There appears to be a real start-up fever in Ireland at the minute, as more than 100 people have signed up to participate in Dublin’s leg of Startup Weekend, which starts tomorrow at Google’s HQ on Barrow Street. Their aim will be to create new digital ventures.
Benoît Curdy, one of the organisers of Startup Weekend Dublin, said all of the spaces have now filled up for the event.
"We could easily have doubled the size of the event, which shows the passion for start-ups in Ireland at the moment," he said.
At Startup Weekends, entrepreneurs, designers, marketers, product managers and aspiring self-starters all come together for a type of 54-hour brainstorming session. The goal is for people to share ideas, form teams and build products, with the aim of creating new ventures.
Startup Weekend itself is a non-profit, community-building event. The initiative was first spawned in Boulder, Colorado, in 2007, by Andrew Hyde. Then, in 2009, Marc Nager and Clint Nelson took over full ownership and registered the Startup Weekend as a not-for-profit. They then relocated Startup Weekend to Seattle.
Back in 2010, Startup Weekend received a grant from The Kauffman Foundation, the largest foundation for entrepreneurship in the world. In all, 468 Startup Weekend events have taken place across the world up to now.
Past Startup Weekend winners
Dublin hosted its first Startup Weekend bin May 2010. At that event, start-up GeoDealio emerged as the overall winner.
Then, in February 2011, Exsibit.com, a platform for private galleries to publish information on exhibitions and paintings, took the overall prize. The company has since branched out into a new venture, Lokofoto.com, which recently received funding from Enterprise Ireland.
HitTheRoad was also a past participant in a Startup Weekend in Dublin.
Pooling digital ideas
So what will happen at this weekend’s event at Google HQ? Curdy said Friday night will be about networking and the pitches. He said people with ideas will firstly give their one-minute elevator pitch to the crowd.
"The ideas that people like, and want to work with then get created. From there on, within 48 hours, teams have to deliver a product and business plan that can stand up to the harsh light of day," he said.
Throughout the weekend, mentors will also be at hand to help the teams fine tune their ideas. Such mentors will include Joe Drumgoole, founder of Putplace; Ed Byrne, founder of the cloud venture DigitalMines; lean start-up expert Mary Cronin; Anatoly Lebedev, who manages an online operations team at Google; and design engineer Michael Fitzgerald.
Pitching to potential investors
Then on Sunday evening the teams will pitch their business plans to an audience of judges and potential investors.
The judges will include Shay Garvey from Delta Partners; Eoghan Jennings from StartupBootcamp; Martin Kelly from IBM Venture Capital Group; and Will Prendergast from NCB Ventures.
Other Startup Weekends will be happening at the same time as the Dublin event this weekend in places such as Tech Valley in New York, as well as Okanagan, Canada. A Startup Weekend also kicked off in Constantine, Algeria, today.