The InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition is now open for applications and we are calling new start and early-stage firms from all sectors across the island to enter. As the biggest business competition on the island, Seedcorn offers a substantial total cash prize fund of €280,000 and aims to transform equity raising businesses into first class investor-ready companies.
Why enter the Seedcorn competition?
As well as the significant cash prize fund, with no equity stake taken in return, the competition helps firms to develop their business idea. This is through a number of initiatives including business planning workshops, the provision of detailed feedback on business plans and a series of investment pitch masterclasses. Firms are also invited to join the extensive Seedcorn network which helps to boost companies’ profiles and can be an extremely valuable way of making contact with potential investors. In fact, previous finalists in the competition have gone on to secure €179m worth of new equity. With European studies confirming that equity backed companies grow at six times the rate of non-backed companies; this can only be good for the local economy.
The Seedcorn process
Last year we consulted with the investment community and restructured the competition as a result to make entry simpler and to ensure it mirrored the real investment process even more closely. The competition process is broken into various stages:
Stage 1: Involves a short online questionnaire along with submission of a visual representation of your business idea. This can take the format of a short video clip, a presentation slide deck or both. Companies can enter one of two categories – new start or early-stage and there are four regions – Northern Ireland, Dublin (City & County), Munster, and Connacht & Leinster (including counties Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan).
Stage 2: Those shortlisted to go through to the next stage of the competition will be invited to submit their full business plan for evaluation and detailed feedback.
Stage 3: The top three ‘New Start’ and the top three ‘Early Stage’ business plans in each of the four regions will be selected to present at their regional final. All 24 regional finalists will be invited to avail of a day-long, intensive investment pitch master class to refine, hone and perfect their presentation skills. Two companies (one from each category) from each region will be selected to go forward to the all-island final.
Stage 4: The eight selected firms (four New Start companies and four Early Stage companies) will be invited to pitch to a separate panel of judges at the all-island final which will take place in Belfast on Wednesday 26 November 2014.
The judging panel for the finals comprises of venture capitalists, business angels and some of the island’s leading industry experts. The judges are looking for the same elements as a potential investor including high growth projections, the optimum risk/reward profile, a strong management team and the ability to exit.
Upcoming Seedcorn Support Workshops
Over the coming weeks, InterTradeIreland will host a series of free workshops designed to guide those considering entering this year’s competition, including providing advice on preparation of video clips, presentation slide decks and business plans. More information on the workshops can be found on the InterTradeIreland website.
Who can apply and how?
This year’s competition is open to independent ventures incorporated in Northern Ireland or Ireland, in the seed, start-up or early-stage of business development and ideally targeting international markets. Companies can find out more information on the application process by visiting www.intertradeireland.com/seedcorn.
You can also follow the competition on Twitter @ITI_Seedcorn or join the Seedcorn Network on LinkedIn where businesses can get valuable information and advice from experts.
The deadline for entries is 30 May 2014.