Our Irish tech start-up of the week is Flog.ie, a zany new buy-and-sell website created by Irish 16-year-olds Andrew Forde and Jack Collins, two fifth-year students at Coláiste Iognaid in Galway City.
The duo have pooled their IT and business resources to come up with this highly visual classifieds website where people can post ads for everything from cars to unwanted DVDs and games to gardening tools, even school uniforms and university books. There’s even a section to post jobs!
The site has been live for about a month now and already it is starting to get traction outside of Forde’s and Collins’ families and friends.
Collins said the genesis for the website had been “brewing” since they were in transition year.
At the end of the year, the duo had to do an enterprise project so they decided to create a yearbook and sold it to their classmates.
Collins and Forde made some money from their enterprise so it got them thinking about going down the IT route, where there is more scope.
“Jack is big into IT while I am more on the business side of things,” said Forde.
“As part of our Leaving Cert subjects I am studying business and economics while Jack is studying technical design. He’s aiming to go down the IT route after we finish our Leaving Cert,” added Forde.
It’s hard to juggle school life with running a business but the two seem to be balancing everything well so far.
"We do an hour’s work every evening, usually between 8pm and 9pm, when we have all of our homework done. Then we work hard during our free times at the weekends and also during our holidays,” explained Forde.
Forde and Collins usually have weekly meet-ups where they discuss how the business is progressing and any tweaks they need to make.
So how did they go about raising funds for the new venture?
“We pooled together the money we made from the yearbook venture, while we also had our own money,” said Forde.
They had a definite idea of how they wanted their website to look – highly visual and able to interact with social media, sites such as Twitter and Facebook. The next step was getting the expertise of a web designer. Forde and Collins enlisted the assistance of a designer in Galway.
Collins said he has always loved competition.
“When I was in transition year, I was encouraged to explore this passion more and eventually I found enterprise. I soon found myself selling on eBay and trying to design an iPhone app. My eBay business has since been postponed and that iPhone app has fallen through but the idea of getting a product into the marketplace for the world to see, that sense of unlimited success, gives me an indescribable thrill!”
He said they made a tidy sum from their yearbook.
“This sense of achievement spurred myself and Andrew into Flog.ie. Response from family and friends has been excellent so far and we will not rest until we succeed!”
Forde said he got involved in business for two reasons: “I’ve always wanted to make money and have an impact on my community. Recognising that young people are more than capable of being independent minded and enterprising is something which always pushes me.
“The crazy experience of setting up our own business, trying to get it off the ground and setting ourselves the goal of establishing a classified website, wasn’t always on my list of things to do,” he added.
“Until transition year, debating was my big hobby. I had done really well and it wasn’t until myself and Jack got involved in creating the yearbook that I got my first real insight into the joys of business. Pushing yourself, making your own decisions and giving yourself the tools to become your own person is exciting. It was a thriving success so we took it to the next step. Our own classified website!
Having both used various classified websites in Ireland in the past, Forde and Collins said they believed the current sites leading the classified market were impersonal and lacked an element of fun.
“We began discussing the possibility of having our own classified website, and eventually we came up with Flog.ie, a fun, cheeky classified website with an easy-to-use interface and vibrant, attractive colours. The idea was simple, to develop a classifieds website making buying and selling easy, and having a bit of fun along the way!”
And their final words on Flog.ie: “Our image and our branding are very important to us. Our site has a real personality, which we have created through social media and marketing, which brings life into website. We’ve always aimed to simplify buying and selling online. While being young is a great advantage, it means nothing unless you have the business to stand over that. We have it. We’re adventurous and have high ambitions for the future!”