38dd85dbaa094205809f10b89d7e0de8A guest blog from Alan Maguire of Versari Partners

Friday 13th is unlucky for some but today is a great day for Irish Edtech: Startup Weekend Edu has come to Dublin and the first event starts tonight. Versari first got exposed to the event as one of the judges in London some years back and we are proud to be a sponsor of the global phenomenon’s first incarnation in our hometown. May it be the first of many.

Although not specifically in this context, two particular posts caught my eye recently which could arguably be required reading for tonight’s nascent Edupreneurs in Dublin.

First off, this cracking piece from Michael Horn at edSurge which analyses Amplify’s dramatic fall from grace and recent rebirth. There are multiple lessons to be learned here but one stands out for me: ‘It is not about the tech. It Is About The Teachers’ Load’.

Of the hundreds of edtech businesses we have seen in recent years, it is astonishing how few promoters understand the educator’s workflow.

Great idea? Check.
Shiny New Technology? Check.
Wildly passionate founding team? A given.
But where will this fit in the educational process? Dunno mate! Why does that matter?

In some ways, it’s the only thing that matters. Knowing were, how & why your solution makes existing processes easier is critical to getting people to understand, use & buy it. If you’re going to make something that is currently hard for me much easier, you had me at hello. If you’re asking me to do something different, it’s not impossible but it is a much, much harder conversation. Harder conversations take longer. Long sales cycles are the enemy of scale. It’s almost that simple.

Which leads me to post # 2 by Loren Padelford and a favourite topic of ours. Loren is flagging a macro shortage of sales skills that we’ve long experienced here in Ireland, appears to be increasingly endemic globally but, regrettably, that we won’t fix in this post! At a more micro level, what is relevant – especially to our start-up weekenders – is an understanding that a sales competency is as important as any other in turning your brilliant idea into a business. We don’t expect edtech ventures to come pre-packed with high performing commercial skills – they are harder to acquire than that. But we do like to see promoters demonstrate an understanding (at least) that commercial execution is required to scale. Even as I write, this sounds so blindingly obvious and yet Padelford’s post demonstrates how widespread this failing is.
So good luck to all our first Irish Startup weekend-ers tonight through Sunday. And as you break into your teams to dream up the next Udacity, rest assured that few will doubt the efficacy of your solution. Where it will fit & How you will sell it might be less sexy questions. But they might be the more important ones that you have to answer

5 stakeholders to consider when building an EdTech startup

Dublin’s first ever EdTech edition of Startup Weekend kicks offs on Friday. I thought it’d be cool to list out a few stakeholders to consider when identifying problems and building solutions over the 54 hour period.

Pupils and Student – This is usually the focus when looking at problems and solution in Education and that is not a bad thing as these are the most important stakeholders. So get to know more about pain points in the learning process. Get talking to students to find out more.

Teachers – These are also important stakeholders as they play an essential role in the education process. They do face problems in administering knowledge especially in a world where books just don’t cut it any more. You do want to talk to them too and see how to best build solutions to their problems.

Parents – Education and learning is not restricted to the four walls of the classroom. Parents are quite important when it comes to educating the child. They also determine the amount of resource that goes into a child’s education – tuition, books, games, apps, etc. So it’s important to have them on board when developing solutions as they are your most important customers.

Researchers – These stakeholders are often involved in determining the new trends, and technologies to be adapted when it comes to education. They also study current trends such as student performance, and do have plenty of data that can help in coming up with solutions. There are many publications online from researchers you don’t want to miss out on.

Government – This the last but not least stakeholder you want to get involved when developing an EdTech idea, solution, or startups. They provide funding and also make policies, so it is important to get them on board. The government also have pain points from an administrative point of view, and these are worth exploring for solutions.


Look forward to seeing you on Friday at the Bank of Ireland, Grand Canal Square. Last few tickets are still available here.

Dublin Startup Weekend Education: 2 Weeks Out

Last week, the Startup Weekend Education team infiltrated the home of Versari Partners, with the help of Amy Keith, our newest member. This was our final chance to meet before the event kicks off next month. With less than three weeks to go, things were picking up speed and there was much to do, such as make coffee and take selfies.

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Selfie at Versari Partners: (R-L) Nubi, Daniel, Amy, Nana, Ruta and David.

Selfies aside, we have a lot to share with you. Irish graphic designer, Tamara Stone (@TamaraMarieDSGN), has created our new logo for the event and designed the banner featuring the impressive Samuel Beckett bridge. We have also taken control of the Dublin Startup Weekend Twitter account (@SWDub), so make sure to follow us to keep updated.

Startup Weekend Logo
Startup Weekend Education Logo
Startup Weekend Banner
Startup Weekend Education Banner

We are delighted to announce that Bank of Ireland, Versari Partners, Irish Startup.TV and SuppliesBox.com have kindly sponsored our event. Dublin-based The T-Shirt Company printed our hoodies so keep your eyes peeled for us wandering around Dublin. Don’t be afraid to stop us and say hi!

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Not only do Irish companies sponsor us; we will be joined by a host of influential Irish-based change-makers, such as guest speaker Gary Leyden (Director at NDRC LaunchPad) and facilitator Jessica Falkenthal (EdTech Marketing Strategist & Startup Coach). Judging the final pitches will be Martyn Farrows (Director at Learnovate Centre), Dr Claire O’Connell (Science Writer and Journalist), Vicky Godolphin (Head of Digital at Accenture Ireland) and Stephen Moran (Innovation Manager at Bank of Ireland).

No pressure then.

Thankfully, you will have the opportunity to work with inspiring mentors and coaches who are leading the way in their respective fields: Gene Murphy (E.I.R. at Bank of Ireland), Cristina Luminea (CEO at Thoughtbox), Conor O’Sullivan (CEO at Adaptemy), Maggie Green (Founder at The School Door), Kathryn Parkes (Director of UX & Design at Swrve), Kareem Mostafa (Marketing Professional), Nicholas Hynes (CEO at SprintFire) and Olivia Lavelle (Education Psychologist).

Find out more about who you will meet at Startup Weekend Education: http://www.up.co/communities/ireland/dublin/startup-weekend/7134.

Tickets are selling fast. As I type we have only a small number of early-bird tickets available for educators. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. As Ireland’s first Startup Weekend that focuses entirely on education, each one of us has the responsibility of sharing our educational experiences, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Be the change you want to see: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/startup-weekend-dublin-edu-tickets-18153039229.

Educators and Entrepreneurs Come Together to Build Technology


Dublin Startup Weekend Education

Dublin, Ireland, October 25, 2015 — Dublin Startup Weekend Education brings together educators, developers, designers and entrepreneurs who are passionate about making a positive impact in education to build game-changing technology products in 54 hours. Over a course of three days teams develop viable concepts that address the needs of teachers, students and parents, as well as college professors, corporate trainers and everyone concerned with lifelong learning. The teams are supported by experts in education, technology, design and business.

“No matter what your role is, education impacts your present and future. The more you know, the better opportunities you have in life. Education is a complex system, but learning belongs to everyone. To make learning better we need collaboration between various groups of people, especially those with background in education and professional development, and technology makers,” said lead organizer Ruta Danyte. “Good ideas come from diversity. By bringing people from such different backgrounds together, Dublin Startup Weekend Education creates a springboard to create technology we all want to use to acquire new skills.”

The format of the event is focused on bringing people with skills and people with ideas together. On Friday night, participants get a chance to present their technology ideas to the group in 60 seconds. After teams form, the rest of the weekend is spent working on the most popular ideas with the help of experienced entrepreneurs and mentors. On Sunday, teams present their ideas in front of a panel of thought leaders from education and technology industry in Ireland, including Martyn Farrows (Learnovate Centre), Stephen Moran (Bank of Ireland), Dr Claire O’Connell (The Irish Times) and Vicky Godolphin (Accenture Ireland), who will award teams based on business model and customer validation.

“I participated in Startup Weekend a few months before joining the organising team. The vibrant experience of the event was invaluable, it allowed me to validate the need for my idea and turn it into an actual product,” said Nana Adeniyi, the founder of The Alpha Project. “Technology is the most effective way of  informatively improving all aspects of education. I’m glad Startup Weekend allows for opportunities to do that.”

Dublin Startup Weekend Education is part of an international entrepreneurship competition Global Startup Battle which offer prizes such as trip to Amsterdam, the membership at Founder Institute and other resources to help build a technology company. Global Startup Battle unites hundreds of Startup Weekend events hosted around the world where winning teams from each event move forward to compete with one another during Global Entrepreneurship Week.

“Bank of Ireland is delighted to be backing the next generation of great ideas that will be worked on during Startup Weekend Education at Grand Canal Square this November 13th – 15th. With a range of supports already in place through the Startup community including our workbench program in Galway and Dublin to get entrepreneurs started as well as our newly released StartLab incubator program also in Galway we are looking forward to how teams progress over this exciting 54 hour challenge at the Startup Weekend Education edition this November,” said Gene Murphy, E.I.R. at Bank of Ireland.

Dublin Startup Weekend Education is proudly sponsored by Bank of Ireland, Versari Partners, IrishStartupTV and Suppliesbox.

About: Startup Weekend Education events are 54-hour events designed to provide superior entrepreneurship education for people with diverse skills. Beginning with Friday night pitches and continuing through brainstorming, Startup Weekend Education events culminate in Sunday night presentations. Participants create working education startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks. All teams hear talks by industry leaders and receive valuable feedback from experienced entrepreneurs. The weekend is centered around action, innovation, and education. Whether you are looking for feedback on an idea or a team to help you execute, Startup Weekends are the perfect environment in which to test your idea and take the first steps towards launching your own startup.

Visit our website to get your ticket and follow us for updates:

Website: http://www.up.co/communities/ireland/dublin/startup-weekend/7134

Twitter: https://twitter.com/swdub

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SWDub


Download Press Release.



Young bloods win big at #SWDub

54 hours later and it’s all over.

We’ve had ideas pitched, teams formed, brain dumped, customers developed, validations made, leads generated, sales made, revenue raised, mentorship recieved, and food consumed.



No doubt the judges had their jobs cut out for them but after all said and done here are the winners at Startup Weekend Dublin – July 2015 edition.

There was special mention to team FitMyBits for their solution to helping women get the right fit for bras. There were the only team to have made sales over the weekend to the tune of Euro 125.00 from 5 customers.




In 3rd place – Comrade, an app to help find friends in a new city




Runner up, PhotoCAD – a simple app helps you convert images taken with your smartphone camera into CAD files




And the winners of the July 2015 edition of Startup Weekend Dublin is….Book-E, a digital platform that enables users to bet on e-sports.



Perhaps more impressive is that the team was made up of really young members – 16 & 17 year old with the pitch presented by the former. The team won a trip to Berlin for a large hackathon courtesy of @WelcomeStartup – DCU Ryan Academy.


Congratulations to all the teams and it was really a close one and many thanks to all who made this happen – volunteers, organizer, mentors, judges, sponsors, facilitator, host, and guests.

Till next time.

Signing Out.

Photo Story – Moments from the second day at #SWDub

Being glamorous is about strength and confidence. It’s black and white – dramatic. You have to be strong. – Catherine Zeta-Jones


























You can check out photos from Day 1 here.

Photo credit: Day In Life of Storytelling Photography and Twitter – @DayInLife_Photo.


Sights and Scenes from #SWDub

Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected – Robert Frank









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Do look forward to more photos from what’s left of the 54 hours.

Photo credit: Day In Life of Storytelling Photography

#SWDub takes a full swing with these 12 ideas

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.

Colorful swags Yummy meals and Amazing people at #SWDub

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.

The doors opened to participants who streamed in to pick up colorful swags with the new Startup Weekend Dublin brand courtesy of our sponsors – The T-Shirt Company. IMG_20150710_185942[1]

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.

IMG_20150710_190052[1]Many thanks to our other sponsors who help to make it happen – Bank of Ireland, Google, DCU Ryan Academy and Slattery’s Pub.

Let the fun begin!

Join the league of extraordinary women at Startup Weekend Dublin

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 on the far right with the rest of Gift Me team at Startup Weekend

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 on the left (sitting) with MedXNote at the Startup Weekend

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.


L-R Tracy and Gene Murphy at April 2015 Startup Weekend
L-R Tracy and Gene Murphy at April 2015 Startup Weekend

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.

Tracy is nothing short of a champion in Dublin’s Startup Community, picking up awards, advocating for diversity and inclusion as well as leading initiatives like the IIA and Startup Hiking.


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.