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.
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.
People in tech often compliment each other on their ‘hustle.’ As I understand it, complimenting someone’s hustle is analogous to congratulating them for their tendency to get sh*t done. Apparently ‘hustle’ is what the kids are calling a ‘work ethic’ these days.
Whatever you want to call it, success in startups boils down to a bias towards action and a machine-like calibration for efficacy: only the fast and the smart survive.
This Darwinian law has created an insatiable appetite in the market for SaaS solutions designed to facilitate startup hustle. Founders must have polymathic expertise in both their market and their industry. The latter compels you to understand what tools exist to improve your effectiveness and your speed to market. Not enough startups treat the process with the intellectual rigour it demands…it’s no surprise then that most startups fail.
With Dublin Startup Weekend less than three weeks away, Gravity Centres, asked me to compile an overview of some of my favourite bootstrapping tools to help the teams get an early leg up on their competition.
Using tools to help you work faster and smarter at Startup Weekend is a very good idea, but trying them out for the first time at Startup Weekend? Notsomuch. Most of the tools mentioned below have free tiers and free trials, allowing you to familiarize yourself with the product in advance and add significant value to your startup weekend projects.
To add a narrative element to what would otherwise be just a list of products, I’ve included a brief case study of a micro-project that I undertook a few weeks ago. Using only online tools, a lowly non-techie like myself was able to land at #5 on the HackerNews homepage within 20 mins of launch, become the most popular story of the day on the Next Web, and get hunted to Product Hunt within 2 hours.
So, use your 3 weeks wisely teams, and we look forward to complimenting you on your hustle at the finish line!
Startup Tools Case Study
Plz Don’t Hunt Me Yet
I’m intrigued by the idea of building ‘faux’ products in aid of your real commercial effort. I’ve heard this marketing technique also referred to as “Come for X, Stay for Y”. This could be a book, a tool, or a toy — anything that through a related or unrelated product, draws attention to your main gig.
With this in mind, I decided to see if I could build something in fewer than 4 hours, and with less than 20 bucks, with the ultimate goal of eventually being listed on Product Hunt. From this experimental question, the Plz Don’t Hunt Me Yet Badges were born.
Do the badges look a bit hokey? For sure.
But, did they fulfil the brief and get my primary product thousands of hits and dozens of beta signups? You betcha.
Briefly, the tools I used for PDHMY were:
- Tumblr: Free website hosting.
- Microsoft Word: To design mockups of each of the badges.
- Fiverr: I took my MS Word mockups and paid a designer $5 on Fiverr to convert each into hi-res image files.
- Typeform: I added a customized, embeddable Typeform to collect submission information from each lead.
- Canva: Used to design all my marketing and social network visuals.
- Buffer: To drip tweets over a week at strategic times of day.
- Rapportive: to quickly evaluate each new lead in terms of value and influence.
TL;DR: I spent 3.5 hours and $16.50 on the PDHMY experiment. My primary product — Tapir — is still in pre-launch, so we haven’t done any marketing yet. Since our existing site traffic was so low, the PDHMY attention made a huge impact (see below). The project was also buckets of fun.
And now for the more complete list of tools…A quick heads up, that you can’t build a list like this without making some subjective value judgments. At the end of the day, I’m a Mac, not a PC; a Stripe, not a Braintree; a Buffer, not a Hootsuite…you get the idea. Other options exist and I encourage you to tweet us your faves.
Multi-Purpose & General Bootstrapping Tools
- Product Hunt (Free) — Product Hunt is a startup kingmaker. Being listed on the PH homepage guarantees fame, fortune, and success. Well, maybe not the last two, but it does promise unprecedented attention for small startups. Read the comments when other products launch to find useful and common critiques that should be addressed in your own products. Suss out the best pre-launch marketing tactics and be inspired by the ingenuity of other makers. And if you need a specific tool for a job, PH should be your first port of call. It’s become a useful compendium of SaaS products, often with exclusive discounts applied for Product Hunters. Hiten Shah has also compiled a particularly good collection of free tools for startups.
- GrowthHackers (Free) — regardless of the startup bravado we exude, none of us are pros. By definition, startups must operate under conditions of extreme uncertainty. How well do you understand your market? How aware are you of effective growth tactics, theories, and methodologies? Learn from your peers, eliminate some uncertainty, and get your butt to GrowthHackers.
- Intercom (Free Plan & Free Trial) — Hometown heroes Intercom allow startups to send targeted email and in-app messages, triggered by time or behaviour. Once you become familiar with Intercom’s telltale question mark icon, you’ll notice their widget across the internet in the bottom righthand screen of your favourite startups. And for goodness sake, make sure that you’re following the Intercom blog.
- BetaList (Free) — How do you get beta users before you’ve even finished building your product? You join the likes of Pintrest, IFTTT, and Fab, by getting featured on BetaList before you launch. While you likely won’t have enough time during Startup Weekend to submit — expedited posting takes 72 hours — BetaList is an excellent resource for startups looking to design compelling landing pages. In fact, Marc (BetaList founder and one of the SW Dublin remote mentors) has compiled this handy document outlining How to Build a Successful Beta Landing Page.
- Typeform (Free Plan) — Boiled down, a lot of product development involves forms in one ‘form’ or another (pun verymuch intended).
From customer research, to onboarding, to payment and satisfaction surveys, forms are often the medium through which we connect with our audience.
So, why the heck did we ever settle for ugly, janky forms? Typeform is the form you need, when you need it, looking beautiful and asking awesomely.
Product Management & Communication
- Slack (Free Plan) — Slack may be the fastest growing enterprise app in history and it’s certainly one of the fastest startups to reach a billion dollar valuation. That last designation might be arbitrary as f*ck, but these superlatives arise from the product’s extreme utility as a team communication tool. I have a theory that a number of enterprises could forgo their silly corporate innovation programs, instead adopting Slack to achieve a better ROI. For oft-dispersed startup teams, operating across multiple time zones and functional areas, Slack is on a mission “to make your working life simpler, more pleasant, and more productive.”
- Trello (Free Plan) — Self-described as “the free, flexible, and visual way to organize anything with anyone,” Trello is many things to many people. Personally, I use Trello as a bookmarking tool, to track and sort online sources I want to come back to later, and ideas I want to blog about. Professionally, my co-founder and I use Trello as a project management tool to track each stage and milestone of Tapir’s development. I’ve also been toying with the idea of creating a Trello board to track and sort all of our beta user feedback.
- Peek User Testing (Free) — Peek provides free five minute user experience videos with real people from the interwebs. The current wait time for a video review is 2–3 days, though they sometimes arrive in only a few hours. Peek is a fun way to get a fresh perspective on your product. Just remember to take it with a grain of salt — it’s only the opinion of one person.
- Canva (Free — 1$) — I just recently learned that Guy Kawasaki is the Chief Evangelist at Canva. Makes sense, given how brilliant Canva is. Engagement rates skyrocket when you combine visual elements with your social networking content. Canva has the tools and templates you need to make it look like a professional was involved. Their ‘design school’ blog is also a terrific resource for those of us with questionable design aesthetics.
- Keynote (Free) — Getting an idea out of your head and communicating it to others is a vital step in the early validation stages of an MVP. If you’re familiar with the Google Ventures 5-Day Design Sprint, you know that Day 4 is devoted to creating a super-realistic prototype in just eight hours. While apps like InVision exist for solely this purpose, bootstrappers may also be drawn to the unconventional use of Keynote. Check out the GV guide to using the “world’s best prototyping tool.”
- Stock Up (Free) — Sure, you need to work fast, but as David Cancel says, “Ship It, but don’t Ship Shit.” There’s no excuse for startups to use terrible stock photos (let’s leave that to the big corporates). StockUp aggregates and makes searchable hundreds of free stock photo assets…free to use as you see fit.
- Fiverr ($5+ but get a free gig using this referral link) — Let me preface this tool with the age-old adage, “You get what you pay for.” Fiverr has a pretty simple pitch: get things done for $5 (though some tasks cost more). Suffice to say, buyer beware, but for simple rote tasks lacking in creativity, I’m down with Fiverr (and eventually you get used to all of the designers calling you ‘dear’).
Payments, Sales & Marketing
- Stripe (Fee per charge) — Stripe is web and mobile payments. So simple, so smart, so sexy. How many other APIs can you say that about? Stripe is unapologetically a tool built by developers for developers, combining functionality with intellectualism in a heady digital mix that’s difficult not to find appealing. Stripe understands that it’s god — not the devil — in the details. (And sure, their Irish origins make them even more likeable.)
- SlideBean (Free Plan) — Creating your Startup Weekend pitch deck is finicky and time-consuming. Why not give some thought to outsourcing the design elements to SlideBean. In addition to the option to start with a blank canvas, SlideBean offers pre-designed templates including the “3 Minute Startup Pitch” and a “10 Slide Investor Deck.” For inspiration, you can take a look at 10 SlideBean pitch decks from the most recent 500 Startups Demo Day.
- HARO (Free) — HARO, or Help A Reporter Out, is a mailing list that connects journalists looking for expertise with credible news sources. Email comes 3 times a day with time-sensitive requests for sources from diverse media outlets including Forbes, Fast Company, USA Today, and theNew York Times. Startups can use HARO to potentially garner international exposure by offering their domain expertise in topics like business, HR, travel, and lifestyle.
- Buffer (Free Plan) — Buffer is awesome (literally). As a startup, content is important, but devoting unnecessary hours to the administration of your social presence before your product is even built? Get a life. Buffer allows you to load up your tweets in advance and have them fired out atthe most strategic times throughout the week. I also, highly recommend the Buffer Chrome extension, allowing you to add content to your buffer queue directly from your browser.
- Rapportive (Free) — Rapportive shows you details about your contacts, right inside your Gmail inbox. I use Reportive to quickly evaluate beta list signups, to identify who is worth responding to immediately or tagging as a VIP. As an added bonus, it also helps you to discern when seemingly personal emails, might actually be part of a larger marketing campaign.
We’re delighted to announce the very first Startup Weekend Remote Mentorship program using Slack for team communication.
This is a complete experiment. We’re so excited to see how the teams make use of both their physical mentors and their remote mentors. We’ll be learning from the program this year and if everyone finds value in the experience, it could be added as a permanent feature to future Startup Weekends in Ireland.
Teams will be able to reach out to remote mentors via DM or public Slack channels. Remote mentors will do their best to respond promptly given their availability and time zone constraints.
**Please note, the organizers are fully committed to diversity. We are working towards making the slack mentors as diverse a group as possible. We will get there, but there remains room for improvement. Please get in touch if you have any suggestions.**
Andre Plaut, Product Lead, Immersives General Assembly
Over the last seven years Andre Plaut has been designing & delivering learning experiences for Apple, Obama for America, and General Assembly. As a training coordinator at Apple, Andre created and delivered internal training materials to retail employees all over the world. During the 2012 Obama campaign, Andre worked with campaign staff to redesign, organize, and implement training initiatives and materials to better prepare new volunteers for the field. Now, at General Assembly, Andre leads the product team responsible for designing, implementing, and scaling full-time courses around Web Development, User Experience Design, and Product Management. Andre has also published articles and spoken at conferences about the intersection of design and education.
Mentorship Expertise: 1. Design 2. Growth, Marketing, Sales, Social, PR 3. Product Management 3. Education.
Dylan La Com, Product Manager at GrowthHackers.com
Dylan is Product Manager at GrowthHackers, the definitive community for growth-focused marketers. Dylan has an eye for design and a head for startup growth, and was previously Growth Product Manager at Qualaroo. Dylan has formerly cofounded Bosscaster, a podcast publishing platform and Wellen, a surfwear company.
Mentorship Expertise: 1. Growth, Marketing, Sales, Social, PR 2. Product Management 3. Startup/Bootstrapping Tools
Eoin Hennessy, Manager of Engineering, Intercom
Originally from Crosshaven, Cork, Eoin is a manager of engineering at Intercom. Since joining Intercom, Eoin has played an important role in key product features including the In-App Messenger and Intercom’s latest release, real-time messaging. His side project is Tapir, a clever customer referral tool for crazy clever startups. Theoretically, if he had spare time he’d spend it surfing or sailing.
Mentorship Expertise: 1. Front End Development 2. Back End Development 3. Mobile 4. Startup/Bootstrapping Tools 5. B2B
Everette Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer, StickerMule
Everette Taylor is Chief Marketing Officer of Sticker Mule and founder of MilliSense. He is the former Head of Growth of GrowthHackers.com and has previously done marketing for author Neil Strauss, United Way, Qualaroo and others.
Mentorship Expertise: 1. Growth, Marketing, Sales, Social, PR 2. Product Management 3. Startup/Bootstrapping Tools 4. B2B 5. B2C
Jeff Bajayo, Marketing & Growth, InVisionApp
Starting out working for publications like The Next Web, Beta List, and various smaller operations, Jeff has worked with hundreds of startups all over the globe. For the past three years, he’s worked on marketing and growth at InVisionApp, a prototyping and collaboration platform for designers.
Mentorship Expertise: 1. Design 2. Growth, Marketing, Sales, Social, PR 3. Product Management 4. Startup/Bootstrapping Tools 5. B2B 6. B2C
“1 of 5 Women Changing the World of VC/Entrepreneurship” — Forbes | “25 Smartest Women On Twitter” — Fast Company | “100 Most Influential Tech Women On Twitter” — Business Insider | “100 NYC Tech Influencers You Need To Know” — AlleyWatch
Kelly Hoey is a speaker, strategist and investor. Recognized for her social influence, Kelly’s expertise is in leveraging networks, building engaged communities and developing strategies for rising above the networking noise, both online and off.
Kelly appears regularly as an investor panelist on CNBC’s Power Pitch. Kelly is sought out for her unique perspective into networking and community building, addressing members of the European Commission and audiences at SXSW, IEEE Women in Leadership, 2014 PGA Championship, The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, Women In The Boardroom, Bank of America, Disruptors (Dublin), MoDev, MINC (Malmo), Philly Women in Tech Summit, amongst others.
Kelly’s motto is “invest in the change you want to see in the world.” She is an acknowledged leader in the startup community for actively investing in women. In 2011, Kelly co-founded the first startup accelerator focused exclusively on fast-tracking the growth of early-stage mobile technology ventures with gender-diverse founding teams. Kelly continues to advise emerging technology companies and actively mentors startups through selected accelerator programs in New York City. She is the Chief Technology Ambassador for the YWCA of NYC’s Geek Girls Club and mentors on millennial career platform, Levo.
Mentorship Expertise: 1. Growth, Marketing, Sales, Social, PR
Kilian McMahon, Designer, Kickstarter
Kilian is a designer by day — making things for the web and the physical world — and a musician by night. Here in Ireland, you probably recognize Kilian’s creative talents from his involvement with Tito, and Úll. More recently, he has adventured across the ocean, battling wicked winters and the L-train, applying design to help creators stay independent. He works at a little place you might have heard of called Kickstarter.
Mentorship Expertise: 1. Front End Development 2. Mobile 3. Design
Marc Köhlbrugge, Founder, BetaList
Marc Köhlbrugge (26, the Netherlands) is the founder of BetaList, a platform that helps early adopters discover the latest internet startups. At the same time BetaList helps entrepreneurs validate there’s demand for their products and get crucial feedback from early users. Marc bootstrapped BetaList four years ago and since then it’s grown into one of the most popular startup resources not just for early adopters, but also tech journalists and investors looking for the next big thing. So far over 4,000 startups have been published and every month 150 startups are added.
Mentorship Expertise: 1. Back End Development 2. Design 3. Startup/Bootstrapping Tools 4. Ideating MVP
Paul Betts, Software Engineer, Slack
Hi, I’m Paul. I work on everything mobile and desktop-related; I used to work at GitHub, and now I work at Slack working on their desktop app, and have done a lot of stuff around startups in general (frontend website stuff, etc. etc.).
Mentorship Expertise: 1. Front End Development 2. Mobile 3. B2B
Simon Vallee, Senior Product Manager, Slack
Simon Vallee is a product-minded entrepreneur and general detail enthusiast. His latest startup, Spaces, sought to re-invent online documents and was acquired by Slack, where Simon now works as a Senior Product Manager. Before that, he co-founded OpenCal, acquired by Groupon in 2011, and Sitemasher, acquired by Salesforce in 2010.
Mentorship Expertise: 1. Front End Development 2. Design 3. Product Management 4. Startup/Bootstrapping Tools
Tiffany Zhong, Business Development + Marketing, ProductHunt
Tiffany loves growth and product. She works at Product Hunt and previously built higherlyfe.com.
Mentorship Expertise: 1. Growth, Marketing, Sales, Social, PR 2. Product Management
Victor Bjelkholm, Developer Evangelist, Typeform
Victor is a hacker originating from Sweden, that now resides in Barcelona and enjoys the beautiful weather and making Typeform an even more awesome platform for all your form needs. He is currently working on building an API for creating forms and advocating the engineering culture at Typeform. He has been doing full stack development for 4 years, mostly focused on cutting edge frontend technologies.
Mentorship Expertise: 1. Front End Development 2. Back End Development 3. Startup/Bootstrapping Tools 4. Software Theory and General Development (not just frontend/backend)
On this second edition of the #SWDub Mentor Series, sponsored by Bank of Ireland, we reached out to him to tell us about his role at Startup Weekend as well as his expectations for the upcoming event.
Q. What are your thoughts on Startup Weekend and how have you participated?
I think this will be my fourth Startup Weekend, all in the mentor role, and each time I’m blown away not only by the ideas but by the people there. The organizers and other mentors are the best Ireland has and the teams are so diverse.
I have also come to see that the Startup Weekend is one of the few hackathon-type events that results in long term change, real businesses and ideas come out of the weekend, go on to secure funding, growth, and becoming success stories.
Q. What is one sector or space you’d like to see more ideas from during the Startup Weekend?
That will definitely be Security. This is because even since the last Startup Weekend in November there have been further breaches (Sony) and the industry is getting even more investment from all sizes of business.
The industry also needs novel ways of protecting data and systems, the established ways are not working and startups are great at bringing new thinking to an industry. Moreso, social media platforms are lagging when it comes to team based security. The password to your million-follower Twitter account is shared amongst your whole company? That’s crazy!
Q. What tip do you have for participants and area of expertise are you happy to help with?
Everyone in the team has to talk to potential customers, not just the designer and the business person. Everyone hears something different when a customer speaks and that all needs to be collected and discussed.
As to my area of expertise, I can help out on all matters technical including: front-end, back-end, infrastructure, but I always need product-context to give good
Use Ruby! Don’t use Ruby! It depends.
That’s it from Paul. You can catch him on twitter at @PaulMWatson. He’d also 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.
It was great to have him touch on an important part of the Startup Weekend experience – Branding.
LogoGrab chief executive Luca Boschin and chief technical officer Alessandro Prest
Q. Can you share tips on coming up with a brand name for an idea/product?
Regardless if you are a tech company or selling cupcakes your first stop is domaintyper.com. If you ever want to scale forget of any name for which .com is not available (some businesses could get away with other extensions such as .io). If you really wanna use a name anyhow at least be sure that no big player is using it and you’ll have the chance to buy the .com one day or the other.
It is also important to base your brand name on something that is relavant to your business – your actual product, a feature of it, your creativity, or anything that shares in a way or the other what you do or who you are. Finally, keep it simple, and make it as easy to remember as possible.
Q. To what level should [prospective] consumers be involved in brand development?
When you come up with a name / logo design you can make some simple polls to be sure prospective consumers would like/understand the name.
An easy way to do it? Prepare and copy/paste a message to 50 friends or so via Facebook messenger asking if they like/understand the name/logo. Make it simple, so to drive them to a simple yes/no answer.
The answers should guide you to an educated choice if you wanna proceed with that name/logo or consider working on it a bit more. This is how we actually did it at LogoGrab when we redesigned our logo.
Q. How can a team at #SWDub decide on a branding in the shortest possible time?
Again, for your name brainstorm with the with team in front of domaintyper.com. Write a list of each name you like (or sort of like, it will help to keep going) and for which the domain name is available. Keep brainstorming for 10 minutes maximum and then choose your favorite candidate off the list. When we started LogoGrab we decided our name in 10 minutes or so.
However, it does get a little harder when it comes to logo but you can also think of / edit your logo at a later stage. At LogoGrab we re-designed our logo 1 year after launch. I wouldn’t be so concerned about a cool logo at this stage. One tip, regardless: come up with an icon that fits in a square, in case you ever have to do an app.
Many thanks to Luca for taking time out to share these branding tips. You can catch him on twitter at @LucaBoschin. He’d also 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.
After 54 hours of brainstorming, building teams, talking to mentors and coaches, listening in speakers, munching Domino pizza, and gulping cans of Red Bull, 10 teams took the stage to showcase their ideas and MVPs.
The teams sure didn’t make the jobs easy for the Judges as the ideas and pitches were nothing short of amazing, especially looking at the fact that all transpired in one weekend. Every team was a winner and the journey only begins but for now here are those that went home with accolades.
Alicia had not plan to pitch at Startup Weekend but got on the stage in the last minute to pitch her idea. Against all odds she came off the most entrepreneurial participant as selected by the judges.
In 3rd place was BeHabit – an app that looks to help parent turn their kid’s good behaviour into positive habit. Not only was the team led by one of the yougest participants at the weekend, it gave an impressive pitch that had the judges nodding and applauding.
Perhaps the people’s choice, Baffle came in 2nd place. The platform is one that allows users sell items but in a raffle-type setup.
Ladies and gentlemen, the team the wears the crown as winners of the November edition of Startup Weekend Dublin is Gift Me! Not only was the team lead by a female entrepreneur, it was one of the 3 startups ideas to actually make a sale and generate revenue.
There you have it folks. Dublin has a new champion but the road doesn’t end here. Go forth and do exploit – building connections, validating ideas, acquiring customers, and changing the world.
Missed out on any of the action? Check out the daily recaps here and here. Don’t forget to check out the Global Startup Battle, Startup Hiking‘s next day out, and the Christmas party for Startups – SUXMAS.
Many thanks to our global and local sponsors, Google for Entrepreneurs, DotCo, Amazon Web Service, Bank of Ireland, Holvi, Tom Crean’s, Dominos Pizza, Burritos & Blues, Red Bull, and FCR Media. Also grateful for our mentors, speakers, coaches, volunteers, and the ever amazing attendees.
It’s been an awesome experience for me and hope it’s been nothing less for you too.
@NubiKay signing out.