Twelve-year-old entrepreneur wins crowds over at Dublin Beta start-up gathering

31 Jul 2012

Shane Curran at Dublin Beta last night

Shane Curran, the 12-year-old coder who has set up a new digital venture called, won over the crowds at Dublin Beta last night as he was voted best start-up on the evening.

Next up to attract the crowd’s attention was SeenBefore, a new venture that’s based at Dogpatch Labs.

The event itself was held in the Lost Society Club on Dublin’s trendy South William Street. And there was an eclectic mix demoing their businesses. For instance, I bumped into a trio who had just formed a start-up yesterday, but they weren’t about to divulge too much for the moment.

Then, there were two start-ups that were recently featured as’s tech start-ups of the week: and

Another start-up,, is in the very early stages. Founder Ruari Gough said he is on a mission to launch in 60 days for less than €1,000.

He came up with the idea after noticing a company in the UK that had created an online noticeboard for people and groups to post classified ads. Having become a partner with the UK site, Gough is aiming to launch a similar formula here so that there will be a noticeboard for each county.

Describing the venture as a “Pinterest meets”, Gough said the idea is to get community groups to use the site, as well as SMEs and solo traders to post up notices.

View of how will look

“We will have a separate noticeboard for each county in Ireland where SMEs, business owners and community groups can post messages, notices or offers from only €2.

Businesses in each county can publish deals, explained Gough, who is based in Gorey, Co Wexford, and has experience in marketing. For instance, he said a local hairdresser can use the platform to share their weekly or monthly deals. “It’s like a twist on the daily deals formula.”

He said that the website software was created and tested in the UK marketplace over the last two years, and will be launched in September here in Ireland, for under €1,000.

“We are able to achieve this as we gave an equity share in the business to the software developers and all of our marketing and promotion to date has been through free channels,” added Gough.

Vista of the crowd at the July 2012 Dublin Beta. Image credit: Sean Nicholls

Vista of the crowd at the July 2012 Dublin Beta. Image credit: Sean Nicholls

Young coder

But back to Shane, who got the most votes in the evening. Shane has already been in the news in recent times. The Dubliner, who hails from Rathmines, did his first Linux install at the age of six. When he was seven years old he learned how to programme in Visual Basic and went on to build a simple web browser that he made available on the web for download.

Via the web he taught himself how to programme in multiple languages, from PHP, C, C++, Java, Python and Ruby to Perl and Bash.

In 2011, Curran developed, a type of digital phone book that stores people’s names and email addresses in a MySQL database.

And last night Shane showed he has both the coding skills and the ability to market himself. When I went over to speak with him, he was quick to share his business card with me and to explain what his latest venture Libramatic is all about. Shane, by the way, has just finished primary school and will be heading to Terenure College in the autumn. Both his dad and his uncle were in tow last night to support him.

So this is what the young coding trailblazer Shane has been spending his summer holidays doing. Libramatic, according to Shane, is a library management system for both smartphones and the web.

Apparently the idea for the new venture came to him when his school spent a large amount of money on a library system that didn’t do much to help the librarian.

Via the system, people can scan the book’s ISBN code using their smartphones’ cameras. Libramatic then finds the book’s information online and stores it in the library’s database so the book can be loaned out and returned, he said.

Shane added that people at home would also be able to use the system for their own home libraries and to check if they have a book or not when they go into a bookshop, for example.

When asked what he wanted to do when he finishes his studies, Shane’s deft reply was: “Hopefully be the CEO of a company!”

Vincent Glennon and Derek Organ, co-founders of Image credit: Sean Nicholls

New type of search engine

Moving on to SeenBefore, this start-up is aiming to be a new type of search engine, potentially giving Google a run for its money down the line, according to co-founders Derek Organ and Vincent Glennon.

The duo, who are based at the start-up hub Dogpatch Labs, started off by saying that 40pc of online searches are made by people who are searching for what they have already searched for before.

Via the cloud, SeenBefore is aiming to help people find websites that they may have read in the past, faster than any other tool.

According to Glennon, it displays results within Google’s results and stores the website history in your own cloud platform. And he said that even if the content online ever changes, people can still read it. You can also search by data and time, apparently.

The service will only track http sites, however, and all information is sent to the cloud via https.

Organ said that SeenBefore only works on Chrome now, but he said the aim is to roll it out on all of the other browsers within the next month and a half. “We hope to be an alternative search engine to Google,” he said.

Marketing in less than five minutes

Freda McEnroe is the brain behind digital venture, which she set up eight months ago. McEnroe is also a finalist in the Irish Times Digital Challenge with She came up with the idea for the start-up so that businesses could create their own ‘ifli’ web pages in less than five minutes, using everything from logos to images, to create their own marketing campaigns.

“The web pages will work for mobile and standard-resolutions screens. Each page is available as short url so people can target their specific market via text message and email and by QR code.”

McEnroe is working with two developers and already has two trade partners: Snap and The Irish Times. She is also hoping to avail of support from Enterprise Ireland’s programme that’s targeted at female entrepreneurs.

As well as start-ups, there were also investors at Dublin Beta yesterday evening to check out the companies, and to learn more about how they plan to monetise from their new ventures.

James Lee from the Bank of Ireland Seed Capital Group said he was there to evaluate the start-ups. “I came to Dublin Beta to see what was on offer with a view to continuing our programme of investment in young start-ups in Ireland,” said Lee.

Dublin Beta July 2012

One of the start-ups demoing at Dublin Beta last night. Image credit: Sean Nicholls

International talent

Interestingly, there were also a few international start-ups at Dublin Beta last night. Some are thinking of setting up their bases in Ireland and growing their talent in the country, souring local employees.

One such start-up was Snippts. CEO Gaston Irigoyen, from northern Spain, described the venture as a way for people to create multimedia stories.

“It’s beyond Instagram. The idea is for people to create stories about themselves using photos, video and multimedia and to share it with people,” he said. “The experience is 100pc mobile. The idea is that people will be able to create their story on the go.”

Prior to setting up Snippts, which is now based at Dogpatch Labs, Irigoyen had worked in Dublin for five years at Google and YouTube.

“We are trying to relocate our team from Spain to Ireland. We are launching our iPhone app next week, and our Android and Facebook apps later in August,” said Irigoyen, adding that the start-up is in talks with Enterprise Ireland under its €10m International Start-Up Fund. The enterprise agency set up this particular fund in 2011 to entice investor-ready overseas entrepreneurs to start their business in Ireland and create employment here.


While I didn’t get a chance to speak to every start-up last night, one final one that caught my eye was VideoCrisp, a service for people to create their own videos. The new venture was set up by Abhinav Chugh and is based at NovaUCD.

The company’s marketing executive Jennifer Kelly-Scannell said VideoCrisp is in beta mode at the moment.

“It’s a cloud-based video-creation tool. It allows the user to create high-quality videos in just a few clicks,” she said. “You can create your own background and upload your own animations and voice-overs.”

According to Kelly-Scannell, the service will be targeted at anyone who wants to create a video and who can’t afford to employ a production company to carry out the task.

We’ll keep you posted before the next Dublin Beta comes around!

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic