Exponential Aims to Connect Founders and Students in the West of Ireland
Exponential aims to connect Galway's brightest students with entrepreneurs to stimulate innovation and creativity and to spark ideas for new businesses.
Exponential, a "social connector for creators, innovators, leaders, students and entrepreneurs" in the west of Ireland, is the brainchild of Galway student and wannabe tech startup guy, Alan Byrne. The inaugural event is being held in the Townhouse Bar in Galway this evening, and aims to foster links between young aspiring entrepreneurs and those already well-established in the business community.
One of the motivations for creating Exponential was to provide a venue whereby young people could be introduced to the possibility of creating innovative products and services, maybe even starting their own business along with like-minded people. It is also important that it does not feel like a classroom: the environment for the event has to be friendly and casual, and conducive to both networking and socialising (hence the bar setting). Ultimately, the long-term goal of Exponential is to create a collaborative community of student innovators, mentors and entrepreneurs that will experiment, share and bring new ideas to fruition.
The first in the Exponential series of events features two young Irish entrepreneurs who founded and now lead their own innovative technology companies. Paul Killoran is the CEO and founder of Starlight Solutions and Ex Ordo, a solution for academic conference management that began life in 2007. Ex Ordo, previously featured here, provides conference organisers with a unique event workflow interwoven with timely reminders and reports / statistics.
The second speaker, Liam Ryan, is the CEO and co-founder of GetHealth, a goal-focused "quantified self" health app for individuals or corporate groups. Ryan co-founded GetHealth with Chris Rooney, and the company boasts Colm Grealy (ex-IOL), Ted Vickey (FitWell LLC) and Johnny Walker (Global Diagnostics) amongst its advisory board.
After the kickoff event, the hope is that future Exponential events could have even more presentations, pitches and product demos from successful Galway entrepreneurs and influential speakers from around Ireland.
"There are an abundance of startup companies in Ireland that very few people know about", says Alan Byrne. "This is a chance for students to meet the founders of these businesses. It is a chance to chat, learn and gain insight into the startup sector. It also provides an opportunity to bounce ideas off other students and seek advice from people who have already gone through the process of taking a product or a service from idea to reality."
And do company founders think events like Exponential are important? According to Paul Killoran of Ex Ordo: "I remember when I was starting out, I was a guy on my own in a space, hacking away on my own thing, and I wasn't necessarily aware of the world around me. It wasn't until I actually met Dave [Kelly, Ambient Age] and Mic [Fitzgerald, OnePageCRM] that I began to realise I was part of an ecosystem. That ecosystem then helped me to get funds to take it to the next level, to go 'we need to get a beta out there, we need to launch, we need to do whatever we have to do.'"
"Eventually as I've gone through all the hoops, all the way through Enterprise Ireland and everything else, the guys have been there on my shoulder when I needed it, rather than me going all the way on my own", says Paul.
"I think its important for students who may have those ideas to be able to refer to somebody and get that little leg up or that little pointer about where they should be going so they're not always on their own."
More information on Exponential is available at exponential.ly. Follow Exponential on Twitter @exponentialteam and Facebook. Exponential has received funding from the NUI Galway / NUI Galway Students' Union EXPLORE joint initiative.