Sean Ó Tuama, CEO, Firemole
Having gone through the New Frontiers Programme in Cork, the Competitive Start Fund (CSF) was the obvious next step for Firemole. Here, CEO Sean Ó Tuama outlines how the CSF helped his company and gives advice for future applicants.
Firemole is a company that focuses on fire prevention rather than fire detection. Our first product, also called Firemole, is a safety tech gadget that warns users of high temperatures from the surface to which it’s attached by sounding an inbuilt alarm, potentially preventing a fire from occurring.
To date, we have shipped over 1000 units across the EU, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and Firemole will be available in stores nationwide in the coming months.
We are currently working with some of Ireland’s top research centres on the next generation gadget and we are very excited to see the impact we can have in reducing fires and saving lives.
The stand-out challenge of the first year was learning about the product development phase and manufacturing. It’s a very steep learning curve and not only is the physical process itself challenging to learn, but you also need to learn the lingo; ‘BOM’, ‘Tooling’, ‘Shots’ and the list goes on. There have been many awkward meetings where all I could do was nod, smile and take a mental note to google that phrase later.
The important thing to do in these situations is to take a step back and really dissect what is being said, as most of the time it’s manageable.
Applying for CSF
Having gone through the New Frontiers programme in Cork, CSF was the obvious next step for Firemole. It is an initial stamp of approval that shows private investors that this start-up company is not just all talk.
The CSF is also the next step in getting full High Potential Start-up status which is a huge achievement for companies.
The CSF funding bridges the gap between New Frontiers funding and raising an initial investment round. Enterprise Ireland connections are also a huge benefit to me as my company looks to move into the UK market and further afield.
The funding has also been a huge support in allowing me to protect my company; it allowed me to file patents which are currently covered internationally, we have fully registered designs on how the product looks, and trademarks that are registered in the EU and filed in the US and Canada.
The funding has also allowed me to get retail ready and set up an efficient supply chain and drop shipping location, so orders can be sent directly to the person or distributor who has ordered them.
Advice for future CSF applicants
Listen to your Enterprise Ireland advisor as they know the criteria inside out. Differentiate yourself, prove traction in the market and prove that you’re not a one-trick-pony by showing a solid product pipeline.
What’s next for Firemole
Our shorter-term goals are optimising Firemole.com and progressing with a nationwide distribution deal. Moving distribution into the UK and mainland Europe is the goal by the end of 2018, while also launching the smart version of the product to the market.
Interested in applying for the Competitive Start Fund – Regions? Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply here.