Lucy Friedman, SwitchMetrics
Lucy Friedman, Founder of SwitchMetrics, received funding from the Competitive Start Fund (CSF) in March of this year. She’s hoping to move through a successful customer trial to launch before the end of the year – this is her CSF experience:
The right idea
I think I have always wanted to start my own company. For a long time I didn't have the 'right idea'. And then for a long time the customer adoption of cloud analytics was not sufficiently mature.
SwitchMetrics provides operational insights on the people that call small and medium businesses. Think of it as google analytics for telephone calls. Our dashboards will enable small and medium businesses to grow their own business revenue streams.
Challenges in the first year
Working out what our first steps should be and how we could develop a core product with minimal finance was a challenge in the first year. Also deciding how we wanted to grow the company from a financial and cultural perspective took quite a bit of thinking through. So we spoke and listened to successful company founders and the approaches and routes that they took - including those they wished they hadn't.
Funding and relevant mentors
We have built our first product and now need to take it to customer trial.
This requires funding to support our business development activities - we are initially selling in Ireland and the UK. We also need funding so we can respond to customer feedback from the trial and make improvements to our core product. Without the CSF we would not be able to progress through this vital stage.
With the CSF you get mentoring and I was really pleased to be presented with a selection of very relevant mentors from which to pick. One stood out for us in particular - he has very relevant industry experience, has started up successful (and not so successful) businesses and has a broad technology and business perspective that he shares with us.
The right time for your business
Make sure you apply for the CSF at the right time, when you really need it. I have spoken to people who, in hindsight, think they spent the money too early in their development process and spent it on the wrong things - things that did not take them forward.
So be very clear what you will spend your funding on and that you and your team are ready to execute. We applied a number of times over a two year period. Frustrating as this was, we managed to work our way through to a point in time where the CSF investment will have an exponential impact on our business.
Enterprise Ireland are very specific and clear, but it is easy to get caught up in the excitement and challenge of the process and not focus.
Be thorough, ensure you are on point when completing the application and preparing for the video - get experienced business people to give you feedback. If you get to the pitch stage be sure you read what the required content is.
Interested in applying for the Competitive Start Fund – Regional Entrepreneurship? Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply here