NDRC launches new supports for start-ups across Ireland

11 Feb 2021

Image: NDRC

The new NDRC is launching a series of supports across its four hubs, including one-to-one mentoring and a pre-accelerator programme.

At the end of 2020, the NDRC contract was awarded to a network of regional innovation hubs around Ireland led by Dogpatch Labs.

Now, the national start-up accelerator has launched a number of new nationwide supports to help early-stage founders and start-ups, including a pre-accelerator programme.

Patrick Walsh, CEO of Dogpatch Labs and NDRC, said joining a community, getting feedback and mentorship are very important in the early parts of the start-up journey.

“Now for the first time, we have new programme teams based in regional community hubs delivering a new set of supports which all feed into the national accelerator,” he said.

Office Hours is one of the new supports, helping entrepreneurs take their first steps through one-to-one 25-minute slots with experienced NDRC programme managers based in the regional hubs.

Selected founders will receive feedback on their idea and advice on how to navigate different funding and supports available within the ecosystem. There will be more than 600 slots across all hubs and they will be available all year. There will also be no limit to the number of applications from any one start-up.

‘We’re open to applicants from a variety of backgrounds, sectors and skills because the best founders often come from unexpected places’

The second support launched is a Founder Weekend, a two-day event where 50 attendees will learn what it takes to move an idea from concept to creation, and how to validate their problem, market and customer.

Attendees will take part in feedback rounds with mentors and investors, before pitching to a panel of entrepreneur judges. These events will take place every quarter and will be hosted once each by the four hub locations.

As well as Dogpatch Labs in Dublin, the other hubs are RDI Hub in Kerry, Republic of Work in Cork and PorterShed in Galway.

Walsh told Siliconrepublic.com that the Founder Weekend is designed for early-stage entrepreneurs who have a big idea that they want to explore for a few days.

“It’s also open to people who don’t have an idea but who want to get involved in the start-up community, learn new entrepreneurial skills, and can bring their skills to a team.”

Finally, the pre-accelerator programme will run over six days across six weeks, and will allow early-stage start-ups to take part in workshops delivered by successful founders, receiving one-to-one feedback from entrepreneurs and stress-testing their pitch with real investors in mock boardroom meetings.

The pre-accelerator ends in a virtual demo day pitch, which is broadcast live to investors, entrepreneurs and potential customers. Walsh said NDRC will be running at least eight pre-accelerators each year.

“We’re open to applicants from a variety of backgrounds, sectors and skills because the best founders often come from unexpected places. We’re looking for diverse start-ups to make our cohorts as dynamic and innovative as possible.”

He added that successful applicants should be serious about raising pre-seed investment or applying to an accelerator programme within six months of completion.

“In terms of criteria, founders are typically between six and 12 months into the process, working on their idea full-time or planning to be in the next three months, with no working product. They’ll likely have no funding secured or under €15,000 and will be aiming to raise a €25,000 to €50,000 angel round.”

Specific workshops in the pre-accelerator will focus on customer development, market sizing and pitching, business model design and financials, and funding.

Walsh said the first cohort of the accelerator will start in June, with successful start-ups receiving €100,000 investment under “founder-friendly terms”.

We’re really excited to share all the details in a couple of weeks’ time and reveal who we have on board as entrepreneurs-in-residence and mentors,” he added. “These are people who have built incredible companies and will help globally ambitious entrepreneurs succeed through mentoring and coaching.”

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic