Meet the Rising Stars regional winners: Northern Ireland’s five top early-stage companies

Kane Fulton, December 4, 2020 5 min read

Rising Stars is the UK’s only national competition for innovative, early-stage tech companies. Last year, 10 companies were crowned Rising Stars 2.0 Winners at our London Grand Final. Now, five regional winners for each region and nation across the UK will compete nationally for the chance to be named as one of the 10 winners of Rising Stars 3.0. Read on to find out more about our five Northern Ireland winners – Budibase, Elemental, ESTHER, Selazar, and SureCert.

Budibase

Building custom software for your business in minutes, without coding, Budibase is an open source, nocode platform used for building web applications, to digitise your business. Small to medium sized businesses and digital consultants use Budibase to build and host apps, or for supporting their self-hosted deployments. CEO Mike Shanks spoke to Tech Nation.

How does it feel to be a Rising Stars regional winner?

At Budibase, we are empowering organisations to build web applications faster than ever. We’re really looking forward to getting some great exposure for Budibase, as we near our V1 launch and raise additional funding to accelerate our rise.

What is it like being a tech company based in Northern Ireland?

Belfast is a fantastic place to run a tech startup – we have a deep resource of engineering talent, and a thriving startup scene. We are proud to represent Belfast, and Northern Ireland.

Elemental

Elemental is an award-winning tech for good company with the purpose of empowering and enabling individuals, families and their carers to better connect into community-based programmes, services and interventions that make a positive impact on their lives. Through an innovative digital platform, it provides teams with the technical connectivity they need for multi-sector partnership working, leadership, and the measurement of mobilisation of support where needed. CEO and cofounder Jennifer Neff spoke to Tech Nation.

How does it feel to be a Rising Stars regional winner?

We started Elemental because we wanted to halt health inequalities through social prescribing. Leeann Monk and I are former Community Development workers; our mission has always been for the people and the communities we were set up to serve. We are proud to be recognised as one of Northern Ireland Rising Stars. We’re are scaling our business, innovating and growing every day. Our markets have increased during Covid-19 and so has the size of our team.

What is it like being a tech company based in Northern Ireland?

We have always been proud of where we come from and now we can use the Rising Stars platform as a way to showcase Elemental as an exciting innovation coming from this region that is helping governments and communities get ahead of this crisis.

ESTHER

ESTHER is a corporate giving platform which allows businesses to engage across a range of cause-based charity programmes. It simplifies and automates corporate giving – allowing businesses to give directly to verified people in need in the community. Solving real problems, leaving a real legacy with live impact reporting, its USP is the ability to give directly to verified people in need in your own community. CEO Carol Rossborough spoke to Tech Nation.

How does it feel to be a Rising Stars regional winner?

2020 has been a year of traction and clarity for team ESTHER – it’s the perfect time for us to showcase our platform to the wider UK market through Tech Nation’s Rising Stars programme.

What is it like being a tech company based in Northern Ireland?

IgniteNI has provided us with an incredible cohort of like minded founders, mentors and a global network of advisors. The Northern Ireland tech scene is incredibly supportive.

Selazar

Selazar is a tech-first company automating retailers’ entire eCommerce operation through its single fulfilment platform. Selazar automatically picks, packs, stores and ships products with up to a 40% saving compared to other fulfilment providers. The end-to-end solution encompasses stock management, deliveries and returns for the retailer allowing them to scale their business without the heavy lifting. CEO Jack Williams spoke to Tech Nation.

How does it feel to be a Rising Stars regional winner?

Selazar is ecstatic to be representing Northern Ireland for Rising Stars. We are proud of what our company has achieved in such a short space of time and hungry for more. We are excited to drive forward our platform development and plans for expansion, with our next investment round opening in Q1, 2021.

What is it like being a tech company based in Northern Ireland?

As a tech-first eCommerce company, our Belfast based Product and Development team is at the core of what we do. Our bright and energetic team drives Selazar forward, through innovative thinking and creative solutions. Being based in Belfast has allowed us to acquire this highly skilled and adaptable local workforce, offering them the opportunity to stand out in their field and make their mark.

SureCert

SureCert is a digitised background checking platform, enabling recruiters to confirm quickly that candidates are who they say they are, have done what they have said they have done and have nothing in their backgrounds that would stop them from working in regulated sectors. Founder and CEO Ian Savage spoke to Tech Nation.

How does it feel to be a Rising Stars regional winner?

We are delighted to be one of the companies representing Northern Ireland, which is full of really impressive start ups and scale ups. This is great timing as we have massively enhanced our product during the covid lockdown, won an Innovator of the year award and will be onboarding our first major customer in early 2021.

What is it like being a tech company based in Northern Ireland?

We have been supported by private and publicly funded investors in both Northern Ireland and Scotland. In addition, Northern Ireland has a very supportive ecosystem for startups and scaleups, in particular the support we get from the CEO Connect group – group of CEOs facilitated by Catalyst – which has been amazing.

Northern Ireland