Getting Funding in Ireland

Show Me The Money!

As a new participant in the Hothouse programme, I’ve been encouraged to apply for Enterprise Ireland’s lucrative CORD grant.

The deal is that if you can convince the panel that your start up can create an exportable product, and generate more then a million euro turnover in less then three years, they’ll give you half of your last year’s salary – tax free with no other strings attached.

They’re not looking for an equity stake in your business and they’re not looking for the money to be paid back. It’s the closest thing to a free lunch that you’re likely to get. I think it’s a great way to get budding entrepreneurs to take the first step and give their idea a proper go.

So, in six days time, I’ll be sitting in the hot seat trying to convince these guys I’m worth a punt. All I need now is a plan.

Presenting the Idea

I want to use my presentation to make two main points:

  1. I’ve got a great product that people will love;
  2. There’s a viable business here that could be very profitable.

I don’t think I’ll struggle too much with point no.1. I mean I really believe in what I’m doing and I genuinely think it’ll make life easier for a lot of people. When I tell others about what I’m working on (more on this soon), I get excited about it all over again, and I think that excitement rubs off on them a little. So far, the feedback has been great. So point no.1 shouldn’t hopefully be a problem.

It’s the 2nd point that I’ll struggle with.

Now I’ve actually done quite a bit of work on the business end of things, and so far, all the figures are looking pretty rosie. The business is scalable, low cost, high margin and there’s a large market for it. The problem is that it’s all just speculation. Nothing more then wishful thinking.

How to Predict the Future

A wise man once said that “the best way to predict the future is to create it”. But what I’d really like to know is how do you predict who will create it? What did the lucky ones do differently from all the other aspiring entrepreneurs that fell by their wayside?

I mean sure, I’ve got lovely projections and figures on how I think the business will be in 2 or 3 years time. I even have some market research done to back it all up. But in all honesty, I still have absolutely no idea if it’ll work out. The only thing I can do is plan, work hard, and try to enjoy myself along the way.

Trusting Your Gut

I can’t say for certainty that I know everything will work out. But I can say that I totally believe in what I’m working on and I think it will help a lot of people. I’ll focus on taking care of the product and hopefully, after a good bit more work and a little bit of luck it’ll take care of me in return.

Any tips on CORD grant applications greatly appreciated.


7 Comments added. Add comment?

  1. Declan Gallagher says:

    What you need to prove:

    1. Customer Value Proposition (what will you do for customer that will make them buy your product or service)
    My Example –

    2. Unique Selling Point (what can you do that no one else can do, ie why should people buy from you rather than others)
    My example –

    3. Customer – what companies/people will buy your product.
    Who will you be selling to in the company, IT, Marketing, Admin, Finance ?
    Identify who your sweet spot customers are, focus on a specific group don’t just say everybody.
    My Example – I focus on office based companies, with less than 75 staff. I sell to Owner Managers, HR Managers and Office Managers, I would also have to deal with the finance people within the company to show ROI and deal with the IT people to show how easy it is to set-up and maintain the system.

    4. Market Size
    You have identified your customer, now how many of them are there.
    My Example – I pick industries that contain my sweet spot customers, Insurance, Accountants, Finance etc.
    Use golden pages, trade organisations eg, (free in the ilac library) to get a size of your market.
    Estimate how much each company would on average spend, they work out the market size in € terms.

    5. Competitors & Advantage
    Who are they ? Who are their customers ? What do they offer ?
    You should do a SWOT for each of your customers and for yourself.
    Competitive advantage , this will tie in with your USP, why you can beat the competitors.
    * Everybody has competitors, even if you think your product is unique, people have to be using something to meet their need, so you will have to prove to them the value to switch to your solution.

    TRUSTING YOUR GUT – is for amateurs
    Market Research is the key to a successful business.

    For CORD

    Get 3 testimonials for existing customers, ask why they choose you ? What you did for their business ?

    Do up a market research questionare and get 5 companies to complete it over the phone, this could mean you have to ring 100.
    What problems do they have that you could solve ?
    Would they be interested in your product/service ?
    If you solved that problem what would it mean to their business ?

    Good Luck with CORD

    May 1, 2008
  2. Iarfhlaith says:

    Amazing advice Declan, thanks!

    I’ll spend some time over the next couple of days honing my presentation and try to include the points you mentioned (which are all excellent). I hadn’t thought about getting testimonials from existing customers. That’s a great idea and shouldn’t be too hard to get.

    In terms of trusting my gut, I agree that speculation of what the market wants is a waste of time. But I also believe that the best way to invent something is to try and solve your own problems first. It’s very likely that there are others out there with the same itch.

    In terms of market research, I’ve run some numbers and it all comes up pretty positive. I ran a small market research questionnaire and got 17 responses from 50 requests. The results really backed up what I had originally thought.

    May 1, 2008
  3. Eamonn says:

    Here is your first testimonial:

    We were looking for a facebook developer for nearly 3 months. When we came across Their service provided us with exactly what we were looking for, a really good facebook application that allows us to grow our Flowers Made Easy brand through Facebook.

    Iarfhlaith and his team of developers are by far some of the most professional guys out there and they delivered everything we wanted before time, on budget and beyond our original spec!
    You would be mad not to talk to”

    May 1, 2008
  4. Declan Gallagher says:

    Also Iarfhlaith, I know some people did try and bribe the people from EI who were doing the Interviews by bring them bunches of flowers, might be worth a shot.
    Do you know anywhere you could easily get some flowers ?

    May 2, 2008
  5. Iarfhlaith says:

    Hmmm, I’d probably just Google ‘Dublin Flowers’ and see what came up! I wonder did the bribe work?

    May 2, 2008
  6. brendan lally says:

    if u need some help give us a shout


    May 17, 2008

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