"The Innovation eco-system in the Western Region keeps getting better and better" according to Dr. Chris Coughlan, WestBIC Chair. ‘Timely access to capital, and particularly smart capital, is now more crucial than ever before to anchor our innovative client start-ups here in our own region and allow them to flourish and create higher value jobs,’ he added.
The last year has seen record levels of funds raised by WestBIC client start-ups with total capital raised, in 2015 alone, amounting to just over €5M. Significantly, the participation rates of private equity funding (Business Angel Funding ) amounted to €1.7M% side by side with State Funds mainly through the Enterprise Ireland funding instruments of HPSU and CSF. "The West and North West Region seems to be boxing well above its weight in terms of private angel investors working with WestBIC to support companies locating here" concluded Dr. Coughlan
Among the other supports WestBIC offers to client start-ups, professional investor ready preparation is a crucial component. New companies now enjoy a plethora of supports from all quarters but inevitably, they will always need to build a strong and compelling case to attract a start-up fund of significant size (€500K+ ), build a substantial business, survive early 'valley of death' periods and secure market traction and repeat revenues to underpin their future growth plans. ‘Nothing has changed here over the last 30 years but the technology is more involved obviously, the time-to-market is now shorter and the capital burn is usually greater’ said Joe Greaney, WestBIC Director and co-founder of Irelands first ever Seed Capital Fund in the late 1980s. 'The reach and scope of our client start-ups is international from the outset. We use our mature, international networks to assist them fast track that dimension of their development. Included in the start capital from angel sources last year we had a total of €350K of funds from outside the State, a trend we will seek to continue.'
WestBIC client SportLoMo, a Mayo sports software company recently secured a sizeable investment from Enterprise Ireland and private investors to roll out its software internationally. SportLoMo has developed a sports software platform for amateur sport, used largely by sports in Ireland but it also has users in the UK, USA and Arab Emirates.
Company founders, Seamus Kyne and Vivienne Lee, have bootstrapped their company to this point, but now with this latest investment they intend to ramp up quickly and grow staff numbers by 50% in the next six months. Seamus Kyne says “SportLoMo has kept a low profile as we concentrated on ‘land-grabbing’ many of the top sports in Ireland but with this funding we can focus on expanding our overseas users.”
The platform is used by the IRFU, the five rugby provinces, Ireland Hockey, Dublin GAA, Cork GAA and 17 Soccer leagues. Ireland Basketball, Volleyball Ireland and Netball NI are also customers. The company has attracted funding from two Angel Networks – Bloom (Dublin ) and a new West of Ireland angel investment group, West by North West Syndicate (WXNW ). Backed also by Enterprise Ireland and the Mayo Local Enterprise Office, the investor readiness preparation for the start-up has been heavily supported by WestBIC. SportLoMo operates as Sports Manager in Ireland.