Learn from AgriKids CEO, Alma Jordan on how to refine your Agri CSF application
Alma Jordan is the founder and CEO of AgriKids, a farm safety educational platform for children. Launched in 2015, AgriKids is now engaged as an Enterprise Ireland HPSU Start client and is focussed on expanding its revenue channels with a new gaming app and e-commerce website www.agrikids.ie.
Describe your business
Like many start-ups, AgriKids was founded as a solution to the existing problem of farmyard safety particularly for children. The ‘eureka’ moment came in 2014, in the aftermath of Ireland’s worst year on record for farmyard fatalities. As a farmer’s wife and mother I was concerned that my family would become a safety statistic and wanted to devise a concept that would kick-start dialogue in home and classrooms.
AgriKids was founded on the ethos that we engage, educate and empower children to be our farm safety ambassadors. I am doing this through a series of story books I have written, a range of clothing accessories, events an interactive website and gaming app which is currently in development.
AgriKids is broadening the area of farm safety awareness to a wider audience whom are acutely affected in the aftermath of an accident – wives, children, families and rural communities. I believe AgriKids to have the brand potential to be synonymous with child safety, a brand sought after by children and trusted by parents.
What challenges did you face in the first year of business?
The main challenge all new businesses face is financing. Make yourself known to all bodies dealing with start-up financing and assistance, such as your LEO and Enterprise Ireland. There are many options available so make sure you talk to the right people to help you with your requirements.
Why did you apply for the CSF?
After successfully getting a place on phase 2 of the New Frontiers programme I recognised the greater commerciality and global potential of AgriKids. I needed financial support but I also needed mentoring support and guidance, both of which were on offer with the Competitive Start-up Fund.
The application process itself was hugely valuable as I was challenged to answer tough questions relating to the business milestones, financial goals and business model. Valuable questions which you will continue to ask yourself well after your days as a start-up.
How did getting CSF grow your business?
For me getting the CSF was instant validation for my business idea and of course gave me the confidence to take it to the next step. Being able to use the words ‘CSF recipient’ doors (and ears) began to open more readily.
What had been a ‘wish list’ of ideas is now turning into a reality for us. We are now developing more resources and products that will ensure the ongoing commercial growth and recognition of the AgriKids’ brand as a key player in child safety, education and entertainment.
What advice would you give somebody considering applying?
As you sit down to complete the form there are some key pieces of information you will need. Be ready to outline what your business is and its history to date, what are your achievements and what is your company vision.
You will need to be able to talk about what it is that makes your concept so innovative and how your product is different to your competitors in addition to operational details and any IP you may have.
Consider your milestones, technical and commercial:
- How do you plan to scale and grow revenues?
- Are there spin-off products you are developing or additional channels you plan to capture?
- What are your timeframes in respect of these milestones? Are they achievable?
One question I was always asked was ‘how long did it take to complete the form’. Honestly I had assigned an afternoon to complete the application. The reality, was three days and I am not a slow typist!
Any more advice on applying for CSF?
As you get into the questions you realise that you need to be accountable, confident and consistent. If you plan on hitting €1m in sales come year 3 you need a definite plan as to how you are going to achieve that. Which means digging in to your target market and being realistic as to how you plan to acquire them and how much you plan to charge them:
- Does your TAM, your marketing plan and your pricing structure add up to €1m?
- Do your recorded technical and commercial milestones align with your sales goals?
- Are your forecasts realistic?
In many ways your CSF application is like one big jigsaw where all the pieces must fit together to deliver your business picture.
Your pitch and tone should exude confidence. Keep away from ‘I hope’ and ‘I plan to’. Use phrases you can be accountable for. Phrases like ‘innovative, ‘from research’ and ‘we will achieve’ are all very compelling, as long as you can back them up.
My final piece of advice for the application and the pitch is to get advice, especially from someone who has been through the process. The cost of a 20 minute phone call or a cup of coffee could return a €50,000 cash boost for your business idea.
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