Irish-US accelerator seeks to raise $50m fund to back tech start-ups

Continuous Ventures is the brainchild of Colin Meagle and Margaret Burgraff

Private Irish-US accelerator and investment firm Continuous Ventures is looking to raise a $50 million (€44.7 million) fund to back more technology start-ups to help make them "investor ready".

Continuous is the brainchild of Colin Meagle, founder and chief executive of Continuum, an Irish group of companies specialising in digital media and strategy. It is focused primarily on backing companies working in artificial intelligence (AI), fintech and envirotech. Continuous Ventures's other founding partner is Margaret Burgraff, a Cork-born, Silicon Valley-based tech executive who previously held a number of senior executive roles with chipmaker Intel.

Backers and advisers of the firm include former Dragon's Den star Sarah Newman, GameStop founder Kevin Neary, senior director of research strategy at Google's AI subsidiary Pilar Manchón, former ACCA Ireland president Tom Murray and Neil Sands, previously a senior executive at insurtech company Trov and at Salesforce.

The VC, which has grown out of Continuum’s Momentum mentoring programme, provides early-stage funding of about €500,000 at seed stage and between €5 million and €10 million at Series A. It also offers advice and facilitates meetings with strategic investors and industry experts.

“Everyone thinks that start-ups just need money but that isn’t true. If you give a lot of companies money at an early stage, it is almost a foregone conclusion they’ll burn through it, get a bear in the room in terms of an investor, and ultimately be shown up,” Mr Meagle told The Irish Times.

“We’re looking to help companies get ahead of everything before they start taking on serious money because, as they do, the pressure is really on them,” he added.

Initial investments

Initial investments by Continuous include a €430,000 funding round for Andrson, a start-up that has developed an AI-powered scouting tool to connect unsigned artists directly with music industry executives. Other companies it has recently backed include Emojitones and Glossimo.

Continuous backed five start-ups this year and expects to provide support for six to eight companies in 2020.

Mr Meagle said the firm had been born out of a wish to give back to the tech community, although he added that some backers are participating primarily because it helps pre-qualify opportunities for them.

“Because we’re still only in start-up phase ourselves, we’ve more in play than closed,” said Mr Meagle, stressing that Continuous’s key role is as an accelerator, rather than as just a fund facilitator.

“Our focus has been on building a dream team consisting of people who have built companies, investors, and specialists in areas such as international trade law and intellectual property who can really prep start-ups to scale,” he added.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist