The standard of entrants was higher than ever

With a prize worth €250,000 up for grabs, the race to be a part of the AIB Start-up Academy was fiercer than ever in 2016. After the Academy roadshow had travelled across the country dispensing advice and listening to new business ideas, almost 400 Irish Start-ups applied for their place in the most coveted business competition in the country. Judges from the Irish Times and AIB pored over the candidates’ pitch decks and in late January decided on a 22-strong longlist. The companies on the longlist included food producers, travel and sports companies, and innovative apps. One thing was clear: the competition was about to go up a notch.

The Competition Takes Shape

In February, each of the longlist candidates faced 15 minutes of fear, as they pitched their businesses to the judging panel. The pitching session – which consisted of a five-minute elevator pitch and a grilling from the judges – took place at the Irish Times’ offices in Dublin. The candidates did have a friendly face on hand though –  2015 Start-up Academy winner Fabien Peyaud – who came along on the day to offer some support and words of wisdom.

After a day of laughter, nerves, and some brilliant business ideas, the 10-company shortlist for the 2016 Start-up Academy was announced. With an exciting list of candidates including healthy meal delivery service Dropchef, packaging company Buska Ltd, and Cork-based spice purveyors Rebel Chilli, it was obvious that the competition was going to be hotter than ever this year. The line-up for the final was completed with the addition of wildcard pick Topper Technologies, who won over the voting audience on Twitter.