Entrepreneurship at DCU - GiveBack.ie

Launched in 2018, GiveBack.ie is a passive way to raise funds to end street homelessness in Dublin. By downloading the social app, online shoppers can donate to the cause of homelessness without having to make a direct donation. Instead, the 1,200 retailers partnered with GiveBack.ie make a 1% to 10% donation on the online shopper’s behalf, resulting an average annual donation of €60 to Inner City Helping Homelessness. DCU Computer Applications student, James Gallagher, who took part in the UStart Programme in 2016, describes how UStart helped him develop the social business idea and set GiveBack.ie up for success.

“While commuting to college every day through the city centre, myself and my friend, Victoria Ryan-Nesbit, began to notice a huge increase in rough sleepers on the streets of Dublin day by day. We began talking to others about this problem and soon realised we weren’t the only ones noticing more and more homeless people in Dublin. Through these conversations, we began to understand that although people genuinely wanted to help the homeless crisis in Dublin, they didn’t have the time to do so or money to donate to charities fighting homelessness. As I already had experience running ad campaigns for online retailers, myself and Victoria decided to use our skills and experience to create a free and easy way for people to help fight this crisis.

In 2016, we began developing the GiveBack.ie app and searching for a charity partner. We met with the CEO of Inner City Helping Homelessness (ICHH) and were completely inspired by the incredible work the ICHH does on the frontline of homelessness, facing the harsh reality of Dublin city every night of the week with an inspiring team of volunteers without government funding, and so decided to partner with ICHH.

“We began the UStart Accelerator Programme shortly after developing the idea for GiveBack.ie – the support UStart provided us with was instrumental in getting us through the initial stages of developing the business and helped validate our business idea.”

 

The business development funding provided by UStart allowed us to create our MVP while the mentoring from experts in the entrepreneurship space helped us to further refine and enhance our business proposition. We also had the opportunity to pitch in front of successful Irish entrepreneurs such as RTE Dragons’ Den, Eamonn Quinn, which was a hugely beneficial experience.

As we finished the UStart programme and began to pitch our idea to retail companies, the turning point for GiveBack.ie came in 2019 when we won the Google Impact Challenge and receieved a grant of €50,000. This funding was pivotal for GiveBack.ie as it enabled us to further develop our mobile app and work on the project full time in Dogpatch Labs. Through winning the Google Impact Challenge, we also had the opportunity to collaborate with Google.org to facilitate computer literacy and digital skills classes for ICHH service users. These classes initially began as a six-week training course for eight ICHH service users, but has since become an eleven-week programme with a variety of tailored content designed to assist participants with everything from seeking employment to securing housing online.

Working with ICHH, our mission is to eradicate street homeless in Dublin by adopting a Housing First model. Housing First is a simple idea that gives people a safe and secure place to call home and put a support structure in place to help homeless reintegrate into society. Through funding secured through GiveBack.ie, ICHH plan to build a transitional housing pilot project in Dublin which will be fully equipped with services to ensure residents break the cycle of homelessness.

We’re incredibly grateful for the opportunity to take part in the UStart programme – it’s safe to say we would not be where we are today without the fantastic mentoring and support we received through UStart.”

For more information on GiveBack.ie and how to download the social app, please click here.