Dogpatch reveals new FOUNDERS talent accelerator

Dogpatch Labs’s FOUNDERS is a new type of accelerator programme that will match people with different backgrounds and skillsets from across Ireland.

The search is on for 40 entrepreneurs willing to take part in a new kind of accelerator.

Dogpatch Labs today unveiled FOUNDERS, which it describes as Ireland’s first talent accelerator to find individuals with exceptional potential to meet co-founders and create transformational new start-ups.

“With FOUNDERS, we engineer for finding the best co-founder partnerships by curating a cohort that is committed to building a world class company now”

This new type of accelerator programme will match exceptional individuals from different backgrounds and skill sets with co-founders and help them build new high-impact, digital start-ups, focusing on people first and ideas second.

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The programme is looking for more than 40 people with high entrepreneurial potential to take part in a three month initial programme, paying them a monthly stipend, with the opportunity to pitch for €100k equity investment and an additional three month follow-on acceleration programme. 

FOUNDERS will include mentoring by leading Irish founders like Bobby Healy, the Founder and CEO of Drone company, Manna, Entrepreneur & Broadcaster Aine Kerr, and talent experts such as Stephen Kinsella (Immersive Software Engineering Director, University of Limerick). 

Regional hubs such as  Portershed (Galway), RDI Hub (Kerry) and Republic of Work (Cork) act as Ecosystem Partners and Talent Scouts, will be helping identify participants for the programme.

The programme is divided into two phases: The first phase is an intensive 3 month programme, “Formation”, full time onsite at Dogpatch Labs, which is focused on finding a co-founder, ideating on global problems from scratch and pitching for €100K equity investment, while receiving a monthly stipend. The second phase ‘Accelerate’, is support for those start-ups that receive investment to scale a globally impactful company.

FOUNDERS is looking to broadly recruit a cohort made up of 50% business backgrounds, for example those with sales or Go-to-Market experience or domain experts in a unique field and also 50% from technical backgrounds; those that have backgrounds in software engineering, computer science, product building or PHDs in areas such as data science or AI. There is no target age range or required level of experience to apply for the programme, the only specific requisite being the ability to problem solve at pace and the ambition to found a high-growth start-up, what the team term “founder potential”. 

Talent investing

Dogpatch Labs CEO Patrick Walsh said Founders follows a major global trend towards “Talent Investing” over the last decade, with talent accelerators now emerging as a key building block of major startup ecosystems. He explained that the programme is founded on the principle that talent in Ireland is evenly distributed, but the opportunity to find a co-founder is not. The cornerstone to ‘Founders’ is the belief that a well-balanced founding team is the most significant determinant of start-up success. It seeks to form teams of diverse talent who have the ambition, technical skills, domain expertise, and problem-solving ability to create innovative start-ups. 

“Over the last decade, we’ve been lucky to work with thousands of incredible entrepreneurs,” Walsh said.

“With FOUNDERS, we engineer for finding the best co-founder partnerships by curating a cohort that is committed to building a world class company now. It is our belief that there is a huge untapped talent pool in Ireland that we want to unlock. We’re investing first in talent more than just the business ideas which come later. We’re hyper focused on bringing together a diverse group of individuals with a wide range of skills and backgrounds to work together on ideas that can become truly global businesses.”

He said that after 30+ years of foreign direct investment by some of the world’s most advanced technology companies, Ireland has an incredible installed talent base that now presents the opportunity to be a significant competitive advantage as it moves into an economic era where the war for global talent is heating up.

Combined with other talent focussed initiatives such as the new Immersive Software Engineering course at the University of Limerick, recognised as one of  the best, future focused courses in Europe and youth-focused programs such as the Patch accelerator, Ireland has a unique opportunity to lead the European perspective  as a leading talent nation. 

The programme will run full time, in person, from September in Dogpatch Labs in Dublin’s docklands. Regional NDRC Hubs such as Portershed (Galway), RDI Hub (Kerry), Republic of Work (Cork) will be a key part of scouting for talent across the country and will also host local recruitment events.  

The pilot programme is funded by returns from successful investments in Irish startups through the NDRC, which reinvests in initiatives that support the creation of world-class digital companies. Commenting on the launch, NDRC Board Director, Jon Bradford said: “This initiative marks a new pathway to entrepreneurship for many who may not have the network or funding to build a startup otherwise. The programme adds a complementary building block to the existing startup ecosystem”.  

The new, talent-led approach of ‘Founders’ has received widespread support from government, universities, and the Irish investment community, promising to create a pipeline of quality startups for the seed landscape, stimulating growth for the indigenous startup ecosystem, despite the current challenging macroeconomic conditions.

Applications for Founders are opening today and will close on June 18th 2023. For further information or to apply click here or visit Dogpatch Labs.

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