Six Trinity startups travel to New York

Six Irish startups that met at Trinity, went through LaunchBox, Tangent’s Student Accelerator, and received help and support from Bank of Ireland to get their start, are going to New York for the inaugural Tangent Pioneers programme.
The Tangent Pioneers will work for one intensive week in the heart of the New York startup scene, basing themselves in the Bank of Ireland Innovation Lab in Midtown. During this week, in addition to setting up customer and investment meetings, they will pitch to the Digital Irish network; talk to Enterprise Ireland about taking their businesses global; meet with Techstars and Blackstone VC; and get a sense of what it is to work, network, and lead a startup in the US.
The Tangent Pioneers will be representing Trinity, and Ireland on a global stage for the first time. We spoke to them about their hopes and aspirations before their trip to the Big Apple.
Sebastian Kuehn, co-founder & CTO, Work Smarter
Work Smarter started on a very personal note for me, as my father was self-employed in the construction industry for over 30 years. He was great at his job, but when customers paid him late or not at all, it brought him to the brink of bankruptcy a few times. When Anika, my co-founder and I got out there and started talking to freelancers‘ customers, we realised how tough it can be on them as well. Now we’re building a tool that helps both sides manage contracts and payments fairly and securely.
I’m originally from Germany, so English doesn’t come naturally to me. I’ve been living in Ireland for a little over a year, and I’m just getting used to the Irish English. The New York accent will be a new challenge.
As a German programmer, I’m a very direct person. If I can say something in three words, I don’t use four.

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Harvesting the wild Atlantic waves

The story of Achill Island Seasalt is one with roots that go deep into the history of this wild, untamed island.
Achill is by far Ireland’s largest island and the sea that surrounds it has been the lifeblood for generations of people living there. Since returning home, some twenty years ago, Kieran and Marjorie O’Malley have renewed that maritime link, by establishing Achill Island Seasalt on Achill Island in Co. Mayo. It’s a simple story but one which continues to resonate with both local and visitor alike.
Marjorie tells how in 2013, this enterprising family became producers of an artisan sea salt, reviving the hand-harvesting of sea salt on Achill – after a gap of some centuries.
“In an earlier 1700s map, it says ‘salt point’, so we knew that a history of salt making was here on Achill.”
Why sea salt?
In 2012, I had been watching a fascinating documentary on sea salt production on the west coast of Wales. It was about a family who had started making sea salt in their family kitchen before turning into a full-time business which intrigued me. I remember telling Kieran about it, and he began reading up on the history of Achill.
In the early 1820s, a missionary gentleman arrived on the island to proselytise the local population. In one of his biographies, he referenced the remnant of a sea salt factory. We researched further and discovered that salt pans were also noted on many historical maps. In an earlier 1700s map, it says ‘salt point’, so we knew that a history of salt making was here on Achill. It was this, along with help from our daughter and two sons, that provided the motivation to start the business.
“It has a very high mineral content, and none of it is stripped away.”
Our sea salt is unique to

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Dulann – a global business built in Wexford

Dulann is an innovative online e-learning company based in Wexford Town run by business partners and entrepreneurs, Damian Donlon (pictured in the middle) and Matthias Kausch (left). Launched in 2013, their initial product set out to disrupt the food safety market, by reducing costs and improving efficiencies for the SME sector in Ireland. Here, CEO Damian Donlon talks about their unique approach and their plans to rapidly scale the business over the next few years. 
“We started off in the lobby of the Talbot Hotel in Wexford, and for the first six months, we held our meetings there.”
How we started
We started off in the lobby of the Talbot Hotel in Wexford, and for the first six months, we actually held our meetings there. Matthias’s background is in learning and development. He is also a published author within food safety which became our first e-learning course and cost in the region of €100,000 to produce. Previously I had spent ten years in construction, and although that industry was hugely satisfying, you were mostly involved in building and selling a once-off product, before quickly moving onto the next project. With the arrival of the recession, what really attracted me to e-learning was the concept that you could build a product once – and still having the opportunity to sell it many times over. 
“There are 13m people in Europe operating under one piece of mandatory food safety legislation.”
We had enough insight from our market research that there was a real need out there and with the right product, we felt that we could satisfy that need. A key factor was realising that there were 13m people in Europe operating under one piece of mandatory food safety legislation which was a real indication of the potential size of the market. For us, it was about using

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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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Nine Artificial Intelligence (AI) firms on the rise

“I am telling you, the world’s first trillionaires are going to come from somebody who masters AI and all its derivatives, and applies it in ways we never thought of.” – Mark Cuban. 
Artificial Intelligence (AI) as future superintelligence is going to transform the way we do business.
AI is intelligence demonstrated by machines or “intelligent agents” who can mimic human intelligence – human “cognitive” functions such as “learning” and “problem-solving”.
Intelligent devices are now being applied in mathematics, computer science, linguistics, psychology and more.
AI incorporates enormous opportunities and benefits, making our life more comfortable, more exciting, creative and smarter. It is a new revolutionary technology, that might even help eliminate poverty, war, and disease.
After 25 years of AI Research, Trinity College Dublin’s Adapt Centre researchers have recently declared that Ireland can be recognised as an Island of artificial intelligence, data analytics, machine learning, human-machine interaction and optimisation.
Ireland is home to a vibrant open AI ecosystem for collaboration and community. Many corporations in Ireland have established centres on data analytics, cloud computing, big data and future internet.
Google, for example, launched a support hub for AI startups in Dublin last year. Google’s AI Launchpad Studio is designed to provide technical and product support to entrepreneurs who work with artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Moreover, Ireland became the first country in the world to develop an industry-driven nationwide Post Graduate MSc in Artificial Intelligence in 2017, when the University of Limerick introduced a master’s level course in artificial intelligence.
Forbes ranks Ireland as the fourth best country in the world for business 2017, and PwC survey shows that Ireland is the only English speaking country in the Eurozone in the EU post-Brexit that provides an ideal hub for organisations seeking a European hub. Ireland is definitely an attractive area for investment in emerging technologies.
Artificial Intelligence has a

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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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How much do you know about franchising in Ireland?

Did you know over 150 different franchise systems are currently operating in Ireland? Have you ever thought of buying a franchise? 

Given the popularity of food franchises in Ireland, what percentage of the franchise systems operating in Ireland are food franchises?

Surprisingly only 41% of active franchise systems operating in Ireland are food related. The franchise model extends into other sectors such as children’s STEM education, personal health wellbeing and fitness, B2B support services; cleaning services, pet services, landscaping services, and so on. The list is endless, so if food service franchises don’t interest you, there are plenty of successful franchise models available for you to choose from.

“Research indicates that over 90% of franchisees continue in business after five years.”

Does buying a franchise guarantee your success?

Buying a franchise does not guarantee you commercial success, but it enhances your likelihood of being successful.

Some franchisees may feel that purchasing a franchise removes all the commercial risk. This is not the case. International research indicates that over 90% of franchisees continue in business after five years. This compares very favourably against the very high unrecorded failure rates of stand-alone start-ups.

“44% of the active franchise units operating in Ireland are of Irish origin.”

Does franchising suit everyone?

No. Not everyone is suited to franchising or becoming a franchisee. If you are at the upper extremes of the entrepreneurship scale, you may struggle to work within the confines of a franchise framework, where you are legally obliged to work, through the franchise agreement, in strict adherence to the systems prescribed by the franchisor.

Similarly, if you are totally risk-averse and are genuinely uncomfortable in the world of financial uncertainty then seriously question your suitability to buy into a franchise.

Given the international nature of franchising, what % of active franchise units in Ireland are of Irish origin?

From the most recent survey conducted surprisingly 44% of the active franchise units operating in Ireland are of Irish origin. This means Irish entrepreneurs are really embracing business format franchising as an appropriate growth strategy for their businesses both within Ireland and for expanding internationally.

“The business format franchising sector in Ireland is now worth close to €1 billion.”

How many people are employees in the franchise sector?

There are circa 30,000 people employed in the franchising sector in Ireland. This figure excludes the significant number of people employed in the wholesale/retail sectors under brands such as SuperValu, Costcutter, Quick pick, Daybreak, Gala etc. ) The figure also excludes most of the petrol forecourt formats, albeit those numbers are changing due to the recent emergence of food service franchise offerings being incorporated into some of the forecourt retailers food offerings for their customers.

What is the turnover of the sector in Ireland?

The turnover in the business format franchising sector in Ireland is now close to €1 billion and growing.


If you have an interest in investigating your suitability to buy into a franchise model or franchise out your business, please contact the Irish Franchise Association on (01) 8134555 or visit

This guide was compiled by David Killeen, chairman of the Irish Franchise Association.

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