Dogpatch Labs’ new start-up accelerator sparks record levels of interest

Cohort of 11 start-ups chosen from 500 applicants for six-month-long programme

Aideen Leacy and  Patrick Walsh of Dogpatch Labs with Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan. File photograph

Aideen Leacy and Patrick Walsh of Dogpatch Labs with Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan. File photograph

 

Dogpatch Labs has announced the 11 start-ups that will take places in the new NDRC Accelerator, the first cohort since the consortium took over the running of the programme.

There was a record level of interest in the six-month-long accelerator, with 500 applicants for the places. This year’s cohort covers a range of industries, from data privacy compliance and market intelligence tools to digital marketing and edtech.

Among the successful companies are two separate start-ups – Vidu and Kana – founded by former Intercom engineers; Inferex, which was founded by the winner of the BT Young Scientist 2021; and market intelligence tool Gain Grain, founded by an ex-Stripe engineer.

Patrick Walsh, Dogpatch Labs’ founder and chief executive, said it was “unicorns creating unicorns”.

“It’s been a really busy six months,” he said. “But this is an exciting point as well, because this is the start of the accelerator, and a lot of work has been building up to getting us to this point.”

The mentor-led programme offers participants a €100,000 “founder-friendly” investment, under a simple agreement for future equity (Safe) financing contract. This agreement, whose use has been spearheaded by the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator in Silicon Valley, provides a simpler and lower-cost mechanism for obtaining funding than convertible notes.

Uncapped valuation

NDRC is offering successful applicants a Safe agreement with an uncapped valuation and with a 20 per cent discount.

The start-ups chosen to participate in the accelerator will be coached by well-known entrepreneurs-in-residence such as Jules Coleman, co-founder of Hassle.com, which sold for €32 million, Trustev and Sisu co-founder Pat Phelan, and Marc McCabe, a European scout for Sequoia Capital.

More than 40 entrepreneurial mentors who have built or exited companies worth a combined net value of €5 billion will also be on hand to offer guidance. These include Mark Cummins, co-founder of Pointy, Bobby Healy, chief executive of drone delivery start-up Manna and former chief technology officer of CarTrawler, and Áine Kerr, co-founder of media tech company Kinzen.

Mr Walsh said the increased interest in the programme could be attributed in part to the extended period since the last accelerator, but it was also due to the regional hubs reaching out to their communities, and the changes made to the programme in the mentorship and “founder-friendly” funding.

“What we heard from so many different founders was the structure, the legals, the mentors was a huge reason why they really wanted to apply,” he said.

This year’s programme will be a hybrid, mixing virtual and in-person according to the public health advice and restrictions, and a demo day will be held on September 28th, the midpoint of the programme, to showcase the participants’ progress.

Female founders

This year’s cohort has three female-founded start-ups, two regional and two international start-ups. “I’m really excited about the female founders that are there, they’re such high quality,” Mr Walsh said. “There were many more as well that I think we have identified for future programmes or pre-accelerators, so this is going to be a big part of how we go forward. I would love it be 50/50 and that is the aspiration. We’re happy that we’re investing in three really strong female founders.”

Three of the start-ups accepted to this year’s programme have progressed from the NDRC Pre-Accelerator, a six-week feeder scheme that launched nationally in February.

The next pre-accelerator will close for applications on July 5th.

Some of the participants have already begun to find success. Hiiker App, which tracks the world’s best hiking trails, has signed up 60,000 users in three months. Virtual games platform Orcadia, which is designed to bring remote teams together, counts Google & LinkedIn among its customers. Edtech start-up Robotify, meanwhile, has partnered with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to bring access to cutting-edge robotics technology to students around the world using its virtual robotics software.