'There is not a dearth of capital, or even of capable people, but of being able to attract those great capable people into high growth teams'

Drew O’Sullivan, Lead Equity Adviser with InterTradeIreland on the challenges facing the finance industry

15th May, 2019

What's your name?

Drew O’Sullivan

What position do you hold?

I am Lead Equity Adviser with InterTradeIreland and a local advisor for the European Angel Fund Ireland, (European Investment Fund).

What are your day to day responsibilities?

For InterTradeIreland I advise companies raising seed and Series A investment on the island. I deliver one to one equity advice to 150-170 companies p.a. I am also part of the team delivering the SeedCorn Investor Readiness competition.

· European Angel Fund Ireland – source and qualify Angel investors to become co-investment partners with the EUR 40m fund

What is your professional background?

My education includes a law degree and an MBA. I am also a venture/accelerator investor, advisor and mentor.

You are speaking at the 2019 Growth Capital Summit. What are you speaking about?

I’m hosting a round table on equity crowdfunding. This has become a more relevant source of equity seed and growth capital for companies in Ireland. Typically accessing UK EIS investors via the established platforms such as SyndicateRoom, Venture Founders, CrowdCube and Seedrs. I produced the InterTradeIreland briefing on equity crowdfunding reflecting case studies of several companies on the island which had successfully completed equity crowdfunding investments.

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

Several of the InterTradeIreland’s SeedCorn finalists from 2017 completed high quality investment from private and institutional sources – CroiValve, NovaLeah and Cerebreon.

The European Angel Fund Ireland has signed up 10 Business Angels as co-investors representing a combined commitment of over EUR 35m (half from Business Angels and half from EAF Ireland) and the fund itself has been topped up to €40m. Throughout Europe, over 100 Business Angels have now signed up to the initiative.

What’s next for your company?

InterTradeIreland continues to guide some of the young companies on the island of Ireland as they prepare for and source early stage and growth equity capital through the clinics and SeedCorn activities.

What new trends are emerging in your industry?

The professionalisation of Business Angel investment – not only in terms of process and deal terms but also capacity to lead and influence significant seed or growth rounds.

Plus, the international sourcing of seed and growth capital by businesses which historically was locally sourced.

What are the challenges facing your industry going forward?

Historically there was a view of access to capital being a challenge to start-ups and scale-ups in Ireland. We lacked the world-class acceleration programmatic expertise and angel/VC investment at seed – the former we still are underweight on, the latter is better. Our challenge is the world of Unicorns and Blitz-Scaling are now capabilities more prevalent in US and China – can Ireland and Europe replicate these skillsets soon enough so that the best start-ups can become scaling global players rapidly. This is not a dearth of capital, or even of capable people, but of being able to attract those great capable people into high growth teams – tax incentives around share options are critical here.

Drew O’Sullivan will be speaking at the 2019 Growth Capital Summit on May 30th at the Clayton Hotel Burlington Road. You can book your place at capitalsummit.ie.

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