The start-up pond can be a scary place and not everyone wants to jump in at the deep end. But when Cormac Finn and Daniel Carley decided they’d like to test the depth of entrepreneurial waters while still holding down their day jobs, they found there was no easy way to sample and see.
Recognising that if they had this problem then others did too, they stepped up to fill the gap with SideTeams, a social network and eco system for tech start-ups where existing and aspiring entrepreneurs can rub shoulders to mutual advantage.
SideTeams aims to make life easier for early stage founders by helping them find what they need to build and scale their business in one place, whether that’s a collaborator, expert advice or investment. Equally, those interested in joining a start-up or connecting with like-minded individuals to pursue a business idea can browse the platform for suitable partners/leads.
Membership of the platform is open to entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, product designers and sidehustlers — those who like to get involved in projects outside their normal work — and the founders hope it will increase the numbers getting involved in innovation by making it easier to join a start-up community whether someone has a lot of time to invest, or just a little. There will also be a dedicated women in tech thread.
“We had been working full-time in the corporate sector and, like many people in this post-pandemic, remote working world, we wanted to get off that nine to five path and fulfil other interests, passions and working opportunities that were more flexible, fulfilling and exciting,” Finn says. “The problem was that couldn’t find a platform that would help us dip our toe into the world of entrepreneurship before moving across full-time and there were definitely none with the comprehensive community and suite of management tools we have created at SideTeams to give entrepreneurs the best possible chance of success.
“I’d describe SideTeams as a synthesised blend of the best aspects and features of both well-established and emerging collaboration platforms that is dedicated to taking down the barriers to joining tech ecosystems,” Finn adds. “Essentially we’re creating a centralised innovation and collaboration platform for this increasingly decentralised world.”
Finn says the platform will be of particular use to students who want to build their CVs with relevant internships during their undergraduate years. “By the time they leave college, they could have sampled a number of areas and jobs, and developed a good contacts network while a potential employer has had the chance to evaluate the cream of the crop,” he says.
Both founders come from backgrounds in mechanical/manufacturing engineering and established SideTeams in September 2021. The company is based at Nova, UCD’s innovation hub, and its platform is aimed at a global audience.
It took the founders 12 months full-time to develop the platform with a bootstrapped budget of just €35,000. Side Teams’ official beta launch is happening this month and the company already has in excess of 250 members and more than 50 start-ups using the platform.
SideTeams operates a freemium pricing model, meaning all entry level accounts are free but users start paying if they want an upgrade to a more extensive range of features. The company’s second income strand will come from fees charged for its talent marketplace service.
“We are currently closing out the process of raising pre-seed funding of €200,000, between angel investors and Government sources, and this will be swiftly followed by a sizeable seed round in early 2023,” Finn says. “After achieving initial product-market-fit in Ireland, we will move into the UK and beyond.
“Our aim is to create a more dynamic, decentralised and flexible working world and, with SideTeams, someone can work with who they want, on what they want, from where they want, for how much they want.”