Posts Tagged ‘Eamon Curtin’

Looking for Money? – Ask for Advice

February 13, 2014

searching for money - UCC IGNITE Programme

Among the very many words of wisdom shared with IGNITE in recent months was the idea that if you want money, you should ask for advice. I can’t quite remember who said this* but whoever it was added an important rider: if you want advice, you should ask for money.

With a number of the IGNITE businesses actively seeking finance, with some success I should say, it’s been interesting to see just how true this has turned out to be!

If you want money, you should ask for advice.

I guess it makes sense when you think about it. If you speak with a prospective investor, explain that you are starting a business, make it clear that you value their advice and ask for a chance to meet, it sets the scene for ongoing dialogue.

Asking for advice shows that you value the opinion of others. Asking for an opportunity to meet again suggests that you are prepared to act on advice. Together they provide the basis for a relationship to develop. Then, if the idea is compelling enough, the offer of advice may turn into an offer of investment. So you end up with money having started out looking for advice.

If you want advice, you should ask for money.

On the other hand, while there are two possible answers if you ask for money – either a qualified YES or a certain NO – it is far more likely that the prospective investor offers advice. After making the pitch, how many times have you heard: “That’s very interesting but what I would do if I was you is ….” or “the really interesting opportunity for you is ….”! Leaving you with what might turn out to be great advice when you really needed money.

(* Among the entrepreneurs that have spoken with IGNITE are Fred Karlsson – Founder Donedeal, DC Cahalane – CMO Trustev, Frank Hannigan – Chair Razor Communications amongst other roles, Jim Breen – CEO/Founder PulseLearning, Johnny Walker – Founder Global Diagnostics and Healthfounders, Pat Lynch – Founder Microtech Cleanroom Services, Anne O’Leary – Founder CADCO, Declan Fox – Founder Comnitel, William Fitzgerald – CEO Inhance Technology, Fergus Hurley – Founder Focal Labs,  Owen Loughrey – Founder mystoreanaltics, Natasha Lynch – Founder Essential French, Raomal Perera – Founder Network365 and ISOCOR).

Eamon Curtin

Eamon Curtin is the programme director of the the IGNITE Programme, which is an incubation initiative at University College Cork to aid graduates with start up businesses, products and ideas.

The UCC IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme is funded by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Cork County & City Enterprise Boards and Bank of Ireland.

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Why Awards and Competitions are Good for Business

February 3, 2014

Cate Blanchett - Awards

People often ask me if there is any point in going forward for Business Awards and Competitions. My answer is usually a resounding YES, but the entry requirement for the Award must be relevant to the needs of your business or it’ll be a complete waste of your time.

While the most obvious benefit is that you might win a cash prize, and more than one business was jump started with a €5,000 or €10,000 prize, the real benefits can often be a little less obvious, and you don’t have to win to take advantage.

One big benefit of entering a competition is that it can help raise the profile of your business through the PR that surrounds the competition. The bigger the competition, the further you advance, the greater the press coverage. But this is only of use if your business can take advantage of the exposure. Do you have a product to sell? Or are you trying to raise investment? Businesses that attract public attention before they are ready often find that they have to work much harder to get that attention back when they are actually ready.

Your start-up can gain significant credibility as a result of winning or being placed in a competition. But it must be an established competition. The more established the competition, the better the reputation, the greater the credibility.

Awards events and competitions are also excellent opportunities to make great contacts.

Just think how hard it is to get in front of just one leading investor or entrepreneur. Imagine how difficult it is to get in front of four or five!  Getting short-listed for a competition gets you the opportunity to pitch to the judges, usually a panel of industry leaders, with a lot less effort. But it must be the right panel.

Many business owners use competition deadlines as artificial milestones to help focus attention and effort. There is nothing like a looming application deadline to get the first draft of the business plan over the line, with or without a little midnight oil.

And finally, there is no better way to crystallise your business proposition, to fine tune your pitch or to hone your presentation skills than the practice, practice, practice that comes with preparing for an award or competition.

There are many awards and competitions open to early stage and start-up businesses. Those well worth taking a look at include:

And more than one business has made up it’s own Award and subsequently gone on to win! Not that I’m recommending this approach.

Eamon Curtin

Eamon Curtin is Director of the the IGNITE Programme, an incubation initiative at University College Cork designed to support graduates turn innovative product and service ideas into sustainable businesses.

The UCC IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme is funded by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Cork County & City Enterprise Boards and Bank of Ireland.