What we want to see in applications

NDRC has backed more than 250 companies throughout its first Decade of Investing, with many more to come in future. But how can you best catch our eye? Alan Costello, venture leader with NDRC, explains the ins and outs.

At NDRC we receive more than 500 applications every year, with entrepreneurs of various backgrounds, operating in every aspect of business, looking for investment. From marketplaces to business solutions, cyber security offerings to B2C plays, we see it all.

In the past, people often applied when we had a specific investment call out, or deadlines to meet. That saw us investigate and evaluate opportunities in a short period of time. So, if there are ways to better appeal to us via applications, it’s probably worth noting.

Our application processes change all the time, but in general, there are things you can do to help us get the point quickly.

Compare these two emails:

  • “Hi, we are building the next generation of artificial intelligence. This market is worth €500 squillion. We would love to raise €1 million to help make it happen and we can acquire lots of customers. How can we apply to NDRC?”
  • “Hi, we are an early stage startup, with interesting feedback from our potential customers. We build artificial intelligence solutions to help businesses understand their actual cost of energy/people/whatever. We heard about NDRC from your companies like Tandem and Opening.io, who also use artificial intelligence in large enterprises. Our team has commercial people who are ex-Google/Oracle etc and tech people who are former Deloitte/Accenture etc. We would benefit from small funding now but also mentoring to help us design our product market fit and help us launch two pilots by May 2019. How can we meet with you to help you find out more about us?”

Who do you think raises investment? Obviously, the difference is laboured, but it’s not actually far from the truth in terms of what we see.

It’s not about loading up an enormous business plan: The second email tells us about problem/solution, early customers, team, traction, experience and the areas of help that the company wants. The first email may have the same info underneath, but they didn’t choose to tell us in the right way, so how would we know?

Here are some things we want to know about you and your business:

  • Market: Large market? Yes, but we need insight. €500 billion is not as interesting as ‘this problem costs a company an estimated €10 million per 1,000 staff’.
  • Problem: How do you know the problems that you wish to solve? Explain it, tell us something interesting about the gap in the market. Show us your insight.
  • Technology: Tell us about your technology now, not what it will one-day be. We don’t want you to build before getting out to customers, but tell us what your capability is, how you got a win with a really basic minimum viable product etc.
  • Team: Your team, let us know about commercial skills, technology skills, experience, domain expertise etc.
  • Traction: Getting stuff done is good, but getting the right stuff done is better. You get to judge what you classify as traction, whether it’s 100 interviews, pilot customers, or even a team on-boarded. Then, we can judge if its right for acceleration and will be good for future investors.

A good application or email to info@ndrc.ie is exciting to read – we straight away get a sense that the person knows what we want to see, and has delivered some tangibles around that.

Our door is always open, so please do reach out to us and let us know what your business is all about.