Usually start-up pitches are weeks if not months in the making, but not this one. Entrepreneur turned investor Niall Harbison is inviting start-ups to pitch their ideas in 140 characters or less for the chance to secure vital initial funding.
Niall is co-founder of Simply Zesty, an Irish social media agency that was recently acquired by Belfast-based UTV Media. Now he hopes to “give a little back” by investing €10,000 each in two businesses based in Ireland through a start-up competition that embraces social media.
In 2009, Niall and co-founder Lauren Fisher bootstrapped Simply Zesty with less than €10,000 of their own finance into a company that now employs 22 people and has clients across Europe. He hopes that perhaps other start-ups will experience similar success with a little backing.
Start-ups have two options to enter the competition; via Twitter or by commenting on this blog post. It closes on Monday, June 18 and both winners will be announced the following day.
We put some of our own questions to Niall earlier tonight and here’s what he had to say.
Q. Why have you created the start-up competition and what do you hope to achieve?
“I really want to make a difference in Ireland. There’s so much needless negative buzz in this country and I know there are amazing people out there with amazing ideas who are screaming out for help through funding. I just hope that the competition can get more people working.”
Q. How important are start-ups to the Irish economy?
“Some people obsess over multinational investment in Ireland from the likes of Facebook and Google, but the Irish economy will be saved by getting those living in Ireland back to work in Irish jobs”
Q. The competition is quite informal as participants can enter by a simple tweet or website comment. Why have you chosen to remove most of the normal formalities found in traditional business?
“I wanted it to be more Y Combinator than bank application. You don’t need a suit to be good at business in Ireland. We need to lose that myth. Also, Twitter is a great way of getting the absolute best out of people. You can’t waffle. You can fit links in tweets to videos or presentations but it’s best to keep these short. Passion is the key and hopefully I can see this through social media. People make businesses not nice slides.”