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The Startup Awards 2015 official launch was held yesterday in the Bank of Ireland’s state of the art branch in Grand Canal Square. This is the fourth year of the awards and is Big Red Cloud’s second in what is becoming a major event on the start ups calendar in Ireland.

The Startup Awards is an excellent platform for new businesses to test their business pitch and refine their go-to-market messaging. There is no better place to test your business than in front of a panel of judges with a specified time limit.

Kicking off the launch, Gerry Prizeman, Head of Enterprise Development at Bank of Ireland, commented on the fact that Bank of Ireland maintained its branch network nationwide and has added to it, citing the Startup Awards launch venue and the enterprise lounge on Grafton Street as examples.

Gerry also spent some time explaining the banks’ and his commitment to working with small businesses to assist them with the obvious financing requirements but also across other areas. This aspect of the banks development was evident by the appointment and presence of well known young entrepreneur Gene Murphy who is now an entrepreneur-in-residence with the bank.

Probably the minister with the longest title in the EU, Damien English TD, the Minister of State at the Departments of Education and Skills and Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation With Special Responsibility for Skills, Research and Innovation, spoke about his personal interest in helping small businesses succeed. The minister spoke at the 2014 awards ceremony and showed a clear understanding of the many challenges facing start ups on the island.

Acknowledging that there is a positive growth in the economy the minister stressed that it’s critical that collectively we must find ways to help this new found growth to spread outside the main urban centers, and into the rural areas hardest hit by the recession. The minister highlighted the Startup awards as an ideal opportunity for rural based startups to find a platform and voice.

The Bank of Ireland Startup Awards are open to all sole traders, partnerships or bodies corporate, trading in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland that have been in business three years or less on September 30th 2015 and employ 30 staff or less.

We couldn’t find a better way to tell startups why they should enter than this list from the startup awards website itself.

1. Invaluable press coverage
2. Boost staff morale
3. Impress potential investors
4. Gain prestige and recognition from peers
5. Network with fellow entrepreneurs
6. Raise your profile
7. Cheer up the bank manager
8. Increase respect from existing customers
9. Help attract high quality new staff
10. Increase your business growth

As mentioned above, this is our second year and we are delighted to be associated with this event. We are all about helping small businesses with our online accounting software and we will post a series of blogs aimed solely at helping entrants with their preparation for their pitches. We listened and learned a lot last year and we hope our pitch posts will prove helpful.

So, what are you waiting for? Click HERE to enter your startup or if you are an accountant, bookkeeper, business advisor, you can also enter any number of your clients.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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