Start-up tribes of Galway – 8 you need to watch (video)

17 Feb 2016

StartLab in Galway is Bank of Ireland's first incubator for start-ups. Photo: Connor McKenna

In a showcase of the very first start-ups to take part in Bank of Ireland’s first start-up incubator, StartLab in Galway, we look at eight promising players preparing to put a dent in the universe.

The first cohort of start-ups to take part in the Bank of Ireland StartLab incubator straddle a variety of areas and opportunities, including travel, digital marketing, internet of things, wearables and e-commerce.

Every six months, a new cohort will arrive and, as David Tighe, head of innovation at Bank of Ireland explains, the west of Ireland is a hotbed of innovation.

“StartLab and its customised programmes will focus on helping these businesses to develop their teams, fine-tune their ideas and engage potential customers and investors,” Tighe said.

“Supporting and empowering start-ups is at the heart of Bank of Ireland’s enterprise ethos and we look forward to working with our technology entrepreneurs over the coming months.”

The StartLab is managed by Tracy Keogh, who explained that the companies will embark on a six-month curriculum, which includes sessions on business model validation, lean methodology, building strategic partnerships and stress-testing the product and market fit.

The eight companies are:

1. Birdleaf

A previous Start-up of the Week, Birdleaf turns email addresses into insights to increase return on investment in marketing. A pivot from a previous start-up called CloudDock, Birdleaf is headed by Cian Brassil and Scott Kennedy.

2. Howling Hamster

Also a previous Start-up of the Week, Howling Hamster is headed by Manus Burke, Steven Kelly and Trevor Burke and produces video games for PC, Mac and Linux for international sales and distribution.

The company’s first release, Goldbeard’s Quest, has just launched on the Google Play store and the company is building a PC game called Sub Species, which will be available through the Steam digital distribution platform in early 2017.

3. Couture-Intel

A luxury fashion price comparison site, Couture-Intel is headed by Maria Phillips, a self-described “Chuck Norris” of shopping. Phillips has created a marketplace for helping tourists and travellers to identify where they can get the best luxury goods and electronics bargains and achieve massive savings.

4. Woof Advisor

Created by Jerry Molloy, Woof Advisor specialises in helping pet lovers find 100pc verified pet-friendly accommodation, amenities and services. Molloy explained that Ireland is missing out on enormous numbers of UK and US travellers by failing to market and highlight pet-friendly facilities.

5. ExerWise

Founded by Nicola O’Sullivan, Laura Hanlon and Ciarán Walsh, ExerWise has created a wearable activity tracker for children to encourage kids to be more active and take more exercise. The first working prototype is ready and the team is ready to bring it to the next level.

6. Mint Tek

Another previous Start-up of the Week, Mint Tek provides a new way to source hardware prototype requirements. Founded by Georgina Kearney and Siobhán Ní Chofaigh the company makes it easier, faster and cheaper for hardware developers to make prototypes, transforming the supply chain into an on-demand service.

7. Bluedrop Medical

Internet of things start-up Bluedrop Medical develops technology capable of remotely detecting and monitoring foot ulcers in patients with diabetes. Headed by Chris Murphy and Simon Kiersey, the company has created a web-connected weighing scales that helps warn patients in time before they develop foot ulcers. Every 20 seconds in the world there are 20 amputations caused by diabetes and, in Ireland, there are eight diabetes-related amputations per week, according to Murphy. The internet of things machine could prevent amputations from happening in the first place.

8. BuilderEngine

BuilderEngine is an innovative new platform for people who want to create smarter websites. The company, headed by Keith Killilea, targets a $20bn market, and reduces the complexity associated with building basic websites and equipping them with e-commerce capabilities. Killilea estimates that 50pc of SMEs in Ireland have no website and that this is pretty common worldwide.

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