As AgTechUCD prepares for its up coming accelerator programme, director Niamh Collins discusses agritech options and provides her suggestions for start-up founders.
Niamh Collins is director of the AgTechUCD Innovation Centre, primarily based at the College School Dublin (UCD) Lyons Research Farm in Co Kildare. It is element of NovaUCD, which is liable for commercialisation and enterprise functions at the university. Previous yr, AgTechUCD launched a new accelerator programme to assistance early-stage agritech and food stuff-tech start off-ups.
Prior to joining AgTechUCD, Collins was director of programmes and operations at Dublin City University’s Ryan Academy from 2009 to 2021. She has substantial accelerator management working experience and has worked with early-phase commence-ups throughout numerous sectors.
‘It’s a person issue to develop a product or support which you as a founder imagine is terrific, but unless of course you have a consumer who will pay back for it, you really do not truly have a business’
– NIAMH COLLINS
What’s your purpose at AgTechUCD?
Having joined AgTechUCD in February 2021, my initial activity was the style and design and shipping and delivery of the centre’s flagship Agccelerator Programme, which is now in its second calendar year of recruitment. Programs are at the moment open until finally 26 September for early-stage agtech and agri-food items begin-ups with international likely, from Eire and internationally, to be part of this year’s Agccelerator Programme.
The AgTechUCD Innovation Centre is presently below design and will open in 2023. When open up, AgTechUCD will mirror the actions of NovaUCD by advertising and accelerating begin-ups in the agri, agtech, agri-food and veterinary sectors.
AgTechUCD will give workplaces, labs, co-operating areas, meeting rooms and an exhibition area for the sector. We also assistance start out-ups with on-farm tests and trialling of their products and solutions and products and services at the UCD Lyons Farm, Ireland’s only university research farm.
In your view, which regions of science and technology maintain the greatest scope for opportunities?
With my latest occupation and specified the job Ireland is taking part in in the future of foods on a international scale – coupled with the job agri-meals technologies will perform in serving to Eire, and other international locations, to provide local climate change commitments – I think that there is a good chance for new technologies to arise from the agri, agtech, agri-foods and veterinary sectors, which have international impression prospective.
What are the qualities of a superior founder? Are superior entrepreneurs born or can they be made?
A excellent founder is passionate about their merchandise or support – their enthusiasm will in flip inspire people he or she is attempting to influence to obtain, invest or associate with them. Most importantly, a good founder wants to be coachable, have excellent self-consciousness and a robust vision, with resolve and resilience to carry their concept to truth.
A fantastic founder need to have the means to listen to some others – this consists of their staff (if they have one), advisers, mentors, investors and, most importantly, their buyer. A very good founder will be informed that they really do not know it all. They also realize the competition.
I’m on the fence as to no matter if founders are born. I feel entrepreneurship can be hereditary – the know-how and encounter can be handed by means of generations. But in my practical experience functioning accelerator programmes, I have noticed that founders who occur to a programme with a excellent notion appear with good push to find out the expertise desired to deliver their solution or assistance to the subsequent phase. They are eager to choose all learnings on board – how to communicate to shoppers, to additional validate their solution, how to speak to traders, search for companions and also glance at the competencies gaps that they want to fill.
Most of these founders have made their alternative out of a personal want, or a gap in a products or services that they have noticed in a specific market. These founders can be designed further.
What does a productive entrepreneur have to have to do each and every working day?
Remind by themselves day by day of why they are doing what they are undertaking. Have a apparent vision and be focused.
In the early levels of enhancement, the founder is all the things in their enterprise tactic scheduling, functions, promoting, income, increasing investment and producing the tea. The founder will have to have to develop his or her tribe, a community of supporters.
A productive founder by no means loses sight of the consumer and their requirements. Encompass your self with an productive network to assist with locating buyers, undertaking introductions, assisting to you to address problems, for the reason that the everyday living of a founder or entrepreneur in the early days is pretty demanding.
What is the vital component to begin-up accomplishment?
Comprehension your buyer is crucial. It’s 1 detail to develop a product or provider which you as a founder feel is excellent, but unless of course you have a buyer who will pay out for it, you do not seriously have a enterprise.
Fantastic industry research is important. Comprehending the place your buyer is, what their pains points are, are you really solving a problem for them, is crucial to a founder in the early phases of growth. At the time you discover product market fit, the other constructing blocks of your enterprise can be worked on.
How can founders assemble a great crew?
Getting obvious on the gaps in the company is key, knowledge the abilities expected and then concentrating on the persons required. Having a very good network, term of mouth and recommendations from your network is a terrific way to resource new staff customers. Generally question for tips.
What assistance do you have for founders who are beginning to appear for investment?
Know why you are searching for financial commitment, what you will need the financial commitment for, if you basically have to have expenditure or a financial loan. Have a apparent strategy on how you will expend the expenditure.
And when you tactic an investor, irrespective of whether a private investor, an angel investor or a venture capital firm, constantly do your thanks diligence on them. Make guaranteed they are the appropriate in good shape for your company – bear in mind you are providing absent fairness.
Get assistance from other individuals who have absent down the investment decision route or question a mentor for suggestions.
What are the largest mistakes that founders make?
- Investing their have cash and time into a merchandise or service with out ever talking to a possible purchaser and not being familiar with the authentic require of the shopper
- Not accepting tips from those who have experience or have an understanding of the get started-up journey
- Having distracted by attending way too many occasions, seeking to be observed in all the suitable spots and dropping concentrate
- Not considering massive more than enough
- Using the services of the incorrect individuals
- Not encompassing oneself with a great network of guidance, so you can tap into guidance and steering when essential
What are your views on mentorship and the qualities a person must glance for in a mentor?
Mentorship is critical in supporting you on your business enterprise journey and mentors arrive in a lot of formats.
Uncover another person who listens to you and guides you relatively than tells you what do to. A mentor that says ‘Have you considered this?’ Anyone who assists you imagine evidently but for yourself, so that you make the selections.
A mentor doesn’t normally have all the responses both, so a mentor who can redirect you to another person who can enable you with a certain challenge is gold. It’s also crucial as a founder not to abuse a mentor’s support.
Separately, but complimentary to the get the job done I do at AgTechUCD, I run a month-to-month Mentoring for Scale occasion where by tech organizations in the early levels get the opportunity to sit down for a a person-on-just one with skilled, serial business owners and field professionals who have effectively created and scaled a small business, for guidance, assistance and introductions. All the mentors are offering their time freely to help these founders – it’s a tremendous initiative running properly considering that 2015.
What’s the selection-just one piece of assistance you have for business people?
Come across your tribe, encompass you with like-minded founders and entrepreneurs who are on the similar journey as you, or a handful of levels ahead, and inquire for suggestions and direction. Ensure you have a assistance network to reach out to in the early levels of creating your start-up, which can be a lonely spot if you are a solo entrepreneur.
Becoming a member of a perfectly-advised accelerator programme where you will meet up with like-minded founders and be section of a great peer-to-peer network in the early levels is massively valuable. A good programme will aid you understand new abilities and fully grasp the competencies gap in your business enterprise. It will also give fantastic mentoring and profiling for your get started-up and help you on your journey.
But also, I say “just do it”. And I admire drastically all founders who have the ambition and generate to carry their concepts to reality and set themselves by the arduous start-up journey and the ups and downs to attain their ambition.
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