Ireland’s Investment Landscape – Story Of Software S03E32

Tom Early, Head of Funding & Scaling Solutions at Enterprise Ireland, talks about the current state of the Irish investment landscape, the investor requirements, and the key areas companies seeking funding should focus on.


The Guest – Tom Early, Head of Funding & Scaling Solutions at Enterprise Ireland

Tom Early is Head of Funding & Scaling Solutions at Enterprise Ireland, the Irish government’s enterprise development agency that helps private businesses grow. Tom is here today to talk about the current state of the Irish investment landscape, how investor requirements have changed, and the key areas that companies seeking funding should focus on.


Navigating the Evolving Irish Investment Landscape for Business Success

In recent years, the Irish investment landscape has undergone significant transformations, reflecting broader global economic shifts and evolving investor priorities. As the head of Funding and Scaling Solutions at Enterprise Ireland, Tom provides an expert overview of these changes. Discover how investor requirements have become more stringent, with a heightened focus on profitability and sustainable growth. Companies seeking funding must now navigate these new expectations, emphasizing strong market strategies and solid financial models. In this episode, we delve into the current state of investment in Ireland, the evolving demands of investors, and the critical areas that businesses should prioritise to secure funding and scale successfully.

Some of the highlights in this episode include:

  • Navigating the Irish investment landscape: current trends and key focus areas for companies
  • Strategies for securing funding: preparation, engagement, and negotiation tips for founders
  • The importance of an ambitious and market-focused mindset for irish entrepreneurs
  • Lessons from failure: the value of persistence and learning in startup success


Have there been any changes to the requirements to access funding? Are investors looking for new things? Are they looking for growth at all costs? Where has there been a shift?

Yes, but probably not in the way that you mean. We’re talking about a pool of thousands of people here, so it is hard to generalise, but I think that particularly in 2020 and 2021, there was this FOMO—fear of missing out. Basically, investors were rushing to complete deals and were chasing a lot of these vanity metrics, I got to say. I was looking at some of these companies coming across my desk with 50-60 million valuations, raising five to ten million, and I was just sitting there thinking, ‘I fundamentally can’t understand the business model behind this. I don’t see how this is ever going to make money.’ And sure enough, a couple of years later, those companies went belly up when the market corrected itself. I think it’s gone back to basics now. It’s back to ‘Show me how this company is going to generate money, not just cash, but ultimately, how it’s going to generate profits and how risky it is.’
I was at Stanford University recently, chatting with one of the professors who specialises in this and has done all this research on startups and companies. He said that without fail, every time it comes back to betting on the jockey. The management team is by far and away the most important thing. Are these the right people to deliver? Everything else falls from that. You really want to understand their ambition and their capability.


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