Emma Jones: ‘Show me the money’

Enterprise Nation’s Emma Jones is joining the dots between founders and funders.

Next week (9 June) Enterprise Nation, the small business network, small business support platform and provider delivering support to more than 50,000 UK small businesses every month, is holding its Show Me The Money event in Dublin.

The free event at TU Dublin Aungier Street aims to connect founders with funders and provide tips on how to access finance, connect with funders and more.

“I think there will always be funding for the right idea at the right time”

Fast-scaling start-up We are Riley will share its entrepreneurial journey and offer tips on how to raise and manage money. We are Riley is an Irish start-up which is on a mission to end period plastic through their eco-friendly period product subscription service. Founded by Aine Kilkenny, Fiona Parfrey and Lauren Duggan in April 2021, the subscription box company has already raised €475,000, hired its first employee, crossed borders into the UK and Europe, and added a corporate offering.

A panel session with funding source experts with funding source experts Barry Brennan, venture partner at Elkstone Partners, Tom Early, head of Funding and Scaling Solutions, Enterprise Ireland, and fund-raising expert Johnny Harte will answer questions on pitching and funding.

Tell us about the Show Me the Money event and programme and why you believe it is needed?

Show Me The Money is to connect funder to founders – those with the money to those who need money. All our research shows that support and advice on finance and funding is a top priority for small businesses so we’re bringing lots of different types of funders including banks, angel investors, VCs and micro finance together with start-ups and growing businesses who are looking to raise some funds.    

It’s cheesy, I know, but we’ll have stickers for everyone that say ‘I need Money’ or ‘I have Money’. We’ll also have some great speakers and panel discussions with banks, venture capitalists, Enterprise Ireland and amazing start-up We Are Riley who will share their funding journey. 

What are the main challenges facing businesses when trying to raise and manage money?

We connect with over 50,000 small businesses every month and what they tell us is fund-raising can be a difficult world to navigate. The biggest challenge is knowing ‘What, How and Who’. In other words how do entrepreneurs find out what’s the most suitable funding for them at their stage in the business life cycle, how do they go about accessing that financing, and who can help them through the process. A business will have different requirements for funding when it’s starting out versus when it’s looking to expand into new markets, so understanding and navigating that can be difficult.

We’ll be launching an exciting new programme for small businesses with this exact need in my mind at Show Me the Money so stay tuned for news on that!

As a business owner yourself, what are the key lessons you learnt in your time about running a business and raising funds/loans when necessary?

The list is long! But as a business owner for over 15 years I have learnt the value of advice. The world of finance is complex so I found having guidance either through an accountant or a financial adviser who understands the business life cycle of start-ups was critical. The right funding at the right time can make all the difference in the world to the success of a business, so having a trusted adviser who understands the landscape you’re trying to navigate it essential!   

I have only ever raised angel investment and the remainder of our funding to date has come from making sales. When I did take on funding, I realised it was important to look for ‘more than money’, so ideally choose a partner who can inject finance but can also offer mentorship as well as connections. 

What mistakes are under pressure business owners likely to make without the right advice?

I think it falls into two categories. The first is that they may go to the wrong provider for their funding requirements and they run the risk of getting turned down. For example, they could try a VC when they really need a bank loan. Alternatively, they could get funding when they don’t need it and if they don’t put it to the right use and prove they can make that financing work for them,  that can impact further fund raising rounds.    

When you raise money, you want to know how you will spend it and how the lender will get a return. This is why it’s important to go into fund-raising with a clear plan and trusted advisers can help with that. 

We are entering a turbulent market economy, will this make it harder to raise funding?

Turbulence is always accompanied by caution – for funders and founders. I think there will always be funding for the right idea at the right time. The trick is knowing and understanding what your funder will want from you and being prepared so that you can give them what they need to support you on your journey.

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.