. Manufacturing companies are starting to make a comeback with some very strong business ideas. As always, we have some fantastic medical device companies in Ireland.
What are the most common mistakes that Startups make when applying, which you'd love to eradicate from applications going forward?
We could almost pre-populate the feedback forms today! The most common areas would be little or no market research being carried out; not answering the questions being asked on the application form (reverting again to describing the product); and using industry jargon and overly technical language in the business plans. We always recommend that companies use plain English when preparing their documents to avoid frustrating the reader.
What do you look out for from a Startup when you see their application?
A good business idea, high growth potential, a strong management team and a clear exit strategy.
Why do you base the competition around the real-life investment process that Startups go through?
The competition aims to mimic the real life investment process because that is the remit that InterTradeIreland have been given by the governments North and South. There are numerous general business competitions, but we aim Seedcorn specifically at companies who are seeking to take on an investor. The goal is to prepare companies as best as possible before they go in front of these investors. Remember, a company only gets one chance to make a good impression – make sure it’s the best one!