Ormeau Baths & Techstart Ventures launch Northern Ireland’s first startup support programme with Founder Friendly equity investment

Ormeau Baths and Techstart Ventures today announced  applications are open for its new startup support programme aimed at Northern Ireland’s next generation of indigenous and most ambitious entrepreneurs. For the first time, successful  startups will receive £50k investment using a founder friendly convertible loan note.


The first cohort of up to eight startups will be chosen to participate in the initial programme that  will commence in October 2022, with each startup having direct coaching and access to Ian Browne and the cofounders of Ormeau Baths including Jon Bradford and Mark Dowds who  combined have over 50 years of practical hands-on experience as investors and  entrepreneurs. Building on the experience of having invested in more than 100 leading seed  stage companies across Northern Ireland and Scotland, the Techstart Ventures’ team will  provide direct support as well as access to Techstart Ventures’ pre-existing portfolio  resources. 


The programme will combine the resources of Ormeau Baths and Techstart Ventures across  12 months – kicking off with a 3-month deep dive that provides the founders with detailed feedback on product, go to market, business models and funding a startup. This will be  complimented with access to personal networks from successful entrepreneurs who have both built startups and personally invested in local Northern Irish startups. Alongside this, the  startups will have full access to permanent workstations at Ormeau Baths throughout the 12  months and the perks and benefits that come with this. 


Ormeau Baths and Techstart have teamed up to provide both the practical combination of  guidance from accomplished entrepreneurs and the investment capital to help early-stage founders move at a faster pace at this critical stage of the business’ development. Each startup will receive a founder friendly £50k investment using an unsecured loan note, with a 20%  discount on conversion with no valuation cap. This instrument provides simple and transparent  terms and is a great foundation upon which to build an ambitious future funding strategy. 


“Our approach is to put the founder front and centre of everything we do including the investment terms we have on offer – we want to make sure the best founders can and want to  join”, said Jon Bradford, co‑founder of Ormeau Baths.


The nature of the partnership with Techstart Ventures offers Northern Ireland founders access to support and capital in a  progressive manner consistent with international best practice.” 


Hal Wilson, Partner at Techstart Ventures, commented


“We have seen that bringing ambitious  founders together in a ‘can-do’ environment, with the support of capital and advice, is a great  way to spark the building of great early-stage businesses. We are delighted to be working with  the Ormeau Baths to help create the next generation of Northern Ireland tech businesses.” 


Finally, the programme plans to provide participants access to international resources,  experience and investors. A global mindset is a prerequisite of the programme, which includes  the opportunity for trips to tech hotspots including London, Dublin, New York and San  Francisco. Early exposure to the US market and the associated tech methodologies will coach founders out of their comfort zone and teach them how to build and scale a company  internationally. 


Applications for the programme open on June 30th and will close on the 30th of August for a  programme start date in October.


Frequently Asked Questions 


Who should apply for the programme? 


We are keen to hear from all NI based entrepreneurs who have a big problem to solve. You can be a solo founder, early team and be pre-product and revenue. It can simply be an idea at  this stage, or you may have already started building an early version of the product. 


Is it in person? 


A majority of the content will be delivered virtually but we intend to run in-person sessions in  the Ormeau Baths throughout the course of the year. All teams will be provided desks at  Ormeau Baths for up to one year – so don’t be a stranger. We believe that going through this  early phase of company building as part of a group facing the same challenges is a significant  positive of the programme. 


How is the programme structured? 


There will be an initial three month core programme for the group, which is mentor driven. The  personalised per founder content will be less than an hour a week and we will provide introductions and support on a personalised basis. After the initial three months it will be lighter  touch with bi-weekly check-ins and on demand support when required. 


Do I have to travel? 


We are planning to offer founders the opportunity to travel to both Europe and the US if they wish to do so. It will not be compulsory but really, why would you not want to go? Travel costs  will not be covered by the programme. 


What are the terms of the investment? 


Our investment £50k will made up of a £65k uncapped convertible loan note (with 20%  discount) less a support fee of £15k (net of VAT) that contributes to the out of pocket  programme support costs and access to Ormeau Baths for a year. 


I am a solo founder, can I apply? 


Yes! We welcome applications from both solo founders and early-stage teams. 


Can I participate while still in employment? 


Yes, but you must have an intention to leave within 3 months. The investment is designed to give you enough cashflow to move from employment to full time on your startup. 


How do I apply? 


Fill in the application form at https://ormeaubaths.com/labs/ 



About Techstart Ventures 

Techstart Ventures LLP is a venture capital fund manager operating in Scotland and Northern  Ireland. In Northern Ireland, Techstart provides support for early-stage technology businesses  and university spin-outs through £50m of equity funds, and a proof of concept grant fund. As  part of its Access to Finance strategy, Invest NI is a Limited Partner in the Northern Ireland  equity funds, funder of the proof of concept grant fund, and is part-funded by ERDF under the  EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020. 


About Ormeau Baths 

Ormeau Baths is a collaborative shared co-working space and tech community based in a  Victorian era listed building in Belfast, which aims to be a hub for the Northern Irish tech  community. It is being driven by entrepreneurs Jon Bradford, Mark Dowds, and Steve Pette  with support from tech leaders from Northern Ireland’s digital diaspora, including Stripe’s David  Singleton and Sarah Friar of Nextdoor. Barclays is a major partner in the space and operates  Eagle Lab in Belfast at Ormeau Baths.

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