Notes From The Commish: Funding With Caution

When Peter Connor asked me to write the foreword to Bullet’s updated guide to government funding for startups I was initially a little cautious.

“Funding” sometimes feels like the land of misplaced glory, more respected than real achievements for a company, like product/market fit, or dare I say it, customers and revenue.

I’ve also always been wary of too much government involvement in startup funding, and continue to actively campaign for more tax relief to increase private industry participation in picking and backing our best companies.

That said, it is super valuable to know about the grants, vouchers, matching funds etc that exist in Ireland for ambitious young companies and to be sure, they’ve been helpful to many. So, thanks Peter and colleagues for the opportunity. Here’s the guide and my short, slightly cautionary foreword:

When it comes to government funding for startups, there are generally two world views. The first says steer clear forever; seek smart, market-driven money only, from angels first and then VCs. The second says, be open-minded; don’t let the bureaucracy get you down, take cheap or free money wherever you can find it. After all, the Internet was originally a government-funded project.

Whatever your world view, it’s always a good idea to weigh up the value of any money you’re raising before you dive too deeply into the process.

A great team, a passion for your customers, an appetite for speed, and a comfort with risk and failure. These are the characteristics of great startup businesses. Check these boxes first and you’re off to a good start.

Funding is starting and scaling fuel. It’s not an end game in itself. VCs invest in companies who have something big to prove through their vision and execution. Governments invest for the same reason. They want to support companies who are developing innovative new solutions, who have the tenacity to go out and compete in global markets, and yes, who can create jobs back home.

If you think government funding can fuel your great startup ambitions, you’ve come to the right place. Pick up this indispensable guide, put your head down and get started. We all look forward to supporting you!

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