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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Why People Leave Cushy Corporate Jobs for the Unknown of a Startup?

Let’s face it, corporate jobs have a lot to offer. There’s job security, the promise of internal promotion and not to mention the robust benefits. And while many find that holding down a corporate job has it’s advantages, others opt to leave a cushy corporate for the uncertainty of the startup high.

Others may decide to leave their corporate jobs in order to join a startup. Those who do typically have many reasons for doing so but in general, many do so in pursuit of the same goals. Such goals may include the desire to fully utilize all of their talents completely, the opportunity to enter a new field and develop effective leadership skills, or the chance to potentially greatly increase their personal net worth.

A career shift of any kind can be the ideal way for any person to explore their previously underused talents. For instance, they can bring their expertise to the table and offer tips for SaaS companies and startups. Someone who truly loves to cook may want to join a startup that is centered around providing people with access to high quality meals.

A business person who likes to use technology such as a conference call may want to work with a new company that is built around providing their customers with access to such networks. The ideal fit between a startup and a person can truly help that person be happy both at work and during their leisure time. Many startups allow their employees and top executives more freedom to pursue goals in nontraditional ways than are often found in corporate culture. This kind of freedom can be highly appealing to those who may be tiring of corporate routines.

Another aspect of entering a startup at the ground floor that many potential employees find quite exciting is looking at an old field from a new angle. Someone at a standard corporation may feel constrained by pre-existing procedures or that workplace relationships have gone stale. They may also feel that they have hit a career plateau with their old company and may not be considered for important promotions anymore.

Joining a startup can help them shake off any preconceptions that others may have of their work as well help provide the employee with a new shot at promotion and new responsibilities that are suited for their talents, background and prior training. A fresh start can be highly appealing even when it means the employee may need to change jobs or relocate somewhere else.

Leaving a pleasant corporate job can also mean the chance to earn more money. Many companies may not offer the kind of compensation that an employee would prefer. While a startup poses certain risks that may not do well in the long run, those who have worked for a long time in the standard corporate world may have been able to build up a significant nest egg that enables them to easily weather any potential downturns in the new startups including potential layoffs. The new company may offer them significantly better compensation including a higher overall salary, a finer benefits package and the chance to earn even more money should the company eventually plan to go public.

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Growing Fast but Smart: 6 Hiring Tips for Small Business Owners

If you were the head of a large enterprise, hiring new staff would probably less of a headache. You would have staff who is well-versed in employment law, recruiting practices, researching candidates, and conducting interviews. These staff members would be able to quickly review all CV, conduct phone screens, and even first interviews. Your role would be to conduct final interviewers, or even to step out of the process entirely, leaving the final hiring decisions to department managers. Unfortunately, as a small business owner, these duties fall solely in your lap.

6 Hiring Tips for Small Business Owners

Things can be especially overwhelming if you are hiring your first employee, or first set of employees. Fortunately, there are a few tips that you can use when you first begin to navigate the hiring process. Hopefully this will make things a bit less daunting.

  1. Prepare a Set of Appropriate and Relevant Interview Questions

It may be tempting to keep things informal by conducting interviews as a casual, conversational, getting to know you session, but this is only asking for trouble. It’s too easy to miss key points if you do not have a list of questions that you plan to ask.

In addition to this, writing out your questions before hand gives you a chance to make sure that you are not asking anything that could get you into trouble. If an interview happens to go too far off topic, you can also use your list of questions to get both yourself and your interviewee back on track.

  1. Re-Read the CV of Any Client You Have Called Back for a Second or Third Interview

You may interview more than a dozen possible hires before you create your short list of callbacks. There’s no possible way to keep track of the relevant information about each of them.

Before you a carry out a second or third interview, take a few minutes to remind yourself of each person’s education, experience, and skills by reading over their resume one last time. You’ll be better prepared and you won’t risk embarrassing yourself by asking irrelevant questions.

  1. Follow Up with All Interviewees

As a matter of personal courtesy, be sure to follow up with everybody that you interviewed, even if it is to express your regrets. Even if they aren’t getting the job, the folks you interviewed will appreciate any feedback that you give them, and simply knowing that they can continue their job search.

If you develop a reputation as an employer who does not let interviewee know that they are no longer being considered, you will likely lose word of mouth references that can be so important when filling new positions.

  1. Value Your Gut Instincts

Hiring a new employee is more involved than simply matching skills, education, and experience with your requirements. You want to hire a person who fits into your little organization and is trustworthy and reliable. You want to work with somebody who is going to thrive in your work environment, get along with others, and demonstrate the passion and hard work that is required when working for a small business.

If you suspect that a potential employee won’t fit into your team, the best thing you can do for all involved is to move on to a candidate is a better fit.

  1. Use Networking in Addition to Posting Positions for Hire

Get word out to your online and offline contacts that you are hiring. You may be very surprised at how quickly candidates come your way via referrals from friends and business contacts. Don’t be afraid to mention that you have openings on social media pages either.

The more avenues you take when reaching out to new hires, the more likely you will be to fill any openings quickly. In fact, many younger job seekers will look for jobs via social media sites more often than they will traditional job sites.

  1. Be Clear and Detailed in Your Job Postings

If you have requirements about which you have no flexibility, make this clear when you write the post advertising your job. In addition to this, if you have specific instructions about how you wish to be contacted, or the format in which you would like to receive the job seekers’ CV, this should also be explicitly stated in the job posting.

Keep in mind that the more clear you are, the less likely you will have to spend time sifting through applicants of candidates who do not meet your requirements. Before you send your job posting off to be published, read it over and over from the perspective of a job seeker. Then, ask yourself if more clarity is in order. If you have a friend or acquaintance that is familiar with all of this, you might see if they will take a look at your job posting for you.

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Climate launchpad, secret seeds and the road to Amsterdam

Climate launchpad

I got the invitation to attend the Climate Launchpad bootcamp just as a work contract was finishing, the timing was perfect. I had toyed with the idea of working for myself for some time and this bootcamp and coaching seemed like something that would help me on my way. The bootcamp and mentoring sessions over 2 months leading up to the National Finals at the Climate Gathering were tough and interesting and really helped me formulate my concept.

National finals in Dublin

The eight businesses involved were so different but with a common goal in finding a climate friendly business solution that allows them to make a living. We were put through our paces weekly and presented at the National Finals on June 22nd. The eight presentations were very unique to each other and had come a long way from the initial bootcamp.

This was my pitch:

Climate Launchpad International finals in Amsterdam

I was really delighted to be selected in the top three and go forward to represent Ireland in the finals in Amsterdam. However this is where things got real, 28 countries, 84 contestants and all competing for 10 places on an accelerator programme and the top three will get cash prizes. The number of contestants is daunting but the variation in ideas is fascinating, with a common theme and ideal surrounding climate each team has developed very different concepts. I am a mix of nerves and excitement bringing Secret Seeds to the finals in Amsterdam.

Secret seeds

Secret Seeds are heart shaped seedbombs that are full of wildflower seeds. While they look small their impact is large. By using Secret Seeds instead of buying flowers you promote growing your own, you provide food for bees (who are vital for our own survival) and by choosing to buy Secret Seeds instead of cut flowers you reduce the transport emissions, virtual water and even human rights conditions associated with flower farms which are based in the developing world.

Change the world one seed at a time

I am looking forward to meeting the other contestants, hearing their pitch but I am more excited about presenting my business to the judges and showing them that Secret Seeds can change the world one seed at a time.



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Sun Life Enterprise & Innovation Awards

Sun Life Financial has worked alongside Waterford Institute of Technology to promote enterprise and innovation among Computing students and this was never more evident than at the fourth annual Sun Life Enterprise & Innovation Awards.

Two outstanding students picked up the annual awards. The Innovation Award for a project that demonstrated uniqueness went to Sophie Renshaw from Charleville, Co Cork for her project ‘Deploying Openstack on Small Scale Architecture’.

The Enterprise Award for a project that demonstrated commercial potential went to Samuel Haycock from Clonmel, Co Tipperary for his QRLang project, allowing for complete games to be coded into a QR code.

Competition for the two awards was fierce with 20 projects submitted from a pool of final year honours undergraduate projects. Ten finalists invited to showcase their projects at an exhibition at Sun Life’s newly refurbished office in Waterford.

Following the exhibition, David Healy, Senior Vice President Client and Technology Services, SLF, United States, presented Sophie and Samuel each with a prize of €1,000.

Commenting at the ceremony, David Healy said, “The level of innovation and application of technology I have seen here today is outstanding and it’s only through innovation and idea generation that the global economy will continue to grow. It is really important for Sun Life to maintain and develop our links w  ith colleges such as WIT. I would like to congratulate WIT for the quality of students and projects we have seen here today and reiterate our commitment to nurture this type of innovation at the Institute. I’m looking forward to being part of this event again next year.”

Professor Willie Donnelly, President of WIT and founder of the globally renowned ICT research centre TSSG congratulated Sun Life on its courageous decision to set up in Waterford 16 years ago which has had immeasurable benefits for the city and the wider south east.

Prof Donnelly went on to say that “the institute and Sun Life have forged a deep relationship founded on strong synergies and mutual goals. Our two organisations have collaborated on multiple levels over the years at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. The Masters in Communications developed collectively by WIT and Sun Life defines the industry-academic collaboration at the heart of what a technological university is about. At the centre of the programme is the concept of academic responsiveness building on the institute’s excellence in teaching and research to deliver regional economic impact.”

Karen Burns, General Manager Sun Life Waterford remarked on the standard and quality of the projects as ‘outstanding’.

Outside of these awards, Sun Life has a long standing relationship with the institute with 60% of the workforce having studied on undergraduate or postgraduate courses at some point in their career.

The successful finalists were: Samuel Haycock, Sophie Renshaw, Tony Finn, Stephen Long, Jamie Hegarty, David Ryan, Jamie Moore, Daniel Treyvaud, Eamonn Ryan and Seán Bray.

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5 Commercial Law Tips for Business Start-Ups


Starting up your own business can be a really exciting time, but it is fraught with legal landmines. As you go through the paperwork-heavy process of creating your own company, it’s best to stay on the right side of the law from day one. You will have enough on your plate with the early stumbling blocks of starting up your own business, so understanding what is required of you legally is a great way to lay down the initial foundations of a successful company.

Notify HMRC

The Tax Man needs to know what you’re doing. Be sure to register with HMRC, as soon as your business has formed. You can often do this online, and the process is simpler than you think (even if it is a tad on the daunting side). Ascertain what you need to apply for first, before you start. The government’s website has a wealth of information on setting-up your business, so this is the perfect place to get the ball rolling.

Don’t Go it Alone

Two heads are better than one, and so are two pocketbooks. Working as a partnership means that you can split any financial falls with your business counterpart, and you have someone to share the good times with too! You are far more likely to succeed with the help of a partner than going it alone. Just chose someone you like; there’s nothing worse than tearing a company apart because of personal feuds.

Also, there’s a surprising lack of paperwork surrounding partnerships, so that’s an added bonus.

Limited Company

If you want to ride this solo, setting yourself up as a limited company is advised. It offers you more protection, if anything goes wrong. On the flipside, registering as a limited company demands more from you, as the business owner. Therefore, if you want to learn more about setting up your own limited company, it’s best to talk to a commercial lawyer, such as this one  – their expertise and experience in dealing with these types of scenarios will allow you the freedom to work on the other integral aspects associated with your start-up.

Check Your Business Name

You don’t want to accidentally steal someone’s Intellectual Property. You could stumble into serious problems, if it’s seen that you have plagiarised someone else’s business mould. Be sure that you truly have a unique name by checking through the Trade Mark registry. It should flag up anyone with a similar concept as you. Tread carefully here.

Assess Your Funding Options

There are many ways you can receive funding in the UK for your business. Bank loans are unfortunately less viable these days, but the rise of crowdfunding could mean that you easily get off the ground, as long as you have a product that people desperately want. If you don’t, then I guess you have to ask yourself if your business will really make it in the market anyway.

Other than that, you could explore angel funding and government grants. Don’t leave any stone unturned, when it comes to finding extra money for your start-up business. It can mean the difference between success and failure. For further support and guidance in navigating through the funding maze, this handy guide cover great business funding advice tips.

Do you have any tips for starting-up a business and adhering to commercial law? Let us know!

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Calling all Innovators & Entrepreneurs, we need your help & your green VOTE !!

As with any Irish technology company, we all suffer unique challenges when growing business internationally. As a country we have a small population so we struggle when trying to make as much noise as our International competitors. Even places we assume are tiny states such as Haiti & Togo have twice and three times our population.

Hence we need your help…

One of our company’s, Surface Power HONE which has developed a revolutionary “daylight” powered Nano-heat engine technology is short-listed (final 18 was judged by experts) for the 2Degrees Champions Award –  “Innovation of the Year” which is the world’s leading collaboration platform and service for sustainable business with over 46,500 members from 177 countries.

Surface Power HONE has nearly 7,000 installations of this patented technology over 8 countries to date and it has been kept fairly secretive until recently. The technology was field tested in the West of Ireland & New Zealand as the daylight levels are some of the lowest in the OECD. In short, it replaces the use of oil and gas for heating and cooling with free daylight. Have a look at LIVE customers on our website such as the UK National Health Service running their hospital’s central heating on free “daylight” (sounds mad but true !!)

The next phase of the 2Degrees “Innovation of the Year Awards” is a voting stage which will reduce the final 18 to 5 for the big awards ceremony and we need your help and your vote. 

Although already in the short-list of 18, we are the only Irish Technology company in this shortlist and are up against huge players such as Nestle, General Motors & B&Q.

You can vote for us by clicking the link below to get us into the final 5 and we thank you in advance for that vote. Be sure to tweet it afterwards using the link so we can personally send you a thank you tweet. Go raibh maith agat as do chabhair.

Best Regards, John Quinn, CEO. (Twitter – @johnquinn_irl )

Read our story and VOTE from below.

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Start-up Story: SqueezeIT – The Home Straight

Read part 1, part 2 and part 3.

The next thing I needed, obviously, was my own website so more research, I eventually contacted Webbiz and met with them, they seemed to have their heads pretty much screwed on so I gave them the gig – I had written most of the text for the site anyway – and after much toing and froing they came up trumps and as a result they will be helping with some minor aspects of the mobile conversions which is great and this will add another dimension to the business.

I was also looking at ways to advertise for SqueezeIT and contacted Emergo and met with them too and they have also decided they want to actually partner with SqueezeIT which is absolutely fantastic as they are also based in Germany so that could be another possible market for the business going forward.

I am also in talks at the moment with a representative from Lyoness to provide the service to them by offering it to their client merchants both here in Ireland and overseas, especially in the USA and the UK.

Currently I am looking for a “home” for SqueezeIT and should have something sorted soon, fingers crossed!

So if anyone out there would like to avail of our service just visit and all the details are there and as an opening offer we are prepared to waive the 100 euros deposit for the 1st 5 businesses who sign up with us regardless of which of the three options you choose to use and we will feature your site on our site also from time to time to say thanks.

Written by Aidan Murray. As part of ‘Use SBC as a channel’ initiative, SqueezeIT has an exclusive offer for SBC members: “We will waive the 100 euro deposit for the first five companies that sign up for our service with us and will give a 50% discount for the next five businesses.”

For more information on this business visit Partner Site: | Email: |Phone: 087 261 7576.

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Start-up Story: SqueezeIT – My first Adventure

Read part 1 here.

Anyway, to make a long story even longer a friend of mine contacted me around then and told me about a place called the National Development Research Centre (NDRC) based in the Guinness brewery which at the time was looking for new businesses to apply for their start-up scheme which we did in relation to the app and some other ideas we wanted to pursue.

We were not successful and everyone subsequently went their separate ways and a few weeks later I got involved with a different strart-up with somenone else’s idea for a few months, unfortunately that didn’t work out either due to a lack of funding support but I did learn a lot from both projects which I have put to good use since then.

Written by Aidan Murray. As part of ‘Use SBC as a channel’ initiative, SqueezeIT has an exclusive offer for SBC members: “We will waive the 100 euro deposit for the first five companies that sign up for our service with us and will give a 50% discount for the next five businesses.”

For more information on this business visit Partner Site: | Email: |Phone: 087 261 7576.



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Start-up Story: SqueezeIT

It all began about eighteen months ago when in an idle moment I was doodling on the web as one does when I found something which greatly piqued my interest. I was looking at work-at-home stuff which wasn’t going to screw me for money at the time when – don’t ask me how – I found a company based in California which provided software that could turn static websites into mobile ones for smartphones. For obvious reasons I can’t name the company but let’s call it Thebeesknees for now.

Anyhow I signed up – for free – with Thebeesknees as I could experiment with the software on the site and played around with it and it was just amazing!! I could edit, copy and paste, insert extra items, add or delete pictures, add video and produce mock-ups too without compromising the integrity or content of the original static site in any way.

Another thing I was trying to do at the time was to develop an app based on the old board game of Fox and Geese with a couple of friends of mine which side-tracked me for a time.

To be continued…

Written by Aidan Murray. As part of ‘Use SBC as a channel’ initiative, SqueezeIT has an exclusive offer for SBC members: “We will waive the 100 euro deposit for the first five companies that sign up for our service with us and will give a 50% discount for the next five businesses.”

For more information on this business visit Partner Site: | Email: |Phone: 087 261 7576.



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