Proud Sponsors of Lean Startup Machine Belfast, 20-22 June

So what exactly is it? Lean Startup Machine (LSM) is a three-day workshop on building a successful business. Most new ventures fail because they build something no one wants. LSM teaches you a process for discovering which products will succeed in the marketplace and which won’t. LSM is an immersive, 48-hour educational experience, NOT a conference and NOT a hackathon. In 2014 there are 300 LSMs taking place across the globe, from Sydney to San Francisco, from Berlin to New York.

We’re sponsoring the Belfast event, which takes place Friday, June 20th 6:00 PM to Sunday, June 22nd 7:00 PM.  To buy tickets go here. And use discount code ‘xcellpartners’ to get 30% off the ticket price.

Microsoft BizSpark Network Partner

Microsoft® BizSpark™ gives you fast, easy access to current, full-featured Microsoft development tools and production licenses of server products; professional technical and expert business support; plus global visibility to new markets.  To join BizSpark, Microsoft recommends you be sponsored by a BizSpark Network Partner, such as Xcell Partners. You’ll find more program details here. When you’re ready to sign up, contact us about sponsorship and how to get your enrollment code. Once you have your enrollment code, joining BizSpark is fast and easy. No payment or credit card information is required.

Get your Startup fired up! Visit the Microsoft BizSpark Website to learn more!

Female enterprise alive & kicking at Queen’s University

We were proud to be part of the recent InnovateHER programme in Queen’s University of Belfast.  The programme run by the QUB Students Union Enterprise team takes a group of wanna be entrepreneurs on a skills and development journey from October through to March, providing one-to-one advice, direction and business plan development.

Mark joined Roseann Kelly CEO WIBNI, Darina Armstrong, CEO of Progressive Building Society and Helen Kirkpatrick of Invest Northern Ireland on the final pitch judging panel.  There was a great variety of business ideas and creativity shown by the participants.  The three best business ideas included tailored lingerie, agri-tech and Asian food.  Well done ladies! To find out more about the programme get in touch with Lynne Weir, Enterprise & Development Officer.

Xcell pick up gong at CIM awards

We were pleased (and shocked) to pick up an award at the recent CIM Ireland Marketing Excellence Awards in the Business Services Sector.  Our work as delivery agents for the Invest Northern Ireland Propel programme, in particular the recruitment drive in the Autumn was acknowledged.

The awards celebrate, recognise and reward the best marketing achievements across various industry sectors in Ireland and acknowledge the contribution made by both individuals and teams. Now in their 14th year the awards programme and categories are designed to attract entries from businesses of all sizes, operating in all sectors in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The Awards were announced at a Gala Dinner on Thursday 7 November 2013 at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast hosted by Claire McCollum, Freelance Presenter at BBC Northern Ireland and former UTV presenter.

Business Launchpad – Queen’s University of Belfast

We are pleased to announce that we have been selected to work with Invest Northern Ireland and Queen’s University Students Union to deliver the Business Launchpad programme in Queen’s University Belfast this autumn.

Business Launchpad is an innovative and challenging business accelerator programme for students of all disciplines.  It will focus on product ideation, business planning and getting investor ready.  There will a limited number of 50 places available.

If you are a student at Queen’s and have an interest in applying for a place on the programme, email  You can follow the programme on twitter @LaunchpadQueens or take a look at the programme details and make an application at the website

Welcome to the LOFT

The LOFT is a unique shared working space for startups and creative individuals.  Located in Newry we are conveniently placed midway between Belfast and Dublin, and have lots of local parking, excellent broadband and great company.  We’re not just a place to sit and work. It’s an ecosystem, it’s a place where people can create.

The space is run by a team of start-up junkies and all round new business development buffs, with plenty of know-how and great business connections. If you would be interested in applying for a place in the LOFT call us at 028 4179 8123, email or follow us on twitter @9StColmans. Find us on Google Maps.

Find out more about what’s available at

Our Managing Partner Addresses Summit

Intelligent Systems are all around us and they are changing our world in profound and exciting ways. Mobile, social, cloud and big data technologies are converging, creating an explosion of information access and usage. IT systems of the future will make use of adaptive learning, cognitive and bio-inspired systems as well as distributed and embedded control and sensing. These novel technologies will play an increasingly important role in providing responses to major societal challenges such as an ageing population, health and social care, sustainable production, transport, education and security. The summit took place in Derry/Londonderry on 11th to 12th June. Find out more about the summit here.

Propel Programme

We are pleased to announce that we have been re-appointed as the delivery agents for Invest Northern Ireland’s Propel Programme.  

Propel is a one year enterprise development programme that takes people with a business idea on a journey to commercialisation; from prototype to product; to sales and new customers; seeking funding along the way to fuel export growth and local employment.  At the end you will be able to stand and pitch for investment, present your business plan and do business internationally.

In the past three years over 30 new Northern Ireland based companies on the Propel programme have developed new markets, sought and gained over £3m investment and are already employing 50 people. Now we need more determined entrepreneurs to build on this success with three planned programmes to run between now and November 2015, with the first kicking off in February 2013 with an application date of 22nd January 2013.

Invest Northern Ireland is running a series of regional awareness seminars to launch the latest programme which will provide startups with high quality training, one to one mentoring, workshops, networking opportunities and financial support.  The sessions will take place in the week commencing 10th December and will be held in Newry, Omagh, Derry/Londonderry, Ballymena and Belfast.

To find out more about the information sessions and book a place, click here

Alternatively you can call 0870 4954841, email, visit the programme website  or follow the Propel Programme twitter feed here.

Propel 2012 Award Winners

The Propel Programme 2012 came to close yesterday with the conclusion being marked with an awards dinner event, held at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast.  Guest speaker Alastair Hamilton, CEO Invest NI, addressed the audience and made particular remark to the achievements of past participants of the programme, and the central role export focused innovative businesses have in the Northern Ireland economy.

The awards event was held to acknowledge the efforts and progress of all of the participating companies on the programme, with a number of special awards given to 5 of the startup businesses.  

Propel Company of the Year – Okotech, Janette O’Hagan

Best Final Investor Pitch – GripZone, Fergus Wallace

Business Which Made Most Progress - School Apps Kit, Richard Johnston

Best Go To Market Strategy – NoSho, Collette McCrarren

John Butler Best Networker  - Adoreboard, Chris Johnston


Presentations from Angel Meetup

The following presentations can be viewed at

US Seed Stage Valuation Trends – Bill Payne

Entrepreneur turned Investor – Danny Moore

Green Your Goods, Pitch Presentation – Barry Walsh

Relevenz, Pitch Presentation – Stephen Oman

payByMobile, Pitch Presentation – Liam Lowe

Successful Event – Angel Meetup

Our inaugural Angel Meetup event was deemed a success with over 150 delegates in attendance who heard a group of leading angel investors share their insight and experiences with a packed audience. Media personality and angel investor Gavin Duffy compared the event, with investors including Bill Laio of SOS Ventures, Tadgh O’Toole of Bloom Equity and Danny Moore of Loughshore Investments amongst the panel and speakers.

It also gave Diane Roberts of Xcell Partners an opportunity to launch a new investment initiative Colman Equity which will have hubs in both Belfast and Dublin.

“We’re open for investors; we’re open for entrepreneurs,” she said.  Roberts also reflected on the new breed of start-ups that are emerging in Ireland.

“We’ve seen lots of new words emerging in recent times,” she said, “such as lean-start-ups, to reflect the change.” However, Roberts said that these start-ups need to be funded.

“We need to have a robust angel community. We now have eight additional syndicates across the country.”

According to Roberts, the aim of future Angel MeetUps in Ireland will be to share knowledge about angel investing, while also giving both self-starters and investors a forum to network. “Ultimately, it’s about funding start-ups,” she said.

Further details about the event can be found at Silicon Republic, who done an excellent job of covering the event. Thanks also go to all the event sponsors and in particular to Eoghan Jennings and the entire team at StartupbootcampDublin. Take a bow to Alison and Tom.

Future Angel Meetup events are planned for this year, both in Dublin and Belfast.

Photos: Read More

Angel Meetup 2012

We are pleased to announce we are hosting Angel Meetup 2012, on 18th April 2012 in Dublin.

This inaugural event, targeting both Angel Investors and Entrepreneurs is uniquely designed to discuss the hot topics of the Business Angel Community and to showcase four innovative companies raising finance demonstrating what Irish based entrepreneurs have to offer.
Speakers include, Gavin Duffy, Entrepreneur & Irish Dragon’s Den Presenter; Bill Liao, Entrepreneur & Micro Angel; Danny Moore of Loughshore Investments; Diane Roberts from the event host Xcell Partners; Nelson Gray, an experienced Scottish investor; Accomplished business leader Leslie Buckley. We are delighted to announce the internationally renowned Bill Payne as our keynote speaker. Accomplished, award winning, experienced and here in Dublin, Bill will be sharing his wealth of knowledge and insights into angel investment with us. Don’t miss this chance to listen, meet and possibly pitch your business idea.

Come meet the leaders in angel investment on the island – be there! Book your place

Unique Event. With the vision to make this the place for entrepreneurs, seed funds, and the Angel community to meet, network, and to learn.  We aim to make the Angel community more accessible and open to the startup community in Ireland, and help the community to build relationships with other co-investors, seed funds, VC community, and enterprise agencies, across the island.

Calling all start ups!   If you are a start-up company seeking to raise seed capital from angels, we want to hear from you!  We are offering four invigorating companies the exclusive opportunity to pitch at Ireland’s first Angel Meetup and importantly avail of 1-1 mentoring in advance with Bill Payne.

New premises in Dublin

Xcell Partners are delighted to announce they have moved offices in Dublin to Startup Bootcamp, 35A Barrow Street, Dublin 4. Please feel free to drop in any time!

Propel Networking Event

The first Propel networking event of 2012 was held on 9th February  in Belfast.  This was an exclusive gathering for the current Invest NI  Propel Programme participants to share their business ideas and  connect with the wider business community.   We were fortunate to  have Dylan Collins give a keynote speech to the group, sharing his 7  steps to entrepreneurial success.

Bill Scott, Executive Director Invest NI, who also addressed the  group, stressed the importance of the programme and its’ positive economic impact.

Those in attendance included current and past Propel Programme participants, investors and a range of business executives from across the region.

Propelling Northern Ireland’s Brightest Start Up Businesses Forward

Alastair Hamilton, Chief Executive of Invest Northern Ireland congratulated 15 of Northern Ireland’s brightest entrepreneurs for making it through to the second phase of Invest NI’s Propel programme at the Ramada Plaza hotel at Shaw’s Bridge.

Speaking at the programmes inaugural workshop Mr Hamilton said: “The Propel programme offers local entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to turn innovative ideas into high growth, export focused businesses.”

“The 15 companies represent areas of growth for our economy. They include businesses in the renewables and environmental sectors, software and App developers, and niche manufacturing and recycling businesses. Each of them has demonstrated good export potential which we hope this programme will help them achieve.”

“We have already demonstrated that this type of business support is good for our economy. Last year 18 companies completed this programme and already they have created 17 high value jobs, and we anticipate a further 39 new jobs will be created over the next 12 months.  Five of the companies have secured equity investment totalling more than £925,000.”

Janette O’Hagan from Okotech Ltd, which has developed an innovative product to revolutionise the control energy in homes and businesses was one of the successful candidates who made it through to Phase 2. 

Janette O’Hagan said: “Being able to progress with this programme is a fantastic development for our business at this stage. It will allow me to focus my efforts 100% on the continued development of our product and the market potential. Our HeatBOSS product is designed to help our customers to use energy more efficiently, thus saving up to 30% of their heating costs.

“At a time of rising energy prices we can see huge potential for our business both domestically and in overseas markets. I hope that through my participation in Propel that we can bring our product to market within the next six months, something that will ensure we capture a significant share of our potential market.

“Propel has given me the opportunity to learn the business ropes from experienced and successful mentors and also meet many of Northern Ireland’s brightest entrepreneurs along the way.”

Press Release issued by Invest Northern Ireland (Friday 02 September 2011)

Xcell Partners move to new premises

We have moved into our new office in Newry. Complete with meeting facilities and incubator offices available from September.

To celebrate we are hosting a ‘open house’ between 4-6 this coming Friday, 1st July. Everyone is welcome to drop in and say hello.  There is street parking is available, but there is also ample paid parking to the rear of the office in the car park close to the cathedral.

Map showing 9 St. Colman’s Park Newry BT34 2BX.

Propel Programme – Press Coverage

Coverage of the Propel Programme in the Irish Times.

Programme helps propel barber to brand leader

An Invest NI-funded boot camp for budding entrepreneurs grooms businesses for success

A 987-mile round trip from Edinburgh to Bristol fuelled by a desire to change “the way men think about grooming” might not seem like the easiest way to get a new business venture off the ground. 

But for Belfast entrepreneur Jason Shankey it is all in a day’s work when it comes to making the transition from “barber to brand leader”.  Shankey, who trained as a barber in London before launching his “men only grooming” concept in 1997, last year decided it was time to build on his brand.

After 15 years at the cutting edge of the men’s grooming sector and successfully building a franchise business across the UK, Shankey decided to launch a range of “Expert” hair and skin hair products. Shankey believed it was a logical step for him to help clients look great not only in the salon but also at home.

Today his products are available in high-end department stores the length and breadth of the UK – hence his 987-mile trip in his Jason Shankey-branded Mini last month to meet all the retailers now stocking his male grooming range.

Read the full article here.

Blog post on here.

Propel 2011/12 Now Open for Applications

Applications are now open for the Propel Programme. To find our more about the programme take a look at the Propel Programme website. 

Propel is a business support programme provided by Invest Northern Ireland designed to help export focused start up businesses. Propel aims to educate, to challenge, to support and above all to get the best out of the business owner and accelerate the growth of their business. Propel is not simply a training course. It is a programme that sets rigorous challenges to the participants. It is designed for entrepreneurs with business ideas that have export potential and the ability to scale up within 12 months. The programme of support will not suit every business. It is specifically for business ideas that are innovative, are knowledge based and can demonstrate the potential to export and create local employment.

Xcell Partners team to run the marathon

Xcell are teaming up to run and walk the Newry Marathon on the 19th May 2011.  We will be raising funds for two charities, the Southern Area Hospice in Newry, Northern Ireland and for Pratham Shiksha a school in Jaipur India, providing an education to many children who may not otherwise receive it.

Go here to donate

Business Angel Conference 2011

The HBAN Business Angel Conference is the largest knowledge and networking event of its kind for angel investors in Ireland. This event attracts a targeted audience of Ireland’s top entrepreneurs and most active angel investors.

Last year’s conference brought together 80 of Ireland’s angel investment community to share tips, tricks, and experiences of investing in Irelands innovative knowledge sector. The 2011 Business Angel Conference will see contributions from experienced international angels and experts in private equity.

Event Date: Wednesday 23rd March 2011,

Time: 8.30am – 1.00pm

Location: Westin Hotel, Dublin

Find out more here