Eight start-ups to emerge successfully from SELR8R global sales programme

22 Mar 2013

Eight promising young technology companies are due to complete the intensive 50-day SELR8R sales accelerator programme in Cork next week equipped with the skills to sell to the global market.

The idea of the SOSventures accelerator programme which is in the tradition of the venture firm’s China Accelerator and HAXL8R accelerator programmes is to take a group of early-stage companies with ready-to-market products and school them in the crucial art of salesmanship.

The first programme has been a success and according to SOSventures’ Alan Clayton SELR8R 2 is planned to kick off on 20 May with up to 10 more companies.

The graduating companies include Minder, PUNC, Click4Classes, Scurri, Quote Fish, Val PM, BEGuitars and Connect Controls.

Clayton explained: “The companies started the programme on 11 February and all had a range of different products from e-commerce tools to software and physical hardware and social media.

“The first thing we spent time on was trying to make sure the companies were able to fine-tune their story and pitch and also school them in principles like Lean Startup and business model development.”

The programme made use of InterCall’s call centre in Cork to make 24 x 7 outbound sales call to get a product to the point that it is revenue positive.

“Once they had the script about their product and researched the markets and target customers we assigned them agents to make global sales a reality.”

Who dares sells

One company taking part was Connect Controls, which provides businesses with affordable cloud-based building automation systems.

Connect Controls’ Neill O’Callaghan explained: “All the members of our team are experienced professionals and we thought we were pretty skilled at what we do but the programme showed us we had to brush up on our skills and also become aware of social media and business model reiteration and lean startup principles.

“We developed a different perspective on what our business was about and we had to sharpen up on out technical and business skills and also be more agile. We discovered that psychologically we were too close to the product and hadn’t been focusing on the market and end customers.”

Within two weeks of the programme starting O’Callaghan’s company began targeting customers in the US using InterCall’s agents.

“Once the selling began we began losing preconceptions around things like our Irish accents – believe it or not Irish accents add to credibility – and we realised it was possible to win sales in the US from here in Ireland.

“The value of the programme for us is that we learned how to build an international business,” O’Callaghan said.

Among the other companies Minder, a provider of remote controlled alarm systems for mobile homes, has succeeded in selling 100 systems in the US and is in discussions with a number of potential distributors in Ireland, the UK and the US.

Another company Click4Classes, which allows providers of local classes and courses to enable potential students to sign up and pay for courses in advance, facilitated between 12 and 15 course providers on its first day of selling.

The eight companies that will graduate from the programme will hold a showcase for potential investors and start-ups who wish to join the next programme on 12 April at the SELR8R offices in Cork at 3pm.

Clayton concluded: “In the past few weeks we looked at how far we’d come with the companies and we came to the conclusion that it would be definitely worthwhile to do a SELR8R 2. We believe that there are technology companies in Ireland that need to sharpen up their product offering and hone their international sales skills and we can help.”

Disclosure: SOSventures is an investor in Silicon Republic

Starting blocks image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years