By @SimonCocking quick update from Gary_Leyden director of NDRC LaunchPad, leads Ireland’s #1 tech accelerator. Exciting new initiative in partnership with the Bank of Ireland. The initiative will be run at NDRC and starts in November. Details and applications through www.ndrc.ie 

What sort of Fintech ideas are you looking for?

The big focus of this call is to attract ideas from those working within the Irish financial services industry. If we are serious as a country about building a fintech industry here, we need to understand better what Irish fintech means. For me, it is about leveraging the significant success we’ve already had in attracting some of the largest financial services companies to Ireland and understand how digital innovation could impact on them. Our unfair advantage is that they are already on our doorstep, and employees of them have deep insight into the specific challenges that could be addressed through the innovative application of technologies such as blockchain, machine learning, data analytics and artificial intelligence.

Do you have any hopes/ideas about the sort of companies that might come out of the initiative?

Our goal is to identify teams and ideas that could go on to create a business of global scale. NDRC are experts in helping you build a global business, we rely on the founders to be the experts in their given domain. So, to that end, we are not going to be prescriptive about the specific types of ideas we’re hoping to get out of this. At a high level, we want to see ideas that are fixing a very real and big problem within financial services brought by teams with ambition and domain insight. Recent companies that have emerged from our fintech initiatives are Plynk, the money messaging app, that recently raised €25 million in investment; Chasing Returns who are reimagining trading performance management; and My Future Now, a pension tracing and consolidation service that finds historical pensions from workplaces and personal policies.

How will you help them assess their ideas?

We have a very disciplined approach to validating the potential of their idea. A rigorous process of customer development will help validate that there is not just demand but that their proposed solution is appropriate. Ventures fail because they can’t find customers, not because they can’t build a product. Our goal is to prove there is enough customer interest in their idea before they move to the next step of venture building. The programme itself is a series of workshops that focus on identifying customers, designing a user centred solution, and validating some of their early business models assumptions. Throughout the programme participants will get access to proven fintech entrepreneurs, investors and domain experts who will all help them evolve their idea from the back of a napkin to something that can potentially scale globally.

How do you help in terms of finding the right people for their teams?

This is absolutely a team sport and NDRC actively helps build the right teams for the ventures it invests in. This programme will matchmake those with ideas with those that can help validate your venture. Our hope is that on conclusion of the programme not only have we identified a great idea, but that we’ve also started to build a team that can execute against that idea and one that we may invest in. So we’re looking for two types of people – those with the idea and domain insight, and those with skills that can support a fintech venture. Both can apply on our website – http://www.ndrc.ie/looking-for-investment/our-programmes/pre-acceleration/ndrc-fintech-pre-accelerator

If it goes really well, what would you hope comes out of this initiative?

NDRC are running this programme in partnership with Bank of Ireland to find ideas and teams to invest in. Our goal is that this is just the first step on a longer startup journey. A successful outcome is that the founder now has the confidence in both their idea and their ability to execute against it, that they will make the ultimate leap into starting a new venture full time. And NDRC will support them, and potentially invest in them, all along that journey.

Would you then encourage them to go onto one of your accelerator programs subsequently?

The timing of this programme concludes as our next accelerator programme is recruiting so I would hope to see a number of the ideas succeed and secure investment from us. We invest between €30- 100,000 and combine that with a residential accelerator programme that continues the high touch support that they will experience on the Fintech programme. We’ve invested in over 220 companies and I hope to see the number of fintech related ventures in our portfolio increase as a direct result of this programme.

Find customers or fail. Gary Leyden, VP for Venture Acceleration NDRC, Ireland’s #1 tech accelerator


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