Finn Murphy, CEO of iDly Systems won the Graduate Entrepreneurship Competitive Start Fund (CSF) and is hitting business deadlines in a short time frame. This is his advice to those graduating this year and recent graduates on applying for the CSF:
1st March, 2017
My business iDly Systems was inspired by the successful deployment of the Trinity Digital Student ID when I was in final year in college. We provide Software as a Service for organisations that need to issue verifiable digital credentials onto mobile devices. Our service package allows any authenticated organisation to create an account and begin issuing custom credentials (IDs) to their customers or members.
During my time in college I’d always been looking for projects to work on. I knew that if I didn’t find something while I was in college, I’d likely go work for a corporate for a few years and might lose the creativity and unique perspective that you get from being in a learning environment like college for so long. So the CSF was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
The uncertainty of being a start-up
Initially we faced all the major issues you expect with a technology start up. Finding talented people to start a company with is particularly difficult as they will always have fantastic offers elsewhere. But it’s easy to understand why people take the security of a salary over the uncertainty of a start-up. Then getting customers to sign up to an unproven service being run by people straight out of college was almost impossible.
We were lucky to be supported by the Trinity LaunchPad and Launchbox programs but we knew that to attract top talent and to have credibility in customer meetings, we needed someone from totally outside the campus world to back us. So we looked straight to the CSF with the goal of having Enterprise Ireland provide these missing pieces of the puzzle and much needed funds.
We are in the most recent cohort to receive the Graduate Entrepreneurship CSF, but in the short time since we got the cheque, we’re putting it to good use. We’ve been able to hire two additional developers, buy much needed testing devices and are on track for our product launch in April. Without the CSF there’s just no way we could have hit these deadlines and making deadlines is essential when you’re building your credibility as a young entrepreneur.
If you’re thinking of applying for the CSF, the one think I cannot stress enough is to be ambitious. If you’re young you have to emphasize your strengths and not get bogged down in your weaknesses. Talk about your unique perspective on the problem and while you need to think big for the future, don’t forget to talk in detail about what you’ve done so far to set the foundations.
Also - apply early and apply often. The worst that can happen is you don’t get it and you come back in the next round with an even better chance (the applications are the same each round but watch out for any rule changes).
Our job now is to deliver on the ambition we laid out in our CSF application. Luckily we’ve got all the supports offered by Enterprise Ireland to help us get there. Our sights are set on finishing our product, growing the company, moving onto the next step of High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) support and hopefully in the not so distant future, taking over the world (of identity!). Without CSF none of that would be possible.