Applications are open for Accelerator 2016

March 31, 2016

Applications are open for the 2016 Accelerator in Belfast, commencing in September for 3 months.  There will be investment, mentoring, coworking space and acceleration! To find out more you can visit the programme website.

So what is on offer?

Our plan is simple and the ingredients even simpler:

A total focus on developing your business;

3 months co-working space, with an additional 6 month extension without charge;

Total commitment from a world class programme team;

Each startup will receive equity investment of £15,000, with the opportunity to gain up to £40,000 investment on completion the 3 month programme;

Additional significant opportunity for post accelerator investment;

Potential follow-on support from Invest Northern Ireland;

Guidance from a host of talented entrepreneurs and mentors;

These vital ingredients are mixed with a supportive cast of mentors and successful entrepreneurs who are there to develop your business. They add real value and expertise to the programme and share your passion in your company.



Highlights from our Accelerator Demo Day

March 8, 2016

Before we knew it, the 3 months passed us by and our companies were set for the StartPlanetNI Demo Day on Wednesday 2nd March. With a packed room and a cover of snow outside, the royal throne room was filled with investors, mentors and funders.  Up first was James Donaghy from Freelance Student, followed by 6 other startup companies including a stunning performance by Natalia from Pavanu, both on her feet pitching her business and a delightful piano recital fit for our venue, Hillsborough Castle.

xcell web demo day

Amongst the honours, Matthew Large CEO of Glistrr picked up the award for the ‘Most Investable Company’.

Applications for our second cohort, taking place September to December 2016, are already open at  Will your startup be one of the ten companies?


Accelerator Startup Spotlight || Orca Money

February 9, 2016

As our accelerator programme StartPlanetNI, moves on to its last 4 weeks, we put the spotlight on one of the companies Orca Money,  two Scottish cousins with a vision. A vision of helping everyday people make more money from their money.

Founders: Iain Niblock (CEO) and Jordan Stodart (CMO)

Orca Money is the no.1 peer-to-peer lending (P2P) comparison service in the UK. Orca aggregates and compares P2P investment opportunities on their impartial, informative and easy-to-use website. The goal? Simple. Help DIY investors make smart investment decisions and receive interest rates in the region 5% per annum avg from lending to borrowers through UK P2P platforms.

StartPlanet Adventure

Since joining the StartPlanet NI programme in November, the pair have come a tremendous distance. But let’s go back a year and see where it is they’ve come from. Iain and Jordan were previously running a retail bond issuance company, in Edinburgh. It was here that they became more familiar with peer-to-peer lending. Having gained excellent market insight, establishing comparison sites as the lowest costing acquisition channel, the guys decided to venture further into this new and exciting FinTech sector.

The Idea

The idea was generated in Summer 2015, where it was abundantly evident that no online resources were serving the user base (retail investors) by providing detailed data comparisons and easy-to-digest material, giving the user the confidence to invest in P2P lending. Thus, Orca Money was born.

Orca Money Business Model

Orca operates a referral fee business. They know that their customer acquisition channel is the cheapest and the least risky for the peer-to-peer lenders they list, as they are only paid when a user (retail investor) invests on the underlying businesses website. With 58 UK peer-to-peer lending platforms in operation and the potential to move into other financial products and global markets Orca as poised to exploit other commercial avenues should they wish to.

What makes Orca Money unique?

Peer-to-peer lending is a young industry, it’s 10 years old, but, it has grown exponentially in its young existence. There are now 58 players in the UK, collectively lending almost £4bn having grown YoY over 100% the last few years. This growth is going nowhere. The UK market is set on this upward trajectory for years to come.

What has this got to do with Orca? Well, the problem lies in the confusion surrounding P2P lending. Early adopters, or even those teased by the idea of investing, are confused by the number of platforms in operation. They are confused by the terminology and the products on offer and they lack this confidence to invest. Orca Money illuminates the nuance differences between platforms and products, they simplify the terminology and they empower the investor into making their own investment decisions. No banks, no bias, no advisors. Rather, independent, impartial data and information. No one is doing this effectively at the moment, except Orca Money.

Orca Money three-months achievements

When the guys arrived in Belfast two days before the programme commenced they had no product, no user base and no commercial partnerships with UK peer-to-peer lenders. By now, February 9th, the pair have an MVP featuring comparison table with filters and outputs launched, an abundance of content on-site and partnerships with nine major UK P2P platforms. This means you can visit their site, digest content and browse the numerous lenders listed, empowering you to invest and start earning the rates you deserve.

You can find out for yourself, by visiting



Gallery | 112 Donegall St, Belfast

February 8, 2016


StartPlanet NI Opens Doors to the NI Business Community

January 29, 2016

We had a great evening yesterday, as StartPlanet NI, Northern Ireland’s only private equity based start-up accelerator opened its doors to the NI business community recently with a stakeholder and pitch event, held in the new Belfast start-up hub in 112 Donegall Street.

‘Our accelerator has kicked off and these companies mean business’

Invited guests heard from Lead Mentor, and international start-up stalwart and founder Bill Liao about the importance of such an accelerator programme to the Northern Ireland start-up scene and the value it will bring to help participant companies succeed globally. They also heard introductory pitches from the first batch of successful start-up teams from both Northern Ireland and international markets who are now half way through their three month intensive work-out.

At the event it was also confirmed by Diane Roberts, that a new substantial private equity EIS fund, Colman Equity, will soon be launched in Northern Ireland to directly support the growth of StartPlanet NI participants and other tech start-ups in NI.



Pictured at the event are (l-r) Bill Liao, lead Mentor, StartPlanet NI; Diane Roberts, CEO Xcell Partners and also Programme Director for StartPlanet NI with Niall Casey, Director of Skills and Strategy, Invest Northern Ireland.


One to Watch || Diane Roberts, Xcell Partners

January 28, 2016

We were thrilled to have our CEO get a write up in Ulster Business, as One to Watch in 2016. Thanks for the coverage and well done to all the other companies who were mentioned this year.

Ulster Business Magazine Jan 2016 Diane Roberts



Student Placement || Startups, tech and experience

January 27, 2016

We’re looking for a student placement to join us in our Belfast co-working space (@112DonegallSt).  Host to a startup accelerator, investors, entrepreneurs and a lot more.

Ideally this is a great placement for anyone studying Business, Marketing, IT  – but we are looking for a person who is great at helping out at events, admin, marketing, digital media… so students of any subject can ping us.  You’ll learn about pitching, event management, marketing, financing the small business, and help housekeep the coolest venue in town for startups. There’ll be some early starts, some weekend work. You’ll get the best placement in Belfast.

Starts in June/July 2016 and runs for 9-12 months. Good pay and great opportunities to learn.

Interested? Then email mark @ with a 1-2 page CV.




In the Press || Sunday Times

November 15, 2015

Delighted to get a mention in the Sunday Times today, giving a mention to Diane Roberts and our partners Invest NI, as we deliver startup programmes Propel and StartPlanet.



Pitch Perfect for Propel

September 28, 2015

The entrepreneurs each pitched to a panel of experts and investors with the aim of taking their business to the next level. The group has been participating on Propel throughout 2014/15 – which involves a programme of intensive planning, networking, mentoring and market visits – with the aim of growing their business internationally. Jeremy Fitch, Invest Northern Ireland’s Executive Director of Business Solutions Group, is pictured with the group as they prepared for the big pitch.


33 of Northern Ireland’s most exciting business start-ups took centre stage at The MAC in Belfast  for the Invest Northern Ireland Propel ‘Pitch Up’ event.

Applications for the next programme are now open, find out more here.




112 Donegall St || Belfast’s new co-working space

August 31, 2015

We’re pumped up to announce some news..   We’re opening Belfast’s first startup co-working space.   Host to the StartPlanetNI accelerator the facility is located on Donegall St and will open it’s doors in November. We’ll be offering hotdesk space on monthly rates, meeting rooms, function space in January 2016. Keep up to date at @112DonegallSt.




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