Analysis has revealed that, over the last 10 years, the average number of female entrepreneurs taking part in InterTradeIreland’s Seedcorn Competition accounts for only one entry in every five.
Seedcorn is the largest business investor readiness competition of its kind across the island and is targeted towards seed and early stage companies from any sector which are seeking to raise equity finance.
The Competition is split into four regions and two categories, Best New Start Company and Best Early Stage Company. Entrants have the chance to win a share of the €280,000 cash prize fund on offer. Regional winners each receive €20,000 while the overall cash prize for the Best Early Stage company is a massive €100,000 and Best New Start company receives €50,000. Prizes are in cash with no equity stake being taken by InterTradeIreland.
The Competition is designed to mimic the real-life investment process and gives companies a valuable opportunity to refine their business offering and ensure that they improve their ‘investor-readiness’. This year’s Competition has been restructured to reflect the ever changing investment process and simplified to make it even easier to apply. Initial entry to the Competition will be via a short application form accompanied by either a 3-minute video presentation, a slide deck or both.
Companies which are shortlisted will then be asked to submit a full business plan to the Competition and those which are successful will be invited to deliver an investment proposal in front of the regional judging panels comprising venture capitalists, business angels and some of the island’s leading industry experts and entrepreneurs.
The judges are looking for the same elements as a potential investor, including high growth projections, the optimum risk/reward profile, a strong management team and the ability to exit. Those taking part can become members of the Seedcorn Network, an extensive business community which can help boost the company’s profile, contacts and investment opportunities.
Seedcorn provides an exciting opportunity for start-up businesses and those on the cusp of expansion or diversification to increase their chances of securing investment and mark themselves out as ‘one to watch’ in the future.
Catagen, 2012 winners of the Seedcorn Competition, is based in Belfast. Catagen manufactures and exports a range of test equipment for the catalytic converter testing market, an important part of the global automobile industry. This market is driven by stringent environmental legislation worldwide, aimed at reducing harmful exhaust emissions.
Rose Mary Stalker, Women in Business member, is one of the Board Members of Catagen and says: “Taking part in the Seedcorn Competition was a valuable experience and winning was an important milestone for Catagen, providing yet another independent validation of our world leading technology, business model, and enhancing our company development.
“We will use the prize money to assist the further progression of our sales pipeline opportunities with international vehicle manufacturers, and invest in the development of our Northern Ireland operations.
“Although there is still a significant entrepreneurial gap with regards to gender in Northern Ireland, I know there is a wealth of female talent. I have met many inspirational and innovative women in business that demonstrate the exceptional skills in leadership, charisma and business acumen needed for success.
“I would encourage those businesswomen involved in an early stage company to really consider applying to the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Competition. The process will help you to refine your commercial business strategy and address the challenges associated with business growth.”
How to apply to the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition