Accelerator programme reveals first Irish funding recipients

13 Apr 2011

Five Irish companies are the first to receive funding and support from Smart Start, the new accelerator programme for high potential start-ups, Smart Start announced today.

The five firms, chosen from more than 150 applications, have each received €12,000 in seed funding and will now embark on a four-month programme of business and financial mentoring to fast track their business ideas towards commercial success.

The five companies are comprised of:

  • Carlow-based Gavin O’Reilly and Dublin man Stephen Doherty of, a niche online jobs board aimed initially at the US legal sector.
  • Galway-based Gary Stewart of Paretos CRM, a highly flexible and easy to use online sales management system.
  • Dubliner Joanna Norton of Click4ESOL, which creates multimedia learning content to support the language and literacy needs of second-language speakers.
  • Louth-based Adrian Flynn of Aqua Fresh Fish, an environmentally friendly method of farming exotic fish in land-based recirculation aquaculture systems.
  • Louth-based Helen Bradley-Lennon and Damian Purcell of GolfersDen, a multi-functional golf platform that enables golfers to access top structured video tuition on an iPhone app.

“These five companies demonstrated tested business concepts, a strategic growth vision and a hunger for success. We will now partner with them every step of the way, by investing not only finance but also our expertise and experience,” said Smart Smart founder Gerry Moan, a business mentor and trainer.

Smart Start pools bright ideas, passion and vision with experienced mentors, funding and advice. The programme, with support from Enterprise Ireland, is based at the Regional Development Centre (RDC) at Dundalk Institute of Technology.

“Enterprise Ireland welcomes the new programme, which provides emerging technology companies with an ideal opportunity to further develop their new business proposition,” said Tom Hayes, divisional manager of entrepreneurship at Enterprise Ireland.

“The emergence of new, innovative, export-led start-ups will play a vital role in Ireland’s economic recovery. The Smart Start programme is another example of the expanding ecosystem providing support to start-ups.”

Smart Start’s team of national and international mentors, investors and serial entrepreneurs comprises financial, legal and technology specialists from Deloitte, Byrne Wallace, Razor Coast, Tapadoo and Sharp Design. The programme will introduce participants to angel investors throughout Ireland and the UK, and also has established venture capital relationships with BK Partners and US-based Garage Technology Ventures.

In return for a 6pc equity stake in each company, Smart Start not only provides seed funding, but also expertise, resources and networks to help shape the businesses for future growth. 

The programme culminates in a trip to Silicon Valley, where the companies will have an opportunity to pitch their businesses to a range of venture capitalists and potential angel investors.   

Photo: Representatives of the first five companies chosen for Smart Start are, from left: Gavin O’Reilly, co-founder of; Helen Bradley-Lennon, co-founder of GolfersDen; Gary Stewart, founder of Paretos CRM; Adrian Flynn, founder of Aqua Fresh Fish; Joanna Norton, owner and CEO of Click4Esol; and Damien Purcell, also co-founder of GolfersDen