Last year, the Best Start-Up Business category for LEO Cork North & West competition was won by brothers, James and Peter Nagle for their business, Bitcove (formerly ‘The Crypto Broker’).
Bitcove provides a simple avenue for customers to acquire, maintain and transact with their Bitcoins instantly. With the €20,000 investment from LEO Cork North and West, they planned to establish their own crypto currency exchange platform and use the investment to develop the exchange platform.
James took some time out from his busy schedule to tell us how IBYE helped launch Bitcove to the next level…
How did winning Cork’s IBYE competition help you and your business?
I think a lot of people might assume it would be the financial aspect, the €20,000 investment that our business Bitcove received. While the financial aspect is fantastic and really helped us to propel and accelerate our business operations, the main thing Bitcove got from IBYE was exposure. As a Bitcoin exchange, to have the backing of IBYE behind you and the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Cork North & West is massive as it really adds credibility to your business, which is very much needed in our area especially as a young start-up.
Having the backing of IBYE and the LEO gives you that added confidence and validation in your business going forward. In addition, the skills it provides to young entrepreneurs is vital. Building your own start-up can be daunting at first but through the support of IBYE and the LEOs, young entrepreneurs are given the necessary tools to build a business which can strive.
Shortly after winning IBYE, we started on UCC’s IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation programme, and just last month were named the Bank of Ireland/ IGNITE Business of the Year. I believe IBYE kicked started our business and the experience of going through the IBYE competition aided us massively in setting down the infrastructure for our business success.
What was your biggest learning from the boot camp and mentoring you received?
For me it had to be the pitching, I’m not afraid to say it but I was terrible at pitching. I knew we had a great business and huge opportunity but trying to get that across was something I really struggled with.
On the Saturday evening of the boot camp we all divided into groups and had to pitch, and when it came to your turn you just had to do it! So I got up and pitched, and pitched again, and pitched again. Noel Davison, one of the mentors explained it was just a matter of practice, so after a few tries you start to get more comfortable and with their help you have a great pitch. I learned the importance of a hook to get the audience drawn in, simplifying your key message, and really getting across your value proposition.
What advice would you offer someone considering applying this year?
Start now! There are too many excuses not to start. There’s nothing to lose, it only takes a few minutes to apply, and there are huge opportunities to gain. For a budding entrepreneur IBYE is the ideal competition for you to launch your start-up. Even if you are not an eventual winner, the experience of writing up your business plan, pitching your business and attending the start-up boot camp provides a fantastic experience and gives you great perspective and insights into your own business.
What’s next for you?
We are due to officially launch our website Bitcove.ie in the next few weeks; from there we will engage in an extensive marketing campaign to ensure the name Bitcove is synonymous with Bitcoin in Ireland.
We also will be expanding our team. My co-founder Peter joined full time in January and Claire joined part time in May as processing analyst. Shortly we will be looking to raise investment to expand out team and operations outside of Ireland. We are looking to add Claire full time as CFO, and add two additional members, a marketing executive and processing analyst.
Anything else you would like to add?
The IBYE competition is a fantastic opportunity for anyone, even if you’re just at the idea stage, to meet and network with like-minded people. You don’t realise the support that is out there until you take the first step and apply!