Startup Weekend winner in Dublin is art lovers’

28 Feb 2011

Dublin Startup Weekend is yet again a major success, as seven mobile and web-based apps were developed over 54 hours at the NDRC this past weekend, with, a platform for private galleries to publish information on exhibitions and paintings, scooping the ultimate prize.

Sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark, iota, Dublin County Enterprise Board and the NDRC itself, Dublin Startup Weekend kicked off on Friday evening when 21 individuals made 60-second pitches to the 60 people present about possible apps that could be developed.

Out of these 21 pitches, the crowd voted for their favourite eight app ideas, with eight teams forming. Co-ordinators Amy Neale, programme manager, NDRC, and Sean Murphy of the NDRC, lined people up with their best team match.

Says Neale: “We helped to form the teams to make sure they had a good balance of front-end developers, coders, people with marketing and/or business skills and designers.”

Commercially viable

On Saturday morning it was all about “honing a concept and making a plan for building the idea out”, says Neale.

“Mentors then arrived to coach the teams about their ideas and to ask the difficult questions such as ‘where the market for their idea is’ and ‘how they are going to get to that market’,” she explains.

“What was critical about this weekend is we really wanted to make sure that people were covering the commercial side of their ideas.”

Making a pitch

Then, last night, seven teams made their pitches and showed video demos to three judges – Caelen King, COO and founder of; Eoghan Jennings, managing partner at Parklane Capital, a technology investment and advisory firm that backs entrepreneurs in the digital media, internet, software and mobile markets; and serial entrepreneur Philip Sharpe, NDRC board member and chairman of DANU Technologies.

The team – eventual winner of Dublin Startup Weekend. the team is developing its website at present and is aiming to have it up and running in the coming days

Artful app

The winning team grew from a pitch that artist Daire Irwin presented on Friday.

“Based on his own experience as an artist, Daire detected an opening for a website that would portray the works of artists in private galleries, as well as details of exhibitions,” says Neale.

“He had a pretty clear vision of the way he wanted the website to look and he pulled together a team of designers and developers over the weekend.”

Irwin says he has been researching the potential for the website over the past few months and will begin gathering the team to work full time on developing the website. The Exsibit team over Startup Weekend was Eddie Johnston, Eamonn O’Brien, Benoit Curdy, Paul Williams, Gerry Clancy and Rebecca Frankel as well as Irwin.

“ will be a platform for gallery owners to use the online medium showcase the works of artists that are exhibiting in their gallery, while it will also be a way for art lovers to discover art and upcoming art exhibitions taking place globally.” is firstly going to target the London marketplace, as the city has so many high-end private galleries that tend to exhibit emerging artists.

Explains: Irwin: “We are going to start with London as it’s one of the centres of the art world.”

The team now has the opportunity to pitch to the next LaunchPad at the NDRC, while they also get mentoring from the three aforementioned judges.

The other six teams included:

MyWebText, a Facebook app which is a solution for the integration of Facebook messaging and webtext. This app is now up and running.

SalesMate is an iPad tool. It is developing a solution for sales reps, for example, those in the pharmaceutical field, by creating an iPad brochure that integrates with a purchasing system so you can process orders. Neale says this app aims to streamline and digitise the sales process.

Gift It is a web-based app that links in with the website of a retail store. It means you can choose multiple gift options for someone, putting them into a ’gift list’. The giftee can view the options without viewing the price and decide which gift they want. The team hopes this will eliminate the amount of unwanted gifts that people get.


Netocracy team members picured developing their concept during Dublin Startup Weekend

Netocracy is developing a website to enable citizens to measure the performance of their government. The website will feature a bunch of apps that can show the details of your local TD’s expenses for the past six months, for instance.

“It’s all about transparency. Their motivation is to see how democratic your government is and to make sure that your government is serving you as a citizen,” says Neale. (pronounced ‘eaterie’) is the brainchild of a restaurant critic. It’s a tool for restaurant owners to quickly advertise deals.

Following a different model to Groupon, is a restaurant-focused service that uses geo-location aware tools to showcase deals. For instance, if a restaurant has a special offer on a particular evening, those in the vicinity with a smartphone will be able to view the deal.

Finally, Habit Click is a novel and fun mobile app that enables a person to click their habits each time they carry one out – for example, drinking a glass of water – so they can track their progress over time. It’s all about improving your behaviour. For instance, if you want to give up smoking, you can click on Habit Click every time you smoke. Alternatively, if you wish to embrace a new lifestyle habit, ie run a marathon, you could record on the app every time you do a run.

All of the teams are now progressing forward with their apps, taking them to the next stage of development.

Speakers at Startup Weekend itself included Connor Murphy, founder and CEO of DataHug, which is aiming to help businesspeople develop and manage relationships. The Cork-based start-up, which was founded in 2009, was named Start-up of the Year at the Irish Software Association Awards in November, while it also won the Spark of Genius award at the Dublin Web Summit in November. In addition, it won the Best Emerging Company category in the Munster regional final of the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn competition last year.

Helping digital start-ups globally

Startup Weekend is a non-profit organisation based in Seattle. It started out in 2007 in Boulder, Colorado and since then has developed a global presence. In September 2010 Startup Weekend received a grant from The Kauffman Foundation. Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore came to the Los Angeles Startup Weekend two weeks ago when teams were making their pitches on the Sunday evening.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic