Interview with Carl Power, Venture Leader with NDRC, who are currently growing their team and seeking to hire new Venture Investment Leaders. These are the frontline mentors who work closely with entrepreneurs and research leaders in NDRC as well as dealing with VC and corporate finance professionals.
The Global Benchmark Report 2014 by the UBI Index, ranked NDRC in the top 2.5% worldwide, the highest placement for an Irish incubator.
— NDRC (@NDRC_hq) October 17, 2015
What sort of people are you looking for?
NDRC is an early stage investor in innovation, making ventures happen by investing in startups, and improving the environment in which they can grow.
We essentially provide modest amounts of capital and high amounts of hands on support to early stage companies through our accelerator programmes NDRC LaunchPad; NDRC Venturelab and NDRC Catalyser.
We are looking for people to join us who are passionate about supporting startups and can assist them directly or through their networks to get them to the next stage of their development whether that’s to be investor ready or revenue sustaining. This means having mentoring, business insight and commercialisation expertise.
As we see over a thousand ideas and propositions every year, they also need to be able to quickly recognise and evaluate the potential of very early stage concepts and ideas.
What aspects of the role do you enjoy?
There are a number of key aspects to the role – sourcing early stage concepts and ideas, building founder teams, building investment propositions, mentoring startups and developing great accelerator programmes.
Personally I find all areas enjoyable but if I had to pick one it is meeting and working with researchers who want to commercialise their research work. It is very challenging for many reasons but hugely rewarding. You feel like you have travelled, at least part of, the journey with them.
What 3 tips would you give to startups?
Understand who your customer is.
Focus on adding value for them.
Be open to learning and be prepared to change based on what you learn.
What advice do those being mentored seem to ignore time and time again (if any?)
Focus on how your product / service benefits your customers and what evidence you have to demonstrate this – don’t be obsessed with the technology.
What is involved and the challenges of building digital ventures at this early stage?
Building the right team, coping with a rapidly changing marketplace, competition, finding customers…they are the challenges facing every business.
How early should a company be taking on investment?
Taking on commercial investment comes with investor expectations and a responsibility to them. So startups should only seek money when they are confident that they have validated their market opportunity and have the right team in place to deliver. Building a product or service, understanding your market and your customer, should always come first.
— NDRC (@NDRC_hq) October 24, 2015
Does the Web Summit still offer value for startups attending it?
The summit provided a good focal point to attract overseas investors. It shone a spotlight on the country and in that sense was very positive. However we would also say to our startups not to get caught up in the hype.
One of NDRC’s strengths is our links with investors, our track record of success with companies like ClearSight, Mutebutton and Logentries mean investors view us as a very effective filter for quality startups.
Scaling, should you be looking beyond the Irish market from day one, or try to become a success locally first?
Yes absolutely you should be looking beyond the Irish market from day one. This is one of the great factors that distinguish Irish startups from some of our European neighbours with larger home markets.
What should we have asked / would you like to add?
If you asked me would I recommend NDRC as a place to work, I would say absolutely. It is a very dynamic organisation in terms of outlook, yet it remains a small cohesive team.
We are driven by the knowledge that we are fulfilling a very important role – stimulating innovation and creating jobs in the digital sector.
You can find out more about NDRC at www.ndrc.ie