Ann Marie McSorley, Founder & CEO, Veri
The Competitive Start Fund was a turning point for Veri, culminating in the closing of a funding round in August 2017. Here, Founder and CEO, Ann Marie McSorley explains why, and how, she applied.
Veri is an inexpensive, fast and secure tool to digitise paperwork that is required by legislation for delivering skills based training, using a mobile app and platform for data analytics.
Across Construction Sites, Hospitals, Hairdressers and every business who has to comply with training record keeping and GDPR there are rooms of paper records or spreadsheets that are expensive to generate, manage and useless to evaluate effectiveness in real time. I hate paper work. And as a training professional saw a huge amount of time and money been wasted on completing a paper trail that was not transparent or measurable in real-time.
Taking the plunge to set up a software company at 46 was a testimony to how big the problem was and how much I believed that I had the industry insight to fix the problem.
Start-up challenges – Communications and Realism
The challenges we faced in our first year were around communication; to crystallise the message of the value our platform brings, and to stay afloat financially while striving to improve our solution for clients. The learning was that the easiest people to explain your product to is potential clients. It is more beneficial to get out and sell as soon as possible rather than trying to convince funders or people outside your industry. They will support you once there is traction. We participated in some incredible Business Accelerator Programmes: New Frontiers was great for ideation and peer support. Ryan Academy’s female high Fliers helped us with our value proposition. Cork BIC Entrepreneur experience was the most honest exercise for a start-up and everyone should work with mentors who give that invaluable reality check.
We found Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund was hugely important to us in both these areas. The finance was important to enable us to not only validate our company to clients, but to impress clients with our vision.
The turning point
The Competitive Start Fund really was a turning point for us. We had applied on two previous occasions but were not ready. When we were successful, the funding created momentum for our company, that culminated in closing a funding round in August 2017.
In the last quarter of 2017 we closed a deal with the National Learning Network to support their quality training delivery and the transparency of their programme outcomes in their contracted training in Education and Training Boards. We also won the Google Adopt A Atart Programme.
I applied, was refused, listened to feedback and applied again
My advice is to apply even if you feel you are not ready to iterate your application with the feedback you receive. Also, apply as we did to a number of different programmes: we ended winning the Female Founder category. Don’t give up. You may need to alter and adjust the application based on the feedback, but the feedback is a great tool for other elements of your business such as pitching and sales.
Where are we now?
A full-time staffing complement of six, Veri now works with national training organisations like the Irish Red Cross as well as small community training groups and helps clients take the pain and paper out of training records”.
Interested in applying for the Competitive Start Fund – All Sectors? Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply here