Business News

National competition for start-ups with a €280,000 cash prize fund

By Business & Finance
25 March 2014
InterTradeIreland Seedcorn

InterTradeIreland is calling on new start-ups and early stage companies to enter the island’s largest business competition, the InterTradeIreland all-island Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition.

With a total cash prize fund of €280,000 with no equity stake, it aims to transform equity raising businesses into first-class investor ready companies. Now in its 12th year, the competition has supported 1,949 enterprising companies, with the companies that have made it through to the regional finals successfully raising €179m in new funds.  It is considered among the investment and business communities in Ireland as one of the most important barometers for new and emerging companies.

With nine cash prizes on offer; entrepreneurs compete against each other regionally before competing for the all-island ‘Best Early Stage’ and ‘Best New Start’ company titles. The Seedcorn competition imitates the real-life investment process; every business idea is reviewed by investment experts and leading industry experts before companies are given individual feedback. This gives companies a valuable opportunity to put their business idea to the test and ensure that their business is investor-ready and that their business plan stands up to external scrutiny.

Initial applications will be shortlisted with successful companies being invited to submit their full business plan. Companies will have the opportunity to attend one of a number of Seedcorn workshops in the coming weeks, designed to guide those considering entering the competition, including advice on preparation of video clips, slide decks and business plans.

Companies must register their interest and complete the initial application form for the competition by Friday, May 30th with the final business plan due by Friday, September 5th 2014. If shortlisted, the company will be invited to deliver an investment pitch in front of the judging panel comprising venture capitalists, business angels and some of the island’s leading industry entrepreneurs and business experts. Prior to attending regional finals, each company will be eligible to attend an intensive one day ‘investment pitch master class’ to help polish their presentation skills. Importantly, Seedcorn is the only business competition of its type that does not seek equity from the winning companies.

Connor Sweeney, Seedcorn project manager for InterTradeIreland said: “There is an array of funding and equity supports available to Irish high growth companies, particularly venture capital, seed and business angel funding.  There has never been a better time for investor-ready SMEs to seek funding in Ireland. We want to arm SMEs with the knowledge to become investor ready on the local and global stage. The Seedcorn competition prepares young companies for the journey that lies ahead of them when they want to take their product or service to the next level, and have to raise equity from investors. Throughout the various stages of the competition, companies will learn the skills and make the connections that will help them with this regard. This year we hope to encourage even more early stage start ups that are looking to raise equity finance to enter the Seedcorn competition and to avail of its many free workshops and master classes. The Seedcorn Investor Readiness competition is an opportunity for young companies not only to compete for financial reward, but to validate their business plan and gain valuable insight and expertise from some of the island’s leading investors and entrepreneurs.”

Last year’s overall ‘Early Stage’ category winner was Galway-based Westway Health. Commenting on the competition Prof. Vincent O’Flaherty, chairman, Westway Health said: “Winning the competition has transformed our profile; the publicity we received after winning resulted in us being contacted by potential investors and business partners. When you enter the Seedcorn competition you become part of network of investors, entrepreneurs advisors and previous winners which  has opened so many doors for us and it is a great resource to tap into. I would recommend any start up looking to learn about the investment process to enter  Seedcorn, it is a tough but worthwhile process.”

Another Galway company, Element Software won the overall ‘New Start’ category with their product Element Wave, a real-time analytics and mobile messaging platform for app publishers who want to address the issues of customer retention and user conversion. Other previous Seedcorn finalists have included companies in sectors including technology, medical devices, online companies, equine healthcare solutions, consumer products and green tech solutions, have gone on to become highly successful indigenous companies.

Companies can get involved with InterTradeIreland’s Seedcorn competition  by registering here and by following the competition on Twitter  or on LinkedIn where they can get valuable information and advice from experts.

The final date for receipt of initial completed application forms and visual representations is Friday, May 30th but companies must first register their interest in entering here. Regional winners will be announced in mid November before going on to compete in the all-island grand final which takes place in Belfast on the November 26th 2014.