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The Entrepreneur Experience™ - EU|BIC CorkBIC

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In starting the Entrepreneur Experience™ we, in CorkBIC, were looking for a way to accelerate the rate of development of entrepreneurs on their journey as they scale their businesses, and to deliver transformational change at a critical stage along that journey

Eileen Murray,
Senior Consultant at EU|BIC CorkBIC

The Entrepreneur Experience™ is a unique opportunity for 24 Emerging Entrepreneurs to gain advice and mentoring from 24 of Ireland’s most successful business leaders over 24 hours. After we developed and delivered the first Entrepreneur Experience™ back in 2011, our 10th anniversary was a special one – once again back in person in 2021.

The theme of the event was the ‘Big Reconnection’, delivered by CorkBIC and chaired by ‘our Captain’ Pete Smyth, Broadlake. In 24 hours, this event includes one-to-one sessions, deep-dive analysis,
constructive group sessions, pitching sessions and inspiring plenary sessions.

24 Emerging Entrepreneurs are selected to participate in three distinct groups: 

1. Entrepreneurs with a new idea, business plan and/or Strategy Road Map but not yet ready for investment 

2. Entrepreneurs with an investor ready proposition 

3. Entrepreneurs with an established business that is seeking to scale (Ideally a company of 10 employees and €1m+ turnover per year with the potential to grow rapidly in the coming years) 

24 Seasoned Entrepreneurs, some of Ireland and Europe’s most successful business leaders, are invited to share their experiences and inspiration. Each Seasoned Entrepreneur mentors and coaches an Emerging Entrepreneur over the 24 hours.

Every year, entrepreneurs come from across the globe including, Spain, France, Chile, Rwanda, Portugal and all over Ireland. Each year 80+ entrepreneurs apply and 30+ interviews are held for 24 places. CorkBIC interviews the entrepreneur and his/her team and test their commitment and ‘coachability’. The interviews are conducted by CorkBIC’s Senior Consultant, Eileen Moloney and a group of Seasoned Entrepreneurs.

When the final selection has been made, CorkBIC then pairs the selected Emerging entrepreneurs with the Seasoned Entrepreneurs. This is the critical stage of the event and where their expertise is key.
The pairings are usually personality-based and take into account – sector, market, challenges etc. The matched pairs meet well in advance of the event so they both understand the issues and challenges to be explored.

To give you a flavour of how our Seasoned Entrepreneurs see the event: 

You can do an MBA, you can read a million books, but you can’t beat listening to real-life experience – The Entrepreneur Experience

– Seasoned Entrepreneur

‘Combination of peer learning and mentoring by Experienced Entrepreneurs – a powerful combination’ 

‘A fast paced rollercoaster journey for you and your mentor, taking an outside-in look at your business’ 

‘I am truly blown away by the level of energy and talent these 2 days bring. Major change happening in the world of business. What an amazing 48 hours it was” 

The 2021 Entrepreneur Experience™ took place in October 2021 in Ballymaloe, Co. Cork. For the first time, 50% of the participating Emerging Entrepreneurs had a female founder or co-founder which far outstrips the industry norm of around 20%.

24 Emerging Entrepreneurs were selected to participate and came from a huge range of sectors from Food to Gaming; from MedTech to Sustainable Clothing and innovative software and Apps for fashion, hotel security, carbon footprint and more.

Some of the sessions for the entire group were: 

  1. Building a World Class Culture  
  1. 3 things Vital for success – Passion, Brand and the 4P’s (Product, Price, Place, Promotion)  
  1. Investing Time and Resources in Environmental, Social & Corporate governance 
  1. The Women of the Experience Panel Discussion Panel discussion  

In sum, some statistics from the 10 years of the Entrepreneur Experience™: 

• 250+ Emerging Entrepreneurs have participated from 10 countries 

• €80 million investment has been raised by 78 companies 

• 80 Business Leaders have participated – the top 20 have an average turnover of €54m and their average number of employees is 400 

• A strong brand & engaged Alumni 

CorkBIC is a private-sector led organisation, specifically set up to identify and build knowledge intensive companies based on promising technology and capable innovative people. Every year, CorkBIC identifies, selects and develops several high potential start-ups or expansions. At any one time, there are 40 or 50 projects in the pipeline. 85% of start-ups engaging in this integrated process survive after five years, far outstripping the international survival average of 50%. Over the past 30+ years CorkBIC has worked with over 500 start-ups, many of whom come back and re-engage. 

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