Simon Dempsey, founder & CEO of LikeWhere, is originally from Dublin but was living in the UK where he was working on a marketing technology concept for the travel industry. Having relocated his startup to Ireland, he went on to win the Competitive Start Fund (CSF), and began to grow his team. This is his experience:
27th February, 2017
The early days
Like so many early stage technology companies, funding the project in the very early days was a big challenge. We needed to finance a skilled team and buy enough runway to help us ship a product as fast as we could, all before we could realise revenues. Applying a mixture of bootstrapping and some early investor capital helped us get our start.
A strong community and start-up scene
While I am from Ireland originally, I lived and worked in the UK for ten years, in a region with little or no ecosystem for early-stage technology companies. When it came to progressing full-time with what started as a sideline project, I knew I needed to locate somewhere with a strong community and start-up scene.
Hand-in-hand with what Dublin delivers as a tech ecosystem, is Enterprise Ireland - you almost can't separate the two. Enterprise Ireland is so involved in the start-up community and there’s immense respect for the support they offer to entrepreneurial teams, including the CSF.
I initially made contact with the 'Start in Ireland' team and have enjoyed a fantastic relationship with Enterprise Ireland ever since and we are delighted to have them as an investor.
Beyond the early test product
Winning the CSF funding allowed us to move beyond an early test product into new areas within our sector. We hired new members of our team and went on to secure new contracts as a direct result of what this funding allowed us to validate.
Advice for those applying for the International Entrepreneurship CSF
I think it is very important to have some solid commercial activity before applying for the CSF. Scale is not so important – it’s more about the calibre of the early contract or customer you have been able to secure.
The more validation you have, the better your application will be received in my view.