For the next 12 weeks the Graduates Memorial Building (GMB) in Trinity will become a busy hub of entrepreneurial enterprise and activity. Ten student teams will work intensively on their business ideas as part of the LaunchBox 2018 summer accelerator programme.
In addition to working on their own business projects, there is a full programme of talks, presentations and mentoring lined up for them, focused on supporting early stage business development. This will include practical and encouraging advice by the founders of a number of highly innovative and successful businesses. Entrepeneurs such as Mark Little of Neva, formerly of Storyful, will relay his story, as will Iseult Ward founder of FoodCloud, who is also an alumnus of Trinity and the LaunchBox programme.
LaunchBox is now in its sixth incarnation. Workshops and advice to startups, from Irish and overseas experts, will be given on issues such as customer development, funding and investment and the legal issues the young entrepreneurs may encounter. Visits to innovation hubs such as Dogpatch Labs and to the Huckletree D2 will also form part of the programme.
The teams have some encouraging models to look back on. One of the most successful Launchbox alumni, FoodCloud, helps businesses redistribute extra food to charities and now employs over 50 people. Currently, it distributes over five million meals per quarter.
More recently, Equine MediRecord came through LaunchBox last year and has already made a significant impact on the multi-billion euro horse-racing industry. They have developed an app and website that records the many medicines and vaccinations that are routinely administered to thoroughbred racehorses. This is a much more secure method of recording and retaining than traditional paper methods.
These are only some of the success stories and since the LaunchBox programme began in 2013, over €6.3 million has been raised in funding and investment by the student businesses.
The 10 early stage businesses this year bring a range of solutions to everyday problems and now have an invaluable opportunity to learn from some of the best and most experienced players in Ireland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem over the next 12 weeks. So who are this year’s startups?
Applaud Events is an online booking platform for musical performers and is already up and running. They also won the TES Dragons Den competition earlier in the year. Luminary Hub is another online platform initiative that is already up and running. It allows businesses to source at affordable prices the services of talented students for creating websites, graphic design and multimedia. They plan to branch out into additional fields such as law and languages.
Change is developing an app that will allow users to donate to charities of their choice in an efficient and convenient manner. This is done by rounding up all credit/debit card transactions to the nearest euro and donating the rounded up amount. The startup Biological Optical Prevention aims to help identify, prevent and tackle the all too common problem of infections caused by bacteria and bugs in hospitals.
The Dockit team is developing a mobile application for waiters/waitresses that will make taking an order easier and more insightful. It aims to increase customer satisfaction and overall restaurant efficiency. Seashore Veg is up and running and harvests seaweed from the west of Ireland for a variety of uses.
The Fumi team is developing a practical, compact and sustainable water bottle. It is a commercial startup but with a social mission, aiming to help reduce the over-consumption of single-use plastics. Greener Globe is another startup with an environmental focus, producing an LED-timed shower-heads intended to save on water. They plan to expand to other water-saving devices in the near future.
EnableArm aims to create an assistive facial care device, which helps restore independence to people with limited movement for tasks such as shaving. Finally the startup Work Smarter plans to offer freelancers and smaller companies work management tools and a unique payment solution. This is intended to help reduce late payments and complicated paperwork for smaller businesses.
These companies will all vye for success in the two-months long programme, but even from now will look beyond Launchbox to plot a path for success into the future.