I’m delighted to say that the Board Room in UCC’s Western Gateway Building was packed on Thursday 10th April 2014 to hear Raomal Perera share his insights on his own successful entrepreneurial journey.
We were joined by business owners, representatives from industry and UCC staff as well as current participants of the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme and IGNITE Alumni who were engaged with Raomal’s story on the highs and lows of his fundraising story.
Raomal spoke a little about his first venture, email messaging software firm ISOCOR, founded in 1991. ISOCOR raised over $10M through IPO before Raomal exited in 1999 to start mobile payments company Network365. His talk focused on how Network365 raised almost €30M through successive funding rounds over 4 years. Network365 became Valista in 2003 and after merging with Aepona was acquired by Intel in 2013.
Crucially, Raomal emphasised that investors are most interested in the person driving the business rather than the team or the business plan. He stressed the importance of integrity and passion to drive a successful business. Raomal quoted Warren Buffet: ‘Look for three things in a person: intelligence, energy and integrity. If they don’t have the last one, don’t even bother with the first two.”
Raomal spoke of the importance of establishing credibility and exposure in start-ups. He described his own strategy with Network 365 to gain credibility by enlisting the services of big name accountancy and legal firms while at the same time using smaller PR agencies that can give the start-up full attention.
Raomal talked about the importance of networking and stressed that entrepreneurs must be their own ambassadors and take every opportunity to promote their businesses as they can never be sure what opportunities might arise through the contacts made.
On raising funds, Raomal noted his experience that it is easier to raise money when you have money, that the effort to raise money is the same regardless of the amount sought and that the relative equity given up is lower for higher amounts sought. However, he also highlighted the risk that having too much money in the start-up phase allows more expensive mistakes to be made.
Raomal shared his view that today’s start-ups have easier access to funds and supports and can access a wealth of free web-based tools that allow them to achieve so much more with relative little funding.
Raomal praised the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme for the start up support it offers tech start-ups in Cork. He also praised Enterprise Ireland for the work they do supporting businesses from early stage start-ups to establishing international networks and achieving global success.
We thank Raomal for taking the time to share his story and look forward to seeing him back in Cork again soon.
Raomal is Adjunct Professor at INSEAD in Paris teaching Entrepreneurial Studies and works with a wide range of early stage and start-up businesses in Ireland in his role as Principal of ThousandSeeds, www.thousandseeds.com.
The IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme is an incubation programme that supports recent graduates turn product ideas into commercial reality. The programme consists of a comprehensive schedule of workshops and seminars, an effective one to one mentor programme, access to the Universities academic, research and commercialisation expertise, business network development through regular networking events as well as office facilities and seed funding.