Joe Drumgoole outlines his “Grand Plan” in the comments and its very worthwhile to get them published here.
Iâ€™ve answered my own questions below.
1. A dire lack of capital at every level
For startups entry to a incubator with a business plan focused on exports and employment automatically entitles you to a CORD grant, no questions asked.
Once you leave the incubator you get a 50k grant straight away which is focused on completion a delivery of the first production version of your software. No production version, no more money.
Once you have a production version you start into the matching money game. But instead of 50/50 its 2/3 EI cash, 1/3 matching. This grant is capped at 250k from EI. You can raise more from externals but EI will still cap its contribution.
Force VCs that have capital from EI to focus on the year 1-3 startups. Use a reduced carry model to get this kind of deal over the line with the VCs.
Get UK VCs over here en mass to show cases of Irish companies. Never saw a UK VC yet at an EI event here in Dublin.
This should be enough to get all but the most capital intensive enterprises off the ground.
2. A tiny indigenous market which means you have to run (export) before you can walk (sell locally)
EI has a raft of export focused training programs but the dissemination of the the information is abysmal. They need a better website a more structured training plan and a better mentoring network. They are also focused on person to person selling whereas what Irish web companies need is a crash course in global online selling including email campaign management, web analytics, user experience, usability etc. etc.
3. A shrinking skillbase (this is the first year we have seen intake in the sciences rise)
Lots of people working on this, and science graduates are up for the first time . Finally people donâ€™t want to be solicitors or lawyers anymore – hurray!!. We need computer programming and abstract problem solving into the primary and secondary curriculum. DeBono covers these requirements well in his writing. See â€œTeaching your Child to Thinkâ€.
4. Uncompetitive costs at every level
Recession is fixing this, but we need to stamp out â€œpercentage ofâ€ pricing in the professional sector (that’s you solicitors).
5. A failure to invest in grass roots startups
Web 2.0 Seed Fund would help here. Better social network integration between the incubators. Proper metrics for success and failure that cover a 10 year period.
Refocusing EI efforts on year 1 to 3 rather than year 3-10.
Teaching startups to focus on customer growth rather than capital growth.