The 20 tech start-ups to watch in 2015

22 Dec 201415 Shares

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

Check out our top 20 picks from this year’s Tech Start-up of the Week series to see the new companies we think are tipped for great things in 2015.

1 – WholeWorldBand

WholeWorldBand is a free iPhone and iPad app for the video age that is about content creation, fan engagement and creative marketing. It allows anyone to easily make music and videos with or without their favourite artists and friends that can be shared and enjoyed worldwide. Think of it as a collaborative, multitrack version of YouTube.

As well as scooping an award for Best App and Innovative Use of Technology in Digital Marketing, WholeWorldBand (WWB) was also named the Grand Prix winner at the recent 2014 Eircom Spider Awards.

The app has been used by music industry heavyweights such as Ronnie Wood (The Rolling Stones), Stewart Copeland (The Police), Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music), Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), and New Model Army, as well as thousands of beginners and up-and-coming musicians collaborating together.

Using the app is like entering a virtual recording studiofans create or join an existing recording session and contribute a vocal, instrumental, visual, or anything they feel like adding. Everyone from famous professionals to complete beginners can work together to create great songs and visuals using just the camera and microphone in their iOS device – and then share their video mixes directly to YouTube, Facebook, SoundCloud, and Twitter.

The founder of WholeWorldBand is Kevin Godley. Godley is the founding member of 10cc and Godley & Creme and he has directed iconic music videos such as Duran Duran’s Girls on Film, Herbie Hancock’s Rokit and Blur’s Girls and Boys to name a few.

“WholeWorldBand’s aim is to be a major contributor in how music is created, shared and monetised in the digital age,” Godley explained. “We want to put into the hands of everyone in the world the ability to create and collaborate in sound and vision with their favourite artists and each other. WholeWorldBand provides a platform that brings value to users, artists and brands in a fair and transparent way.”

John Holland, CEO of WholeWorldBand, and founder Kevin Godley

2 – NVMdurance

NVMdurance is a Dublin-based flash optimisation technology company that intends to disrupt the entire US$28bn storage market.

Pearse Coyle, founder of NVMdurance

The company’s technology extends the life of solid state flash storage disks by more than 20 times by extending the endurance of the flash memory on 1x nm chips.

NVMdurance, a spin-out company from the NDRC, last year raised seed funding of €250,000 from New Venture Partners. This was followed up this year by a further US$800,000 from original investors New Venture Partners, the NDRC, and new investors ACT Venture Capital and Enterprise Ireland.

“NVMdurance is about non-volatile memory endurance,” said founder Pearse Coyle.

“Flash memory is becoming the dominant medium for non-volatile storage, ie, the stuff that keeps your data when you switch off the computer, but after a certain number of reads and writes flash memory simply wears out.

“This so-called ‘endurance’ problem dogs the flash memory business and is retarding its growth, particularly its efforts to have solid state disks (SSDs) fully replace hard disk drives (HDDs).

“We make flash memory last at least 20 times longer – longer than anyone else in the world can.”

3 – Bizimply

Bizimply is an all-in-one people and shift management solution that is changing the way restaurants and businesses are managed.

“We take the pain out of scheduling their hourly employees, speed up payroll with our Timestation iPad app, and give them instant access to the day-to-day sales, issues, activities and more across all their locations,” said co-founder Gerard Forde.

“An iPad is wall-mounted in your location, you download an app and it is immediately synced to your existing Bizimply account, giving you a live feed of who’s in, who’s out and who’s running late.

“When the team arrives, they simply key in their PIN and ‘say cheese’ – as the app captures an image of them. We were aware that some businesses may not have the greatest Wi-Fi in the world, so the app is specifically designed to work both online or offline.

“The app is easy to use for both managers and staff but the key takeaway is that we are allowing businesses to cut labour costs without a huge investment in hardware.”

The Bizimply team: Paul Breen, Shane Arrowsmith, Gerard Forde, Mikey Cannon

4 – Restored Hearing

Restored Hearing is on a mission to protect hearing, alleviate tinnitus, and rid the world of unavoidable hearing loss.

The company’s Sound Relief tinnitus sound therapy has been clinically proven to reduce ringing in the ears by 15pc in a month when used five minutes daily. This provides relief to those who never get to experience silence.

The company’s Sound Bounce hearing protection product responds proportionally to the noise environment – allowing communication and protection.

“Using patented materials science technology, Sound Bounce provides the function of electronic headsets at a fraction of the price,” said CEO and co-founder Rhona Togher.

Restored Hearing is targeting the 300m-plus tinnitus sufferers worldwide, specifically those in the US, where organisations such as the American Tinnitus Association and veterans associations raise awareness and spend money in the area.

Rhona Togher and Eimear O’Carroll, founders of Restored Hearing

5 – Pocket Anatomy

Pocket Anatomy CEO Mark Campbell accepts Best European StartUp Award on stage at TNW in Amsterdam from TNW CEO Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten. Photo by Julia de Boer

Pocket Anatomy’s award-winning 3D visual software solution is like Google Earth for healthcare, facilitating doctor-patient diagnoses communication and promoting patient well-being and personal healthcare understanding.

Pocket Anatomy’s educational healthcare iOS apps are in use by 250,000 students and educators, as well as 50 educational institutions in the US.

The company’s aim is to take the underlying technology and make it more relevant and meaningful to the patient market, thus empowering patients to understand and manage their own health and well-being.

Pocket Anatomy is based at NUI Galway’s incubation centre.

“At Pocket Anatomy, we have developed a mobile medical software solution that doctors are calling the Google Earth of the human body, helping patients and their families visualise their health conditions,” explained co-founder Mark Campbell.

“To date, we have helped a quarter of a million medical residents, and over 50 schools train smarter doctors.”

6 – Artomatix

Artomatix is a Trinity College Dublin start-up whose team has built an artificial intelligence system with human-like artistic creativity.

The technology works in such as way that once artists supply Artomatix Studio with sample 2D or 3D artwork, the software then generates new art based on these inputs.

“Our vision is that all digital graphic artists will use our technology but initially we are focused on the movie and video-game industries, which we calculate to be a total addressable market of at least €225m,” said co-founder Dr Eric Risser.

“When you include all other digital graphic artists, the total opportunity sums up to greater than €500m.”

Dr Eric Risser and Neal O’Gorman, founders of Artomatix

7 – AYLIEN

AYLIEN is a software start-up based in Dublin focused on applying artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to problems in the news and media space.

Parsa Ghaffari, CEO of AYLIEN

AYLIEN, the brainchild of CEO Parsa Ghaffari, earlier this year launched its Text Analysis API, which is a package of eight natural language processing, machine-learning and information-retrieval tools for extracting insights and meaning from documents with ease.

The company was officially founded in 2011 and has received total venture funding of US$500,000 from SOSventures and private investors.

“Although we’ve seen a lot of interesting AI-powered applications coming out, such as Google Translate, Siri, and Google Now, we believe that these apps are only a hint of what’s to come,” Ghaffari said.

“We provide the service as an API and generally speaking we put our APIs at the core of our business as we think that the API marketplace is now bigger than ever and if software is actually eating the world, as (investor) Mark Andreessen famously said, then APIs are certainly eating software!”

8 – KonnectAgain

“KonnectAgain exposes the hidden value of your alumni base by providing your institution, club, alumni chapter or association with up-to-date, real-time and relevant statistics, contact and career information,” explained KonnectAgain co-founder Jayne Ronayne.

Ronayne said the goal of KonnectAgain is to be the No 1 provider of alumni relations software, not only in the education market but in the commercial and HR market, as well.

At present, KonnectAgain is targeting Ireland, the UK and the US.

“With institutions brought on board from each of those countries so far, we’re looking to build on the recent success through ‘sprinting’ and scaling at a quick pace by reaching out and spreading our mission to each association that realises the importance and value of alumni,” Ronayne said.

KonnectAgain founders Jayne Ronayne and Helen Flynn brief Taoiseach Enda Kenny on their start-up KonnectAgain

9 – Herdwatch

Herdwatch is a Tipperary-based cloud-based ‘mobile CRM for cows’ that can literally save farmers hours of paperwork every week by allowing them to record farm and animal events directly on a smartphone, tablet or PC, anytime, anywhere.

Co-founder Fabien Peyaud said the technology is disruptive and transformative.

“Despite the popular urban perception, farmers are a very computer literate and technically strong group of people. It makes perfect sense for them to adopt mobile technology to improve their lifestyle and make them more efficient.

“Herdwatch is the first cross-platform solution fully approved by the Department of Agriculture, and it gives farmers both mobility and peace of mind when it comes to recording legally required information, such as calf births or animal remedies. It can work offline, but being cloud-based means the farmer’s data can be easily managed from multiple devices,” Peyaud said.

Abbot and dairy farm manager Fr Richard from Mount St Joseph Abbey near Roscrea, Co Tipperary, with Herdwatch co-founder Fabien Peyaud and FRS Network marketing manager Jane Mark

10 – ThankFrank

ThankFrank.com is a platform of human search for savvy social shoppers that is also building an economy based on gratitude.

ThankFrank founder Sean Ahern

“In a nutshell, ThankFrank.com provides a cool way to say thanks for frank and honest advice,” says founder Sean Ahern.

Each month, ThankFrank auctions off several limited sponsorship opportunities and the active community helps these sponsor companies in return.

ThankFrank.com collects all revenue raised on behalf of the entire community and deposits it to the ‘Community Cache’ that pays for the players’ discounts every month.

“Any advice that receives a ‘Thanks!’ gets a small shopping discount, absolutely free, making it worthwhile for players to give really good advice. Thanks can be easily collected in exchange for help on any social platform.”

11 – Pubble

Pubble is a web service that adds a social layer to businesses’ websites and helps firms develop strong community engagement online.

Pubble hit the headlines this year when it became the only Irish company out of 11 companies to beat off competition from 1,500 start-ups to be included in London Techstars’ 2014 cohort.

Founded in late 2012 by John Dineen, Shane O’Leary, Ian Huang and Alan Sunley, Pubble interacts with customers live online to build an active community on a company website.

Pubble is a platform that enables website owners to offer live community experiences (such as live Q&As, live messaging, and Twitter Q&As) right on top of the pages of their website.

“We believe that everywhere you live online (social media, blogs, partner sites) should work together to build a strong community right on top of your site,” Dineen said.

John Dineen, Shane O’Leary, Ioan Stanciu, Ian Huang, Mary Carty, Alan Sunley, and Ross Good of Pubble

12 – Defiant Games

Defiant Games aims to make mobile and tablet games for serious gamers on the go.

Defiant Games CEO Darragh Turley

For the most part, the mobile gaming market is dominated by casual gamers. Banner titles such as Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga hit that mark, but provide little to satisfy hardcore video-game fans.

“Our interest is in serving the rapidly growing ranks of gamers who have little interest in spending €4.49 on in-game consumables for a meaningless ‘win’ at a game,” said Defiant Games CEO Darragh Turley.

“We are targeting Xbox, PlayStation and high-end PC gamers on the go, along with the growing masses of casual gamers wanting to move to the next level of gaming.”

Defiant Games has three games in the pipeline. The plan is to test these games with a highly targeted demographic on Facebook.

13 – Lumafit

Dublin-based Lumafit is a sensor technology company that aims to make health and fitness fun. The company’s first product is a sports headset that tracks motion and heart activity and can tell what exercise you are doing and how well you are doing it.

“At home it can track bootcamp-type exercises, such as sit-ups, press-ups and lunges,” said Lumafit CEO Darran Hughes.

“At the gym it can tell you if are on a cross-trainer, treadmill or rowing machine and give you high-resolution metrics on your workout.

“As well as being a personal trainer, the sensor is also a mindfulness coach, being able to track relaxation levels during yoga breathing sessions. Giving you guidance and feedback that you are doing it correctly, it provides a fun way to get Zen anytime. 

During the year, the company achieved its objective of raising US$60,000 in funding through Kickstarter.

The Lumafit sensor worn in the ear

14 – DisplayNote Technologies

DisplayNote Technologies, a Belfast tech company that is planning to disrupt the world of productivity and collaboration with its new app called Swoodle.

Paul Brown, CEO, DisplayNote Technologies

DisplayNote builds technologies that are designed to make it easier for people to present, share, connect and collaborate in real-time across large-format displays, desktop and mobile devices.

In October, DisplayNote raised €1.25m in Series A funding from the Bank of Ireland Kernel Capital Venture Fund.

“With our DisplayNote product we are targeting display hardware manufacturers and teachers or presenters,” CEO Paul Brown said. 

“The potential here is huge with over 1.5m interactive displays sold last year and millions of classrooms and meeting rooms worldwide.”

The company has partnered with some of the world’s largest manufacturers of display technology, including NEC, BENQ and Sahara.

DisplayNote’s products are now available in 22 languages, distributed globally, and there are sales to date of almost 1m devices incorporating DisplayNote’s software products.

15 – CareZapp

CareZapp’s technology allows caregivers to create networks of care to support people who require their help with a cloud-based platform for personalising plans.

The company was recently one of the 14 finalist in the Start-up Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt 2014 in London.

The CareZapp solution is designed to provide a range of communication and collaboration tools to enable the creation of care networks, to connect those needing care with caregivers, be they family, friends, neighbours, community-based supports, home-care providers, or social and healthcare professionals.

Replacing the traditional system of emergency response, the CareZapp model is proactive.

“Our mission is to transform care at home by connecting home, community and technology, enabling caregivers to create their own network of care to support the health and well-being of a loved one at home,” said CEO and co-founder Andrew Macfarlane.

Andrew Macfarlane, Ed Lenox, Carl Flynn and Ron Finegan from CareZapp. Photo by Conor McCabe Photography

16 – Sedicci

Sedicii is the creator of a new way of securing and validating people’s identities in such a way that their personal information is not put at risk.

Sedicii co-founders Rob Leslie and Richard Coady

The Waterford Institute of Technology campus company has developed technology that authenticates users without the need to transmit private information over the internet or to store that private information on servers.

Sedicci uses a protocol called zero knowledge proof, which can prove a person knows something without the need for them to share or disclose it.

By eliminating the need to transmit and store private information, Sedicii has radically increased the security of a person’s online identity and reduced the business risk for the enterprise.

“Sedicii is currently working with organisations that require single sign-on authentication for multiple internal applications or who currently store large volumes of sensitive personal user data,” the company’s co-founder Rob Leslie said.

“Our current target verticals are retail, airlines, telecoms/consumer broadband, utilities, government agencies and banking.”

17 – Social Talent

Online learning platform Social Talent trains recruiters on how to better use online technology to find and hire future workers.

Social Talent trains recruiters how to find the best candidates for their job vacancies using online sourcing techniques.

“We teach them how to find, attract and engage with these candidates on social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Github, Twitter, Pinterest and loads more through a certification programme we’ve developed called the Black Belt in Internet Recruitment, turning ordinary recruiters into sourcing ninjas,” explained Social Talent’s Reza Kavanagh.

“We deliver this through a personalised online learning platform using video-based training and online exercises.”

(Top from left) Nicola McCarthy, Reza Kavanagh, Susan Hickson, Johnny Campbell (CEO), Walter Wynn, Siofra Pratt, Holly Fawcett and (bottom from left) Vincent O'Donoghue (co-founder), Stephen Nesbitt, Wendy Murphy, George Bryan of Social Talent

18 – GroupLeader.com

Bob Haugh and Fergal O’Brien, founders, GroupLeader.com

GroupLeader.com is a new travel technology start-up based in Dublin and co-founded by Bob Haugh of Travel Department and Fergal O’Brien. They have developed a new platform that delivers a ‘one-stop-shop’ for group travel organisers to book the best hotels, ground transport providers, tour guides and much more.

GroupLeader.com also allows group members to choose the best partners and also to buy as a group and pay separately, said O’Brien.

“While the hotel industry allows for the automated booking of less than 10 people through booking engines and online travel agents, groups of 10 or more are typically treated differently,” O’Brien said.

“These ‘group’ requests need to be screened individually and a bespoke price created for the group’s requirements at that point in time. So, planning a group trip is still very hands-on and time consuming, and consequently the ‘groups’ market has been underserved online until now.”

O’Brien had added that GroupLeader.com is targeting anyone who organises a group to travel anywhere in the UK and Ireland, and the company would launch in mainland Europe later in 2014.

19 – Pundit Arena

Ross O’Dwyer and Richard Barrett, co-founders of Pundit Arena

Pundit Arena is a sports media website powered by articulate fans, and aspiring and experienced sports journalists.

“We empower fans and aspiring journalists to become paid journalists by monetising their content on our interactive platform,” explained co-founder of Pundit Arena Richard Barrett.

“The fans write about the sports and topics that they are passionate about and we amplify their opinion by publishing their content on our website.

“Contributors earn a share of the revenue generated from the content through our revenue streams of content syndication and advertising. We currently have over 200 writers and over 100,000 unique visitors per month,” Barrett said.

20 – Mission Possible

Mission Possible is a Galway-based software as a service (SaaS) reward and recognition platform that allows businesses to reward good workers.

Tara Dalrymple, founder, Mission Possible

“(We are) harnessing peer-to-peer communities to create not only happier, more productive and engaged staff, but to also drive local economy for SMEs,” explained Mission Possible’s founder Tara Dalrymple.

“It’s there for companies to buy credit for their staff to have personal tasks completed for them while they are working, such as cleaning, dog walking, food shopping, errand running, sourcing trusted tradespeople, waiting in for deliveries and more,” Dalrymple added.

“We believe that the current job market is inflexible; we will be getting local communities to undertake projects and by doing so create liquidity in the job market and get people working.”

Start-up rocket image via Shutterstock

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com