Taking inspiration from a summer at Outbox Incubator

15 Sep 2015

Edel (on right) with Outbox Incubator founder Anne-Marie Imafidon (centre) and a fellow Outbox Exec. Photo via Edel Browne

Wrapping up our series of articles from Outbox Incubator participants is Edel Browne, who tells us who she was most inspired by during her time in the Outbox Incubator house.

Three years ago, as I watched a YouTube interview of Outbox Incubator founder Anne-Marie Imafidon, I never imagined that I would be writing this article.

I vividly remember hearing Anne-Marie speak about the need for more female role models in STEM, something that really struck a chord with me as, at the time, I was preparing to enter the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.

Little did I know that three years later I would have just graduated from the Outbox Incubator – a start-up incubator founded by Anne-Marie and Mary Carty to inspire the next generation of STEM entrepreneurs.

‘When we were greeted at the door of the Outbox House… with swag and non-alcoholic prosecco I knew it was off to a good start’

The Outbox Incubator was a fantastic experience that I will never forget. When we were greeted at the door of the Outbox House (more like mansion!) with swag and non-alcoholic prosecco I knew it was off to a good start, but I never expected it to be so great.

It was amazing to get to meet so many people during my time in the house. As I was the only residential participant to stay for the full six weeks I got to know everyone really well and have made lasting friendships from my time in the house.

Outbox Incubator

The Outbox gang. Photo via Edel Browne

Over the period of the six weeks, we had some fantastic speakers from companies such as Salesforce, O2 and Google, to name but a few.

Some of my speaker highlights from the six weeks include:

1) Emma Sinclair, entrepreneur

I found Sinclair to be one of the most inspirational speakers of the Outbox experience. Being the youngest person ever to IPO a company, at the age of 27, she shared with us her story, and how we could try and emulate it. She is very passionate about health and fitness and brought us goodie bags filled with healthy products to try. I thought that her views on health and the future of health were really interesting, as my own start-up is in the healthcare space.

2) Jeremy Waite, tech evangelist

Jeremy is a tech evangelist with Salesforce and the author of From Survival to Significance. He wrote the book on how to build a significant brand after working on branding with companies like Facebook and Twitter. He has also self-published the book, so 100pc of the profits could be donated to code.org. Jeremy spent a large part of his talk teaching us good presentation skills and how to present well. He did this through using the PechaKucha Method, whereby the aim was to present your work/story in six minutes 40 seconds using 20 slides that each stayed on screen for 20 seconds. This looked incredibly hard to do, but nonetheless I volunteered to give it a shot, and was one of five people to win a signed copy of Jeremy’s book.

3) Dr Leigh Brody, biotech venture capitalist/ head of genomics

I thought Leigh’s talk was incredibly interesting, as it was very focused on the area I hope to go into. Leigh completed her undergraduate degree in biochemistry at MIT, and her master’s and PhD in Imperial College London. She then worked as a biotech venture capitalist, before moving to her current role as head of genomics for a gene-editing software company. I really enjoyed her talk, as it was very relevant to me as a student of biotechnology at NUI Galway. She was very generous with her time and also helped me prepare my pitch ahead of demo day in order to maximise the potential for success.

Time to say goodbye

Oubox Incubator

Edel with Anne-Marie and some of the other OB Execs at Cambridge. Photo via Edel Browne

During my time at the Outbox House, I also got the opportunity do many amazing things, such as co-delivering a lecture in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. This was one of the highlights of the experience, as I got through a very competitive selection process of interviews to be one of only three participants chosen to give the lecture alongside Anne-Marie. It was a fantastic experience to be able to share the work of Stemettes and my business idea with 160 summer students, and hopefully we inspired a few of them to join us.

The Outbox Incubator graduation was an emotional one, and an unforgettable experience. We were all in tears as Mary read Anne-Marie’s speech as she was too emotional to continue. We really became a family at Outbox, delighting in each other’s successes and sharing our problems.

Outbox Incubator

The cake at the Outbox Incubator graduation. Photo via Edel Browne

I’ve never felt so connected to a group of people I’ve spent so little time with and, for that, Outbox, thank you. We finished off a fabulous six weeks with a specially-commissioned song from Ciara Judge, Cork native, fellow OB Exec, friend, and milk consumer, but that’s another story.

The Stemettes promised Outbox would be full of fun and food, but they forgot to mention friends, because that’s one of the main things I took from it, along with fabulous opportunities for my start-up, Free Feet.

Thank you Outbox, Stemettes, Mary and Anne Marie, for an incredible summer for STEM start-ups.

By Edel Browne

Edel Browne is a biotechnology student at NUI Galway and a founding member of the Digital Youth Council Ireland. She is also a co-founder of Free Feet (@freemyfeet), which aims to treat gait freezing associated with Parkinson’s disease.