Fixies and fitness take home top honours from DCU start-up showcase

2 Oct 2014

From left: Twizt founders Dara Lynch and Colin Gargan, and Funked Up Fixies founders Andrew Casey and Olaf O'Moore (photo via Julien Behal/Maxwells Dublin)

Dublin City University’s Helix venue played host to the UStart and Propeller Showcase Day on Wednesday, 1 October.

Between the two start-up accelerator programmes, 11 companies presented on the day to two separate judging panels.

Each of these companies had spent the past few months taking part in either Propeller, Ireland’s only angel-funded early-stage start-up accelerator, or UStart, a programme for student entrepreneurs – both of which are managed by DCU’s Ryan Academy.

Winning ideas

Propeller 4.0 was won by Funked Up Fixies, an online platform for fashionable bike-riders to customise a fixed-gear two-wheeler in all manner of cool and colourful ways, and have their bike shipped anywhere in the world.

This web-based company founded by Olaf O’Moore and Andrew Casey in 2011 has made its biggest impact in markets with bike-friendly cities such as Paris, Berlin and Copenhagen.

As part of the Propeller programme, companies were allocated dedicated incubator space in The Liffey Trust in the north Dublin docklands, where they could access training, mentoring and investment.

The Propeller start-ups were joined in The Liffey Trust by a further eight student-led companies from UStart, each of which received €5,000 seed funding and free residential accommodation in DCU during the programme.

Twizt Hydration were deemed the best of the Ustart bunch for their development-stage hydration product for athletes, which they believe addresses the shortcomings of any other product on the market.

Founders Colin Gargan and Dara Lynch are both third-year DCU business students and they set out to solve the problem of carrying liquids while exercising in a way that would not disrupt or encumber the user.

Dublin has arrived

The start-up showcase also hosted the first official engagement of Dublin’s commissioner for start-ups Niamh Bushnell, who addressed the crowd in the Mahony Hall and spoke of the importance of harnessing successful accelerators such as UStart and Propeller as well as the existing support structures that exist in Dublin for start-ups.

“What I have witnessed since returning from New York last month tells me that Dublin has arrived. All the elements required to be great are here,” she said.

“We are the envy of Europe in attracting tech multinationals to our shores and we have great Irish companies who can play a huge part in supporting the indigenous start-up ecosystem. In my role as Dublin’s Commissioner for start-ups, I am confident that we can leverage these substantial resources to truly become one of the great start-up cities of the world,” Bushnell added.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.