21 Irish start-ups to watch in 2016

21 Dec 2015

Who are the Irish start-ups to watch in 2016?

Siliconrepublic.com editor John Kennedy makes his selection of the start-ups with the right stuff to succeed in 2016.

All start-ups are precious to us and these are the start-ups we believe will blaze a trail in 2016. In no particular order, here are 21 Irish start-ups to watch in 2016:

1. Beats Medical


Ciara Clancy on stage at InspireFest in June. Picture via Conor McCabe Photography

It has been a stellar year for Beats Medical’s Ciara Clancy. As well as making a stellar presentation at Inspirefest 2015, Clancy was named Laureate for Europe at the Cartier Women’s Initiative 2015. This was quickly followed up by winning Google’s Adopt A Start-up Programme earlier this month. Clancy launched Beats Medical in 2012, which sports a smartphone app that provides ‘specialised cueing treatment’ for Parkinson’s patients, which is basically sound wave treatment that enables people to regain mobility.

2. Bizimply


Mary Collins, ESB judge and partner in Greencoat Capital, pictured presenting Bizimply co-founder Gerard Forde with the Spark of Genius Award at Web Summit. Photo: Connor McKenna

Bizimply is an all-in-one people and shift management solution for the service industry, including restaurants, retail stores, bars, hospitality, salons and healthcare industries. The company was founded by Forde, Mikey Cannon and Norman Hewson in 2012. It is now operating in about 400 locations in 11 countries and is planning a new office in Boston. At the Web Summit in Dublin in November, Bizimply surpassed 175 entries to be named the winner of the ESB Spark of Genius Award 2015.

3. Tr3dent


Tr3dent’s Kevin McCaffrey and Michael Burke at Web Summit 2015

Tr3Dent produces innovative 3D data visualisation software that helps organisations see their data in a natural three-dimensional environment, therefore making it easier to analyse, which leads to better decision making. “We help companies identify and capitalise on opportunities to improve performance by seeing their business data in ways never seen before,” said Kevin McCaffrey, founder and CEO. “We are currently targeting our data visualisation platform at enterprise clients in the ICT market and looking to expand into other verticals such as health, finance and travel over the next 18 months.”

4. Ocean Survivor


Ocean Survivor founder Kieran Normoyle

Based in the Nexus Innovation Centre in the University of Limerick (UL,) Ocean Survivor manufactures a range of safety equipment aimed primarily at the off-shore oil industry that mitigates the effects of hypothermia in survival situations. Founded by former James Dyson Award global finalist Kieran Normoyle, Ocean Survivor recently won €100,000 out of a total prize fund of €280,000 as part of the Seedcorn competition operated by InterTradeIreland.

5. Soapbox Labs


Dr Patricia Scanlon

SoapBox Labs is enabling automated software-based assessments of children’s reading skills. Founded by Dr Patricia Scanlon, the company’s proprietary platform enables personalisation of the lesson for each child by adjusting the student’s learning path in real time, maintaining just the right degree of difficulty and no gaps in understanding.

6. Ayda


Ayda founder James Foody

Ayda’s mobile phone app is being designed to help women track fertility levels, and a wearable fertility tracker solution is also being developed for launch in mid-2016. James Foody (24) co-founded Ayda after finishing a master in biomedical engineering research. Earlier this month, Foody was named Ireland’s best young entrepreneur (IBYE) and also took home the Best Start-up Award at Google’s Dublin HQ earlier this month.

7. HouseMyDog.com


Brothers Timothy and James McElroy, founders of HouseMyDog

HouseMyDog is an online service that connects dog owners with vetted and trusted dog sitters across Ireland and the UK. Think of it as an Airbnb for dogs! HouseMyDog is the brainchild of brothers James and Timothy McElroy. Their start-up HouseMyDog aims to become the leading online pet services marketplace in Europe and to provide dog owners with a convenient, trusted alternative to dog kennels.

8. Initiafy


Pictured: Initiafy co-founders Juilie Currid and Sean Fennell

Initiafy creates online training apps to ensure contractors or part-time workers are skilled-up quickly in order to be productive from the get-go. The company, which Fennell co-founded with chief operations officer Julie Currid, raised US1.5m in seed funding in recent months from investors including Delta Partners, ACT Venture Capital and private investor Leslie Buckley.

“Initiafy helps companies to manage the initial steps contractors, temp staff and seasonal workers need to take to become productive, safe members of their workforce,” explained Initiafy CEO and co-founder Sean Fennell. “In a nutshell, new workers arrive ready to hit the ground running.”

9. ChangeX


Dr Brendan Dunford, Elaine Williams, Niamh McKenna and Paul O’Hara, ChangeX

Global change platform ChangeX connects people with the best ideas and like-minded people so they can work on causes they’re passionate about. “ChangeX connects you with the best ideas — like CoderDojo, Foodcloud or Fighting Words, whatever you’re passionate about — with the knowledge you need to run your project(s) and with like-minded people,” explained founder Paul O’Hara. In July, ChangeX raised €400,000 in seed funding from investors, including Ben & Jerry’s Jerry Greenfield.

10. Dublin Design Studios/Scriba


Dublin Design Studio is one of Ireland’s newest consumer electronics businesses and has created the Scriba stylus to provide artists and creators with greater control and comfort when drawing on an iPad. The company is the brainchild of architect David Craig, who was frustrated with the inaccurate output of other digital styluses. So he decided to create his own stylus and in doing so a start-up was spawned.

11. BonzaQuote


Jack Drea, founder of BonzaQuote

BonzaQuote led by fanatical DIYer Jack Drea, who recently took part in the prestigious Blackbox Connector programme in Silicon Valley, helps people find the best price for their DIY materials. The start-up helps DIYers save time and money by enabling them to find out the best price for their DIY materials from their smartphone, tablet or PC without them having to leave their DIY project.

12. Laundrie


Evan Gray, Laundrie

Laundrie is a dry cleaning and laundry on-demand app that was launched in Dublin and is rolling out nationwide in 2016. The smartphone service will allow users to get their suits and jackets cleaned with just a few clicks. Laundrie was developed by a young Irish entrepreneur, Evan Gray, who spotted an opportunity in the market for such a convenient service.

13. Little Vista


The Little Vista team

Little Vista has created a tablet application specifically aimed at childcare practitioners. “Little Vista is a tablet-based software application for the early years childcare sector,” said Little Vista CEO Kieran Walkin. “The application was designed specifically for childcare practitioners in a classroom environment to help them with the overwhelming administration and paperwork load they process on a daily basis.”

The Little Vista application enables childcare practitioners to record meals, naps, bathroom breaks, observations, developmental activities and photos in seconds. There is also a free Parent App that provides families and guardians with real-time updates and photos.

14. Showtime Analytics


Showtime’s CTO Paul Lynch, CEO Richie Power and CDO Joe Spurling

Showtime Analytics has developed a data analytics platform for the global cinema industry that gives real-time insights that allow cinemas to increase profitability.

“Showtime is a data analytics platform built for the global cinema industry, enabling our customers across the value chain from exhibitors, distributors and suppliers to maximise the commercial and operational potential of their ever-growing data assets,” explained Showtime’s co-founder Richie Power. “Our platform and industry data model automatically collects and integrates multiple different data sources in real-time, providing the ability for our customers to visualise and cross analyse their data sets.”

15. Gaybrhood


Gaybrhood founders Chris Fildes and Danny Lane

Gaybrhood.com is a real-time crowdsourced city guide aimed at the LGBT market, co-founded by Chris Fildes and Danny Lane. Gaybrhood provides a real-time up-to-date overview on what to do in a city and where the local gay and lesbian community are socialising and hanging out; information is automatically crowdsourced from people who live in the city or have visited a city, as well as their social networks.

“It’s automatically populated through our users likes and events on social media,” explained co-founder Chris Fildes. “This gives a live, up-to-date guide of the best things happening in a city according to the people who know it best – the local gay community.”

16. Shake.io


Thomas Cullen and Kevin Holler, co-founders, Shake

Shake is a start-up focused on graduate jobs and connecting students with quality, paid internships. “Shake helps students and soon-to-be graduates discover the best opportunities as they start their careers,” explained Shake’s co-founder Kevin Holler. “Career fairs and job boards can be a nightmare to navigate and actually get results – Shake’s personal approach matches users with the right paid internships. Imagine walking into a career fair organised just for you. That’s what we provide students online, for free.”

17. Jibbr


Jibbr founder Stephen Malone

Jibbr is a mobile app that is about making it easier for friends to organise things with each other and get together in the real world. Jibbr is initially targeting the student market within Ireland and the UK. “Whether it’s a booming party or grabbing a cup of coffee with a small group of friends, our research and our own experience has shown it’s a nightmare trying to organise things with your friends on current social channels,” explained Stephen Malone, founder of Jibbr.

18. CityBCon


Karin O’Brien and John Fleming, founders of CityBcon

CityBcon is a mobile app that provides small and medium-sized retailers with a new mobile sales channel. A recent participant in the Accenture FinTech Innovation Lab, CityBcon was founded by Karin O’Brien and John Fleming. “Our focus is on the SME high street retailer who currently face many challenges — in particular, massive and growing competition from online stores,” Fleming said. “Online sales are growing at a rate of 16pc per annum in comparison to high-street sales growth of 3pc per annum.”

19. Codacast


Monroes’ events promotion team Alan Murphy, Deirdre O’Connor and Stephen Bradshaw with the Codacast golden ticket

Codacast is a start-up that specialises in the creation and management of branded, trackable and social QR Codes. Codacast’s QR Codes were piloted at MineVention, an Irish-based Minecraft convention, early in 2015, and founder Mark White believes QR codes have not been optimised and he is on a mission to change that. “The Codacast solution has addressed the issues that existed with traditional QR codes and included a number of additional features besides,” White says.

20. DocLink


Kristjan Koik, founder of Doclink

Doclink helps doctors and their teams collaborate digitally and securely. “Doctors around the world are using text messaging and are creating WhatsApp groups to communicate, which has really helped how they work,” explains Kristjan Koik, founder of Doclink. At the heart of Doclink is a newsfeed/forum that tailors the information based on the area of medicine in which a medical professional would specialise. “For instance, if you are a cardiologist, your newsfeed will contain posts related mostly to cardiology, and you can also post your own thoughts or articles for other cardiologists around the world to read, comment on and share.”

21. Birdleaf.io


Scott Kennedy and Cian Brassil are back with Birdleaf.io

A phoenix to emerge from the ashes of a previous start-up called CloudDock, Scott Kennedy and Cian Brassil’s new venture Birdleaf.io allows businesses to turn email into vital business intelligence and sales leads. Birdleaf is targeting sales and marketing teams internationally.

Worldwide spend for marketing software will be $22.6bn this year and is set to grow to over $32bn by 2018. “To date we have seen the strongest traction in e-commerce sites, and largely from the US,” Brassil explained. “In the US alone there are over 110,000 e-commerce sites generating significant revenue. Companies like Lyst are using the platform to get a clear picture of different customer demographics, and find VIP customers who they may want to reach out to directly.”

Updated 5 January: When we regained our ability to count after Christmas we realised there are 21 start-up heroes on this list.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years