The ten start-up teams supported by this year’s UStart student accelerator programme recently gathered at DCU’s Alpha Campus for the UStart Demo Day where the winners of the Best Start-up Opportunity and Best Pitch awards for 2017 were selected following a competitive pitching process. Demo Day marks the culmination of UStart, DCU’s accelerator programme which supports student entrepreneurs to develop early-stage businesses.
Happy Scribe, the brainchild of André Bastie (Master’s in Electronic Commerce) and Marc Assens (Erasmus Computer Science), won UStart’s Best Start-up Opportunity 2017 alongside James Gallagher of Giveback.ie (Computer Applications). Happy Scribe is a new transcription tool that hopes to help researchers and journalists save considerable amount of time and money in transcribing interviews and audio files. Social enterprise, Giveback.ie, is an online platform that enables Irish consumers to help some of the most vulnerable people in society by simply shopping online. As consumers shop, they generate revenue which is donated to homeless charities.
Fergal Nealon picked up the UStart ‘Overall Best Pitch’ title for his company, StoryTracks, a modern heritage audio-guide bringing local stories to life when out and about on a user’s own smart phone or tablet. Users can both listen to stories exactly where they took place, as well as create their own StoryTracks by uploading their own tales through the app.
Ten companies took part in the DCU UStart programme this year. The four-month accelerator is open to profit and non-for-profit ventures from all Dublin City University students, giving them the opportunity to develop innovative ideas and launch viable start-up companies. Many of this year’s participants went so far as to create revenue, secure partnerships and attract early customers.
Run by DCU’s Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurs, the participants pitched to a panel of judges and potential investors including Eamonn Quinn, DCU Educational Trust; David Bowles, Delta Partners; Barbara Morrissey, Wayra Ireland; Kevin Mac Sweeney, Broadlake Capital; Kathy Kelly, Atlantic Bridge Ventures; Charlie Taylor, Irish Times.
Congratulating all the participants on this year’s programme, Eoghan Stack, CEO of DCU’s Ryan Academy, said: “This year’s UStart participants are extremely talented and ambitious young entrepreneurs. I have no doubt that their start-ups will continue to impress and succeed in business in the future and I’d like to wish them every success and support in the next stage of that journey.”
Pictured: Professor Brian MacCraith, President of DCU, with joint winner André Bastie, co-founder of Happy Scribe