Eircom Web Innovation Fund is Eircombinator?

22nd of November 2007 by conor

The best news I’ve heard in a long time in the Irish funding space happened last night at the Eircom Golden Spiders Awards when they announced a fund to bootstrap web start-ups. This amount is small but very much in the Y Combinator or SeedCamp model. A stodgy old telco has done something which is frankly stunning.


The key is not really the money, it is the opportunities presented by partnering with the most trafficked Irish web-site out there and getting mentoring, support and access to the right people. The areas they are interested in are Web2 generally, Micro-blogging, Embedded Voice Applications, Mashups and Social Networking.

The fund is worth approximately €100k annually and up to four concepts will be selected each year. They will take proposals that range from paper specs to alpha-level code but the applicants really have to show a capability to build what they are suggesting. The funding can then be used to build the webapp through to production and, if appropriate, initially launch on the eircom.net platform. Once launched, eircom will continue to provide small levels of operational funding for the app/site.

The real shocker comes with the announcement on equity stake. Zero! I don’t want to sound like a starry eyed fanboy, but well bloody done Eircom! Finally someone here gets it and realises that handing over €175m to VCs is not the way to build incredible new companies. When I heard the zero equity line I was speechless. Of course successful applications are likely to result in content deals and I can’t imagine anyone having an issue if there were first-refusal clauses on future equity stakes (I have no idea if there are).

Details and applications are available here and submissions must be in by February 2008. The details of the areas they are interested in are:

  • Discovery (domain specific search; indexing, ranking, querying techniques; personalisation, recommendations, information aggregation)
  • Messaging (IM; new / open messaging frameworks; email, alerts)
  • Voice (VoIP telephony; mashups; asynchronous and embedded voice applications)
  • Location (mapping; location-based services; geospacial web, location-based content aggregation)
  • Publishing (blogging and microblogging, syndication; microformats; widgets)
  • Communities (social networks, open standards, mashups, visualisations, aggregators)
  • Content creation (music, video, film & TV, gaming, sport, lifestyle)
  • Advertising (formats, platforms, technologies, networks, targeting, syndication, widgets)
    * Identity (presence, capabilities management; lightweight identity platforms, cross-platform solutions, social identity management)

The injection of new blood like Mark Taylor and others into Eircom really is shaking things up. There is a realisation by many large companies that it is difficult to innovate internally. So rather than trying to invent the next “big thing”, they seed money to startups that have the flexibility and vision to do it and make sure they are there to reap benefits if it works out. If only there were more companies in Ireland willing to try this model. I’ll say it again, well done Eircom.

Comment posted by Robert Shedd » Blog Archive » The Y Combinator Model: Duplication and Limitation
at 12/3/2007 10:43:31 PM

[…] also another look-alike program emerging across the pond in Ireland. The Eircom Web Innovation Fund will take approximately four ventures […]

Comment posted by Conor O’Neill
at 11/29/2007 8:36:11 AM

Testing to see if comments fixed.

Comments are closed.