Personal VPN start-up Invizbox wins €10k prize at JumpStart

7 Dec 2016

Invizbox co-founder Paul Canavan. Image: Andres Poveda

It was a case of second time lucky for Dublin-start-up Invizbox, maker of a promising personal VPN hardware device, when the company emerged as the winner of annual start-up competition JumpStart.

Last year, Invizbox was a runner-up in the competition, which takes place at the LINC (Learning and Innovation Centre) at the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown.

More than 20 companies initially vied for this year’s prize and, after a gruelling judging process, th shortlist was whittled down to five runners-up: Invizbox, Chinnery Spirits, Kickabout, PhysioLinked and Sproose.

‘All the finalists demonstrated enthusiasm, resilience and optimism’

The €10,000 prize was sponsored by LINC, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Fingal Local Enterprise Office and AIB.

Winning company Invizbox was co-founded by Chris Monks, and husband and wife Paul and Elizabeth Canavan.

The company has manufactured a plug-and-play hardware device that allows users to bring their own personal VPN anywhere, enabling them to use the internet through public Wi-Fi hotspots without prying eyes or fraudsters intervening.

As well as the cash prize, Invizbox will get office space at the LINC, mentoring, access to academic expertise and access to possible recruitment candidates.

PhsyioLinked came in second, and will receive an office at the LINC for six months.

PhysioLinked offers not lead generation, but also a complimentary, streamlined practice management system for physiotherapists. The start-up exclusively lists vetted clinicians, verified reviews and offer reduced package rates.

Professionalism of JumpStart finalists

Personal VPN start-up Invizbox wins €10k prize at JumpStart

Vincent Riou, Paul and Elizabeth Canavan and Chris Monks of Invizbox. Image: Andres Poveda

“I am highly impressed with the level of professionalism, experience and enthusiasm that was evident at the JumpStart final,” said entrepreneur and Dragon Bobby Kerr, who led the judging panel.

“Some of these individuals are going to be people you will be reading about in the business pages of the press in a few years time.”

Also on the judging team were Shane Doyle, vice president for manufacturing (Ireland) at Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc; Oisin Geoghegan, head of local enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Fingal; Padraig Challoner, business manager at AIB; and Declan Lyons, commercialisation manager, Enterprise Ireland.

“All the finalists demonstrated enthusiasm, resilience and optimism,” said Assumpta Harvey, manager of the LINC at IT Blanchardstown.

“It bodes well for the development of Irish indigenous companies and the development of Ireland Inc.”

The other runners up are worth noting: Kickabout allows football players to easily create and organise a game of football using a smartphone app; Chinnery Spirits is combining a base classic dry gin made in London (by Thames Distillers) with a more unusual botanical-based spirit distilled at its Dublin facility; and Sproose is Dublin’s new on-demand laundry and dry-cleaning service.

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