Trinity startup wins UN champion award

Trinity startup Evocco won a UN award for Young Champions of the Earth. Here, co-founder Hugh Weldon discusses climate change and guilt-free shopping.  
Why did you start Evocco?
Climate change isn’t great, is it? That’s exactly what we were thinking as our master thesis deadline loomed large before us. It was the Spring of 2017, and we were fighting around the dinner table in our apartment about how to best solve what we saw as the greatest challenge of our time. One thing that we could absolutely agree on was that if we could find a way to better connect people to the environment and help them understand their impact, positive change could ripple right through society. That moment was the beginning of Evocco. Knowing first-hand how difficult it can be to find the most sustainable and nutritious products in the supermarket (particularly on a student budget!), we set out to build a tool that cuts through the noise and the greenwashing and shows us the environmental impact of what we buy.
What’s your ethos?
We were frustrated at the lack of information and transparency on the environmental impact of food and especially for the growing conscious consumer group there was a lack of support to help them align their values with what they were buying. This is predominantly due to the lack of easily accessible, understandable, and relatable information on the issue resulting in widespread public confusion and frustration. There is appetite for a solution to empower consumers to take individual action and make more informed food purchases.
“If we could find a way to better connect people to the environment and help them understand their impact, positive change could ripple right through society.”
What’s your USP?
Our USP is that we don’t only provide the consumer with information but we focus on behavioural

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Should you quit your job and start a business?

What do you need to know before you walk away from the 9-to-5 to start your own business? We asked two entrepreneurs who did precisely that.
2017 was a record year for the number of new businesses registered in Ireland. Tools like Kickstarter, Shopify, and WordPress mean it’s never been easier or less expensive to start a new company.
But is it really as simple as it sounds? Unfortunately, while 61 new businesses were formed in Ireland on average every day last year, three existing enterprises became insolvent. The failure rate of startups around the world is generally held to be at about 90%.
“Most people take the easy option and make excuses.”

Don’t quit the day job
As tempting as it might be, handing in your notice and starting your vegan smoothie brand overnight is probably the wrong move. In fact, many entrepreneurs will tell you that holding onto a steady income in the early stages of business makes it more likely that you will succeed.
Shane McCarthy studied finance at Queens University before embarking on a career as a trader that took him everywhere from Sydney, to New York and London. Today he is the founder and CEO of Ireland Craft Beers – an award-winning logistics and sales platform for Irish micro-breweries, cideries and distilleries.
Shane started the company as a side hustle while still working as a trader in London. “Even if you are working at an intense city job requiring ten hours sacrifice a day, you sleep for about seven hours, which gives you six hours to work and grind on something that you are truly passionate about,” he says. “Most people take the easy option and make excuses, though those who want it badly enough will put the time in.”
“When I first quit it was not to start a business.”

Build slowly
Similarly, Lorenzo

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Trinity’s Tangent takes learning to a new level

Trinity’s new ideas space Tangent, represents a sea change in University education in Ireland. Stephen Conmy asks Dr Diarmuid O’Brien what it means for students, Irish society and the startup ecosystem at large.
“We live in a world where two-thirds of all new jobs are now created by companies less than five years old,” says Dr Diarmuid O’Brien, chief innovation and enterprise officer at Trinity College Dublin.
O’Brien and his team recently opened ‘Tangent’ – an ‘ideas workspace’ in the University which brings together all the entrepreneurial programmes that Trinity is renowned for.
Tangent will allow students access to a “cutting-edge innovation and entrepreneurship education”.
On offer will be startup acceleration programmes, innovation and entrepreneurship community events and supports for the fledgeling to mature entrepreneurs.
“It is vital that we give our students and graduates the skills and knowledge to succeed in this ever-changing world,” says O’Brien.
“We don’t want to teach students how to get a job, we want to teach them how to create a job, not just for themselves but for others too.”
“The skills they want are skills to survive and thrive in a world of constant flux.”
Real survival skills 
O’Brien says that today’s students are very different from the students of the recent past. They were born into the mobile, digital age. They see innovation as something to be involved in. Their ‘rock stars’ are entrepreneurs.
“You could say it’s the Steve Jobs effect or the Elon Musk effect,” says O’Brien. “But the students we see today are very focused on work as it applies to something. They want to build things, create things, disrupt things. Most of them are fully aware that the ‘job for life’ is gone and they need to be able to create things and pivot when something happens. The skills they want are skills to survive and thrive in

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Helping children with dyslexia to read

Sarah Dieck McGuire and Sarah Lumsden Watchorn are the founders of The Reading Academy, a specialised tuition service for children with dyslexia.
The Reading Academy offers specialised tuition to readers and children with dyslexia and employs the renowned Orton Gillingham approach. A new online course for teachers, parents, and anyone interested in learning how to teach a struggling reader or individual with dyslexia will be available soon. Here, the co-founders, talk about building a business with real purpose and how to grow a business while still in full-time work. 
Our backgrounds in teaching
We have over 35 years of combined teaching experience in Chicago; Dublin; Mayo; London; NYC; Paris; and South Carolina. We both have Masters degrees in special education.
Our backgrounds of teaching children with dyslexia (for over 30 years combined) helped us enormously when we set up The Reading Academy.
“We know that the majority of our students feel frustrated in school, and many have low self-esteem as a result.”
How did the business come about? 
We both realised the ever-demanding need for a clear, easy-to-follow, concise, and tailored programme to meet the individual needs of people with dyslexia and struggling readers.
Did you receive any funding or grants when you first started?
We have not received any funding or grants. We applied to the ‘New Frontiers’ programme and were shortlisted.
“We will offer virtual learning to both students and teachers in the future.”
What is the biggest issue you come across with children reading and writing in your classes?
We find that most of our students’ individual needs are not being met in the traditional methods of education. From talking to their parents, we know that the majority of our students feel frustrated in school, and many have low self-esteem as a result. Class size is a serious problem in Ireland as a child with dyslexia will not be

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What’s so cool about Dublin 15?

Bank of Ireland has just opened a state-of-the-art community bank in Ballycoolin, Dublin 15. But is there anything else that’s cool about Dublin 15? 


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The future of community banking

We have already seen glimpses of ‘future banks’ in recent years. However, a new Bank of Ireland in Ballycoolin gives us a more accurate picture of the future of community banking.
It’s not so long ago that high-street banks were hives of activity in the most central locations of the communities they operated in.
People of all ages and professions did their banking in, usually granite-clad, buildings with the help of the people who worked there: the cashiers, the loan managers, the financial managers and the bank manager.
Banking was a paper-based activity, very much ruled by the flow of notes, drafts and cheques. However, paper no longer rules.
Today, in Ireland, 78% of people do their banking online, and 60% do their banking via mobile apps.
For example, of the 20 million customer interactions Bank of Ireland has every month, half of these come via the mobile app.
“People still want access to their banks but for different reasons.”
Very few people have a daily or weekly need to visit a physical bank.
The high street and community bank is, like many of the relics of the pre-digital age, no longer an essential part of daily life.
This does not mean, however, that people don’t want their banks. They do. People still want access to their banks but for different reasons.

So, what does the future of community banking look like?
“If you get the balance right between a great digital service and a physical presence and one-to-one interactions with customers I think you’re on to a good proposition. The challenge for us is to always make sure we keep the balance,” says Gavin Kelly, CEO, Retail Ireland, Bank of Ireland.
Kelly says Bank of Ireland will spend close to €10m upgrading the network this year. “We’re also going to spend €15m next year and €15m the following year on capital

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Drones to make search and rescue more effective

DroneSAR was established by four individuals who each have expertise in the area of drone technology, network and satellite communication and search and rescue (SAR).
Who is in your team?
There are four of us on the team: myself (Oisin McGrath), Matthew Kelly, Leo Murray and Gearoid O’Briain. I am a military helicopter instructor, unmanned aircraft examiner and hold a degree in aeronautical engineering. Leo is deputy team leader in Donegal Mountain Rescue and has a background in product research and design. Matthew is an award-winning app developer and mountain rescue volunteer. He also has degrees in electronics and satellite communications and lastly, Gearoid is currently on a scholarship in Smurfit Business School completing his MBA. He is also a military manned and unmanned aircraft instructor.
What’s your business idea? 
The DroneSAR product is the first worldwide to include rescue specific functions including live drone tracker and live first-person view (FPV) video streaming made viewable from any location via the DroneSAR web-browser interface. Drone advancements in recent years have witnessed an increased capacity to take on a range of dangerous tasks in emergency response which are traditionally performed by humans. Return on investment to the emergency response and SAR industry is reflected in potential savings made possible resulting from a lesser dependency on conventional solutions, involving manned aerial assets such as helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, where hourly rental rates of up to €3,000 per hour exist. This allows rescue agencies to conduct the most effective early stage aerial search so that lives can be saved.
As emergency response agencies see the huge value in these machines, DroneSAR will soon become the go-to application of choice for rescue agencies across the world. This service can be extended into humanitarian, disaster management, security, pollution control and much more.
“Drone advancements in recent years have witnessed an increased

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PlayerTek – sports performance science for everyone

PlayerTek is one of Ireland’s leading firms in the sports science sector. Co-founder Ronan Mac Ruairi reveals how PlayerTek started and grew into a market leader.
How did you get into this business?
My background is in physics and I landed my first job in data and analytics. I moved to IBM and spent a few wonderful years working there and much to my parent’s dismay, I left the company to join a startup called Web Factory in the early 90s. It was a time when very few people used the internet and we saw ourselves as innovators. We even invented our own version of Facebook which was called PaddyNet and at this point the term social media was unheard of. We then sold it to Horizon in 2000 and I spent the next decade working in academia (in computer science). I then moved into the sports science field as I felt there was a gap in the market which I could fill.
“We’re able to answer all the questions coaches ask.”
Is the sports science sector big in Ireland?
It’s a big market in relation to our population. We’re a country that’s sports-mad and by that I mean the level of participation, not just fan engagement. The GAA is one of the major drivers in that because they are able to get communities all across Ireland to back their local teams from grassroots level up.
“It’s an easy-to-use system for coaches who don’t have deep sports science experience.”
What is PlayerTek?
We’ve developed a small physical device which weighs about 50 grams and it’s placed on your back when you play football. It has a high-precision GPS tracker. It can track you down to within 30cm of your location so it’s incredibly accurate and we try to do that ten times per second. This will then

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€750,000 funding for startups

€750,000 in funding will be made available for startups in Enterprise Ireland’s final Competitive Start Fund of 2018.
Up to €50,000 in equity funding will be given to 15 innovative startups.
The fund is open to all industries with a focus on manufacturing, life sciences, and renewables sectors.
The fund is designed to help businesses advance critical technical and commercial milestones.
“This is the eighth and final CSF funding round of this year,” says Joe Healy, divisional manager, high potential startups, Enterprise Ireland. “The CSF provides an initial critical fuel injection to help launch early-stage startups and bring innovative business ideas to an international market.”
Who should apply?
Early-stage projects that can demonstrate that:

the product or service has reached a minimum viable product stage, at a minimum, live in beta;
the product or service has demonstratable customer validation with (trial and/or paying) customers;
there is a fully articulated proposition addressing an apparent gap in the market with market research conducted with customers/potential customers;
proper channels to international markets have been identified.

This CSF is open for applications on Tuesday, 18th September and will close on Tuesday, 2nd October.

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Diary of a student entrepreneur, Vol 5

In the fifth and final diary entry, our student entrepreneurs talk about their experiences taking part in Trinity’s Launchbox – the highs, the lows and the valuable life lessons. 

Cian Fogarty, Greener Globe
The past three months LaunchBox have been a rollercoaster with many challenges and successes. Our main problem when coming into the programme was to get the product our on to shelves in stores. It’s tough to make that transition from having the product manufactured and ready to sell to actually having it in a store. However we’re delighted to say we have overcome that challenge, and you will all be able to buy an Aquacica shower head in shops very soon. This has been a significant success for Greener Globe.
When we came into LaunchBox, we had our minds set on the retailer market, whereas we now have plans in motion to access many other avenues which have significantly expanded our business.
From everything we do at Greener Globe we try to learn from it, whether it be a success or failure. At the beginning of the summer, we were spending lots of time ‘cold messaging’ people. We would scrape through LinkedIn, find everyone of interest and drop them a friendly message. We soon learned that no matter how nice your message is, the reply rate won’t be high. It was in LaunchBox that we learned the power of a ‘warm introduction’.
“Startup life will stand to you.”
Over the coming three months we have big plans. We have recently secured a new deal to roll out Aquacica, and we are also participating in the Climate KIC Accelerator programme. The next three months will probably be the biggest for Greener Globe. But then that tends to be right every three months. 
I would advise everyone to think about getting involved with or founding a

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