Endeavour 2011 open to boost start-ups

14 Dec 2010

Ireland’s fast-track programme for start-ups, Endeavour, has launched its 2011 programme, looking to attract high quality candidates with an ability to succeed in the entrepreneurial world.

Jerry Kennelly, co-founder of the Endeavour programme, has called on the hardest-working entrepreneurs to join the programme and grow to an investor-ready level.

“What we’re going to be looking for are people who are passionate, talented and driven,” said Kennelly to Siliconrepublic.com.

“We want people who are willing to put in the exceptional amount of hard work that is required to build a global company from zero.

“We want people willing to work around the clock and are happy to live on airplanes for the first couple of years of the company,” he said.

A two-phase programme

The 2011 programme will have two phases. The first will have 80 participants and will run concurrently in two locations one evening per week in Dublin and Kerry.

There will be a structured programme of contributions from entrepreneurs and advisers, such as Liam Casey, CEO of PCH, Ray Nolan, CEO and founder of Worky, Morgan Lang, CEO of 9MMedia and Brian Long of Atlantic Bridge.

There will also be a Demo Day in order to pitch to an entrepreneur panel, acting as the selection gateway to the second phase.

This phase involves a six-month, full-time programme running at Kerry Technology Park, providing free office space, meeting facilities and broadband for one year.

There will be regular workshops, progress meetings, stress panels and professional training assessed by individual needs.

This will culminate in an investor week in Dublin, London and Silicon Valley, where participants can pitch to experienced international investors.

“It is exceptionally hard work, we don’t want to see clock watchers,” said Kennelly.

“There are some very tough grilling sessions, we like to call it ‘tough love’ from the mentors to make sure things are happening quickly and in the right direction.

“Quite often, when a start-up goes on a programme like Endeavour, they may need to change tact a couple of times.

“What we’re really backing is the person. The idea may evolve into something different, and that’s fine, that’s part of the process,” he said.

Endeavour has teamed up with Kerry Group to implement the project. The company brings its global footprint, the international focus of its management team and a critical understanding of the standards needed for start-ups to sell to the multinational sector.

The programme’s funding valuation exceeds €10m based on close or imminent investments. It is open for applications from 14 December 2010 to 26 January 2011, with phase one running from February to March and phase two running from May to October.

Entrepreneurial spirit

Kennelly has had great experience in the entrepreneurial world. Starting as a photojournalist, he founded image library Stockbyte, which he sold to Getty Images for €135m. He will launch Tweak.com in 2011, a stock design market.

He advises budding entrepreneurs to remain aware of the global landscape and to make sure their companies have a killer app beyond the technology.

“We have spent a lot of time and research (on Tweak.com) to make sure that we’re very much aware of the space, what’s out there and how we can change it,” he said.

“That’s really where the opportunity exists today in terms of modelling something that serves customers better. And ultimately, that’s always going to be a great model in which to build a business.

“Technology in itself is not a long-term, sustainable advantage. There have got to be other factors which give you a competitive moat and technology really needs to be a service of the business,” he said.

Kennelly noted that the Irish entrepreneurial spirit has not diminished in spite of the economy, and if anything have “never been more ambitious on a global scale.”

“The entrepreneurial spirit in Ireland is booming. There’s never been more Irish entrepreneurs running global organisations and running them better than ever before,” he said.

“Generally speaking, a lot of companies working in the tech space are very profitable and we’re really starting to build a huge amount of competence in that area.”

Applications for Endeavour 2011 are accepted online and candidates can follow its Twitter page here.