Seventy per cent of entrepreneurs and investors polled at the IntertradeIreland Venture Capital Conference say access to finance has improved in the last five years, although investor readiness remains a significant challenge.
That was the feedback at yesterday’s annual IntertradeIreland Venture Capital Conference held in Croke Park, Dublin, attended by over 400 entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, business angels and investors.
When asked about the main barriers to raising investment support as a start-up, 46 per cent said investor readiness was a key challenge, while 38 per cent cited a lack of access to suitable investors or funds as a hurdle.
Looking at the key attributes of raising finance or investing in a start-up, investors said an understanding of the process (26 per cent) and confidence (25 per cent) were most important. Over a fifth also pointed to technical capacity as a significant quality when considering backing a venture.
Speaking from the event, now in its eighteenth year, Margaret Hearty, Director of Programmes & Business Services at InterTradeIreland said: “Venture capital continues to be an increasingly popular route for businesses wanting to grow, with latest figures from the Irish Venture Capital Association (IVCA) reporting a strong rebound in the final quarter of last year, achieving its highest quarterly total of nearly €20 million. The number of options for funding is expanding year-on-year, so it’s vital that companies have the right information to help them access these funds and are investor ready.”
Chaired by broadcaster and journalist Mark Simpson, guests heard from a diverse line up of experienced VC experts including Investment Manager Deirdre Terrins from Crescent Capital who highlighted cyber security, digital creatives and big data as emerging venture capital areas. She said; “As cyber threats continue to grow, there is a need for big data and data privacy to be intrinsically linked to a company’s security policy. This is a growing area of expertise in Ireland and we see it representing a huge opportunity for budding entrepreneurs, with interest from investors.”
Steve Collins, a Partner at Frontline Ventures, outlined the practicalities of what investors look for, from pre-seed to IPO stage. Emphasising the importance of building contacts, he advised that in his experience, networking recommendations is the best way to secure funding as there is established trust and expectation. He said: “In my experience, only 1 per cent of deals secure funding out of an average of 1,000 pitches, and none of these come from a cold pitch. Establishing and growing a trusted network is vital.”
Also speaking at the event, Dr Vincent Power, a Partner at A&L Goodbody provided the audience with his unique take on learnings from Brexit. He urged the venture capitalist community to invest in their negotiation skills saying: “In the VC community, your whole day is based around negotiation. Use lessons from Brexit to influence your own strategy – don’t assume the outcome, remain consistent and remember, all your actions are being watched.”
InterTradeIreland offers SMEs a number of equity support services including masterclasses in pitching, business planning workshops, regional equity advisory clinics and the All-island Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition.
Speaking about the range of support available, InterTradeIreland’s Margaret Hearty added: “There is significant venture capital and early stage funding available for those with the right project and the drive and determination to succeed. The landscape continues to evolve since InterTradeIreland was set up 20 years ago. Angel investing continues to grow and the recent launch of the all-island Halo Business Angel Network is only going to expand this further.”
This year’s InterTradeIreland Venture Capital Conference was supported by Crescent Capital, BDO and Eugene F Collins.