In 2017, in Eyre Square, Galway, NDRC took its first steps towards a national startup footprint when it launched the first NDRC at PorterShed accelerator programme. Within a year NDRC at ArcLabs set up shop in Waterford, servicing the South East of Ireland.
Added to its now Decade of Investing in Dublin, NDRC activities service more and more corners of the country, making it easier for startups in the regions of Ireland to access funding.
However, while the programmes – through partnerships with Galway City Innovation District, PorterShed, WIT ArcLabs and Enterprise Ireland – were aimed at bringing funding closer towards entrepreneurs outside of Dublin, what has also happened was startups upping sticks to head towards these newer spots.
In NDRC’s experience, this has proved positive.
NDRC at ArcLabs began in 2018, with seven startups making up the inaugural cohort. Part of this cohort was a group of startups moving from Tipperary, Cork, Dublin and even Malta, to set up a base in Waterford.
There was always the option for three of these to stay where they were, making the trip to the South East when they were needed, but complete relocation became the obvious choice.
“We were accepted onto the programme and straight away there was a WhatsApp group created for all the startups,” says David Jelly, founder of Property Bridges, a Dublin-based property-tech startup developing new crowd-based ways for developers to secure funding.
“Through the WhatsApp group, I learned that quite a few of us were relocating for the programme. We found accommodation and decided to spend the three months in Waterford.”
Though moving was not the first choice for Jelly. Having previously applied for investment from NDRC in Dublin, the original plan was to stay in the capital. However, once ArcLabs emerged as an opportunity, he never looked back.
“Staying in Dublin was a possibility but I'm glad I relocated,” said Jelly. “If you are in Dublin, or Tipperary, or Cork, commuting, you’re not fully immersed.
“The way NDRC operates these accelerators, it’s not two full days on, three full days to yourself. It’s very much multiple things, every day, for three months. If you stayed home, in Dublin, you would miss some things, decide to skip others. I felt relocating was much more beneficial.”
Since the end of the programme in the summer of 2018, Property Bridges has ramped up its activities, successfully funding two property investments (in Dublin and Kilkenny) before its plans to accelerate its offers in 2019.
Meanwhile in Galway, NDRC at PorterShed has been running since 2017, with the call for its third programme currently open for entrepreneurs to apply for investment.
Galway is becoming more and more appealing to tech businesses. The Irish Independent recently profiled Soti, an Internet of Things company investing €20 million into the facilities on the west coast of Ireland, with plans to create 150 jobs in the regrion. In the closing weeks of 2018, Genesys, Pip IT, MathWorks and NDRC-backed Farmeye revealed plans to add 320 positions in the coming years, too.
And it’s activity like this, complemented by accelerator programmes such as NDRC at PorterShed, which is helping to foster a tech business boom in Galway.
The Beauty Buddy
The Beauty Buddy provides and gathers data through a TripAdvisor-like app designed for beauty consumers. The data sourced directly from user activity is extremely valuable to both brands and industry partners.
Last summer the team – Wendy Slattery and Tracy Leavy – left their Maynooth base and headed to Galway, securing investment and taking part in the second NDRC at PorterShed programme.
Similar to Jelly’s plan, full immersion was the duo’s inevitable choice.
“We wanted to get into and be part of the NDRC. So the fact that it was in Galway, it didn't bother us,” said Slattery. “Wherever it was, we were going.”
Renting an apartment for three or four months, the duo balanced family life at home, with relentless business development in the west of Ireland.
“We had completed Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme before that,” said Slattery, “and we always gave 100 per cent.
“So for NDRC at PorterShed, being part of the peer-to-peer environment, building relationships with others in the group, meeting other people and companies external to the NDRC group, it was fantastic. We knew that by signing up to the programme, it wasn’t just turning up for a meeting and heading back home.”
“We were there more than the people from Galway,” said Slattery, who along with her business partner met with anyone and everyone who could help The Beauty Buddy. “If you make the effort, it pays. We did research on other companies in the building. It’s amazing what you can learn from chatting with someone over a coffee. The PorterShed team are so supportive. We even connected in with NUIG, and are now working with a computer science student.
“We can’t just wait in Maynooth. For example, we’re currently meeting with investors in Ireland, the UK and the US; if we get investment in New York, we will set up an office in New York. You have to do it. They want it, we want it. The market is there. If investors put money in, they want to know you’re committed. We’re committed.”
How do I know if I need Acceleration?
Are potential customers taking a long time to convert into actual deals? Are you unsure why your business isn’t growing as fast as you would like? Are you unable to attract investors? Are there not enough hours in the day to do what needs to be done? If so, we may be able to help.
NDRC at ArcLabs is a partnership between NDRC, ArcLabs WIT and Enterprise Ireland, while NDRC at PorterShed is a partnership between NDRC, PorterShed, Galway City Innovation District and Enterprise Ireland.