NDRC takes regional ‘hub and spoke’ approach to new start-up supports
The NDRC today launched three nationwide supports to help early stage founders take the first steps to building globally scalable and innovative tech start-ups.
The new Office Hours, Founder Weekend and Pre-Accelerator will give founders from across Ireland access to a network of globally renowned entrepreneurs, investors and mentors for feedback on their idea, advice on resources that can accelerate the growth of their start-up, and a structured programme to prepare to pitch for investment or to apply to the NDRC Accelerator. The early stage supports do not take equity in the companies, and are free for accepted teams.
The supports will be delivered across Ireland by Dogpatch Labs Dublin, Portershed Galway, RDI Hub Kerry, and Republic of Work Cork, with each regional hub acting as a centre of excellence with a dedicated team to deliver programmes locally.
These supports will be overseen nationally by Suzanne Mills who has joined the NDRC as pre-accelerator director. Mills worked in investment bank Morgan Stanley for seven years and subsequently founded two start-ups. She has international experience in the Seattle start-up ecosystem and most recently served as director at Startup Boost delivering programmes in Ireland.
The Pre-Accelerator helps entrepreneurs validate their startup idea with customers, structure it to get investment, and prepare to get accepted onto the NDRC Accelerator. Over the course of six days across six weeks, early-stage startups take part in workshops delivered by successful founders, receiving one-to-one feedback from entrepreneurs and stress testing their pitch with real investors in mock boardroom meetings. The Pre-Accelerator ends in a virtual Demo Day pitch, broadcast live to investors, VIP entrepreneurs and potential customers.
“In the long run, we hope this strategy can help activate more entrepreneurs by giving a clear roadmap of supports,” said Mills. “Fear of failure is one of the biggest deterrents for potential founders in Ireland. People forget that most entrepreneurial skills are learnable and coachable and that’s what these programmes are for – we’re here to support you as you take that plunge.”
Also launched today, Office Hours helps entrepreneurs take their first step through one-to-one 25-minute slots with experienced NDRC Programme Managers and leaders based in each regional hub. Selected founders receive feedback on their idea and advice on how to navigate different funding and supports available within the ecosystem. Additionally, entrepreneurs in every county will also be able to access an extended 1000+ mentor network from companies such as Google, Stripe, Facebook, Unilever, Enterprise Ireland and many others.
Finally, Founder Weekend is a chance for aspiring entrepreneurs to immerse themselves in the Irish start-up community, develop their idea with expert mentors, or find that co-founder to spark a new idea with. Over a two-day sprint 50 attendees will learn firsthand what it takes to move an idea from concept to creation, and how to validate their problem, market and customer. They’ll take part in feedback rounds with mentors and investors, and Q&A sessions with inspiring guest speakers, before pitching to a panel of judges.
Office Hours will run weekly from 10am-12pm from Friday 19 February. Applications can be submitted at ndrc.ie/office-hours.
The Founder Weekend runs every quarter throughout the country starting on 13-14 March. Applications are accepted until 7 March at ndrc.ie/founder-weekend.
NDRC Pre-Accelerator runs from 29 March to 7 May. To apply before 7 March visit ndrc.ie/pre-accelerator.
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