In a pitch battle that involved fire, rapping and mooning, the international brigade ultimately prevailed at the Uprise Festival in Dublin with confectioners Smith & Sinclair winning the overall €5,000 prize.
In a departure from the normal start-up competition where esteemed judges normally decide the winners and losers, a baying crowd determined the fate of the international teams.
The crowd participation element made the main hall of the RDS crackle and fizz, in what was a welcome departure from the stuffiness of most web and start-up awards.
Each start-up had two minutes to pitch their idea to the audience, battling through three knockout rounds where no feelings were spared.
When two tribes go to war
While dozens of start-ups from Ireland and around the world exhibited, in the end it was really a battle of two tribes: an international cohort of six from the UK, the US, Austria and Estonia against six local start-ups from Ireland.
The international six included: KinoSol, Fibregel Apparel, Timeular, Smith & Sinclair, My GiveBox and AddGoals. The Ireland six included: Parkpnp, Dashcabs, Wellnice Pops, StayPal, Cyc-lok and CyberSmarties.
When it came down to the nitty gritty, various start-ups put aside the bonhomie and applied ruthless tactics. Fibregel tried to set fire to their material on stage to prove the technology was fireproof (to everybody’s relief, it was), while Richie Commins from Dashcabs mooned the crowd in a defiant effort to slay the competition.
In the end it came down to two rivals – UK start-up Smith & Sinclair, producer of tasty alcohol-based sweets, and Carlow-based start-up Cyc-lok, maker of an ingenious bicycle security system that is being deployed in Ireland and San Francisco.
Cyc-lok’s Louise Murphy made a strong effort on behalf of her company but in the end, the crowd backed Melanie Goldsmith of Smith & Sinclair, who possibly made the day by rapping to Nelly’s Hot in Herre.
Goldsmith walked away with the €5,000 prize provided by Dublin City Council.
After the vicious gladiatorial combat that was the pitch battle, the start-ups meandered off to the pub in good-natured spirits for some raucous celebrations.
O’Connell told Siliconrepublic.com that Uprise Festival will take place again in April in Amsterdam, returning to Dublin in November 2017 with what he promised would be “an interesting new format”.