Enda Larkin, Founder and Managing Director of Dobiquity, was living in Switzerland but felt that Ireland was the right place for his start-up. Dobiquity is a unique software service that helps global hospitality operators to improve quality, increase efficiency and reduce costs by digitising inefficient work processes.
27th February, 2017
Enda’s advice on applying for the International Entrepreneurship Competitive Start Fund (CSF) includes being very clear as to why Ireland is the right location for your start-up:
My own boss
Prior to establishing Dobiquity I ran my own hospitality consulting business for many years, so I have always felt the need to be my own boss. This venture was just an expansion of that goal.
A new departure
There were many challenges faced in the first year, similar to most start-ups. To begin with, although I’ve had long experience in the hospitality industry, moving into the SaaS space was an entirely new departure for me - so getting to grips with that transition was a big challenge.
The next major hurdle was financial - simply getting the funds together to initially develop the platform and create the first products was extremely hard; surviving month to month was a challenge.
Added to that was the fact that, when we did have initial products ready to sell, securing the first paying clients was difficult as you’re really asking early users to take a leap of faith with you.
The support options
As an Irish person living in Switzerland and knowing a fair bit about the start-up scene in both countries, I always knew that Ireland was the right place to set up the business, even if that meant major personal sacrifices for me in the short-term. Ireland is just more start-up friendly.
Once I’d decided on the location for the business, I naturally explored the support options and felt the International Entrepreneurship CSF was an ideal program for Dobiquity so I decided to make the initial application.
CSF gave validation
Getting approved for the CSF was an important milestone for Dobiquity. Not only did the finance help us launch further products, and take on our first employee, the validation that achieving the CSF gave the venture was huge.
This was the first time that Dobiquity had been independently assessed for funding, so getting through the application process was a real boost of confidence that we were on to something with the business. It also sent out a message to potential clients that were we worth a look.
Advice on applying for the International Entrepreneurship CSF
Don’t chase funding: in other words, be very clear as to why Ireland is the right location to start your venture and then apply for the CSF to help you make that a reality. Not the other way around.
In any start-up scenario, when you’re planning ahead and budgeting, you should halve your revenues, double your costs, and triple the length of time you think it’s going to take before you really start to scale.
After the CSF
After our successful application for the CSF, we began pitching to investors and have now thankfully secured private sector funding that will be matched by Enterprise Ireland under the HPSU. This means we are fully funded for at least the next 18-24 months which allows us to really concentrate on scaling the business.