Monthly Archives: August 2016

Academy Summit tour kicks off with visit to The PorterShed

A full house, with guests coming from near and far, were treated to an outstanding evening, packed with great chat and invaluable advice. Local start-ups DoughBros Pizza and Independent Brewing Company were on hand to share their wonderful pizzas and beers with attendees, while 2016 AIB Start-up Academy runner-up Blackwater Distillery supplied the ever popular gin cocktails.

Hosted by Galway native Gráinne Seoige, the event kicked off with a panel discussion with some of the region’s leading entrepreneurs – Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh, former owner of Aer Arann, Aoibheann McNamara, proprietor of ArdBia and co-founder of The Tweed Project, David Cunningham, CEO of Lean Start-up Summit and PorterShed board member and Padraic Joyce, founder of PJ Personnel and former Galway footballer. The panel discussed a wide range of business issues, with exceptional honesty and passion.

Two up-and-coming entrepreneurs, Emer Cooney of Hydrasure and Ciara Garvan of Workjuggle both delivered pitches to a judging panel of Evin Cusack, Head of AIB Galway, Mary Rodgers from PorterShed Innovation Community Manager, David Murphy of the Irish Times and John Breslin, NUI Galway and PorterShed Director.

The judges were faced with a difficult decision as both Emer and Ciara delivered excellent pitches. However, Emer Cooney of Hydrasure was selected as the winner, meaning that she now goes on to take part in the AIB Start-up Academy programme. Hydrasure is an award-winning start-up based in Co. Wicklow that provides smart stabling solutions to the equine & agricultural industries.

The evening wrapped up with presentations from Harold Craston of Google and Hannah Braithwaite of BCSG, who kindly shared key business tips and tools with the audience with MyBusinessToolkit.

We now move on to Cork next week for the second AIB Start-up Academy Summit and if Galway is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat!

Limited Company Compliant

When you incorporate a limited company in Ireland, one of your main concerns should to be to keep the company (and directors) fully compliant from a legal, company secretarial, taxation and accounting perspective. With the level of corporate regulation continuously increasing in Ireland, it is of vital importance to the company and its officers to ensure all such legal responsibilities are met. If you are the director of an Irish company, these tips from Andrew Lambe of Company Bureau Formations Limited can help you and your company stay on the right track.

 

Hire a good Accountant

One of your main priorities as a business owner is to oversee your company’s accounting and tax obligations. A good Accountant is worth their weight in gold, and can take a huge burden off your shoulders. They can take care of your company’s annual returns, payroll, VAT returns, CT returns and statutory annual accounts. It is vital that you choose a dependable Accountant to carry out these tasks as mistakes can be costly.

 

Ensure your company secretary is capable and keep your statutory registers up to date

By law, every Irish company is required to appoint a company secretary. The main duties of a company secretary are to ensure that the company complies with the law, manage the company’s daily administration and any additional duties that company directors may delegate. Whilst there is no qualification requirement for this role, it is important that your company secretary possesses the skillset and knowledge required to keep your company compliant.

The secretary will generally maintain the statutory company registers, which are required to be maintained under the Companies Act. The statutory registers include the register of directors and secretary, members, beneficial owners, transfers, directors and secretary’s interests and debenture holders.

 

Know your dates and put your company on a ‘watch list’

Once your company has been incorporated, it is good practice to add your company to a ‘watch list’.  A watch list will remind you via email that your company’s Annual Return Date is approaching and it will alert you should any changes be made to the company at the Companies Registration Office. Core.ie provides this service free of charge once you register with them.

 

Understand your role as a director

Company directors’ have a wide range of responsibilities which can be quite diverse. Company directors have to comply with the Companies Act 2014 and have duties under Common law. If a director is found to have breached company law, he or she can be liable to penalties that can range from a fine up to €500,000 or a maximum jail sentence of 10 years. There are different categories of offences ranging from 1-4 under the Companies Act.

To avoid such circumstances, company directors should become familiar with the responsibilities and duties of the role. Information can be found on both the CRO and ODCE websites.

Fresh thinking to aid industry

In the latest edition of AIB Agri Matters two young progressive farmers offer advice to aspiring young farmers in setting up a new farm enterprise or starting out in farming:

1.      Know exactly why you’re doing what you’re doing – if you don’t it’s hard for anybody else to know. Explore the options and pick the one that suits you best. Seek advice from others to see what worked for them.

 

2.      Establish a good track record when you’re young – in work, in college and with the Bank – it gives others more comfort you have the credentials to deliver on your plans.

 

3.      Put your best foot forward when meeting the bank – prepare well in advance. Don’t sell yourself short – Have your costing’s and have your research done. Show you understand your business and its profitability and most importantly ensure your lender understands it.

 

4.      Treat the farm as a business – if you don’t look after the business, financial management is useless. The opposite is also true. Costs and cash flow must be controlled and monitored to ensure the business remains profitable and bills can be paid, when they fall.

 

5.      Have a simple system – more easily expanded, and helps ensure consistency and accuracy – especially important where additional labour is employed.

 

6.      Ask for help – you don’t know everything and it won’t all be plain sailing. Build up a goodsupport network and use them.

Create a written outline that evaluates all aspects

Here are some reasons not to skip this valuable tool and roadmap:

  • It will define and focus your objective, using appropriate information and analysis.
  • You can use it as a selling tool with lenders, investors, landlords and banks.
  • Your business plan can uncover omissions and/or weaknesses in your planning process.
  • You can use the plan to solicit opinions and advice.

 

Here is a checklist to help you get started:

  1. Write out your basic business concept.
  2. Gather all the data you can on the feasibility and specifics of your business.
  3. Focus and refine your concept.
  4. Outline the specifics using a “what, where, why, how” approach.
  5. Put your plan into a compelling format

Suggested topics you can tailor into your plan:

A Vision Statement: This will be a concise outline of your purpose and goal

The People: Focus on how your experiences will be applicable. Prepare a resume of yourself and each of your key people.

Your Business Profile: Describe exactly how you plan to go about your intended business. Stay focused on the specialized market you intend to serve.

Economic Assessment: Provide an assessment of the competition you can expect in your business.

Cash Flow Assessment: Include a one-year cash flow projection that will incorporate all your capital requirements. Try our cash flow planner to get started this year.

 

Please be aware that all of the views expressed in this Blog are purely the personal views of the authors and commentators (including those working for AIB as members of the AIB website team or in any other capacity) and are based on their personal experiences and knowledge at the time of writing.

Start up Academy had its biggest year

With a prize worth €250,000 up for grabs, the race to be a part of the AIB Start-up Academy was fiercer than ever in 2016. After the Academy roadshow had travelled across the country dispensing advice and listening to new business ideas, almost 400 Irish Start-ups applied for their place in the most coveted business competition in the country. Judges from the Irish Times and AIB pored over the candidates’ pitch decks and in late January decided on a 22-strong longlist. The companies on the longlist included food producers, travel and sports companies, and innovative apps. One thing was clear: the competition was about to go up a notch.

In February, each of the longlist candidates faced 15 minutes of fear, as they pitched their businesses to the judging panel. The pitching session – which consisted of a five-minute elevator pitch and a grilling from the judges – took place at the Irish Times’ offices in Dublin. The candidates did have a friendly face on hand though –  2015 Start-up Academy winner Fabien Peyaud – who came along on the day to offer some support and words of wisdom.

After a day of laughter, nerves, and some brilliant business ideas, the 10-company shortlist for the 2016 Start-up Academy was announced. With an exciting list of candidates including healthy meal delivery service Dropchef, packaging company Buska Ltd, and Cork-based spice purveyors Rebel Chilli, it was obvious that the competition was going to be hotter than ever this year. The line-up for the final was completed with the addition of wildcard pick Topper Technologies, who won over the voting audience on Twitter.

In early March, the Academy finalists convened at the Irish Times’ offices for their first Academy module. Over the next eight weeks they would undergo a series of challenges as the expert mentors helped them shape their nascent business ideas and gave them the skills to realise their full potential. From E-Commerce with Vinny O’Brien to Networking with Lisa Hughes and Social Media with Felicity McCarthy, our Academy finalists were provided with the perfect toolkit to survive in today’s competitive business environment.

Johnny Ryan’s Design Thinking module, which kicked off the course, supplied an essential mantra for this year’s candidates: know your customer. “It’s not focusing on what you want to produce, it’s focusing on what the user needs,” Ryan told us. “You have to keep on addressing the real problem that the consumer has, and keep in contact with the consumer so that you’re constantly putting them first.”

Mitigate Against and Handle Security Breaches

In the last 12 months, the number of cybersecurity attacks has grown significantly. The potential ramifications of a cybersecurity breach to a business can be devastating, such as loss of customer confidence, damage to company reputation, theft of assets and extensive administrative costs in dealing with all affected stakeholders. However, there are a number of actions a business can take to reduce the likelihood of a cybersecurity breach and deal with the consequences where the company suffers an attack, writes Barry Connolly of Flynn O’Driscoll.

Risk assessment. Similar to any other risks that a business may face, when seeking to prevent cybersecurity breaches, the first step should include quantifying the risk. In the cybersecurity context, this will include identifying certain elements of a business’s system that are particularly exposed. This will range from the vulnerability of the company’s online web presence to the possibility of physical access (on-site) to a networked platform. Risk assessments should be carried out on a regular basis so that new threats can be identified and the business remains aware of current trends in cyber threats.

 

Software Security Measures. Having identified areas of risk, tailored security measures should be put in place to address these concerns. The company’s IT environment should include effective firewalls and antivirus software to deal with threats. It should also ensure that software used in the business is kept up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates.