Attracting Investors to Your Startup by Standing Out and Proving Your Worth

One of the most exciting, and most frightening time for a team that is launching a startup is when it is time to pitch your products or services to potential investors. In fact, it is a bit like presenting your baby to the outside world and hoping everybody loves it as much as you. When you work to attract investors to your startup, you actually have several things to accomplish. The first, and most obvious is obtaining the funds you need to get your company to the next stage. However, in addition to this, you also want to get the best terms possible, and maintain as much control over your business as you possibly can. In order to accomplish these goals, you have to convince potential funding sources that you are capable of running a business that is successful enough that they will make a profit from their investment. Fortunately, if you have great product or service, the skills required to run a successful business, and a solid plan for attracting investors, you have a great chance at succeeding.

Show Proof of Market Traction

Market traction is your ability to convert customers, and grow quickly. For investors, proof of market traction indicates to them that they will be able to get returns on their investment relatively quickly. If they do not find evidence that your startup has traction, they aren’t going to invest.There are many ways you can prove traction. For example, you can provide investors with information about the success you have had with test releases and selling your product at trade shows. However, the best way to prove market traction is to simply tell the story of your product or service in the right way. For example, if you tell a potential investor that you have sold 50k units in 5 years, that may not seem like very much to them (depending on your product). On the other hand, if you tell them that you did your first manufacturing run and sold 15k units in the first two years, spent a year in redesign, launched again, and have sold 35k units in two years, that tells an entirely different story. The first is slow growth. The second is demonstrable growth and proof of traction.

Prepare a Well-Written Value Proposition

Your value proposition is a written statement that clearly defines what it is that you do, who will benefit from your product or service, and why they would select your business over other businesses in your niche. You begin this process by clearly outlining the problem that you are solving, as well as why that is a problem. However, you cannot simply show that there is a problem. You have to show that the problem is worth building a business solving. This means showing that the problem is widespread, or that has deep impact on those it does affect. Finally, you will need to show that your solution is in some way better than solutions that are currently being provided. Not only is a well-written value proposition impressive to potential investors, writing one will help you to solidify your vision as well.

Put Together a Dream Team

Since your company is only at the beginning of its destiny, there isn’t a lot of proof that you can give that truly guarantee you have a hit on your hands. This is why many early stage investors focus on the skills and talents of the team you have, almost as much as they do your products and services. When you make your pitch, be sure you can show investors that you have put together a team that can become successful. You can do this by talking about each team member’s skills and  how those benefit the company. If you have had past successes working as a team, you should bring that up as well. Investors want to see a deep and varied skill set, that every member has a role and is making contributions, and they want to see proof of cohesiveness..

Consider Crowdfunding

If you don’t think your best way to get funds together is through traditional sources like VC, you might consider starting a crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding is a way to earn small amounts of money from a large number of people. This can be a great option if you lack proof of  market traction, or are still in the incubator stage. However, if you choose to go this route, it is important to understand that there is much more to do than simply creating a crowdfunding page and then telling your story. You’ll need to determine how you are going to demonstrate your product or service, who the targets of your campaign will be, and create a plan for launching and promoting your campaign. You’ll also have to shoot and edit video and determine what it is you will offer those who fund your startup. You will also have the challenge of selecting your crowdfunding platform.

When crowdfunding does work, the results can be absolutely amazing. One startup, Chilango, a Mexican burrito restaurant successfully raised 2.1M Euros in order to launch their fresh, Mexican cuisine based operation.

Create Barriers to Entry

If investors believe that anybody can jump into your space and replicate what you are doing, they aren’t going to be compelled to invest in you. This is why it is so important to create barriers to entry. Barriers to entry are essentially roadblocks that you put up to make it difficult for others to become your competitors.You can create barriers to entry by setting up exclusive deals with vendors and retailers, getting patents on your technology, creating proprietary technology, truly being the first in your space and growing quickly, developing strong branding, or earning strong customer loyalty. Every barrier to entry that you can create makes it less attractive for potential competitors to come up against you. If you create enough barriers to entry, you can make it nearly impossible for them to do so.

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Dream Big, Win Big at #IBYE 2015

The Search is on for 93 of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneurs.

Through Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition (#IBYE), over 90 people aged between 18 and 30 will win €10,000 – €20,000 to invest in their own businesses in Ireland this year.

That lump sum can buy that new piece of equipment you need; it can pay the salary of a new employee joining the team or it can fund that marketing campaign that will help your business expand into new markets.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, pictured with the 2014 winners of the #IBYE competition. Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, pictured with the 2014 winners of the #IBYE competition. Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland


Last year, Philip Martin used his prize money to buy specialist machinery, helping him to open Ireland’s first tortilla-making factory in Tipperary (Winner: Best Business Idea).

The money also helped Eamon Keane take on highly skilled staff at Xpreso Software in South Dublin (Winner: Best Start Up Business/ Overall Winner). And it came in very handy when Dean Gammell from Westmeath was expanding his group booking software business into the UK (Winner: Best Established Business).

Every Local Enterprise Office (LEO) around the country has €50,000 (each) to invest in three local businesses and start-ups – and with 31 LEOs, that bring the total number of winners to 93. Each local winner will get an injection of cash between €10,000 and €20,000 to put straight into their business.

And that’s just the start!

Up to 500 young entrepreneurs and business owners will also be invited to take part in Business Bootcamps around the country, helping them finely tune their business plans or learn new enterprise skills. One-to-one mentoring and business coaching will also be available, through all 31 LEOs.

To be in with a chance to win, complete the entry form through the IBYE website on-line. But hurry, the deadline to enter this year’s competition is July 31st 2015.

There are some competition terms and conditions (you have to be aged between 18 and 30 for a start and your business idea or existing business must be in Ireland), but if you don’t try, you can’t win!

So, why not ‘Dream Big and Win Big’ at #IBYE 2015!

See more about #IBYE here on YouTube

(#IBYE is completely free to enter and is part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2015. It is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices

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Deko Foods – Ethnic Food Producer to Create 20 Jobs in Meath

Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD welcomed the announcement that a UK-based company will establish operations in Meath, creating 20 jobs.

The jobs being created are with white-label ethnic food producers Deko Foods Ltd.

The company was introduced to Ireland through ConnectIreland, the company responsible for delivering the Government’s Succeed in Ireland initiative, as part of the Action Plan for Jobs, in association with IDA Ireland. Enterprise Ireland has also been instrumental in helping the company to establish in Ireland.

Welcoming the announcement, Minister Damien English, T.D., said; “I am delighted that Deko Foods has decided to establish a base in Kells.  This adds to a growing number of companies who have chosen Meath to set up their business.

ConnectIreland Project

“This announcement is another ConnectIreland project that is being supported by the enterprise agencies and is a great example of how local communities can work to win valuable new jobs for Ireland and, in particular, regional areas throughout Ireland.”

Deko Foods Ltd is a specialist white-label manufacturer catering for the Afro-Caribbean and South-American segments of the worldwide ethnic foods market. In order to meet international demand for their food and drink products, Deko Foods will establish a processing plant in Kells Business Park.

The company, which will focus on manufacturing dry, non-perishable food items at the Kells base before expanding, hopes to hire 20 employees in the coming three years. Recruitment is already underway for a number of junior positions, including full and part-time warehousing staff and administration.

CEO of Deko Foods

Yomi Aiyegbusi, Founder and CEO of Deko Foods, said: “We chose Kells, due to its close proximity to both Dublin’s seaport and airport, and also because we found a suitable premises there, ideal for our type of operation. Another incentive was the level of government support and funding provided to new businesses choosing to locate in the Kells area; it’s exceptionally higher than other regions.

“I was also introduced to several other food producers and packagers in the area, all of whom assured me that Kells and its neighbouring towns could provide the necessary resources my business requires, like the right staff. I currently need to recruit an office manager, receptionist, warehouse clerk, forklift operator and four production staff.

“Ireland is perfect for us as it has a rich agricultural heritage and because of its proximity to the UK, where we have an established consumer base. Aside from its English speaking, highly literate population and its attractive tax system, another attraction was the many incentives Ireland provides to new and foreign businesses, especially those that are export-driven or invest heavily in R&D.

“As most of our revenue is generated from export sales and we invest heavily in R&D and NPD, these were significant deciding factors for us. But the ultimate deciding factor was not only Ireland’s hospitable and relaxed nature but also because Ireland is a progressive EU nation that encourages entrepreneurship and is slowly becoming a cosmopolitan hub for not only European but world business. We wished to be part of that progress.”

The company was introduced to ConnectIreland by local Meath man Hugh Morris. Hugh previously introduced Luxembourg-based company Mafic to ConnectIreland, and the subsequently located in Kells. Simply by striking up a conversation and asking companies to consider Ireland, Hugh has now been instrumental in securing 110 jobs for his local area.


Kevin Stewart, Meath County Council; Joanna Murphy, COO ConnectIreland; Minister for Skills, Damien English TD; Yomi Aiyegbusi, Deko Foods; Hugh Morris, Connector; and Nick Marmion from Enterprise Ireland celebrate the announcement of 20 jobs for Kells


Michael McLoughlin CEO of ConnectIreland commented: “Securing companies like Deko Foods for regional areas is testament to the great work being done by connectors right across the globe. Simply by asking the question ‘have you considered Ireland’, people like Hugh are helping to create job opportunities in their own counties. This company was considering locating in Spain until Hugh introduced them to ConnectIreland.”

This announcement brings the number of projects created in Meath by ConnectIreland under the Succeed in Ireland initiative to five, creating a total of 160 jobs in the region. Four firms have located in Kells, a fifth in Gibbstown.

Michael Cantwell, Divisional Director with Enterprise Ireland added: “This is great news for Meath and EI congratulate ConnectIreland and warmly welcome this food Foreign Direct Investment from Deko Foods. Enterprise Ireland’s Food Division will continue to work with the management as they build their manufacturing operations in Ireland.”

Register as a connector and you could earn a reward of up to €1,500 per job created (maximum 100 jobs).

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Japanese Electronics Company Brings European Expansion to Dublin

SMK Corporation, a multinational electro-mechanical component manufacturer headquartered in Tokyo Japan is to establish a new European Headquarters in Dublin.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD today (Thursday, April 9) announced that the Japanese company will create 11 jobs over three years.

SMK designs and produces a wide range of products for the electronics sector including connectors and switches, remote control units and touch screens. Demand for SMK products is driven by the requirements of a new generation of communications devices such as smart phones and tablets, as well as a proliferation of Pay TV Services and ever-increasing Electronic content in vehicles. The company works closely with clients in new product development and boasts many household name clients in these sectors.

SMK Electronics (Europe) Limited in Ireland will co-ordinate the activities of the company’s sales and design operations in Europe and will employ seven people initially.  The new European HQ will be located at Northwood Business Park and will be overseen by Mr. Paul Evans, Corporate Executive VP.

Originally from Dublin, Mr. Evans is a 30-year veteran of SMK and in 2006 was appointed SMK’s first non-Japanese Vice President.

SMK was introduced to Ireland through ConnectIreland, the company responsible for delivering the Government’s Succeed in Ireland initiative, as part of the Action Plan for Jobs, in association with IDA Ireland.


Michael McLoughlin, CEO, ConnectIreland; Emer Cusack, Project Manager, Growth Markets Team, IDA Ireland; Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton TD; and Paul Evans, Corporate Executive VP, SMK Corporation at the announcement that SMK will establish a European base in Dublin


Welcoming the announcement, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said:  “I am delighted that SMK has chosen Ireland as the location for its new European Headquarters.  The availability of talent was a key consideration for the company and once again highlights the attractiveness of Ireland’s well educated workforce to foreign direct investment.  The announcement is another ConnectIreland project supported by my Department through IDA Ireland and is another example of how companies leading in their field are establishing in Ireland.  I wish SMK every success for the future. 

Paul Evans, Corporate Executive VP, SMK Corporation said:  “We considered a number of locations for our new European Headquarters including Germany, England and the Netherlands.  We chose Ireland because of the availability of highly skilled professionals and the business friendly environment.  ConnectIreland’s support enabled us to establish our new European HQ in Dublin far more quickly than we could have in any other location we considered.   

“We expect to create seven jobs in Dublin and given the rapid growth of our business in Europe, we expect our Dublin HQ to play a central role in our expansion over the next 10 years.  As our business in Europe grows, Dublin can expect to benefit from that growth”.


Michael McLoughlin, ConnectIreland CEO, said: “We are delighted that as SMK Corporation celebrate 90 years in business this year that they have chosen Ireland as a strategic centre for their next phase of growth in Europe.  The creation of seven financial and general management positions in the coming 12 months is very welcome and brings to over 1,100 the number of jobs created in Ireland through the Government’s Succeed in Ireland initiative. We are delighted to have worked with SMK and wish them every success in Ireland as they continue to expand their workforce to 11 over the coming three years.”

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Top 5 Tips on Negotiating Your Commercial Real Estate Purchase

Most people consider commercial real estate investments and negotiating for property to be tricky business.

So you’ve started your own business and are looking to buy a decent office space at a reasonable price?

I’m sure you would agree if I said that there are very few things that feel better than earning a great bargain. And if that bargain involves landing a hot piece of real estate at a posh location at rock-bottom price, you’ll surely be in seventh heaven.

The trick to bagging a great deal lies in the art of negotiating. Of course, there is a world of a difference between negotiation and effective negotiation.

Most people consider real estate investments and negotiating for property, especially a commercial one, to be tricky business. That’s usually because there is so much to consider.

Factors such as the selling and the market price of the asset, the tenancy, the leasing terms and so on, would make anyone nervous about proceeding ahead. However, you can turn all these elements into opportunities to negotiate a better deal.

This post presents a few tips on the things to consider when working through the complicated web of negotiations and using them to achieve not only a lower price, but also better purchase terms.

  1. Be Aware of the Current Market Trends

Staying abreast of the current local market will make you confident when meeting with the seller/developer. Before you take him to the negotiating table, do a thorough research of the market trends by scanning through similar properties in the area and finding out their prices.

You should also be aware of the period for which the property has been up for sale. If office spaces within a commercial project have remained unsold for a prolonged period of time, the builder will be keen to strike a deal.

Do not be in a hurry and analyze the prices well. Find out what the initial price was and enquire about the current price trends from local brokers, who will be able to give you an idea of how much you can get knocked off. Getting in touch with an existing customer of the builder should get you the real picture of what you can expect from the builder.

Remember, knowledge of the cash-flow situation of the builder as well as the numbers of pending units are the two factors that can play a major role in the negotiation process. Developers who are cash-strapped and have a large unsold inventory will prefer to make the sale to generate cash.

  1. Making an Offer

Developers tend to offer discounts only when they feel that the buyer is serious. Hence, once you get an idea of the discount, make an offer and let him know that you’re looking to buy quickly.

Spare some time to check out other similar properties in the locality and let their developers know you’re looking to buy and will close if you get a good deal so they can offer you their best prices.

Once you’re equipped with the quotes, let the developers know your offer. Make it known to them even if you aren’t sure of its acceptance. Some developers refrain from beginning the negotiation till customers give an offer.

If the sales figures in the area have been heading south and there are large number of available and unsold properties, bring it to the developer’s notice. Selling at lower prices can work in his favor as it will save him the funding cost and procure cash for new projects.

  1. Money Talks

Developers are more responsive to those who can convince them that the cash to buy the property is ready and an upfront payment can be expected.

It makes sense to go for a pre-approved loan and show the related documents to the developer to prove that you’re serious about the deal, which will make him pro-negotiation.

Additionally, if you have excess funds to make a down payment, you can do so and negotiate for further price reductions.

  1. Using Arbitrators

If you feel you haven’t been able to do enough research, or are not sure about the trends in the property market and the projects in your preferred area, you can take the help of a real estate broker. A good broker can crack the deal for you, but his services will come at a cost, which makes it all the more important for him to add value to the buying process.

However, even when approaching developers through brokers, do make it a point to do your homework and price enquiries. This way you can be sure that the broker is working with your best interests in mind, instead of trying to earn a fat commission by quoting higher.

You can also look up a few property websites and check out the packages on offer by several builders, which may include a discount. However, more often than not, such packages do not offer room for further negotiation.

You could also consider combining forces with other prospective buyers as that will help you negotiate better.

  1. Offer a Realistic Price

Whichever method you choose to bring the seller to the table, do negotiate for a rational and realistic price. While they will be willing to negotiate with you, they will not reduce the prices below a certain point. In fact, they’re more likely to offer incentives such as free club memberships, or family trips, etc.

Most developers do not like to bargain, so be prepared to put forth all your points in a single offer and place the ball in their court. If they do not reduce the prices, let them know you will take some time to evaluate their offer and then decide.

Do not rush into the best deal offered to you. Wait for a week or two and don’t be surprised if you hear from developers keen on closing the deal at your price or a mutually agreed-upon lower price.


Buying real estate may be one of the biggest financial commitments you will make. It is, therefore, important for you to fortify your position and have the upper hand in the buying process. This can be done through negotiation. Having strong negotiation skills and using them tactfully can go a long way in helping you secure a property in a way that is more feasible for you, which will not only save you money upfront, but the consequent interest payments as well.

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