What is Enterprise Ireland’s formula for success?

3 Apr 2020

Niall McEvoy, Enterprise Ireland. Image: Connor Maxwell/Siliconrepublic.com

We caught up with the leaders of start-ups such as Trustap, TeachKloud, Styl.Wrap and Vromo to learn about their work with Enterprise Ireland.

At this year’s Enterprise Ireland Start-up Showcase, we caught up with Irish start-up leaders and Enterprise Ireland manager Niall McEvoy, who works closely with start-ups in the ICT sector, to discuss the topic of start-up success.

McEvoy explained that Enterprise Ireland has put a great deal of research into finding the “perfect formula” that goes into getting a start-up off the ground. “It is very much about the team and about the network,” he said.

Over the course of the event, which was held in Croke Park, Enterprise Ireland welcomed panellists to the stage from various organisations, including Techstars, NDRC and SOSV, who reiterated the importance of a good founding team.

Working with start-ups

Of course a good founding team is absolutely imperative, but it can only get a start-up so far. McEvoy outlined some of the things that teams need to have.

“The ability to use their strong domain knowledge to access the market, and to have a really deep understanding of a problem that they have come to understand by being immersed in that market over a period of time,” he said.

We also spoke to a number of Enterprise Ireland’s high-potential start-ups (HPSUs) for 2020, to learn more about the support that the agency has given them.

Conor Lyden, founder and CEO of fintech start-up Trustap, said: “The biggest benefit for us has been the access to the international markets.

“So, whenever we’re meeting with marketplaces or whoever it may be, in other countries like the UK for example, we can tap into Enterprise Ireland’s market that’s already there if we’re going to new countries like that where we might not have very many contacts.”

Offering credibility to start-ups

Shana Chu is the founder of Styl.Wrap, a B2B platform for online fashion retailers, which offers an AI-driven sizing solution to reduce returns. She said that working with Enterprise Ireland was “great for getting investor ready” and helped her to strengthen her value proposition.

Meanwhile, Alan Hickey, co-CEO of software firm Vromo, said: “Credibility is the one thing you can’t manufacture when you’re a start-up. You don’t have the client-base and you don’t have the funders yet.

“What Enterprise Ireland does, is it really gives you a shot in the arm to say that an external third party did a level of due diligence, looked under the bonnet, made sure everything was kosher and then did more than that – and actually put their money where their mouth is.”

Wendy Oke, whose start-up TeachKloud was recently featured as a Start-up of the Week, added: “Any time I needed advice or help, of course the money is amazing, but they really support you from the start – idea generation, getting it out to customers. My development adviser Michelle O’Grady has been great in just advising me on how to grow my business.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic