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DSO News: April, 2015 Archive

How to pitch your start-up properly to venture capitalists

Monday, April 27th, 2015

So you’ve developed your business idea to the point that it needs money. Kernel Capital’s Orla Rimmington on what VCs are seeking from you

An important skill for any entrepreneur is the ability to pitch the product, service or idea they intend to sell.

For companies seeking growth capital, well-delivered pitches to Venture Capital investors like Kernel Capital can be crucial to their success in securing the investment they need.

At Kernel Capital, we meet a constant stream of founders with new ideas and, on average, see around 300 pitches annually and make 30 plus investments a year. Personally, I see about five pitches every week and the quality of these pitches can vary considerably.

First-time entrepreneurs are typically not well-versed at pitching their ideas to VC investors and are often so close to their ventures that they struggle to see them objectively, through the eyes of potential investors.

My advice to entrepreneurs is to firstly put themselves in the investors’ position and address the questions investors will be seeking answers to.

We don’t expect founders to have all the answers, but it is important to have an appreciation of the questions.

To begin, entrepreneurs should articulate the problem they are addressing and their specific value proposition clearly, showing evidence of domain expertise.

In today’s highly competitive business environment, it’s important to focus on key areas such as product differentiation and defensibility in the market, competitive advantage and to show how and why your offering can beat the competition.

Another basic piece of advice is that entrepreneurs should always speak in a language that investors will understand and resist the temptation to overload them with data.

At Kernel Capital, first and foremost, we invest in people and aim to partner with entrepreneurs who demonstrate exceptional vision, ambition and ability.

During their pitch, founders should strive to tell the story of their company and bring across their passion and vision for the business. Ideally a pitch should include a demo of the actual product or service.

Pitches should also provide a clear description of the business model and establish the exact point in the supply chain that the product or service fits. For example, is it appropriate that those who may use the product or service will buy from a start-up – and, if they will, what is the route to get to market successfully?

Entrepreneurs need to know their business plans inside-out. They must be clear on how much funding they require to get them to the next stage of value creating milestones.

Being transparent with investors is also key, as VC investors appreciate honesty from the outset. We have first-hand experience of the challenges and opportunities early-stage companies face. Presenting your business strengths is expected, but pointing out weaknesses and problems and then presenting your planned solutions adds credibility.

It is also important for entrepreneurs to target investors with a strong track record and ensure that their funding needs are in line with the investors’ respective strategies.

Founders need to be clear about the value, beyond the growth capital, that their prospective investor will add to their business.

At Kernel Capital we are focused on investing in innovative technology start-ups with a particular focus on information and communications technology (ICT) and engineering. Within these sectors we invest primarily in intellectual property (IP) and ‘know how’-driven knowledge based companies, where the company promoters can demonstrate to us their deep understanding of the problem/market opportunity and how they will sell in to the market.

We are most attracted to strong teams pursuing large market opportunities with a proven product-market fit. Even at an early stage, nothing speaks louder than traction in the marketplace and evidence that the company is sales focused.

There is no one single correct way to pitch to a VC. All entrepreneurs have unique skills and talents to offer – and some verbalise well, while others write well or have particular strengths with numbers. VCs appreciate that it takes different kinds of minds and a healthy mix of strengths and talents to make a world-class team.

With this in mind, my best advice to any entrepreneur seeking investment is to be honest and be yourself – but do not to forget to fine tune and practice your pitch.

Orla Rimmington is a partner at Kernel Capital. www.kernel-capital.com

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Free small food business start-up seminar for Athlone

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is holding a free ‘Small Food Business Start-Up’ seminar in Athlone to assist those working in small food businesses and those thinking of setting up a food business.
The free, half day event brings together a range of experts to explore the requirements needed for businesses to get off the ground and to comply with all the relevant food safety legislation.
The event takes place from 8am to 1pm on Tuesday, April 21, at the Hodson Bay Hotel, Roscommon Road, Athlone. Booking is advised and further information is available at www.fsai.ie/events.
Experts on the day will include representatives from the FSAI, the Health Service Executive and Teagasc. They will provide assistance and advice on everything from running a small food business, registering a new food business, food product development, food safety training requirements, setting up a food safety management system, labelling regulations, traceability, the food recall process, inspections and the information resources available from the FSAI.
Case studies on how to run a small food business and develop a new food product will be presented by two local companies: Karen Gordon of Roscommon Chocolate Company and Richard Siberry of Black Donkey Brewing.
There will also be a number of Q&A sessions throughout the morning and experts will be available after the event for further discussion. The Health and Safety Authority will be present to answer queries in relation to the health and safety requirements in a food business. Microfinance Ireland and the Westmeath and Roscommon Local Enterprise Offices will also be present to offer advice and guidance. All About Jobs will be there to discuss the Government’s work in job creation and tackling unemployment.

Are you are looking for a serviced or virtual office in Dublin City Center or Dun Laoghaire, call us at Dublin Serviced Offices on 01 2020212

UCC to host Student Startup Weekend

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

The event will see participants pitch their start-up ideas and receive feedback from peers

Students are expected to converge on UCC this weekend for Student Startup Weekend. The event will see participants pitch their start-up ideas and receive feedback from peers. Teams of students will focus on the top ideas during a frenzy of model creation, coding, designing and market validation.

Organiser David Harwicke of UCC Entrepreneurial and Social Society said participants would delve into the challenges associated with being a young entrepreneur.

“Whether these young entrepreneurs who join us found companies, find a cofounder, meet someone new or learn a skill, we can guarantee they will leave better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of start-ups.”

Are you are looking for a serviced or virtual office in Dublin City Center or Dun Laoghaire, call us at Dublin Serviced Offices on 01 2020212