What is an Accelerator?


Put simply, an Accelerator programme helps a start-up or early stage start up business get through its “adolescent phase” and prepares it to enter “adulthood”.  The emphasis of the accelerator is on rapid growth and to sort out all organisational, operational and strategic challenges and difficulties that might be facing the business.  It seeks to clear a pathway for the future through the facilitation and the interaction of seasoned entrepreneurs who have the knowledge and experience to add real time value to the entrepreneurs and their start-up business. 

When does the Bank of Ireland Accelerator programme start?


The programme commences September 1st 2014 and ends November 21st.

Where is the programme located?


The programme is located right on the quay beside the River Lee at Penrose Wharf, in the heart of Cork City.    

Who are the promoters of the Bank of Ireland Accelerator Program?


Those involved in running the programme include Bill Liao, SOSventures European Venture Partner, co-founder of CoderDojo and founder of WeForest.org, Michael O’Connor CEO and Gerry Donovan Chair of Cork BIC, and Wayne Murphy, Programme Manager for the Accelerator Programme.  Between them they have been involved with and have managed successful and effective programmes for entrepreneurs and start-ups both nationally and internationally.

Do I have to be on site?


It is a requirement that the founders and ideally their respective teams be relocated to the site.  At least one of the founders must be available to participate in all sessions throughout the programme.

How far along do start-ups need to be in order to apply to the Accelerator programme?


Start-ups need to be at a point where they can benefit from mentorship and business model development, at least.  This means that the start-up is further along than “an idea on a back of a napkin”, but perhaps has not raised significant amounts of capital and may not have much revenue. 

If my application is not chosen, will the Accelerator team contact me to explain the reasons?.


Due to the large volume of applicants, we generally find it physically impossible to provide individual feedback on any application.  We will inform you however as to whether or not your application was successful to progress to the next stage at the earliest opportunity.

How is my information treated?


Each and every application will be treated in the strictest confidence.  Any and all information shall be used exclusively for the purposes of evaluation and in the selection of the successful candidates.  All data received shall be subject to the applicable personal data protection regulations, and the applicants can request their right to access, rectify and cancel the data.

How does the application process work?


An initial online questionnaire (www.bankofireland.com/accelerator) will seek to elicit critical information around your start-up in order to help uncover those innovative, exciting, disruptive start-ups with incredible founders.  This initial process is followed by a review and shortlisting exercise to select those start-ups that best meet our criteria.  Those shortlisted will be asked to attend for interview.

When is the deadline for applications?


Applications close 25th July 2014.

Do I need to submit a Business Plan?


Initially no, just complete the online application module.

How are the 10 companies chosen?


Talented entrepreneurs with the ability to drive their business successfully is the number 1 prerequisite for successful inclusion in the programme.  Allied to this we seek the business to be scalable, disruptive and innovative.  A selection committee made up of seasoned entrepreneurs and business professionals will assess each application on its own individual merits and will decide upon those to be awarded a place on the programme. 

How does this programme differ from the other Accelerator programmes?


This programme is quite unique in that it is being run as a Not-For-Profit programme.  It also intends to adopt a “Founders’ Co-op” model which, again, reinforces our commitment to the participants and support of the start-up eco-system.  This unique model involves qualified participants accepted on the programme investing 3% of their equity for shares in a fund formed for the benefit of and to be shared by the start-ups themselves participating in the programme.  

A strong focus and emphasis will be on the marketing and revenue generating aspects of the each start-up.  A significant network of international contacts and networks are available to assist in the development of each business, along with a skilled panel of coaches and mentors.

Can you explain a little as to how the Founders Co-op will work?


A small amount of equity (3% of each start-up) is required, and this equity stake will generate shares in a pool made up of each company participating in the programme.  The ultimate benefit of this initiative is that if one or more of the participants of the programme have a significant exit at some future point, then all in this “pool” will gain and the proceeds shared accordingly (T&C’s apply).  Entry in to this Co-op is a condition of participation in order to ensure the integrity of the intent of this programme is maintained.

Is there any funding for participants who are successful in their application to the programme?


Each successful start-up business chosen for a place on the programme will receive €10,000 in seed funding.  An equity sacrifice of 3% is required, but said equity buys a share in the Founder’s Co-op fund for the benefit of each founder.

How can participants receive funding post the Accelerator programme?


All start-ups will have the opportunity to pitch their business to a group of VCs and angel investors  on Demo-Day, which takes place at the end of the programme. 

What additional benefits can be derived from successful inclusion on the programme?


Each start-up will be provided with facilities to house their business, mentors to develop their business, visibility to enhance their business and support to take advantage of business opportunities that emerge from this programme. 

Who are the mentors?


•    Bill Liao 
•    Sean O’Sullivan
•    Gavin Duffy 
•    Gerry Prizeman BOI
•    David Merriman BOI
•    Other key BOI personnel in areas such as business advice/relationship management/marketing/investor readiness
•    Alan Clayton (SOSventures)
•    Michael O’Connor (Cork BIC)
•    Jason O’Reilly (Pridewatches  )
•    Naoimi Fen (Think Visual)
•    Samantha Kelly (@tweetinggoddess)
•    Ian Cleary (Razor Social)

Full extensive list will be published prior to programme. 

Who is the programme targeted at?


This programme is targeted at those entrepreneurs who want to bring their business to the next level and who are prepared to give it their all, are prepared to try new things and are prepared to step outside their comfort zone in pursuit of success.

What does a typical day look like?


From our experience there is no such thing as a typical day on this Accelerator.  Each day will be different as some days you will be presented with new ideas and processes and the next day you may be seeking to implement and try out any recommendations.  The programme will involve on average three to four group mentor sessions per week and additional individual sessions with each participants.  There will be numerous break-out sessions and team-building events as a regular part of the pursuit of total focus and increased momentum.

Are there any preferred types of companies or an industry focus for the Accelerator?


Any start-up or early stage venture with the ability to address a large market quickly, the ability to scale its business model, and the wherewithal to adapt and build a viable successful business are likely to be considered for acceptance to this accelerator programme.  This programme is not sector specific nor does it seek to exclude any truly viable, ethical, innovative, scalable business with the team to make it succeed.  

Do you take any Equity?


Neither Bank of Ireland nor the promoters Start Planet take equity in your company.  Instead you put 3% of your equity, alongside the nine other participants, into a Founder Alumni Fund.  Each participating company gets an equal stake in the fund in return.  When any of the alumni succeed you all win.  Any company that does not make it their equity is refunded and their shares are returned so the Founder Alumni Fund will always grow and you will share in each others success.