Wanted: Start-ups with ‘deep know-how’ for NDRC’s Catalyser programme

31 Mar 2016

Dermot Casey, venture investment leader at NDRC, via Connor McKenna

Dermot Casey, venture investment leader at NDRC, talks to us about venture capital, start-ups and the early-stage investor’s new Catalyser programme.

“My 11-year-old describes me as a talent scout for tech,” said Casey, as he ran through NDRC’s ethos behind finding the right start-ups and the role Catalyser plays.

Coming from a corporate background, Casey has now been working with start-ups for six years, for three of which he was building one himself. Now at NDRC, he’s trying to get start-ups to gain early traction with their customers, and get them ready for subsequent investment.

After this comes the real challenge, making a start-up into a viable, secure operation. Upon leaving any accelerator, according to Casey, the key is execution.

“First up, what we’re focused on is getting companies to early sales, make them venture-ready. Get to the first key milestones as a business. The next stage is scaling up. From start-up to scale-up is how to think about it.  It’s understanding that your business changes as it grows, as it develops.”

Catalyser: a programme with a difference

A wide variety of businesses are currently housed in the NDRC, which has a proven track record of producing companies from all over the tech spectrum. For example the likes of HouseMyDog (an Airbnb for dogs) and Wia (building IoT platforms) show just how diverse a scope exists in the Dublin hub.

Catalyser is an accelerator with a bit of a difference, when it comes to NDRC’s usual operations. Specifically looking for companies that have already created technology, armed with ‘deep know-how’, Casey’s hoping to find particularly interesting businesses for this already successful, if nascent, programme.

“We already have four companies with us, having been here for around six weeks,” said Casey, noting the likes of Cortechs – a start-up based on neuroscience research – and Exceedence – focused on return investment metrics for wind and wave energy – as perfect examples of what his organisation is after.

With an open night tonight (31 March) in the NDRC, and a new wave to be picked, Casey’s got his work cut out to find the right start-ups that are, in his words, “gone beyond the idea stage”.

On offer for the start-ups chosen to take part is up to €100,000 in investment (€30,000 of which is assured), through a six-month ‘intensive, deeply experiential, commercially-focused programme’.

Those interested can head along to tonight’s open night or, if you can’t make that, you still have until 6 April to apply.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic