Fiona Edwards Murphy, CEO & Co-Founder, ApisProtect
ApisProtect is rolling out its technology to 200 beehives across the world in 2018. Winning the Competitive Start Fund (CSF) for Female Entrepreneurs helped make that happen says CEO & Co-Founder Fiona Edwards Murphy.
ApisProtect specialises in agricultural applications of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, focusing on beekeeping. ApisProtect uses in-hive sensors to unobtrusively monitor honey bee colonies, and then provides the beekeeper with in-depth information about the health and condition of their colonies, using machine learning and big data technologies.
These insights help circumvent the honey bee health problems which have made the lives of beekeepers supplying the global €3 billion honey market and €1 billion crop pollination market increasingly difficult. It is now commonplace for beekeepers in many countries to have up to 50% of their honey bees die every year.
Pursuing one goal
What drew me to entrepreneurship was the opportunity to put all of my energy into solving a specific problem that’s important to me personally. I get to do so many different things every day, and travel all over the world, but always in the pursuit of one specific goal which I have selected.
Ramping up business skills
One of the most challenging steps for me was adapting to all of the different skillsets needed to start a business. As the founder of a business you need to be able to juggle so many balls - accounting, marketing, engineering, and about a million others. As a recent graduate I had plenty of technical knowledge but no real idea about the other aspects of running a business. Luckily, here in Ireland we have so many supports, so through the IGNITE programme at UCC, and the Dublin BIC Innovate Programme which we were placed on as part of our CSF award, I was able to ramp up all of my business skills as quickly as possible.
Accessing market information
We applied for the CSF because we had identified a key technical milestone we needed to hit in order to demonstrate the value of our business for early stage investment. We identified the CSF as an excellent opportunity to not just finance the work needed to hit this goal, but also to access other supports through Enterprise Ireland such as business model development, access to market research reports, and introductions to important international markets.
The CSF programme provided us with financial and mentoring support which aided us in hitting key milestones around product development and customer validation. Following our foundation in February 2017 this early boost really helped us to grow our business as quickly as possible.
As part of the CSF process we were also offered a place in the Dublin BIC “Innovate” programme. This 12 week incubator focused on helping us get ready for further investment. We had weekly sessions on various aspects of the business model which helped us to develop a robust business plan to bring to investors. The Innovate programme also helped us to establish our network in the Dublin start-up community, which was a great addition to our existing network in Cork, where we are based.
We also had the opportunity to connect with the other start-ups which were awarded the Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs. This was an excellent group of female founders with different life experiences, and a variety of technical and non-technical skillsets. Working throughout the Innovate programme with this diverse group was an excellent learning opportunity for us and we often found ourselves learning as much from each other as from the invited speakers.
Advice on making a CSF application
It's really important to have a clear idea of how CSF support can help you achieve a specific goal in your business. Effectively conveying how you intend to achieve this goal during the application process is absolutely key. On top of this, you need to understand not just how achieving this goal is important for your business right now, but also how it will enable you to “level up” your business in the long term, such as to grow faster, enter a new market, bring on new staff, or engage new investment.
Next steps for ApisProtect
We’re rolling out our technology to 200 beehives internationally in 2018. This will give us the bee database and market insights we need to begin product sales in 2019. We’re very excited to collect data from beehives all over the world this year.
Interested in applying for the Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs? Apply here