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Propeller 2.0 ready for takeoff as second year of DCU Ryan Academy’s accelerator startups selected

December 16, 2011 Leave a comment

The DCU Ryan Academy has today announced the 6 companies that have been selected for Propeller 2.0 three month accelerator programme for technology startups.

The Propeller Venture Accelerator Programme, which has been ranked 7th best in Europe in an independent study of accelerator programmes commissioned by the Kauffman Fellows Program, provides each of the chosen companies with a €30,000 seed investment, tailored and targeted mentoring and training, as well as three months incubation with free space and services, in total a package worth €45,000.

The programme was vastly oversubscribed, with a total of 137 applications submitted to the programme from over 20 countries including Ireland, Germany, Finland, USA, Australia, Iran, India, Israel, South Africa, Brazil, Rwanda and China.

The 6 companies selected for Propeller 2.0 are; Slattery Validation Systems, Picturk, Seoige Technology, StyleCloud, SwiftQueue and VideoElephant. All are technology startups, with innovative ideas ranging from increasing energy efficiency in commercial refrigeration systems to enhancing distribution and sales channels for online video content producers.

The chosen companies will enter the Propeller Venture Accelerator offices in January 2012, and will be met by over 60 mentors whose invaluable experience will be used to advise and lead these companies on a path of success.

Terence Bowden, Venture Manager of the Programme said, “We are delighted with the huge level of interest shown in the Propeller Venture Accelerator programme from Ireland and all over the world because it highlights just how much this programme has to offer start-up companies and it’s a clear sign of the appetite for entrepreneurism and innovation in Ireland and abroad.

The standard of companies applying has been extremely high and we are confident that they have the good ideas and the good people needed to make their business a success.”

Speaking about being offered a place John Joyce, CEO, Seoige Technology “We are delighted to be selected for the DCU Ryan Academy Propeller Venture Accelerator.  One of the main attractions for us is the calibre of the business mentors/partners that are part of the program.

We feel that these people will bring a huge amount to our business and will be key in helping us to make our ideas a reality.”

The ethos of the DCU Ryan Academy is about putting us in front of the right people, whether venture capitalists or angel investors, who will help us in ways that would never have been possible if we were out on our own.”

The first year of the programme, which finished in April 2011, brought huge success for the six companies that took part. Operating in technology areas ranging from mobile applications to clean tech, online gaming, health informatics and internet applications, the startups are now in the process of closing seed funding deals totalling over €1 million. The companies, who each employed two people when starting the programme, have now created an additional 18 jobs since finishing the programme.

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Propeller on Dublin City FM – 103.2 fm

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Terence Bowden, Propeller Coordinator, will be interviewed on Dublin City FM on Friday the 2nd of December.  Terence will be  talking about the DCU Ryan Academy and Propeller. He will be joined by Don Corbett who is the CEO of mm Technologies and will talk about his product ‘Mobile Minder’.

Details:

Dublin City FM – 103.2 fm

Show: Good Morning Dublin

Date: 02/12/11

Time: 10-11am

Propeller Venture Accelerator features on Nationwide Friday 25th of November!

November 25, 2011 Leave a comment

On Friday the 25TH of November, DCU Ryan Academy’s inaugural Propeller Venture Accelerator Demo Day presented on RTE One’s Nationwide at 7.00pm.  The show will also be streamed live on RTE Player.  Programme Enquiries to: nationwide@rte.ie

The Propeller Venture Accelerator aims to accelerate early development stage of technology start-up companies, both Irish and international, in Dublin. The Propeller Accelerator has taken the successful US accelerator model and adapted it to the Irish context. In early 2011 the Propeller Venture Accelerator became a charter member of the Techstars Network, only one of five outside of the US and only one of three in Europe.

The Propeller Venture Accelerator has an emphasis on software, Web 2.0, applications, informatics and cleantech start-ups. The accelerator programme is a mentor-led, three months incubation with free space and services and an additional €30,000 cash investment in each company.  This is in return for 6.5% equity stake.

The first Propeller Programme which started in February 2011 had an initial six companies – who were:

This year the programme has received a total of 135 applications.  Aside from a healthy number of Irish start-ups, the programme has also received applications from 20 countries, including Germany, Finland, the US, Australia, Iran, India, Israel, South Africa, Brazil, Rwanda and China. It is no surprise that people from all around the globe are showing a huge interest in participating in this award winning accelerator, recently ranked 7th in Europe.

The chosen companies will enter the Propeller offices in January 2012 in Citywest, Dublin.  Waiting are over 60 mentors with a formidable amount of experience to help the companies on a path to success.

“The Propeller Venture Accelerator has been a great experience one that has truly accelerated our company by at least 2 years if not more in only 3 months.  With easy access to a number of experienced mentors we were able to achieve results so much faster.”

Tom Byrne, CTO & Founder, HealthComms

The application process will open again for Propeller 3.0 in the Spring of 2012.  Keep an eye on the Ryan Academy’s website.  

Propeller start-ups have access to and advice from mentors, which is a key part of the programme; the mentors are senior corporate executives as well as seasoned entrepreneurs in the technology area. Another benefit of the programme is the package of corporate and service support including marketing, accounting, legal and intellectual property advice.  Companies such as Sage, Arthur Cox (largest law firm in Ireland), Tomkins IP (intellectual Firm of the Year in 2010), Enterprise Ireland, Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME), the HALO Business Angels Network, the Irish Technology Leadership Group and Arizona State University in the US have agreed to partner on the programme.

Growth in Technology Start-ups Continues as Applications Double for DCU Ryan Academy Propeller Venture Accelerator Programme

November 3, 2011 Leave a comment

The second year of the DCU Ryan Academy’s Propeller Venture Accelerator Programme for technology start-ups has been vastly oversubscribed, with applications outstripping places available by almost 95 per cent.  Applications to the Fund, which provides capital investment and a three month intensive mentoring programme for entrepreneurs, were received from over 20 countries including Ireland, Germany, Finland, USA, Australia, Iran, India, Israel, South Africa, Brazil, Rwanda and China. The interest shown is a clear indication that Ireland is seen as a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation both at home and abroad.

The Propeller Venture Accelerator Programme, which has been ranked 7th best in Europe in an independent study of accelerator programmes commissioned by the Kauffman Fellows Program, was established in 2010 with the aim of fast-tracking early stage Irish and international technology start-up companies in Dublin.  Each of the chosen companies receives €30,000 seed fund injection, tailored and targeted mentoring and training, as well as three months incubation with free space and services.

The chosen companies will enter the Propeller Venture Accelerator offices on 2 January 2012, and will be met by over 60 mentors whose invaluable experience will be used to advise and lead these companies on a path of success.

While recruitment of mentors continues, many well-known businesspeople are already involved, including Frank Hannigan – Chairman – Goshido, John Canacott – Serial Entrepreneur, Maurice Mason – Partner Irelandia Aviation and Liam Mullaney – Managing Director Sage. At the end of the three month programme, each company will pitch their business and products to potential investors from around the globe at a special ‘Demo Day’.

Terence Bowden, Venture Manager of the Programme said, “We are delighted with the huge level of interest shown from Ireland and all over the world because it highlights just how much this programme has to offer start-up companies and it’s a clear sign of the appetite for entrepreneurism and innovation in Ireland’.

Our aim here at the DCU Ryan Academy is to find good people with good ideas, and give them all the tools and support they need to take their ideas to market. Ireland is awash with entrepreneurs and we seek to help nurture and foster innovation.’

The first year of the programme, which finished in April 2011, brought huge success for the six companies that took part. Operating in technology areas ranging from mobile applications to clean tech, online gaming, health informatics and internet applications, the start-ups are now in the process of closing seed funding deals totally over €1 million. The companies, who include Associate Mobile, Fantom, GreenEgg Technologies, Healthcomms, Simple Lifeforms and VendorShopSocial, each employed two people when starting the programme, have now created an additional 18 jobs since finishing the programme.

Speaking about his experience, Tom Byrne, CEO and Founder of HealthComms said, The Propeller Venture Accelerator has been a great experience and one that has truly accelerated our company by at least 2 years, if not more, in just 3 months. With easy access to a number of experienced mentors we were able to achieve results so much faster than if we had been on our own.”

Six Startups Pitch at Propeller Accelerator Demo Day in Dublin

May 6, 2011 1 comment

Propeller Startups to Fly High at Investor Event in Dublin

Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship ‘Propeller’ Accelerator first Demo/Investor Day will see Six Technology Startups Pitch for Funding

The Propeller Venture Accelerator, part of the DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship, has its first Demo/Investor Day in Citywest on the 6th of May. Over seventy investors, from Ireland, the US, the UK and Italy are due to see pitches from the six technology companies on the mentor-led incubation programme. Grant Thornton have been confirmed as sponsors of the Demo Day.

These startups, five from Ireland and one from the UK, cover key technologies such as mobile applications, cleantech, online gaming, health informatics, and internet applications. The Propeller Venture Accelerator was established in 2010 with the funding of €1 million from Irelandia Investments. The aim is to accelerate early stage technology startup companies, both Irish and international, in Dublin. The Propeller Accelerator has taken the successful US accelerator model and adapted it to the Irish context.

The Propeller Accelerator is funded by Irelandia Investments and Declan Ryan (Ryanair), a leading global investor and developer of low cost airlines, who have invested in a number of Low Cost Carriers (LCC’s) since 2004 including the recent announcement of a new airline in Columbia called Viva Columbia.

Over forty high corporate mentors from a range of high technology companies as well as serial entrepreneurs have been working with the Propeller companies over the last three months.

“The two key parts of Propeller worked in perfect harmony together,” said Gordon McConnell, Deputy-CEO of the Ryan Academy and Director of the Propeller Venture Accelerator. “A fantastic group of founders and the teams they have been building, and a small army of mentors, both serial entrepreneurs and senior corporate figures.”

“Bringing together both national and international funders at events like these are vital to Ireland’s progression towards a true Smart Economy” he added.

The six technology companies that are presenting are:

Associate Mobile:

associate mobile is improving lives through mobility.  Through their persistent locationing analytics technology (PLAT) they develop easy to use platforms that weave into people’s everyday lives both professional and personal. www.associatemobile.com

Fantom:

Fantom takes the energy of the schoolyard trading cards game into a new social media dimension, with an added twist of a virtual and actual rewards system. It promises to be next big obsession for tweens, teens and young adults. www.fantom.ie

GreenEgg Technologies:

GreenEgg Technologies are a cleantech product development company.  They have developed a customer engagement platform for Energy Providers, which allows them to reach out to and engage with their customers as well as enabling their customers to connect with their Smart Home. www.greenegg.ie

Healthcomms

Healthcomms, who specialise in ‘In Home’ care communications, have developed a groundbreaking product to make it even easier for the older person at home to maintain communication with their Social care network. Their simple-to-use image based software product, called MyHomeReach, allows two- way visual communication between the elderly, their career, family or medical personnel with nothing more than a touch. MyHomeReach can be used by families or home care professionals and provides additional functions such as inbuilt calendar medication reminders and tracking of care with sign-in and sign- out capability. www.healthcomms.com

Simple LifeForms:

We allow people in real-world locations to play games. M Simple Lifeforms develop game content that make location pages on Facebook, smart phones and the Internet playable, engaging and rewarding and takes this content into the real-world. This unique combination of game and location content within the real-world has the potential to change the way people play games forever whilst creating a highly profitable and sustainable business supporting users who desire this new experience. www.simplelifeforms.com

Vendorshop:

VendorShop provides the tools a business needs to make social e-commerce happen. Our Facebook shopping cart enables a business to open a store on Facebook and our social e-commerce tool’s to leverage it’s viral nature to

attract more customers, lower acquisition costs and increase sales.  We are live on Facebook, have thousands of stores and 75,000 monthly active Facebook users. www.vendorshopsocial.com

The Propeller Accelerator was announced as a charter member of the Techstars Network earlier in the year, as well as having agreed partnerships with the Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) and the Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG).

A number of Irish-based companies have also signed-up to support the Propeller Accelerator programme including software company Sage Ireland, legal company Arthur Cox, marketing and sales company Publicis D and legal intellectual property company Tomkins IP and Deloitte. National Irish organisations such as the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (ISME) organisation and State agency Enterprise Ireland are also partners. Propeller is also linked to the Venture Catalyst at Arizona State University.

Whats the Future for Startup Accelerators?

So those of us involved in the world of venture accelerators (Propeller Venture Accelerator) are used to telling our startups that they need to ‘pivot’ but there may be a case for ‘physician heal thyself’ coming in our own sector. The line between competitions, incubators and accelerators are becoming blurred. If you look at global competitions like General Electrics Ecomagination or Mass Challenge, you can see that there are similar treads to what incubators used to do during the dotcom period (anyone old enough to remember Ant Factory or Gorilla Park?), and what Accelerator’s do now.

So what are the trends coming through?

1. In the Venture or Seed Accelerator sector you are now seeing the venture capital and angel investors react. Techstars, our friends through the Techstars Network, have just raised $8 million to continue their four city acceleration program for the next few years, backed by angels and early stage funds. But there is also no doubt there is nervousness about pre-money valuations from early stage investors, particularly with some of the rapid-rise-to-valuation of the likes of Groupon, or the never-ending rise in Facebook. Every startup or indeed the vast majority will not get there. But their founders might think so (founder syndrome which in itself creates a type of bubble mentality). See last point in the list!

2. The Good News: with the huge amount of cash on-hand with US companies, and the continued issues with many of them in terms of internal revenue-generating new ideas (we are looking at you, Google), these two issues will continue to fuel the early stage buying frenzy that makes accelerators a decent enough bet. As the Technology Cold War continues to heat up (legal swipes and moves like Google +1) there will to be a race to find the next big thing, bought early.

3. But….it is all about two factors – the right mentor group and the right group of companies. Many accelerators are taking on 10-15 startups at a time. And there are multiple accelerators appearing in different cities. Is the continuous high quality deal flow really there? Having looked at some recent startup lists of accelerators in the US, I am beginning to doubt it a little. Particularly if your accelerator is Web 2.0 only.

4. More corporate involvement. Last week BMW announced a new incubation facility to open in New York. And a $100 million fund to back it up. So, this must be in alternative energy , right? Wrong, it is in the mobile space. Go figure. Or ‘individual mobility solutions’ as IBM puts it.  To be honest as the story came out on April 1st I thought it might have been a joke. But this new play, BMW i Venture, seems a serious one for the car maker. The focus is on solutions which will improve usage of existing parking spaces, as well as intelligent navigation systems with local information, intermodal route planning, and premium car-sharing. New York-based My City Way is the first company in which BMW i Ventures has taken a stake. As a mobile app, My City Way provides users with information on public transportation, parking availability, and local entertainment for over 40 cities in the US. The company plans to expand its services to Munich and other major European cities.

I think we will see more vertical plays in the acceleration/incubation space, in more specific areas, with corporate backers. These backers will probably get first look and probably have an investment priority with the new startups. And possibly pre-money valuation ceilings too.

5. Money but a Valuation Ceiling. A new fund (End Fund) announced in the US backed by some serious angel investors have offered $1 million to the first 100 startups to apply (this story appeared in Techcrunch, I presume it is $1 million across the 100 startups, unless this is an April Fools!), but and it is a big but the next round of financing cannot be closed at a pre-money valuation of more than $4 million AND the startup is only permitted to raise equity in the future from the funds and individual angel investors involved with End Fund. This is obviously designed to put a stop to rising valuations by US West Coast companies (we don’t that big a problem in Europe at this point). So this takes up back up to point number one. These things are happening and some are good for startups and some are bad. Trends will come and go, and Accelerators themselves will change.

So the bottom line is this – the Accelerator model is hitting maturity in 2010. At least the first blossom of adulthood. It will continue to develop and will shape the other complementary areas around it like incubation, venture capital investing and corporate involvement in innovation.

Two DCU Alumni Get Funded through Propeller Accelerator

February 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Although the Propeller Accelerator is an open, global competition to see the best startups, it was interesting to see where all of our initial batch came from. Two of the companies have founders who are DCU alumni: Don Corbett (Business School) who is co-founder of Associate Mobile and Doctor Shane Linnane (Physics) who is co-founder of GreenEgg Technologies.

Dr Linnane originally came through the DCU Invent ‘Tech Venture’ commercialisation course that was run in conjunction with the Ryan Academy last year, and this in essence is a spin-out from the Sustainability Lab, run by Dr Stephen Daniels, in DCU. Shane’s co-founder, Rob Merriman, came out of the Sustainability Masters in DIT.

Associate Mobile: Associate Mobile is developing cloud-based mobile platforms for enterprise and consumer markets. MobileMinder – a parental supervision platform for mobiles is the company’s first commercial output.  www.associatemobile.com/mobileminder/

GreenEgg Technologies: GreenEgg Technologies are a research and development company focused on technological solutions for the clean technology and environmental sectors. They develop innovative eco-friendly products for a range of applications and their research focuses on the development of products that enable the smart and efficient operation of technology. www.greenegg.ie

Overall, the six startups chosen are five from Ireland and one from the UK. They cover key technologies such as mobile applications, cleantech, online gaming, informatics, Facebook ecommerce and social media.