The largest Start-up Weekend in Europe to date was held in Dublin at the weekend as more than 135 enthusiasts spanning the gamut of business and technology skills got together and created 21 start-ups.
What often gets missed in telling the story of Ireland’s technology industry – when you look beyond the economic powerhouse that is technology, the creation of apps and the ability to just start-up – is the people element.
The sheer imagination, initiative and enthusiasm of people who when their backs are to the wall can do incredible things.
Looking around a room of 135 would-be entrepreneurs and their mentors at the Google Foundry in Dublin last night it impressed me greatly that most of these people were strangers to each other last Friday.
They consisted of a motley crew of people who work in finance, software developers, UX designers, app creators, designers, writers, marketers, salespeople. They were guided by a smattering of seasoned mentors and a crew of Google workers who decided to forego a glitzy annual Google party to work with start-ups instead.
On Friday afternoon the 135 would-be entrepreneurs trooped into a room and within hours close to 60 pitches were whittled down to 21 workable ideas that required producing a full pitch including rollout strategy, customer research, a minimum viable product and a demo of the product.
Not all of them succeeded in having built a workable demo or app, but the whole point of the exercise was to learn how to build a business from an idea and work as a team.
And work they did. Over 52 hours of work went into creating a broad array of apps and business plans spanning property, motors, business networking, audio, mindfulness, e-commerce, photo-sharing, social networking and health.
If there was any criticism it would be that some of the ideas leaned very heavily on the Tinder model, but then again that’s no bad thing and they could still be on the right track. Another criticism would be that more female founders should take part. Only 16pc of the people who took part at the weekend were female, although this was up from last year.
Start-up Dublin is into its third year and is part of the global Up Global movement that has seen 1,500 similar start-up events take place in 700 cities, resulting in 30,000 start-ups.
One of the organisers of Start-up Dublin Gene Murphy explained that from last year’s crop at least five have gone on to receive Enterprise Ireland Funding and some have joined various accelerators.
Pictured: In it for the hell of it – some of the 135 entreprenuers at Start-up Dublin 2014
The overall winner on the night was SimpliFly, followed by Toldya in second place and Twainers in third place. The first prize winner was entitled to €10,000 worth of Google cloud and marketing resources.
The prize for Best Pitch went to Insurify.
To sacrifice a weekend and spend it with strangers in the grueling pursuit of creating a start-up makes pretty much everyone involved a winner in my book.
The 21 start-ups devised on Friday and who pitched last night included:
Wunnado (a social app for finding people who want to find the same activities); Roomies (an app for 18-35 years-olds looking for a better place to live); DiaLog (an app for people diagnosed with diabetes); Twainers (a Tinder for runners); Easy Job Search (a Google for job hunters); Grease Monkey (an Airbnb-inspired tool for finding good mechanics); Lunchtime (an app for finding people in your industry to have lunch and network with); Boombox (an app aimed at replacing the jukebox in pubs); Inspired Startups.com (an information resource for start-ups); CaaS (a website for finding online competitions); Bitmerchants (enabling people to cash in Bitcoin in local stores); Soundbits (a tool aimed at music producers); Inspirovate (an app aimed at mindfulness and time management); Oneplace (an app for unifying social messaging platforms); Toldya (a gaming app for consumers with predictive big data implications); Back2Base (a security app for visitors to cities); Paddybaba.com (a network linking wholesalers to people seeking Irish goods overseas); Fare Enough (an app that lets consumers split taxi fares); Insurify (a platform that gets insurers to bid for what consumers are willing to pay for premiums); Photobrag (an app that gamifies quality digital photography to win swag); and SimpliFly (a mobile app that lets consumers buy Duty Free while on flights).