First start-ups to emerge from CoderDojo locate at National Software Centre in Cork

12 Jul 2012

17-year-old entrepreneurs Dylan Verian and Dale O'Shea from Dharma Software

The CoderDojo movement’s first series of micro-start-ups – businesses run by young tech entrepreneurs ranging in ages from 12 to 17 – have located their first office at the National Software Centre in Mahon in Cork.

The one-year-old CoderDojo movement has spawned 115 dojos across Ireland and the world in locations ranging from Silicon Valley and LA to New York, London and Florence. Any given Saturday, 5,000 kids are learning how to write software to enable them to build apps, games and websites and potentially their own businesses.

CoderDojo was started a year ago this month by 19-year-old coder and entrepreneur James Whelton and entrepreneur Bill Liao. Next Wednesday (18 July) a special CoderDojo will be held at Dail Eireann.

The CoderDojo in the National Software Centre (NSC) in Cork was the first CoderDojo and considered head office for the other 115 CoderDojos in an international movement spanning the world.

CoderDojo pioneers

For the last year, the NSC CoderDojo has used an open-plan room to teach children programming and computer science for free. This open-plan space will now be used to support several students and mentors with big ideas. After a striking generous agreement with the National Software Centre, students and mentors can now use desk space during weekdays to allow work on individual start-up ideas to begin.

The agreement with the NSC includes a period of free space followed by extremely low peppercorn rent to give micro-start-up ideas a chance to flourish before growing into an established business proposition. The environment will be high intensity, using the established synergy of the CoderDojo social group to grow ideas quickly and test ideas before risking larger investment.

Initial ideas include an iPhone app, a technology sales training business, and two web design companies.

Twenty-three-year-old Lindsay Macvean, who is a CoderDojo mentor, is working with the new micro-start-ups, as well as his own start-up,

Macvean described the new start-ups: “We have Dharma Software, which is run by two 17-year-olds, Dylan Verian and Dale O’Shea, and it is a web-design company. They have been improving their PHP skills and are real go-getters and have signed three contracts in the past week.

“And we have 13-year-old Harry Moran here, too. Harry is developing his own business which is code-named ‘Secret Laboratory’ for the moment and he working on his own game. Harry’s triplet brother Conn is also working on a venture called Crann Initiative, which is a charity aimed at getting more trees planted around Ireland.

“There are two other groups that are interested in moving in. Really, a lot of this energy comes out of the CoderDojo.”

Macvean says the micro-enterprise movement goes under the title ‘CoderDojo Pioneers’ and the idea is to inspire a similar wave of activity that CoderDojo inspired.

“Ideally, if anybody in CoderDojo wants to set up a business we will have created the template and the supports to do so. The dream is to make this as open source as possible and generate more buzz about coding and entrepreneurship,” Macvean explained.

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