14 new Irish start-ups hit the ground running at Guinness centre in Dublin

3 Jul 2013

Des Fahey, chair executive of Dublin BIC; Michelle Clarke, Dublin Launch48 ambassador; Cllr Oisín Quinn, newly elected Lord Mayor of Dublin; and Mark O'Brien, Dublin Launch48 ambassador. Photo by John T Ohle Photography

Last weekend, the Guinness Enterprise Centre (GEC) in Dublin City was a hive of activity as 14 new Irish start-ups were officially launched at the incubation centre during a weekend brainstorming session. The event, known as Dublin Launch48, saw mentors from Ireland’s digital sector help 14 teams launch their start-ups over 48 hours.

Siliconrepublic.com first reported on Launch48 earlier this year. Irish IT professional Michelle Clarke is the brain behind bringing this event to Dublin. She got together with Mark O’Brien, a financial markets trader who previously ran his own start-up when he was a student, to co-organise Dublin Launch48.

Taking a similar approach to the renowned Startup Weekend series around the globe, where teams converge over 54 hours to nurture ideas for new ventures, Dublin Launch48 is a new start-up initiative to get Ireland going again via digital entrepreneurship. Other events that have been held in Ireland in recent times to develop start-ups include Startup Dublin. In 2012, the not-for-profit Leancamp also came to Dublin.

Launch48 aims to build web start-ups with a group of teams from a range of backgrounds and different sets of skills. For each team, the goal is to pitch, build and launch a startup in 48 hours. It is hosted in the GEC and supported by the Dublin Business Innovation Centre (Dublin BIC).

The start-up buzz

According to Clarke, it was a high-octane weekend, which saw 25 mentors from established Irish start-ups impart their knowledge about getting a new venture off the ground. These mentors included Gene Murphy of Redeem&Get; Fergal Brady of BlueFace; and Robin Blandford of D4H (Decisions 4 Heroes). Earlier this month, Siliconrepublic.com reported on how D4H had secured a five-year contract with the Government of Alberta, Canada, to provide its software for emergency services to search-and-rescue teams there.

The digital economy

At Launch48, newly elected Dublin Lord Mayor Cllr Oisín Quinn also spoke to the start-up participants about the need to find innovative digital solutions to tackle the challenges under the Digital Dublin initiative.

Over the weekend, each of the teams worked to develop their minimum viable product, launching on Sunday evening to an audience of potential investors and mentors.

Some of the new start-ups to emerge from Launch48 included MiHealth, a phone application for reducing the risk of heart attacks; CloudDock, a different approach to transferring files between cloud services; and BikeExchange, an online bicycle exchange service.

In an innovative twist, Sunday saw the teams hit the streets of Dublin to get real customer feedback, as part of their market research. This area of Dublin, particularly Thomas Street, has been getting serious attention from Dublin City Council in recent times in order to bring about a revival in this historic part of the city and attract more footfall for businesses.

How Launch48 came about

Clarke, an ambassador for Dublin Launch48, said today that she was at an event in Manchester, England, a few months ago when it struck her that there was a niche to host such a start-up event in Ireland.

Clarke and O’Brien then approached Dublin BIC to partner with them on getting the event off the ground. They both said Dublin BIC has been “hugely supportive”.

O’Brien said that he sees real potential for Launch 48 style events to lead to new jobs in home-grown technology start-ups here in Ireland.

According to Clarke, the Launch48 event even got direct vocal support from Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD. He said that events like Launch48 are a “great asset” to Ireland’s start-up scene to help drive the creation of new indigenous Irish technology companies, she said.

So, will be seeing more Launch48 events soon, especially as Ireland appears to be a hotbed for people with fresh ideas to create digital start-ups at the minute?

“It was brilliant to hold the event and the feedback we have been getting has been great,” said O’Brien and Clarke. “On the back of that we are looking at the potential to host similar events down the line.”

We’ll keep you in the loop!

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic