Kilkenny based businesses Mentor Her and Luminate Medical have been crowned ‘Best New Start’ company and ‘Best Early Stage’ company respectively at the Connacht & Leinster regional final of the 2021 InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition.
Both companies fought off tough competition having delivered an investment pitch via video conference in front of an expert judging panel.
Seedcorn is the island’s biggest business competition for innovative new start and early stage businesses in any sector. The winners from each of the four regions will go onto compete in the all-island final later in the month where the overall ‘Best New Start’ and ‘Best Early Stage’ companies will be announced winning €50,000 each, and ultimately the ‘Overall Winner’ will pocket €100,000 to contribute to their business growth.
Established in June 2020 by Katie Doyle, Mentor Her is a woman-to-woman mentoring service matching established Mentors and ambitious Mentees in corporate and entrepreneurial spheres.
Commenting on their win, Katie Doyle, Founder of Mentor Her said: “We're thrilled to win the ‘Best New Start’ company in the Connacht & Leinster final and progress to the next round. When lockdown happened in March 2020, many women decided to re-evaluate their lifestyles and professional careers, they needed guidance on what they should do next, which is where I got the idea for Mentor Her. The Seedcorn competition has given us the opportunity to focus on the next step in our business journey - getting investment. So far, it has been an excellent exercise in understanding more about our company from an outsider’s point of view.”
Luminate Medical, which was founded by Aaron Hannon and Barbara Oliveira is developing a wearable medical device that helps cancer patients prevent chemotherapy induced hair loss. Luminate is currently building devices for its first clinical trial, which will be held in University Hospital Galway in late 2022. The company expects to launch its product commercially in the US market in 2024 before expanding to Europe.
Barbara Oliveira, CTO at Luminate Medical said: “We're thrilled to win the ‘Best Early stage’ company in the Connacht & Leinster final and progress to the next round. Luminate’s Lily device is a portable, comfortable, and effective alternative to the trauma of hair loss and wigs and the prize money will be used to accelerate our path to making an impact for cancer patients. The Seedcorn competition has challenged us to rigorously test the assumptions of our business plan and validate them with our customers. We have learned a lot of new lessons about raising investment. In particular, this has led us to run “killer experiments” at an early stage to de-risk the business as quickly as possible.”
Since the competition’s inception in 2003, more than 3,100 companies have been through the programme and finalists have raised in excess of €276m in equity funding, emphasising Seedcorn’s position as the premier competition for high growth start-up companies on the island.
Congratulating both companies, Connor Sweeney, Seedcorn Programme Manager at InterTradeIreland said: “It’s a great achievement to win the regional final, the standard of entries from Connacht & Leinster this year has been particularly high. Congratulations to Mentor Her and Luminate Medical, they demonstrated innovation, confidence and enormous drive – all of which the judges look for when assessing the potential and longevity of a business. On behalf of InterTradeIreland, I wish them the best of luck in the competition’s overall final which takes place on November 25th.”