Archive for the ‘Finance’ Category

IQPrize Shortlist Details

conor 11th of June 2009 by conor

The Press Release on the IQPrize has just gone out and the important bits are as follows.

  • Decisions For Heroes (Robin Blandford) –A web application that saves lives by helping rescue teams record and analyze their rescue operations and training
  • GetitKeepit.com (Alan Coleman) – A web application to help consumers declutter their lives by offering an online portal for the management and retention of important documentation
  • MyHotel.ie (David and Matt Sherlock) – A website and booking engine that reinvents the traditional booking model, offering hotels a powerful new marketing channel with no booking fees
  • Neurosynergy Games (David Delany, Lorraine Boran and Michael Boran) – Innovative online brain training application designed to enhance both intellectual (‘IQ’) and emotional (‘EQ’) performance for healthy people and people with specific mental disorders
  • Octopied (David Behan, Ronan Morris and Michael Flanagan) – A web application for freelancers, helping them manage invoicing, project management, sales and support through one simple and cost-effective tool
  • Our Writers’ Bloc (Owen Gallagher and Karl Quinn) – An online marketplace that connects self-published authors directly with their readers, and facilitates the distribution of material over multiple formats including mobile phones and e-Reader devices
  • Pendle House (Michael Furey) – An online currency exchange marketplace that allows companies and individuals around the world to trade currencies directly with each other, cutting out all transaction costs
  • Plink (Mark Cummins, James Philbin) – An image-driven search engine that allows users take a photo of an object with a mobile phone, and automatically retrieve information about it online

On July 8th, the final candidates will make a Dragon’s Den type presentation to the judges, followed by a public event where the candidates will be able to make a short elevator pitch to the audience. The People’s Choice Award of €1000 and the Grand Prize of €10,000 for the overall winner will be announced at the end of the night.

To add my 2 cents as a judge, I was honestly blown away by the quality of all the biz plans I reviewed. I expected that there’d be lots of badly thought-out, lunatic fringe stuff but I was completely wrong. 90% of what I read could make a feasible business.

Selecting the final 8 was bloody difficult because there were so many great ones submitted. I fully expect to see a ton of those who submitted plans running highly successful businesses over the next few years. I hope they all go straight to their County Enterprise Board or Enterprise Ireland and give them the same plans they sent us.

I don’t know who will win the prize but those 8 businesses could easily generate €100m+ revenues between them.

Here’s hoping IQContent are getting non-stop calls from EI and the CEBs to get access to all the other fantastic plans.

Video from Damian Bannon of the Announcement:

More coverage from Villa81:

IQPrize Launch Today – €10k up for grabs

conor 25th of March 2009 by conor

The site goes live at 2pm today. It’s very simple, send IQContent a 5-page business plan that shows how your will turn your idea into a great online business.

The best submissions will be shortlisted and asked to present their business plans before a panel of independent judges.

The final winner will be announced at the end of June.

This bit is important:

We’re not investors. We’re not venture capitalists. We’re not looking for equity and we don’t want any intellectual property. There’s no catch. There are no strings. Seriously.

All details on iqprize.ie. What are you waiting for, get your ass over there!

Second Eircom Web Innovation Fund

conor 24th of March 2009 by conor

Last year’s Eircom Fund got a lot of buzz and it was fantastic to see Locle, Touristr, Heystaks and Playza win. They have spent the year busy building their apps with financial and other supports from Eircom.

This year’s Web Innovation fund has been announced and once again they are looking for fantastic web ideas that they can help nuture and promote on the eircom.net site. Each of the 4 winners will get €16k upfront prize money to start with followed by a year of mentoring and support.

Your idea should be in one of the following areas:

  • Content (e.g. video, short films, animations, UGC)
  • Movies and TV (e.g. programme recommendations, listings application, information aggregation, content search, fan communities, recommender systems, discovery tools e.g. data visualisations))
  • Games (e.g. Flash games, game communities, platforms, multiplayer games, persistent worlds, avatar-based social networks, game creation tools, ratings, reviews, gambling)
  • News (e.g. personalised news gathering, news aggregation, news submission tools, communities of interest, domain-specific news services)
  • Music (e.g. Internet radio, streaming / OD services, search / recommendations / personalisation, community tools)
  • Sport (e.g. communities, results aggregation, fan communities, results prediction, betting, games)
  • Widgets (e.g. any widget(s) based on the above or additional categories)

Closing Date for applications is April 30th and they have a Facebook Group here.

Seedcamp Seeking Hot New Irish & UK Web Start-Ups

conor 20th of March 2009 by conor

Seedcamp is holding an event in London on 20th April aimed at Irish and UK start-ups, called Mini Seedcamp London. It will be bringing together 20 of the best seed stage web tech startups with experienced entrepreneurs, investors, and developers from all over Europe to participate in a day of intense mentoring, panel discussions and presentations.

Applications are open now and the closing date is midnight on April 6th. All the details, including how to enter, can be found here.

Looking for a Mentor or Potential Investor?

conor 28th of January 2009 by conor

Mary Boyle in Enterprise Ireland in Sligo has contacted us to let everyone know that a very experienced person from the Irish tech sector is looking to mentor and potentially invest in high potential startups.

If this is of interest to you, then put together a one-page overview of your biz and send it to Mary DOT Boyle AT enterprise-ireland DOT com along with all your contact details.

UPDATE: The person in question is going through all the proposals he has been sent. He is delighted with the level of interest & the potential in the companies. He doesn’t want any more submssions until he evaluates the ones he has.  He will get back directly to companies he is interested in talking to.

What’s another €500m between friends?

conor 29th of December 2008 by conor

David McWilliams did an uncharacteristically bad fan-boy analysis on his blog recently of the latest attempt by the government to bootstrap home-grown high potential businesses. His post lacks any real substance and drowns in Minister-style knowledge economy buzzword bingo.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: John Griffiths

It kicked off a very long comment thread, most of which is unreadable, but which contains some real gems. The best of the lot is by Johnny Dunne who has a deep knowledge of the investment environment in Ireland.

Johnny does a brilliant analysis of how wrong-headed the €500m approach is in the short term, whilst accepting that long term it could provide benefit. It’s just a pity that those who are making these fundamental decisions are taking their advice from the foxes minding the hen-house who have already killed all the chickens.

I’m quoting it here with Johnny’s permission:

The €500 “Innovation Fund” is a great ‘medium to long term’ idea to help fund the development of businesses based in Ireland selling valuable good and services to international customers.

Our problems are a lot more urgent – we face a serious fall off in economic activity again in 2009. For example, Dell alone pulling out of Ireland with €10 bn+ / 10% of GDP gone in one go !

David, if the government can invest NPRF of €1.5 billion in ‘cash’ within ‘one month’ in a bank with ‘poor’ assets and without a CEO and therefore you would have to assume NO business plan. I have never heard of a VC or a bank investing in a company without a Chairman, CEO and agreed plan !

Why not focus the ‘special finance unit’ in Anglo (and AIB,BOI) to invest say €500 million in growth companies without taking security as the government is not doing so! This unit which exist already invest in many ‘larger’ growth oriented companies some of them would be Enterprise Ireland clients. For example, the main criteria used for lending in Anglo are people, cashflows and asset quality. The government have guaranteed the liabilities and injected cash so the banks should lend to ‘good’ people with a ‘credible’ and (dare I say it) innovative business plans without recourse to personal guarantees and propert / assets backed security.

There needs to be urgent action with a ‘fund’ launched in January with say €500 million to invest in 2009 – why not? Anglo increased lending by €9 billion in 2008! A medium term plan to invest €500 million over many years is not enough. This money may not ‘start’ investing for at least another 12 to 18 months, even then if it is in the hands of US VCs it may provide little employment in Ireland – assume investee companies will need qualifying Irish operations ? If the local VCs like Delta, Atlantic bridge and NCB can’t find opportunities with their strict ‘VC’ criteria, then the international VCs will find it harder unless we open the ‘flood gates’ to fund earlier stage / developing companies.

There is a requirement (and suggestion) for many small funds say of €10 million each investing less than €1 million in a number of firms in order to open the ‘pipe’ of funded start-ups which can access further development capital at a later stage. Enterprise Ireland’s policy with the latest round of €175 million of VC funds which 2 years after it’s announcement has only allocated to 5 of the possible 8 funds. There is a ‘believe’ within Enterprise Ireland that small funds don’t work as they don’t have sufficient fund to follow their money. There has been calls for proposals from VCs, one in 2006 and another this year for the same money as the selected VCs couldn’t seem to raise matching funds ? While over 20 funds applied on each occasion, only 8 were selected as 5 of these could only raise sufficient funds of at least €30 million inclusing state money. EI says this initial funding has leveraged €500 million for investment but already some of the more active funds like Delta and Atlantic Bridge have made multiple investments in non Irish companies. The reason ? based on their ‘investment’ criteria not sufficient opportunities in Ireland ?

So why are the Government allocating Irish ‘pension’ funds to US VC funds on a 50:50 basis now, when it could have done this many years ago when it was suggested before. Instead the ‘mandarins’ in the NPRF and ‘beancounters’ in the Dept of Finance felt it was better to invest in international equities which we know where they’ve gone – south! US ‘Tier 1? VC funds are well able to raise their own funds without state support 9this should apply where the market won’t go – remember there was 20 unsuccessful applicatns locally for the previous EI VC funding rounds). Why not just use the ‘preferential’ tax to ensure they invest through and in Ireland not invest directly when they can access other sources of finance and need to be free to invest on an international basis. Local fund and banks can invest !

There is €400 billion of loans outstanding but AIB have contributed €15 with Enterprise Ireland to a €30 million seed fund and BOI have invested about €20 million in a €70 million fund which EI would have invested a similar amount. Recently Ulster invested a smaller amount with EI in the NCB fund. We are investing over € 5 billion within 3 months in 3 banks with ‘no security’ and a relatively small return up to 10% (VCs look for 30% and use preference shares all the time but ensure they can convert to control the business if management don’t execute on the business plan). Why not pass the same terms through to ANY business certified by Enterprise Ireland or the IDA with a ‘qualifying’ export oriented operation with the potential to generate more jobs and exports in the short term generating tax revenues….

The ‘mind change’ needs to be within the Irish financial services sector to fund this ‘Smart Economy’ of the future.

Or should we just let “Science Foundation Ireland spend €7 billion on education and training in the years ahead” with no medium term opportunity of generating sales !

There must be independent advisers with experience of investing or raising VC and banking funds better placed to advise the Minister rather than ‘City folk’ from Merrill Lynch generating massive fees to ‘give away’ tax payers and pension funds money in return for no equity in the 2 major banks AIB and BOI which are obviously undervalued, as they don’t seem to understand where the irish economy is and what it needs to survive over the next decade ???

dbTwang Closes Angel Round

conor 20th of December 2008 by conor

Whilst the funding environment is very very tough right now, we are still seeing glimmers of light in the gloom.

The latest is dbTwang, a site for guitar owners, which closed its Angel round yesterday. Keith Bohanna and co-founder Fintan Blake-Kelly worked for many months with new director Gerry McQuaid (ex-O2) to raise the funds.

They are using Contrast for the design of dbTwang and Lunar Logic in Krakow for the development, aiming for early closed beta around the 3rd week of February.

If you have any good news on the funding front, drop a line to web2ireland DOT editor AT gmail DOT com

Automattic Moving to Sligo

conor 16th of October 2008 by conor

OK, they aren’t really but Sligo is actually their first commercial office outside of the US. The coverage of the PollDaddy acquisition has been amazing in a few short hours. Here’s just a sample:

 

 

It’s currently top story on Techmeme.

Lovely picture of the crew on Donncha’s blog:

SeedCorn Deadline is 1pm today

conor 26th of September 2008 by conor

This came as a shock to me last night when I went to check the closing time for Seedcorn applications. The deadline is not close-of-business, it is 1pm! So if you are doing any last minute edits, hurry up.

And good luck.

seedcorn

Can you get a Capital Grant for a Web Back-End?

conor 15th of August 2008 by conor

Keith Bohanna of dbTwang has a very interesting question – is it possible to get a Capital Grant from a County Enterprise Board for something intangible like the backend of a webapp?

Answers on a postcard to his blog.