Student entrepreneurs seek startup investment at LaunchBox 2018 Demo Day

Ten teams of student entrepreneurs last night (Thursday August 30) sought capital backing from angel investors and early stage venture capitalists to take their startups – which are developing innovations across a variety of sectors – to the next stage as they pitched their company plans at Trinity’s LaunchBox 2018 Demo Day.

The extraordinarily successful business accelerator – LaunchBox, powered by Bank of Ireland, and managed by experts in Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace – provides mentorship, funding, access to alumni and investors, and the ideal collaborative environment to launch new startup ventures.

This year, the programme nurtured the development of ten new startups, which address unmet market needs and pioneer new products, services or technologies. Among them are a team that has developed an online booking platform for performers, one with a science-based solution that identifies, prevents and treats healthcare-associated infections by indicating via different colours which germs are present on a given surface, a team that has created a hub that connects SMEs with a talented workforce, and a group whose idea combats the payment and paperwork issues that plague the construction industry.

Provost of Trinity, Dr Patrick Prendergast, officially opened proceedings at Demo Day, before speeches and welcoming words from Bank of Ireland Dublin Director, Colin Kingston, and LaunchBox Programme Manager, Alison Treacy. The student teams then pitched to an expert panel of judges.

CEO of Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace, Fionnuala Healy, said: “Trinity’s LaunchBox demo day is the culminating student entrepreneurship event in Trinity. It’s a wonderful opportunity for our student startups to showcase their new enterprise to a captive audience and start off on the next steps for their ventures. It’s incredible to see the progress the student teams have made over the summer, some coming from the bones of an idea through to a viable new entity ready for investment in 12 weeks. LaunchBox, Trinity’s student accelerator, is one of a suite of innovation and entrepreneurship programmes delivered through Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace. We’ve worked with students on our courses, innovation challenges, and ideation sprints and LaunchBox gives students the ability to start to realise an identified opportunity to its full potential. I look forward to seeing these students build on their LaunchBox experiences and go onto great things.”

Colin Kingston (Bank of Ireland, Dublin Director) said: “Over the past six years it has been a privilege to see this unique accelerator programme go from strength to strength. LaunchBox is, and continues to be, a great example of early stage support, within the heart of the university, for emerging business ideas, entrepreneurship and innovation. Without exception, this year’s programme shows no shortage of high-value projects: each product, service or application in development demonstrates a critical understanding of both customer and the market place.  Bank of Ireland, in partnership with Trinity College Dublin, is proud to support the teams, the facilitators, and the industry experts who have come together to help foster next-generation entrepreneurship. We wish the teams every continued success and achievement on their entrepreneurial journey.”

After pitching and answering questions from the judges, this year’s winning team was announced as Change Donations, while SeaPunk finished as runners-up. Joint-third went to Greener Globe and WorkSmarter.

CHANGE DONATIONS developed a free app bringing charities into the digital age by creating a platform that allows users to donate in an efficient, convenient, and pain-free way.

Amelia Scivier said: “I have learned the importance of narrative, to create a compelling story, for investors and customers. Everyone has been very generous with their time to help us refine the idea and I’m very grateful for all the support and encouragement we’ve received over the summer.”

L-R, Amelia Scivier, Elizabeth Hayashida, William Conaghan, of Change, participating in LaunchBox 2018, Trinity’s student accelerator

The full line-up of this year’s companies (see below for brief information and quotes from members of each team) was:

  • APPLAUD EVENTS: an online booking platform for performers that aims to revolutionise the live music industry

Gordon Hind said: “LaunchBox has given me the ability to experience working in a dynamic environment with interesting and creative people.”

  • BOP: Biological Optical Prevention aims to identify, prevent and treat healthcare-associated infections

Ekaterina Lait said: “From the workshops and talks to the great community within the cohort, I have grown as a person and developed my skills not only in being an entrepreneur, but in being part of a team. Experience like this is unparalleled and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of it.”

  • DOCKIT: a mobile application for waiters/waitresses that makes taking an order easy, quick and insightful

Nathan Misischi said: “LaunchBox has been a once in a lifetime experience; The insightful workshops, invaluable network and access to mentors, pitch practice, funding and synergistic co-working environment, all made it one of the most memorable and enjoyable summers to date.”

  • ENABLEARM: an innovative assistive facial care device, which restores independence to people with limited manual dexterity

Conor O’hEocha said: “LaunchBox has been a massively enjoyable and fantastic learning experience for me coming out of my first year of college. Not only did I vastly improve my business and speaking skills but because our business was directly related to my course of study, I was also constantly being challenged with real-world problems, which has added to my own skill and experience in a competitive field.”

  • FUMI: a commercial start-up with a social mission: to help reduce the overconsumption of single-use plastics

Naomi Harrington said: “LaunchBox has been an invaluable experience in shaping us not only as entrepreneurs, but also as individuals. The vast level of mentorship, advice and guidance has been immeasurable and the knowledge I have gained is something I will carry with me forever.”

  • GREENER GLOBE: an international award-winning, environmentally friendly business that produces and sells a revolutionary LED-timed shower-head

Jack Dooley said: “LaunchBox for me has been an incredible learning experience. It has given us the opportunity and time to progress our business, Greener Globe, while making invaluable contacts along the way.”

  • LUMINARY HUB: a platform that allows SMEs to outsource work at affordable prices, tapping into a network students in different fields of study

Joshua McKee said: “The programme has helped us every step of the way, allowing teams to progress from ideation all the way through to validated MVPs or even revenue generating corporations.”

  • SEAPUNK: a father-son business that harvests Ireland’s finest wild seaweed to create simple, natural and easy-to-use products

Brian Sparks said: “Through LaunchBox, I have learned to embrace the unexpected, to be more receptive to diverse perspectives and that there are opportunities for improvements in everything we do.”

  • WORK SMARTER: combats payment and paperwork issues in the construction industry by offering a comprehensive toolbox for small business owners and freelancers that combines work management tools and a unique escrow payment solution

Sebastian Kühn said: “LaunchBox has been a fantastic lesson in business model development. A changing business model is not an indicator of failure. It’s a sign that you’re asking the right questions and truly listening to the answers.”

Media Contact:

Thomas Deane, Press Officer for the Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Science | deaneth@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 4685