Start-up and early stage firms seeking to ramp up their funding are being urged to enter InterTradeIreland's Seedcorn Investor Readiness competition for a chance to win a share of a €280,000 cash prize fund.
Co. Down company, Jumpack Ltd, which sells the world's first portable extreme sports ramp for use with skateboards, BMXs, mountain bikes, scooters and snowboards won the ‘Best New Start' category last year and a €20,000 cash prize.
The Seedcorn competition mirrors the challenging real-life investment process. Participants are advised on how to develop their business plan, present business propositions, improve their ‘investor readiness’, gain exposure with venture capitalists, angel and other investors and increase the profile of their business.
Phil McIntosh, CEO of Jumpack Ltd, said: “We only started trading last year and while we were confident our concept would be embraced by the extreme sports industry, the commercial planning was extremely important to us. The whole Seedcorn competition forced us to look at the business from an external perspective, questioning everything.
“It helped us understand our organisation better, as well as our potential markets. Our success in Seedcorn also affirmed our business plan is strong in the eyes of equity experts, which is extremely encouraging. The €20,000 cash prize will help us to recruit an additional employee to support our digital marketing function.”
Since the competition’s inception in 2003, the total awarded to innovative companies stands at €4.5million. Companies that have been supported span a range of sectors across the island from manufacturing to technology, diagnostics and sport.
Shane O’Hanlon, Funding for Growth Manager, InterTradeIreland, said: “Seedcorn recognises and nurtures entrepreneurship, innovation and new ventures and offers businesses who are at a critical stage of their development the opportunity to accelerate their development by drawing upon the guidance of a team of experts. Seed finance can be notoriously hard to attract, and this competition is an opportunity for ambitious start-ups to get their new ideas off the ground.”
Phion Therapeutics (pharmaceuticals) in Belfast won the overall Seedcorn competition prize of €100,000 in 2017. The company’s founder, Professor Helen McCarthy, said: "The Seedcorn competition taught us to think big from the start. It offers valuable, constructive feedback from credible entrepreneurs, investors and business people. My advice to applicants would be to embrace the process and be prepared to implement suggested refinements.
“Like many entrepreneurs, we knew our product inside out. However, we weren't so sure about what investors want from a start-up. The process helped us develop a clearer business plan that assisted in pitching. Even if you aren’t a finalist, participants are left in a much stronger position at the end of the process. Since winning the Seedcorn competition we've hit all of our milestones and had interest from investors across the globe.”
Previous Seedcorn winners include Barracuda FX Dublin, Loci Orthopaedics Galway, Valitacell Dublin, ALR Innovations Limerick and Epona Biotech/Stablelab Sligo.
The long list of success stories from Seedcorn alumni is testament to the valuable contribution of InterTradeIreland in supporting the business community and promoting cross-border trade. A series of All-island Seedcorn workshops will be held in the coming weeks to provide those considering applying with advice on preparation of video clips, presentation slide decks and business plans.