11 early-stage start-ups get green light to accelerate with NDRC

30 Jun 2021

Image: © Simon/Stock.adobe.com

Dogpatch Labs has announced the first cohort for the NDRC accelerator programme it took over late last year.

When Dogpatch Labs and its regional hubs took over the Government-backed start-up accelerator from NDRC, the decision was made to give the programme a makeover for 2021.

The result was a record number of applications for the latest NDRC accelerator. Out of 500 applicants, 100 were selected for interview before being whittled down to a final cohort of 11 start-ups.

“Our revamped accelerator offering is attracting top talent representing the next generation of the ecosystem,” said Patrick Walsh, Dogpatch Labs founder and CEO.

“For example, there are two separate teams founded by experienced engineers from Intercom – Ireland’s first unicorn. Another with an ex-Stripe engineer. It’s unicorns creating unicorns.”

Each start-up selected for the NDRC accelerator will receive an investment of €100,000 under SAFE terms.

They will now embark on a six-month mentor-led programme that will be conducted virtually, though based out of Dogpatch Labs in the Dublin docklands.

Dedicated entrepreneurs-in-residence will meet the start-ups on a weekly basis, and they will also have one-to-one meetings with more than 40 mentors including Áine Kerr from Kinzen, and Bobby Healy from Manna Aero.

In September, these 11 start-ups from the NDRC accelerator will showcase their work at a midpoint demo day that will also be hosted virtually.

A grid containing images of 11 founders of the new NDRC cohort of start-ups and their company logos.

Image: Dogpatch Labs


Enterprise Ireland-backed Dataships is a Dublin company working to automate data privacy compliance. From privacy policies to cookie consent tools, GDPR to CCPA, Dataships aims to make it simple for SMEs.

This “one-stop shop for data privacy” closed a €500,000 seed round last year and participated in Acceleprise, a SaaS start-up accelerator based in Silicon Valley.

Following Acceleprise, founders Ryan McErlane and Michael Storan redesigned and relaunched Dataships in June 2020. By November of that year, the company had landed around 40 contracts. Clients include iClothing.com, Thérapie, Optilase and Icon Accounting, and the plan is to grow further in 2021.

Gain Grain

Based in Dublin and Virginia, US, Gain Grain specialises in market intelligence for the alcohol industry – specifically, US craft distilleries.

Currently supporting brands in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia with a private beta release, Gain Grain’s tools aim to help these producers identify the premises most likely to buy their stock, monitor stock and sales across more than 1,000 stores, manage orders and inventory, and provide CRM and sales insights.

Gain Grain was one of 20 start-ups selected by Dogpatch Labs for the six-week NDRC pre-accelerator programme. Founder and CEO John Hannon previously worked as an engineering manager at both Stripe and Zalando.


While still a young company, Guardara benefits from the experience of its co-founders: CEO Mitali Rakhit and CTO Zsolt Imre.

Yale graduate Rakhit is a two-time founder with an extensive background in research and data analytics. Imre is a product security expert with more than 20 years’ experience in cybersecurity.

Their expertise converges on Guardara, a cybersecurity company focused on fuzz testing with its flagship product, FuzzLabs. This software testing technique is used to uncover coding errors and security loopholes by feeding invalid and unexpected inputs and data into a program.

Last November, Guardara secured $120,000 seed funding as part of the Techstars Boston Accelerator.


A former Siliconrepublic.com Start-up of the Week, Hiiker is an application that helps users discover, plan and track long-distance hikes.

Meath-native Paul Finlay is the CEO, founder and lead developer of Hiiker, combining his passion for the outdoors with his interest in app development. He set up the business with friends Eoin Hamilton, who directs the company’s media and marketing, and Peter Britton, who leads on design.

Clocking 60,000 users in the past three months, Hiiker has seen fast-growing interest. A free version of the app gives access to routes and basic features, while once-off payments and subscriptions can unlock premium features.


When Greg Tarr won this year’s BT Young Scientist competition, he said that he would “almost certainly” follow the entrepreneurial path tread by previous winners Shane Curran and Stripe co-founder Patrick Collison.

The 19-year-old has clearly wasted no time in starting that journey as he has founded Inferex with his father, Richard Tarr, on board as CTO.

Inferex will commercialise the deepfake detection model Tarr developed for the Young Scientist competition. For now, its services are targeted at government agencies in the US, where fears of weaponised deepfakes have been stoked. However, the ultimate goal is to enable large-scale deployment of AI.


Based in London, Chuka Ebi founded Kana in April this year. Formerly a product engineer at Intercom, Ebi has participated in entrepreneurship programmes such as Entrepreneur First, an incubator and accelerator, and On Deck, a programme connecting early-stage entrepreneurs.

All this has led to Kana, a ready-made pricing infrastructure built to plug and play. Currently in beta mode, Kana can be used to integrate and customise SaaS subscription plans on apps or sites.

Last month, Ebi delivered a winning pitch for Kana at Debut Sessions, a virtual pitch event for UK-based start-ups raising their first round of funding.


Straddling Stockholm and Dublin, Legitify is out to digitise legal services across Europe and beyond. Its first product to achieve that goal is a remote online notarisation tool.

CEO Aida Lutaj brings more than 13 years’ experience in business development, growth, strategy, finance and operations to Legitify. Her co-founder Arko Ganguli is the legal brain behind the business, having worked for more than a decade in this sector.

Legitify was selected for investment by global early-stage VC firm Antler, securing $100,000 in pre-seed funding. The company is currently preparing to launch its MVP.


Coming from Popdeem co-founder Richard Whelan, Orcadia is a virtual games platform specifically designed for team-building in a remote working world.

Orcadia can host games for up to 40 people and early players include teams at Google, EY, ESB and Dogpatch Labs. These early adopters have tried out games such as the draw-and-guess game Sketch It, Trivia quizzes and Verbage, which tests players’ powers of articulation.

Founded this year, Orcadia is betting on the future of work being one where remote work continues to feature heavily. And with the Irish Government driving businesses to make remote work, it could be on the right track.


Fans of true-crime podcasts may know Cassie Delaney as one of the hosts of The Creep Dive, a niche production presenting a mix of crime, comedy and sometimes cannibalism. This wasn’t a hit with advertisers, which led Delaney to create Outcaster.

With Outcaster, she wants to help creators to monetise their digital content, however weird it may be. Outcaster’s model is to make money from viewers, listeners and readers instead of advertisers, using custom streaming apps with integrated payment and membership plans.

Founded this year, Outcaster is a spin-out from Tall Tales, a podcast production studio founded by Delaney in 2018.


Edtech start-up Robotify started its summer off well with news that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak had signed up as a customer.

Wozniak’s STEM curriculum provider, Woz Ed, partnered with the Dublin start-up to bring virtual robotics lessons to students around the world. Woz Ed joins a lengthening list of impressive partners for Robotify, including NASA, ESA, Microsoft and Learning.com.

Co-founders Adam Dalton and Evan Darcy were still students themselves when they started Robotify in 2015. Since then they have secured seed funding from Enterprise Ireland and angel investors, and been recognised as a high-potential start-up by Enterprise Ireland.


Vidu was set up this year to deliver hyper-personalised gifs and videos for digital marketers.

After seven years as a senior engineer at Intercom, Gavin Joyce left to pursue this entrepreneurial venture. Earlier in his career, Joyce sold an open-source community-based news site and its related technologies in 2010, having worked on it for almost five years.

At Vidu, Joyce is joined by long-time friend and collaborator William Holden, who spent five years at Intercom working in sales development and emerging business.

Currently in beta mode, select partners have been trialling the platform over the past month and Vidu’s first product launch is expected soon.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.