The votes are in and the top 12 ideas selected to be worked on over the weekend. In no particular order here the ideas to be turned into startups.
1. The Alpha Project – An ethnic minority youth empowerment initiative
2. FitMyBits.com – Online retail to help you get the best ‘bra’ fit
3. CliqCAD – Build Computer-aided drafting (CAD) in seconds
4. SeeMyBuild – Go into the virtual reality world of architecture and construction
5. Comrade – Connecting people with similar outdoor interests.
6. The Adventure Pack – Build groups to have amazing travel experiences
7. LunchBox – Pre-book your meal and pick them up. No queues.
8. FoodPlus – Discover restaurants closest to you with great deals
9. Freelancer – Connecting freelancers to clients
10. Appetizing – Book restaurants closest to you with meals you want
11. MingleConnect – Fixing the networking problem at conferences
12. Style Mix – Get customized fashion items result based on machine learning
There you have it. The teams will be going through the process of drain dump, and refining their ideas with help from mentors and coaches tomorrow, all to come up with an MVP to be pitched to the judges in the 54th hour.
It’s day 1 of the Startup Weekend Dublin and the room is packed with almost 100 people looking to have an amazing time in the next 54 hours at Google HQ.
One can almost have the feeling as you walk through the door that it’s going to be the best edition so far. “Such a great diversity in the room, feel almost like having one person per country” – Aimee said, she’s one of the organizers for this edition.
Dinner was made possible by another fantastic sponsor – Burritos and Blues. They’ve been always there keeping our belly right and they surprised us with an interesting item on the menu – The Silver Bullet. You’d have to ask Paddy Quinlan about that. Let’s just say spicy is the word.
We definitely give it up to the amazing people who have come in to experience this weekend. It’s definitely going to epic. There are many new faces in the room and a few returnees. We’ve got a good representation of genders and cultures in the room too.
Let the fun begin!
Diversity and inclusion is something we take seriously at Startup Weekend and with every edition we try to come up with ways to inspire a good representation of different groups to come experience a world of technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
Perhaps these 3 women will further inspire you to get in on the action as they did as participants, organizers and leaders in a short space of time:
Masha Ilina says:
I went to a Startup weekend for the first time in November 2014. I wanted to get to know Dublin’s startup community which this event is perfect for! I was surprised by the quality of mentors and the amount of help you get.
One of the most empowering things for me was to really realize that no idea is a stupid idea and to go and pitch it in front of people. It’s execution really that matters and you have a pool of talent there to work on this idea with for the next 54 hours.
I learned a big deal about group dynamics there. It wasn’t easy to lead a team you barely know! And of course it opened up lots of opportunities for me.
Masha went on to lead her team to win the 1st prize at the November 2014 edition of Startup Weekend with Gift Me – an app that allows you get the perfect gift for a friend as well as crowdfund for it. She also currently on the organizing team for July 2015 edition.
Aimee Clancy says:
My team Medxnote winning Start-up weekend 2013 was my first experience of Start-up Weekend. Before this I didn’t know a UX Designer from a Back End Developer, I had limited experience with technology and no experience in Start-ups. Start-up weekend showed me with entrepreneurial spirit, a good idea and a willingness to learn, regardless of our career history, knowledge or experience we can all connect, inspire and do great things.
After this, my interest in Start-ups gained speed. I once again was part of a winning team – Baffle – in 2014 followed by joined the Start-up weekend organising panel in 2015 and currently I’m involved with leading an innovative tech incubator StartLocal which is supported by FCR Media. I now actively encourage more women to get involved with Startup weekend as the benefits are endless – whether you’re there to learn something new, incorporate innovation into our daily lives or simply just to have a hell of a lot of fun, you won’t be disappointed!
Aimee cannot wait to host you at the July 2015 edition of Startup Weekend, and if there’s one thing I can attest to she’s the best host you can ever ask for.
Tracy Keogh (as told by Nubi Kay)
Tracy’s Startup Weekend story is a very interesting one. She attended in June 2014 as a participant and decided to pitch in the last minute. She went on to win the prize for best pitch as awarded by the Judges for her idea – Insurify – a system to help users better navigate the insurance marketplace. Tracy got so in tune with entrepreneurship and weeks later she decided to go all in, quit her job and co-found Deposify – a deposit management service for landlords and tenants.
By November 2014 she was back at Startup Weekend as a co-organizer and then decided to lead it April 2015. Now that’s impressive, going from participant to leading the Startup Weekend in 3 short weekends.
I hope these stories do inspire you to lean in. If these women can, then you too can and don’t forget to grab tickets for the July 2015 edition of the Startup Weekend Dublin before they run out.
Dublin was home for 3 days to all that love technology, innovation, and belong to the diversity and inclusion school of thought. As a community leader I had the opportunity to secure tickets to the #InspireFest2015 and after all said and done I am most excited to have had the chance to sit in that audience and engage with other participants and speakers.
Although my total time spent at the Bord Gais Theatre, venue for this year’s Inspire Fest, was 10 hours it was a really packed conference and here are 5 main takeaways:
1. We’ve got a hopeful future in the next generation
With people like Lauren Boyle, Emer Hickey, Ciara Judge, and Laura Browne with initiatives like Cool Steam Kids, Germinaid Innovations, and PowerScout, one can confidently hope for a better future. These young people are not build apps to become the next Facebook but are looking to solve big problems from education (STE[A]M orientation), to ending world hunger, and energy management.
It was also great to see today’s people providing the environment for these young chaps to thrive. From university programs in DCU and Trinity to Anne-Marie Imafidon’s Stemettes, we can begin to hope again because we’re in good hands.
2. There are business gains for a diverse inclusion agenda
Perhaps the most profound quote from #InspireFest2015 for me was one from Steve Neff, CTO Fidelity when he said:
— Nubi Kay (@NubiKay) June 18, 2015
Steve showed how inclusion and diversity brings about knowledge and value that a business may have never bargained for. Age, wealth distribution, customers, competitors are also some changes driving need for diversity-driven innovation, not to mention opportunities for entrepreneurs when trying to solve the issue of inclusion e.g. Child carers on demand for working women.
3. Fashion and Technology loving up in today’s world
As you’d see in the very short clip below, fashion and technology seem to have a thing going. Intel labs showcased one of its work with duo Turkish designers at the #InspireFest. I got discussing this with a friend after the conference when I said – wouldn’t it be cool for your dress to link up with your watch or phone and tell you as you’re about to leave the house whether your clothes go with the weather.
4. The future of work is an interesting one
This is a statement DAQRI‘s co-founder Gaia proved with the showcase of the smart uber-cool helmet known as the 4D. She touched on the current outlook of work today – repetitive, laborious and monotonous. With technology such as 4D, work becomes purposeful, connected, and empowering. DAQRI just opened its European HQ in Dublin with a first hackathon to get the developer community in on the future of work. No doubt things are about to get interesting in this space one can agree things are about to get interesting.
Discussions on the future workplace also took place on the first day at #InspireFest2015. While it’s easy to sense some form of consensus among the panelist that work is to be flexible and virtual, that’s a very interesting debate as Yahoo’s Marisser Mayer is currently pushing the agenda to get everyone back to the office building.
5. You should be at #InspireFest2016 because Cindy Gallop said so
— Cindy Gallop (@cindygallop) June 21, 2015
54 hours later and we’ve come to the end of the road for #SWDub – April Edition. Just like any other Startup Weekends, we’ve had a fair share of pitching, coaching, mentoring, hacking, pivoting, re-branding, munching, drinking, among other things.
We even had a session with mentors sharing their failure stories.
Of all 11 ideas, here are those that made it to the big stage for prizes:
The team behind Sober Sean was awarded special recognition for showing team spirit. According to Eamon Leonard, a #SWDub judge, this was very important and essential to the success of any venture.
In 3rd Place – 11th Hour, the startup idea to help pubs and bars get last minute employees. The mobile solution was very impressive and definitely meets a need for businesses.
And in 2nd Place – Xiron, an online platform that helps gamers book coaches in order to improve gaming skills through one-on-one play, feedback system, and community rankings and ratings. The judges were mostly impressed with the idea as it explored a sector that has is very underestimated especially when it comes to revenue and profitability.
And the winner for the April 2015 edition of Startup Weekend Dublin is Gymy, a startup that describes itself as the Airbnb for Gyms, allowing users make on-demand bookings for gym sessions. The team also won the prize for best pitch from the judges for a very well rounded presentation.
The winning team will be headed to Startup Festival in Berlin, courtesy of the DCU Ryan Academy. They also get to go on to Startup Next, one of Europe’s best incubator. Many thanks to our other sponsors – Bank of Ireland, Google, The T-Shirt Company, European Pioneers, WeDevelop, and Currency Fair.
Till next time, which should be at the June edition of Startup Weekend, keep doing epic sh*t!
That’s all folks!
– @NubiKay. Signing out.
This is was not on the agenda but our ever dynamic team lead, Tracy Keogh, quickly put together a line-up of mentors to share their failure stories with #SWDub participants.
Perhaps inspired by a previous event – StartupWake (formerly known as Flounders), the #SWDub saw 5 now-successful entrepreneurs share their failure stories and here are the punchlines from each:
1. Actively try to succeed instead of actively trying not to fail – Alia Lamaadar, Tapir.me
2. Obey your gut feeling and avoid easy money – Luca Boschin, Logo Grab
3. Avoid bluffing your way into leaving the table empty handed – Jason Hassett, We Develop
4. Don’t be fooled by results from test environments – Jason Ruane, Cirkit.io
5. Giving away equity for quick wins is a very bad idea – Nubi Kay, Travel Bay
That said, don’t be afraid to fail, embrace it but hate it enough to want to succeed.
Have any failure lessons you’d like to share or anything to add to this, go ahead and add it in the comment box.
It’s lift off at the April edition of Startup Weekend Dublin and the ideas to go through the weekend are finally decided on.
Day 1 saw participants get into the #SWDub spirit with Half Baked. The winner Prison Post, a paper based social network to help inmates get ready for the world outside won.
The game is however over and it’s time to get down to business. 32 ideas were pitched and after voting these 11 have emerged as those to be worked on during the weekend:
1. Gymy – Airbnb for Gyms
2. Health Assist – Health professional directory with online booking
3. Car Safari – Keeping kids engaged while on a long journey
4. Sober Sean – Uber-type service to get you and your car home after a night out
5. Be My Hermes – Last mile postal service via commuters
6. 11th Hour – Connecting local businesses with last minute temporary/shift workers
7. Skills Bank – Peer to peer skills swap
8. Startup Compost – Liquidation platform and knowledge repository for failed startups
9. Twirle – Social network connecting shoppers from the fitting room to fashion enthusiast
10. Xiron – Virtual coaching platform for gaming
11. Local Mi – Connecting customers to local businesses
The teams have been formed and it’s time to get into the trenches to validate ideas, build products, get customers, and priceless feedback from our on-the-ground and virtual mentors.
Many thanks to our sponsor Domino Pizza, Google for Entrepreneurs, DCU Ryan Academy, Bank of Ireland, and The T-Shirt Company for the support so far.
Keep up with the action on twitter via hashtag – #SWDub.
A Rookies Perspective
When I was asked to co-organise a Startup Weekend, I didn’t even know what a Startup Weekend was? 6 weeks later and I am much wiser about the raw excitement, energy and hard-work involved in an event like this. To be honest, I’m sorry I won’t get the chance to participate.
It has been a whirlwind experience and I can honestly say I am excited and energised heading down the final straight before the event climax on April 12th.
The support of the business community has been amazing. Lead sponsors Bank of Ireland have been very generous but we can’t forget the nuts and bolts of the local economy, companies like Canteen Asian Fusion, Tadhg Kearney jewellers, TaxAssist, Martina Murphy solicitors and so many more have all lent a generous hand to ensure the successful execution of this event.
Critical Success factors:
Beyond getting sponsorship there are 2 key factors to running a successful Startup Weekend.
Building a team
The team here at Startup Weekend Limerick includes veteran organisers Shane McCarthy and Stephan Dunworth and ex -participants Kieran Normoyle, Maree Lanigan and Mark Carey. We gained valuable insight from the former 3 on their experience attending the last Startup Weekend Limerick and armed with this knowledge, we are going to organise an event that has all the bells, whistles, colour and excitement to create a strong legacy for the future.
One key point that was highlighted from early meetings was the need to keep non-participants engaged. The solution is to create a prize pool for ‘Guests who Invest’. The investment won’t involve any cash sum, just a vote of confidence in the budding entrepreneur’s ideas.
At the end of the weekend, the ‘investors’ will be welcomed back for the judges decision where Startup Weekend winner 2015 will be crowned. Should the ‘investor’s’ team win, they will receive one of the many awesome prizes we have lined up, including a signed Munster jersey and several hotel vouchers from the Clarion Hotel Limerick to the picturesque Lakeside Hotel in Killaloe.
Getting people pumped up
With the team selected, it was time to summon the masses, we have been on the phone and marching on the ground to get the community excited about Startup Weekend. We have spoken to all the leading MNCs (multi-national corporations) in the local area including Dell, Vistakon and Johnson & Johnson to ensure we have the right balance of youth and experience. The team also wanted to attract complimentary skill-sets to ensure stronger business development from ideation right through to pitching on the Sunday.
Students have certainly heralded the strongest response, when we presented to class groups in LIT and UL, their excitement was contagious. The notion that these future change-makers could themselves start a business in just 3 days had audiences salivating. Many were eager to learn more and keen to ask questions while other were looking to sign up immediately!
Last call for budding entrepreneurs
With little over a week to go, the countdown is on to find the Limerick’s best Startup idea. We are very close to capacity so anyone who has a half baked business idea or a crazy concept that just might change the world, sign up here.
Shane Murphy is Marketing Director EMEA at AdRoll and has worked for over 10 years taking new products and services to market and growing them for brands like Orange and PaddyPower. He is passionate about helping people build and grow their businesses.
On this third edition of the #SWDub Mentor Series, sponsored by Bank of Ireland, Shane really digs in on how to go about nailing a target market.
Too often people immediately rush into executing the first idea they have before truly refining it and ensuring that the concept is set up for success. You must take your core product or service and define a fully fledged value proposition around it. You need to know how to position it, how to price it, what brand tone of voice to use, all these other elements that take a concept and bring it to life for a target market. Almost every single successful company does not have a unique product, they have a unique customer proposition.
The absolute most critical step in building out your full value proposition is defining your target market. From this, all other things will flow.
Ryanair didn’t win because they are an airline, they won because they clearly understood their target customer, defined a “Low cost and on time” value proposition to target that market, and then executed that value proposition in all their customer touchpoints. Similarly the Nintendo Wii didn’t win when it launched because it was the best console. In fact, on traditional metrics such as processing power it was the worst, but it won by going after a different market segment (families rather than gamers) and then executing the value proposition in everything they did from pricing, graphic design, distribution and marketing.
So how do you define your target market? Let’s dig in!
Defining your target market
Step 1: Use customer segmentation techniques to build a picture of your market
Many of you will have heard about “customer segmentation” before, this is the art of cutting a market up into “segments” and articulating which one you are going after. There are a number of different types of segmentation all of which have their merits. In order to define your target market I would suggest you have a bash at trying to define your customer across all three main segmentation types:
- Demographic: what age are they? What sex? Typical job they have? Income level? Where do they live?
- Attitudinal: what are their political beliefs? What do they care about in life? What are their attitudes towards your product area? What motivates them?
- Behavioural: what behaviours do they display when using your product type? How often do they use your product type? When do they use it? Do they snack on it or binge?
You should take creative licence with making as many assumptions as you like. If you had a massive budget you would commission research to figure this stuff out but for the average startup even just using your own intuition will force you to think much more clearly about your target market than most people do.
Step 2: Write your ‘Pen Portrait’
Writing a Pen Portrait brings everything you know about your target customer into one place and tries to describe the bullseye customer using the Demographic, behavioral and attitudinal information you mapped out in step 1.
Some Questions to ask yourself before writing yours:
1. What’s their name, age, education, sex, job?
2. What are their motivations in life?
3. What makes them happy?
4. What are their fears?
5. What are their political beliefs?
6. What media do they consume?
7. What other brands do they love?
Now try to articulate exactly who your target customer is and write your ‘Pen Portrait’. Write it in the first person. Give them a name. Describe them like you were telling a story about them. Below is an example of one done by Yves Saint Laurent. Notice how incredibly specific it is. You might be worried that if you are that specific about your market you will not be mass market enough. Don’t worry about that. If you hit the bullseye customer you will bleed into a much wider segment than you originally defined. If you don’t define the bullseye you will just fade into irrelevance.
“My name is Elizabeth Duke and I am 29 years old. I currently work as the PR manager for a top London Public Relations Firm.
I have a keen interest in Fashion, and i like to do a ‘season’ shop, once every 3 months. I buy Investment pieces; items that i feel with withstand new trends and offer a classic and simplistic feel. I like to shop in Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci for the more timeless items, but i also shop at Stella McCartney, especially in the summer months, for the fresh and feminine style of the brand.
I currently live in Chelsea, London in a penthouse apartment with my husband, an Investment Banker. We like to visit our country house in the Cotswolds and also enjoy regular visits to our holiday villa in St. Tropez, France.
My interests include Gastronomy and fine wines, Fashion, as previously mentioned, traveling and experiencing new cultures as well as luxury spa retreats. I like to indulge myself with regular treats, and i take great pride in my appearance. In terms of my dislikes, I am not a ‘bargain hunter’, i have little interest in ‘Fashionable but cheap’ items, and I despise high street retailers who create replicas of the designer brands.
I read Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Tatler; the lower market gossip magazines such as Heat, Closer or More are of no appeal to me. The lives of celebrities should be private and not advertised as a public spectacle.
As far as my career is concerned, work comes first and a family comes later at this present point. I love the fast paced, dynamic and ever changing variety of my industry, and I constantly thrive for more”
Great so now you’ve defined your target market. The next step is to define clearly your value proposition.
Defining your Value proposition
A Value Proposition is a statement which outlines how your product or service adds value over and above similar offerings to your defined target customer.
It is a critical statement of intent to outline this value proposition as it forms the basis for how you position your marketing. By defining this you are outlining who you are targeting and why they should care. This then should feed into every element of your marketing.
As mentioned, maintaining proposition consistency is one of the key factors to long term success. Look at companies like Ryanair and Apple, two companies with polar opposite propositions, Low Cost in Ryanair’s case and Product Quality and Simplicity in Apple’s case. They unflinchingly stay loyal to their core propositions and this can be seen in every part of their marketing mix from their communications to their pricing. They have completely different strategies but have achieved long term success by doggedly sticking to their core proposition.
The first step in defining your Value Proposition is to map out your positioning on Bowman’s Strategy Clock. This is a tool used to ensure that you are competing in an effective strategic positioning. Companies who fail often do so as they fail to have a differentiated strategy. Give it a go yourself and make sure you are clear where you sit on the clock.
Position 1: Low Price/Low Value
This is a very clear but not very often used strategy. It involves providing an unapologetically lower quality product / service but for a very low price. When Aldi and Lidl launched this is the positioning they adopted to good effect.
Position 2: Low Price
This strategy usually requires high volume in order to use economies of scale to drive down costs and allow for a profitable low price strategy. If you are going to compete here you will want to be ready for a price war as the likely competitive response is to drop prices. If you are a startup it’s highly unlikely you have higher margins than bigger incumbents and so this strategy can be risky and difficult to scale.
Position 3: Hybrid (moderate price/moderate differentiation)
Companies who compete here offer a low price but for reasonably high quality service. This can be a risky strategy as you can easily send out mixed messages. Also as a startup it’s a difficult strategy to maintain as it again usually requires a higher than average margin to sustain the low prices. It’s unlikely as a startup you are operating at this higher margin. A good example of a company operating here would be Aer Lingus who have started to compete on price with Ryanair while still promoting a quality service message. Aer Lingus have however struggled with this as they neither win on price nor on service.
Position 4: Differentiation
This strategy offers products or services of a high perceived value. Often this means that a higher price is therefore required in order to ensure quality is profitably achieved. Branding and quality in every customer touch point is critical to achieve this. Even if you are selling a physical product customers expect a high level of service from companies operating here so ensure that you have invested appropriately in your customer care and other touch points like your retail presence. Apple is a good example of a company who operate effectively with this strategy. High quality mass market products. This quality can be seen in their unique retail experience.
Position 5: Focused Differentiation
This position on the clock is reserved for the high quality goods which come with high prices. Designer labels such as Hugo Boss or Ferrari are great examples of this. This position can lead to high margins but requires absolute focus on quality in every customer touchpoint. The packaging of a perfume is almost more important than the smell itself.
Positions 6, 7 & 8:
As a startup you should not attempt one of these strategies. You will fail. That is all.
The Value Proposition Statement
OK, so now you know generally how you want to position yourself and your target customer, you’re now ready to write your proposition statement. Essentially a proposition statement outlines what you are going to offer, to whom, and what makes you better than the competition. Below is a simple template you can use to make sure it’s to the point.
1.For “insert target customer”
2.Who “insert statement of need or opportunity”
3.Our (product / service) is: “insert product description”
4.That: “insert statement of benefit”
5.Unlike: “insert competitors”
6.We: “insert statement of differentiation”
Example proposition statement for fictional online estate agent:
For internet savvy, cost conscious people who want to let or sell their property, The Good Agent is an online estate agent that provides a low cost, flexible solution that gives the customer complete control of the letting and selling process.
Unlike traditional estate agents like Sherry Fitzgerald, we do not charge high commission rates for an inflexible service. We charge one low fee and only charge for the services the customer uses. If they want to do their own viewings.. they save. If they want to provide their own photos… they save. If they want to handle negotiations themselves… they save. We offer the first truly customer focused estate agent service.
Shane will be around mentoring and coaching teams at the Startup Weekend Dublin. Do share and stay tuned for the next post in the #SWDub Mentor Series courtesy of our sponsor, Bank of Ireland.
We all know that people do not participate at a Startup Weekend for the prizes, but at the end of the day after a grueling 54 hours of madness it is nice to be rewarded for your efforts. This year we have some pretty cool prizes for successful teams.
The team with the best fit for EI New Frontiers will have the opportunity to present to the New Frontiers panel in June along with coaching and mentoring from the LIT EI New Frontiers team based at the Hartnett Centre in preparation for the interview.
The New Frontiers Programme, which is the Enterprise Ireland national entrepreneur development programme, can provide you with help and support to accelerate your business development and to equip you with the skills and contacts that you need to successfully start and grow your company including Business Training, Mentoring from experienced business advisers and practitioners, Office space, €15,000 scholarship to cover full-time participation in the six-month course, Networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs and business development agencies, Introductions to seed and early-stage capital investment networks and access to the LIT ELF Fund for funding up to €25,000, Access to entrepreneurship best practice – both national and international, Peer group learning from participants in the region and across the country, Access to the expertise in Enterprise Ireland, Expertise from LIT and UL and more. The Programme’s primary purpose is to accelerate the development of sustainable new businesses that have strong employment and growth potential (particularly international growth) and contribute to job creation and economic activity in the region. www.newfrontiers.ie
The Web Summit has been described as “the best technology conference on the planet”. Dubbed “Europes most global tech event”, the Web Summit hosts the biggest Fortune 500 companies to the smallest and most exciting startups.
Technology is changing the world faster and further than at any point in human history. The Summit brings those responsible for that change together because they think it’s important to understand what that change means for our businesses and societies.
The lovely folks at the Web Summit have been kind enough to give us two tickets with a combined value of over €3,000. These tickets will go to the winning team. The Summit is a fantastic opportunity to see some of the greatest minds on the planet speak of successes, failures, opportunities and the ever changing world of technology. One thing that is for sure is that whoever wins these tickets is in for a real treat November 3-5th at the RDS.
The Nexus Innovation centre located on Campus at the beaufifully pituresque University of Limerick has kindly offered 3 months hot desk space for the winning team. The nexus is a fantastic location to grow a business, surround yourself with like minded people and receive the very best advice on how to scale a business both nationally and internationally. Not only that but being on campus at the University of Limerick, there is a vast range of resources available right on your doorstep, which can be utilised with a good attitude and plenty of hustle.
On top of this, there will also be 3X1 month free hot desk space for three teams that wish to persue their business. Fostering growth and innovation is what we are trying to do here at Startup Weekend Limerick and these prizes certainly represent a huge opportunity for participants.
We just cannot wait to see who grabs the ball and runs with it.
P.s We will also have a Munster jersey signed by the whole Munster team to give away as a spot prize during the weekend. HEAVE!!!!!!