Press release

Enterprise Nation launches speed-funding in Cork to support start-ups and small businesses

Enterprise Nation launches speed-funding in Cork to support start-ups and small businesses
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation

Posted: Mon 29th Jan 2024

Small businesses in Cork looking to raise investment in 2024 are set to be connected to Ireland's top lenders at a speed-funding event next month/February 22.

The Show Me the Money event, at the Republic of Work in South Mall, Cork, being run by small business support platform and membership community Enterprise Nation, will help start-ups and small businesses get access to early-stage seed funding and growth investment.

The event is the penultimate speed-funding session to be held, with previous events in Dublin and Galway attracting hundreds of founders. It will see small business owners hear from experts on a range of funding solutions from venture to angel investment, crowdfunding to retail banks.

The speaker line-up includes Tony Foote, who co-founded Limerick-based Foxes Bow Whiskey with Alice Carroll after he spotted a gap in the market for a modern, contemporary, consumer-facing Irish whiskey brand while he was working as a controller at Google X - Google's moonshot 'factory' in Silicon Valley.

Tony said:

"I love whiskey, but whiskey wasn't speaking to me. Every bottle was marketed based on traditional values, pictures of rolling hills and castles and a sea of black and green bottles. I felt there was an opportunity to give it a fresh perspective and reach a whole new audience."

After the initial idea in 2020, Tony brought in childhood friend Alice, who was at the time living in Toronto and working for Pernod Ricard. The brand was initially bootstrapped by the founders, and they both left their high-flying jobs in 2021 to work on the business full-time.

In May 2022 they successfully crowdfunded €625,000 on Crowdcube, from a mixture of 400 Angel and individual investors.

Tony said:

"Crowdfunding works really well for consumer brands, but the proposition has to be compelling enough to align with people's ideas and mindset. Crowdfunding can become a massive marketing exercise that creates an army of unofficial brand ambassadors.

"But for anyone considering crowdfunding I would say it's not a silver bullet --the first campaign was a full-time job for us both for three to four months. If you go in and you know the level of effort it takes, then crowdfunding becomes a great vehicle for investment. But be aware it's non-stop."

Very quickly, Foxes Bow Whiskey was stocked domestically in Musgraves and Tesco, and the pair were exporting to Germany, Italy and built valuable accounts in Northern Ireland. But then the opportunity quickly came for them to go into the US -- and they had to go back to the funding drawing board.

Tony said: "It was 12 months ahead of schedule if I'm honest. It's expensive to launch in the US, it's competitive and money talks."

They went back to Crowdcube and raised another €500,000, taking their total raised to €1.1m.

Foxes Bow is now stocked in Texas -- where there is a population of 40m -- including a listing in Texas' largest liquor store chain - Spec's Wine & Liquor.

He's joined at the event by John Stapleton, who has co-founded food industry-challenger brands including New Covent Garden Soup Company and Little Dish. He now shares his experience and invests and mentors via Redesdale Food & Beverage Fund, which recently invested in Cork-based supermarket-supplier platform start-up Kwayga.

Also speaking will be Evelyn Moynihan, CEO of Kilkenny Group and Nora Irwin, Cork-based founder of sustainable solid fragrance brand Arona.

Enterprise Nation's quarterly Small Business Barometer found 74% of Irish businesses said they plan to access funding this year. Just over a third (37%) plan to borrow €10,000 or less with one in five (18%) planning to borrow up to €20,000 and another 11 per cent raising up to €30,000.

A fifth (22%) expect to use alternative lending, but the most popular option for investment is still the bank, with a quarter (24%) looking to Ireland's banking sector for funds. Only seven per cent said they would crowdfund.

The events are part of Access to Finance, a broader nationwide initiative in partnership with SBCI, BPFI, AIB, Bank of Ireland and PTSB to support more businesses to improve financial management skills. Since its launch last year, it has already supported just under 2,000 businesses, with 40 per cent of those at the start-up stage.

The event is free, but booking is essential. Register here.

Funders available at the event include:

Mags Fullen, head of mortgages and business banking at the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), said:

"BPFI and our member banks are delighted to support the 'Show me the Money' event Cork. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play a crucial role in Irish society, accounting for around 60% of all employment in the economy.

"According to the CSO, most of these businesses, over 92%, are what we call micro enterprises, employing less than 10 people. It is absolutely vital that we support these small businesses, not only at the start-up phase but also to support them to grow and thrive, and it's clear that access to appropriate funding plays an important role in this regard. Considering there are many different options available, we hope that this event will help business owners by providing a pathway to the information and support they need."

Suzanne Sweeney, head of strategy, finance and operations at the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI), said:

"Increasing access to finance, promoting sustainability and enabling small businesses to grow and prosper are our core objectives and define everything we do in the SBCI.

"Small businesses are the backbone of the Irish economy and play a vital role in job creation and innovation. However, they often face difficulties accessing financing due to limited collateral or high-interest rates. Our role is to provide dedicated financial support to Irish businesses by making it easier for them to get the finance they need to grow, innovate and prosper.

"Events, like 'Show me the Money' are vital to help businesses understand and demystify the wide range of fundings options available to them."

Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, said:

"What is the best kind of finance for your business and how do you go about accessing it? Our Show me the Money event in Cork will help busy founders work out exactly that by listening to experts from different areas of finance.

"There are a dazzling array of routes to investment -- venture capital investors, angel investors, crowdfunding, banks and alternative lenders. We've got them all in one room so that small businesses can ask questions and learn the best route for themselves."

The Access to Finance programme continues through to Summer, with an online library of eLearning materials on how small firms can access funding and grow.


About Enterprise Nation

Enterprise Nation is a business support platform and membership community delivering support to more than 800,000 small businesses a year in the UK and Ireland. Its aim is to help people turn their good ideas into great businesses -- through expert advice (including a comprehensive resources library), events, acceleration support programmes and networking.

Enterprise Nation was founded in 2005 by British entrepreneur Emma Jones. She is author of best-selling business books and is a frequently called-on and regular media commentator on a range of issues which affect the UK's growing number of SMEs.

Notes to editors

What will happen on the day?

  • Hear from keynote speakers as they share their entrepreneurial journey and offer top tips to raise and manage money.

  • Pose questions to a panel session with funding experts who will offer top tips on pitching and fund-raising.

  • Meet funders from across Ireland who are looking to invest in early and growth stage businesses.

  • Connect with accountants who can help with business plans and cashflow forecasts.

  • Network with other like-minded business owners and grow your connections.

Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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