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Cliona Murray, Founder of PluAlto, 2019 - 2020 New Frontiers Programme Participant

Updated: Apr 11, 2021

This is a short story on my experience through Enterprise Ireland's New Frontiers Programme, to highlight this fantastic programme and its importance of entrepreneurial preparedness in the complex startup space, moving from idea to an investor ready business plan and advanced R&D.

In April 2019, after 6 months of early stage research and development, I decided to seek the support of the Local Enterprise Office, to figure out options for idea generation stage startups. After the Local Enterprise Office Advisory Clinic, I rushed to complete the application for Phase 1 of the programme, which was due for submission in two days. Being called for interview, was an achievement, certainly for me at the time, and all of a sudden I was shocked to see a real belief of others in our idea, and I was offered a place on the programme on the spot.

Phase 1 was an eye-opener, and a realisation of the complexities and challenges of starting a business. It was a part time evening programme based in the Rubicon Centre, delivered by some of the most experienced experts in the fields of research, development, business modelling and planning. I made it a mission, to follow the steps and guidance of mentors, and execute them accordingly to validation the problem solution fit.

Moving to phase 2 of the programme, was an entirely different ball game. It meant leaving my job, and dedicating my time strictly to PluAlto. This of course takes a lot to do, stepping away from a path of building a successful career in workplace and child protection investigations and mediations. Having made the decision to do so, I submitted my application, was called for interview and was once again shocked beyond belief that we secured a place for phase 2.

The phase 2 journey provided equity free funding, training and support provided by Enterprise Ireland, and so it allowed full commitment to enhancement and moving from concept to development. It involved a set of intense training and requirements, validation through customer discovery, developing our business plan, exposed to investor pitches that helped fill the gaps. More importantly, it supported us in building our founding team, from a technical developer, HR specialist, Organisation Psychologist, in addition to a range of advisors and supporters.

Phase 3 was based on our progress through phase 2, and so having put all efforts into moving from concept, to a strong positioning, we were delighted to be offered the place for further funding and support.

From a personal perspective, and as a sole female founder, this programme helped build the will required to drive a successful startup. Because of this journey, PluAlto has come out stronger than ever before. I would highly recommend this programme to all startups, beginning their journey.

Thank you to Enterprise Ireland, the New Frontiers Programme, Cork City Local Enterprise Office, the Rubicon Centre Team and all those who helped us along the journey. We couldn’t have done it without your support and guidance, which helped us bring our solution from early stage concept to advanced R&D and software development. It was a pleasure working with the team at Enterprise Ireland and the Rubicon Centre, Cork.

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