By @SimonCocking

When is it on?

Friday 7th and Saturday 8th April 2017 in Ballymaloe, Co. Cork

How many years has it been going?

7 – This is the 7th year of the event.

What was the inspiration to start it? 

CorkBIC were approached by Seasoned Entrepreneurs who wanted to give something back and in 2011 there didn’t seem to be a forum/initiative/event where they could give something back to up and coming entrepreneurs. It all started with Jim Breen, PulseLearning and CorkBIC, Jim chaired the event for the first 3 years. Pete Smyth, Broadlake has chaired the event since 2014 ensuring every year that we make it that 20% better!

What exciting things can people look forward to for the 2017 version?

Some of the Emerging Entrepreneurs participating this year include, Helixworks, named most innovative company at SXSW pitch event, thanks to its machine that stores DNA data in real time; Artificial Intelligence company Kami based between the StartPlanetNI Accelerator in Belfast and China; Blume Labs with the ‘worlds most sustainable LED light bulbs’; high protein wraps from Honest Fuel; Award winning Hyde Irish Whiskey and Modern Botany who is taking the cosmetic world by storm with their natural oil.

To date over 60 of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs including Jim Barry (Barry Group), John Flaherty (C&F Group), Johnny Walker (Health Founders), Peaches Kemp (itsa), Larry Bass(ShinAwil), Pádraig Ó Céidigh (formerly Aer Aran), Grainne Kelly (Bubblebum) and Mary McKenna (Tour America) have all given their time generously to the program.

The early trust that is established between all 48 entrepreneurs is a key ingredient to the programme’s success. Trust forms the foundation for openness and honesty from the outset. This isn’t a “high fiving” startup event where success is marked by the number of failures one has notched up, or the amount of money you have raised. Nor is it a posh networking event. It is about adding value and the seasoned entrepreneurs must deliver. Their previous successes does not guarantee success at the Entrepreneur Experience.

What opportunities are on offer for people / startups / investors and companies attending?

The Entrepreneur Experience®, a 24 Hour Experience, is a unique opportunity for 24 Entrepreneurs to gain unparalleled access, advice and mentoring from 24 of Ireland’s most successful Entrepreneurs. The Entrepreneur Experience® challenges, tests and pushes the selected 24 entrepreneurs like no other event. There is no room for sitting back or complacency. Everybody is expected to get stuck in and assist the Emerging Entrepreneurs to come up with clear, concise and impactful strategies to grow their businesses.

What tips would you give to people attending to get the most out of it?

Entrepreneurs participating must be prepared for a 24 hour journey of reflection and analysis, critiquing themselves as entrepreneurs and their businesses. Get ready to answer tough to answer the often uncomfortable but essential questions about their business. The event can be a roller coaster for the entrepreneurs with words used to describe the emotions of the experience including: intense, honest, open, focused, demanding, draining, thorough, revealing, relieving, exciting, frustrating, liberating, engaging, insightful, anger, practical, worrying and real. But at the end the Experience all 24 emerging entrepreneurs will take implementable changes back into their businesses. From tweaks to radical changes – this is not for the faint hearted.

Quoting Johnny Walker, Health Founders, “The Entrepreneur Experience is special and a little bit of magic is created each year. If we can help the Entrepreneurs from going into the potholes and over the cliffs we have then it is worth the journey.”

Seasoned Entrepreneurs like Larry Bass of ShinAwill come back year after year and believe that this event is “the single most inspiring business best of breed learning event ever”.

How can people book tickets / when does it usually sell out?

This year we received over 120 applications for 24 places. We interviewed, alongside a Seasoned Entrepreneur, 60 of the applicants and out of that we chose the 24 that would participate this year. Over 170 of the country’s best emerging entrepreneurs have been through the program over the past six years. The number of applications for the program has risen every year as we see more companies not just starting out but scaling up. Applications close at the end of January each year and interviews take place in February.

Each year a limited number of places are made available to international entrepreneurs to attend, adding another dimension to the program. To date entrepreneurs have come from across the globe including, UK, Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Chile, Rwanda and the US.

Previous participants include Mike Webster from Mobacar a Kerry-based travel technology company who recently signed a multi-million-investment deal with global car rental brokerage Auto Europe and venture capital firm Delta Partners, valuing the Killarney-headquartered company at €20 million. Other participants included Skellig Surgical who won the €50K Global Investor Challenge, beating off competition from over 100 entrepreneurs; Alan O’Herlihy of Everseen recently raised €8.5m.

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?

Behind every great event are the partners who make it happen and CorkBIC have engaged some fantastic event partners who are all involved in driving and supporting Start-up and Entrepreneurship initiatives, they are Bank of Ireland, Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Grant Thornton, HOMS Solicitors and the Sunday Business Post.


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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