Irish Students: Go On, Create the Next Billion-Dollar Startup

Ireland’s entrepreneurial students aiming to be the next Collison, Zuckerberg, Brin or Page will gather in University College Cork (UCC) this weekend for the country’s first “Irish Student Startup Weekend”, kicking off on the evening of March 28th in UCC’s Western Gateway Building.

Startup Weekend is a 54-hour high-octane event during which ten teams are formed around pitched startup ideas, resulting in a prototype being produced by each team for judging at the end of the event. The Irish Student Startup Weekend is specifically targeted at college students interested in creating the next big thing, and aims to draw attendees from both Ireland and abroad.

The weekend is being organised by UCC’s Entrepreneurial and Social Society, with input from sister societies in UCD, DCU, Trinity College Dublin and NUI Galway.

“Startup Weekend is a movement which began in Colorado and has spread worldwide to promote entrepreneurship,” says Aidan Murphy, the Society’s Education Officer and co-organiser of the Irish Student Startup Weekend. “The first Cork Startup Weekend took place last April, and I was a volunteer for the three days assisting the organising team throughout the event. The weekend was amazing!

“A number of Student Startup Weekends have taken place already – a London Student Startup Weekend took place in December. We want to bring students from all over Ireland to Cork for a weekend of entrepreneurship, networking, socialising and great fun.”

On the first evening (Friday) after registration, one-minute pitches are given on a variety of business ideas, followed by a voting session where each participant can cast three votes using post-it notes. Ten of the ideas receiving the most votes are the ones that are run with over the weekend, with teams being formed around those passionate about the chosen ideas.

On Saturday, the teams work on their businesses, with the assistance of a group of coaches who will advise and give guidance on business models, coding and design, and market validation.

Then, on Sunday, after the projects are progressed further with more mentoring, the final pitches are made at the end of the day to an experienced panel of judges.

The event has lined up an impressive set of coaches from companies such as KonnectAgain, Vconnecta and WhatSalon. The final pitches will be judged by Pat Phelan of Trustev, Eamon Leonard of Engine Yard, and Sean O’Sullivan of SOS Ventures and RTÉ’s Dragon’s Den.

“We’re anticipating that we’ll see more than a few viable and ingenious startup ideas developed over the course of the weekend”, according to Eamon Curtin, Director of the UCC Ignite Programme that is also supporting the event.

Ireland has had three Startup Weekends so far: two in Dublin and one in Cork. A “Galway Startup Weekend” is also scheduled for April 25th. Startup Weekend is a non-profit organisation based in Seattle, and about 100,000 entrepreneurs have created at least 10,000 startups over the course of more than a thousand events.

You can register now for the Irish Student Startup Weekend at irelands-student.startupweekend.org for just €30. Students can use the special Technology Voice promo code “ISSW” to get a further €10 off the registration fee.

Mosquito swatting game and rainwatch apps amongst winners in second annual CodeNinja competition


Students from GMIT and NUI Galway try out the Annoying Mosquito game

On 13 March, CodeNinja – an app development competition for third-level students in Galway – came to its conclusion with three prizes awarded to student teams from GMIT and NUI Galway. Through a series of workshops, CodeNinja gave students the skills and knowledge required to create their own innovative web or mobile apps. The competition was designed by local businesses and academics to train and encourage students to be creative in the cultivation of their own technology ideas, and was supported by Microsoft Ireland, GitHub, OnePageCRM, Ex Ordo, and the VP for Innovation and Performance at NUI Galway.

The winning entry was the “Annoying Mosquito” app developed by Chengxuan Xing and Adeel Gilani, both final year software development students at GMIT.

Their Windows Phone app relies on what is called “augmented reality” – superimposing computer-generated graphics on top of a mobile camera view of the real world – and the aim is to make anyone from adults to kids move and do more exercise when they are playing games. (The game allows players to swat a computer-generated annoying mosquito using a mobile phone.)


Paul Killoran (Founder, Ex Ordo, and NUI Galway Graduate); Adeel Gilani (GMIT Student and CodeNinja Winner), Michael Meagher (Technical Evangelist, Microsoft Ireland), Chengxuan Xing (GMIT Student and CodeNinja Winner), John Breslin (Lecturer, NUI Galway), Damien Costello (Lecturer, GMIT)

The joint runners-up were John Maguire, a final year Electronic and Computer Engineering student from NUI Galway, and Răzvan Rădulescu, an Atmospheric Science PhD researcher also from NUI Galway.

John Maguire developed a presentations speech-to-text web app for the hearing impaired, based on conversations with a community resource officer from DeafHear Galway. Lecturers can share their PowerPoint slides via the app, and the audio from videoed lectures or presentations is converted to text through a web service. For students with a hearing disability, the idea is that the lecture can be relayed to the student using this app and that he/she can see the slides, read what the lecturer is saying, and see the lecturer’s facial expressions in real time.

Răzvan Rădulescu created “Rainwatch”, an app which keeps track of a user’s location and notifies them of potential rain a few minutes before it happens. The app uses data from the forecast.io service to push notifications to a user’s phone telling them about impending downpours, and runs on multiple smartphone platforms.

Tutorials were given to students by a range of startup founders and app development experts: OnePageCRM CEO Michael FitzGerald, Ex Ordo CEO Paul Killoran, NUI Galway Research Technologist David Kelly, previous CodeNinja competition winner Mike Rockall, and Windows and Xbox developer Neil Turner.

Co-organiser Dr John Breslin of NUI Galway says: “A recent study run by Gigaom Research and NUI Galway found that the EU app economy has been responsible for the creation of 1.8 million jobs, so the future is bright for Galway’s student app developers and for those who took part in the CodeNinja competition.”

“We see CodeNinja as a critical cog in building an app culture in Galway City and amongst our student population,” according to Clodagh Barry, from NUI Galway’s Research Office. “It is important in terms of its impact on students and the local economy: increasing the available skillsets and working with industry partners in the app ecosystem.”

More information on the winners is available at codeninja.ie/2014.

Episode #9: Apps-tention

Hosts: John Breslin, Tom Murphy and Fergal Gallagher.
Special guest: Jack Harty

News on tax breaks for startups from our New York correspondent. Show also includes discussion on Trustev, Carplay, Pebble, WhatsApp, Microsoft, Project Siena, GoldieBlox, Tether Cell, Blackphone and Phonebloks.

Download or subscribe to this show at technologyvoice.com/show.

Technology Voice is brought to you by Cinema Listings Ireland, available now from the Google Play store.

Running time: 60:00


00’10” Introduction
01’05” FlirtFM Acknowledgement
01’22” Fergal Gallagher in New York http://startup.ny.gov/
08’53” Rochester Institue of Technology
10’10” Capital Gains Tax Ireland
11’10” Shutterstock
Kickstarter
Etsy
11’45” Trustev
13’10” Carplay
16’00” Apps-tention
17’53” Pebble
18’30” WhatsApp
26’05” Stephen Howell: Academic Engagement Manager at Microsoft
30’10” Project Siena
32’06” Jack Harty
Kickstarter
GoldieBlox
51’10” Cool Tech
Tether Cell
52’43” Blackphone
54’21” Phonebloks
56’04” Outro
56’42” End
60’00” End of Music.

Special thanks to Flirt FM http://www.flirtfm.ie
Intro/outro music is “Alone But Not Lonely” by Stefan Ternemar http://archive.org/details/mtk121
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