Author Archives: TBR Network

EVE: Making it Easier to Own an Electric Vehicle

EVE is an e-mobility solution project in the process of being founded by two postgrad students in Entrepreneurship at Trinity Business School, Sarah Rust and Oana Rosca. 

When Sarah’s father wanted to buy an electric car in Germany, he soon became very discouraged because of range anxiety: there aren’t enough charging points in Germany and switching to an EV would have seriously affected his family’s freedom of movement. 

The start-up aims to provide a ​P2P network of private charging stations for electric cars​. Customers can charge their car anywhere and make a passive income from their unused charging station at home.

 The Team

The founders have a combined business experience of 12 years. Sarah has worked in the automotive industry and the startup industry for the past three years and brings energy and connections with both the automotive and startup sector. Oana has 9 years of experience in tech management roles in different industries and has a network of software developers that she will leverage to build the product. 

Where We Are Now

The founders have analysed the idea from different perspectives during their studies of Entrepreneurship and have applied the concepts taught in the programme. They have participated in the LaunchPad Sprints Incubator November 2019 and won 2nd place on the Sprints Final Pitch competition. This secured them a place on the TES Incubator. 

Plans for the Future

While they are working on fine-tuning their concept and assembling the puzzle pieces of their idea, Sarah and Oana are ambitious about the future. 

In the short term, they are eager to join LaunchBox 2020 and are busy preparing their application to the programme. By the end of the year, they plan on launching an MVP in Germany and other European markets in the upcoming years. 

In the long term, they want to explore and pursue new ways of increasing sustainability in day to day life through the sharing economy. 

Get in Touch

If somebody has an electric vehicle or knows an EV owner, we would appreciate if they could reach out to us so we can ask them a few questions, at roscao@tcd.ie​ or ​rusts@tcd.ie​     .​ 

Divorshe – The Trinity Smart-Tech Legal Start-up Empowering Women

The Divorshe team was brought together in Trinity’s MSc in Entrepreneurship last September, with the idea emerging from our “Business Model Innovation” module. Having bonded as a team and having delivered the module’s winning pitch, we decided to pursue the concept further.

Divorshe aims to empower women going through a marriage break-up by making the process of obtaining a divorce easier to understand and more time and cost efficient. Using smart legal tech, clients complete the paperwork at a time convenient to them, from the comfort of their own home. Client-solicitor meetings are conducted online and can be held outside traditional 9-5 office hours, minimising disruption to these busy women’s lives.

Unlike traditional law firms whose services are very costly, or low-cost DIY divorce services who lack legal expertise, we take the best of both worlds – family law solicitors and online documentation – to provide a quicker and easier to understand service.

The Team

Our team was brought together in Trinity’s MSc in Entrepreneurship in September this year and went on to win that program’s “Business Model Innovation” pitch.

Our team varies in experience and background but has a common overarching entrepreneurial passion. Avice studied humanities and communication in college in America. Fernanda studied Hospitality Management in Brazil, worked in hospitality for a few years developing new hotels, and started her own businesses shortly thereafter. Neil graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Science and Information Systems Studies from Trinity in 2009. He has spent his career to date working in a variety of product development roles, primarily in the online gambling industry.

Where We Are Now

Since September, we have created links with solicitors in Brazil and Ireland for guidance on the legal process, and have the commitment of a software engineer to explore the technology solution. We have already purchased the divorshe.com domain.

Over the coming weeks we plan to conduct further market research and begin a proof of concept for the technology platform, as well as launching our online landing page to begin to collect expressions of interest. At present, we are also working on connecting with solicitors to help advise Divorshe through Launchbox.

Our Plans for the Future

In the near future (within the year) we see Divorshe being a working product (approved by Irish Law Society), fit to serve our test market of Ireland. We will be seeking seed investments in order to get our product up and running, and serving the public.

Potential challenges that face Divorshe on this journey consist of the legal regulations, the lack of publicly available market research, and the expense incurred from recruitment.

In order to overcome these challenges, we have committed to continually seeking expert advice as we move forward with our MVP. As it is a sensitive and confidential service, which is heavily regulated by the Law Society. It is crucial that we validate each milestone with the corresponding expert to avoid any roadblocks and keep Divorshe on track.

Conquer Media – A Trinity start-up seeing rapid growth in web and app development

Overview

Conquer Media began in December 2018. I, Gareth Power, was sick of getting insane quotes (even for minimum viable products), for web and app development from Irish agencies. I wanted to create a low-cost, yet high-quality solution. I teamed up with some colleagues from my computer science course and began using APIs and efficient code to save time without sacrificing quality, allowing clients to save up to 80% on normal costs for developments. This is exactly what makes us different. We also take great care in each project we work on, ensuring we use our innovative skills to transform our clients’ ideas.

The Team

Gareth Power – I, Gareth, am the co-founder and CEO of Conquer Media. I have six years of experience in programming and mobile development. I have won multiple awards for my work, including 2nd place in Apps4Gaps 2016.

Séamus Conlon – Séamus is the CBO of Conquer Media and a business student in Trinity. He organizes negotiations, contracts and strategy for the business, ensuring that professionalism is maintained.

Declan Roberts & Conall O’Toole – Declan and Conall are both sales reps for Conquer Media. They arrange the acquisition of new clients for the business. Both are computer science students.

Where we are now

We have currently turned a profit of ~ €17,000. This is thanks to an array of web development clients and more profitable mobile app development clients coming onboard recently. We are beginning to expand from smaller businesses to more established SME’s and develop customized software for businesses. We currently hold contracts totalling €8,000 and are in talks with larger businesses to grow this figure. Our team is constantly improving and developing our skills to deliver higher-quality services. Our website at conquermedia.ie has just been redeveloped and recreated to a higher standard than before.

Plans for the future

We plan to expand using both online ads and our sales team, which is growing stronger every day. We plan on targeting larger clients and businesses, where our developments can have more impact across different industries. Examples include the construction and auto industries, where efficiency is key. Our problem-solving abilities allow us to provide invaluable solutions for pain-points in those industries. As we grow our client base, we plan on outsourcing to high quality developers to increase our capacity, while maintaining the efficiency and value that our clients expect.

Get in Touch

If anyone would like to get in touch to work with us or discuss developments, please contact gareth@conquermedia.ie

Trinity’s Budding Entrepreneurs Battle it out on TES Incubator Pitch Night

The TES Incubator Pitch Night, sponsored by Elkstone, was held in the Tangent Main Event Hall, 1st Floor, Dublin Business School, Trinity College Dublin on the 3rd October 2019 on a stormy (Lorenzo) evening.

The event was completely booked out and the attendance was a full house to see 14 teams pitch for 8 places in the esteemed TES Start-up Incubator Mentoring Program 2019/2020. 

Each team had a strict 3 minute pitch with presentation along with 2 minutes Q&A by a leading panel of Business Professional Judges who were not going to go easy on their questions for each team.

We kicked off the night with advisor.works who pitched a solution to the problem of dropout rates of students in postgraduate studies by offering global real-time professional advisors. With 8,000 active members and 18 active business leader advisors on-board, the bar was set to a high standard.

Next up was ARea, an AR / VR Solution for renting expensive office space via a VR device that offers a VR Office Space for start-ups globally. The advantage of this system over Slack was that users ‘felt in the same place!’ and over time they had a compelling pitch.

Next was CAMPA, a company that provides a solution to the aftermath of festivals by offering reusable rental tents. These would be sold B2B, set up and rented to festival goers. These Dome Shaped Elevated Tents made from recycled plastic would be waxed and flame retardant. With a global market of 1 billion they feel they can excel against costly glamping competitors.

Conquer Media were the first team to have actual clients. They are in the Digital Development Services Industry and provide student value and business scalability. Cheaper than the €10k – €20k market by €8.5k – €17k the market size is in the trillions. Competitors include Armour whose products are more expensive, and Upwork which do not have the same superior quality they provide. To date they have turned a profit of €10k with 10 websites.

CROWD are a Casual Event Creation company whose competitors include Bumble and Meetup. Their main difference is that there are not so many steps involved to navigate their system as others. The Core System is a standardised event creation module with One-Touch Technology. It can be aimed towards travelers who are new to a city, for example. The revenue is created from subscriptions and the premium user community. www.crowdapp.com

EiSHT is a Personal and Professional Development programme designed to promote an Emotional Intelligence, Skills, Employability, Professionalism, Gratitude and Social Citizenship solution for the youth of today.  They have measured the quality of their results on the young people who have completed the trials. They have come to the Incubator for Inclusion, Mentorship and Learning Management Workshops.

Forever Shampoo is a B2C solution in the concept stage. The problem is single-use plastic and their solution is a reusable shampoo bottle where you buy a tablet that you mix with water. Their market is socially aware customers and their competition is shampoo bars. Their revenue model will rely on postal subscriptions and Adware. They come to Incubator for Mentoring, Networking & Funding.

Fensei is a Peer-to-Peer learning and mentoring solution at a Market Value level that is not as expensive as personal mentorship. Their competition is not as exciting or engaging. Their revenue model will be comprised of subscriptions, in-app purchases and Premium Mentors. Their quality checks will be via Mentee reviews to access mentor skill levels.

Karmic Coffee Company offers a low sugar, cold textured (nitro) caffeinated beverage aiming to solve the problem of sugar filled cola and competitor cold coffees. In the EU the average person consumes 5kg of coffee per year. Their competition seems to only be Starbucks and their unique selling point (USP) is Locally Produced Coffee with prolonged shelf life.

MediTree is a solution to the healthcare service to Automate and Diagnoses through Machine Learning & AI. It is targeted at healthcare professionals via a healthcare platform. Phase 1 will tackle Blood Samples, Phase 2 will tackle blood PODS which Phase 3 will incorporate into Workflow AI Models for phlebotomists. Competitors include Evolve.

MEC is a Biotech Device solving the problem of culturing cells in Petri dishes which solves the Shear Stress Range Problem. The solution is In Vitro Cell System for Research Labs where the global market value is approximately $12.7 billion. Their competition is the IBIDI System costing $23,000 while they are on their second prototype costing $300-$500 to produce at present.

REZero has a solution for the Single Use Plastic Problem. This is a Swiss-manufactured durable, reusable takeaway container worked on a Deposit/Return Model. Market competitors include CoCup and down2earth. They have sourced the containers from Switzerland and are talking to 3-5 clients at present. They hold the sole distribution rights for Ireland. The enticing nature of this product is that it poses zero cost to consumers.

Sweet Tooth App provides quick tasty treats (desserts) to all focusing on speed and quality. Their business model will be B2B and Subscriptions with a target market of 24-35 year-olds. Their competition is Just Eat and Deliveroo but they intend to improve the model by putting a strong emphasis on customer first.

Wave Tuk Tuk is a €1 Ride (Max 3km) for elderly people who like to be independent. Instead of walking 700 m to public transport they hire a Tuk Tuk for €1. The target market are students in college or the elderly. They plan to launch a location dependent service in Asia, Africa and the UK. The return on investment is the driver purchasing the Tuk Tuk for €2.5k, running the service and selling it on within 3 years.

The places were awarded to REZero, Karmic Coffee Company, Forever Shampoo, Conquer Media, EiSHT, CAMPA, MediTree and MEC with a wildcard place still up for grabs.

Joseph Keegan

TES Incubator Ambassador

BSc (Hons) Computing (Data Analytics)

No Basis for “Basis of Contract” Clauses! Time to Abolish?

By Luke Gibbons

The judicial unease lamented in Keating v New Ireland Assurance [1990]2.I.R.383 surrounding “basis of contract” clauses is well founded.  However, it is contended, that this disapproval is frivolous, as notwithstanding such, these clauses are upheld by Irish courts. This allows insurers, often the more powerful contracting party, convert a pre-contractual representation into a warranty, and thus, gives the insurer a right of repudiation. It is argued, this consistently leaves the insured bearing the loss, and in so doing, undermines the premise on which insurance is based, that being, protecting against future losses. Furthermore, it is submitted, that the rationale used by the courts in upholding these clauses is flawed and in deeming such as valid, the courts are running the risk of ironically circumventing the materiality burden in misrepresentation and nondisclosure, as developed by said courts to protect the insured.

In Keating, the recognised rationale in validating these clauses was freedom of contract. Although, this seems infallible, as two legal entities are willingly entering an agreement. It is contended, that in the insurance context, such does not consider the idiosyncratic reality of these transactions, and ultimately, the inherent imbalance of power between the parties. One argues such, as every business, no matter how powerful, is required to have insurance in some respect. Therefore, it is submitted, as these entities must enter into contracts with insurers, often having no choice in so doing, and not being subject to the EC (Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts) Regulations 1995; the courts in upholding “basis clauses”, on the grounds of freedom of contract, are failing to acknowledge this inherent imbalance in commercial insurance agreements. The insured is not free to enter into a contract at all, the insured must enter into a contract to avoid future losses and being in breach of relevant law.

As held in Keating, non-disclosure or misrepresentation can only render a contract void if such facts are deemed material, and it is proven that these were known to the insured during declaration. However, “basis clauses” differ, and as denoted from Keating, any undisclosed information, no matter how insignificant, if under a “basis clause” may lead to repudiation. Although post-Keating, “basis clauses” must be outlined in clear terms and if ambiguous the contra proferentem rule shall apply, such judicial intervention is inadequate. It is submitted, the holding, by confirming the validity of “basis clauses”, still arguably allows insurers use suchto circumvent the burden of proving materiality, and ultimately, undermine a threshold designed to protect the insured.

Thus, it is undisputed that reform is needed, however, the question still lies: should “basis clauses” be unlawful? There is some credence in the New Zealand approach, which incorporates a “materiality test” in accessing non-disclosure and misrepresentation under “basis clauses”; much like the approach to warranties in this jurisdiction and the guidelines promulgated in Irish self-regulations. It is argued, that on one hand, this would bring homogeneity to the treatment of warranties, and ultimately, ground “basis clauses” in their foundational origin, that being, as Foss states, “[use] …with…clauses permitting the insurer to avoid the policy… [due to] …material misstatement” (‘Good Faith and Insurance Contracts’ 2010). However, on the other hand, the plaguing question of what is material would still exist. Furthermore, is it contended, that if such is adopted, insurers would cease using “basis clauses” anyhow, as such would not have the “trap[ping]” effect they are designed to have, as described in Zurich General Insurance Co Ltd v Morrison [1942]2.K.B.53. However, reliance on insurers ceasing use and the unpredictability surrounding materiality is too uncertain a basis upon which insurance law should develop.

Therefore, in agreement with the Law Reform Commission, it is proffered, that the Australian approach be adopted, banning “basis clauses” entirely, as such is definitive, and in turn, champions certainty in commercial law. This is also advanced, as Buckley ((2005).12 Commercial Law Practitioner 10) laments, the current self-regulation is “inadequate”; a view solidified by CB Justice v St Paul Ireland (Circuit Court 25/11/2004).  Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether the Oireachtas will stifle this unacceptable practice and remedy the unfortunate reality as described in Anderson v FitzGerald (1853)3.ICLR.475, that “basis clauses…[render the policy] not worth the paper upon which it is written”.

Do Commercial Lawyers Need To Get Smart?

By Jack Savage

Advances in technology are affecting all aspects of business. It is has created significant developments in productivity, efficiency, and innovation. Inevitably, the question must be asked as to whether new technologies should be integrated into the relationship between law and business. Law and particularly contract law plays a foundational role in all business transactions. Can smart contracts enhance current legal practice, does the potential to remove third parties from contracting individuals exist and at what cost?

What is a Smart Contract?

A smart contract is a self-executing, self-enforcing, blockchain contract in digital form. The agreement is written in code across a distributed, decentralised blockchain network. Transactions are transparent, traceable and irreversible.

How does it work?

The agreement is written in code across a distributed, decentralised blockchain network. Both lawyers and programmers are required to create a smart contract. “Logic 1 ” is input to the code, which then acts in a pre-defined manner. The contract operates based upon IF THEN Conditional Computer Programming Statements.

How do you enter a Smart Contract?

An encrypted code is sent to the other parties through a distributed network of ledgers (a “DLT”). The code is received by computers in the DLT and individually make an agreement on the results of the code of execution. The agreement is self-executed and recorded as the network updates the DLT. The execution is not controlled by an individual party and cannot be independently modified.

Potential Benefits

Efficiency and reliability are increased substantially when a process is automated and the need for a human input is removed. Eliminating the intermediary significantly reduces transactional costs.

Limitations

Although some contracts can be expressed by computers, limitations exist when performance is dependent on a subjective standard. Smart contracts are not effective at expressing or construing non-binary clauses such are “satisfaction” and “reasonable effort” clauses, which are a regular and necessary feature of contracts. These clauses allow scope for the unexpected. When such an intention is expressed in a self-executing smart contract the intention of the parties may not be realised. A smart contract can only be understood literally, an interpretative approach seeking to capture the “intent of the contract” is not possible. A human element allows the flexibility needed to capture human intention.

Shortcomings

A more technical point is the requirement of certainty of terms for a contract to be legally binding. It is not possible to identify the legal parties in an agreement in a smart contract. Smart contracts use public addresses (“Address”), which directs to a wallet, to form the agreement. Information extrinsic to the agreement is required to identify the parties. Smart contracts can participate with other smart transactions. This means that the address may direct to another smart contract. This creates a multi-wallet address controlled by various addresses. This multi-wallet address can then enter contract itself. Therefore, it is not possible to definitively state that a certain public address relates to a wallet and a particular owner.

Smart contracts are unable to access information outside of the blockchain. Information is verified and sent by Oracles. However, centralised oracles are vulnerable to being hacked as they are single points of failure. Oracles can malfunction and feed false information to the blockchain. Congestion can result in transaction delays. Although these risks can be mitigated by decentralisation, it is impossible to eliminate them. As smart contracts become more complex the inherent risks increase.

Opportunity

Smart contracts will disrupt a number of existing industries that exist in different regulatory frameworks. A consequence of this disruption will inevitably be the need for legal advice on regulatory compliance. Smart contracts will require legal counsel to ensure that any projects stay within the applicable regulatory parameters across the jurisdictions in which it operates.

The Future of Law

It is unlikely smart contracts will replace written contracts due to their inherent limitations and current shortcomings. However, smart contracts offer a number of clear advantages to written contracts. It is likely that a hybrid model smart contract which acts in tandem with written contracts will prevail. In the future lawyers may learn how to code smart contracts in order to draft both elements of agreements. Presently, it is likely that products and services will develop facilitating lawyers to draft enhanced agreements using both legal expertise and blockchain.

Blockchain eventually may provide a secure, efficient and fast platform for storing, accessing, and authenticating data, in addition to streamlining labour intensive legal processes like discovery.

Whilst Smart Contract and blockchain may change how law is currently practiced what resources are allocated. It is likely that the legal practice will be enhanced rather than diminished.

A Round of Applaud – Trinity Start Up Launch Impressive New Booking Platform

Trinity Start Up Applaud.live, the live-music booking enterprise that empowers musicians to make a living from performing, has launched their new platform with the announcement of the Artist Tier. The Artist Tier will help independent artists compete for bookings with larger management companies and record labels with big marketing budgets.

The Applaud.live platform levels the playing field by allowing unsigned musicians to set up customisable profiles that can be used as an affordable, low maintenance alternative to setting up individual websites. Musicians can also link their social media pages to their profile and display their audio and video content from SoundCloud, Spotify and YouTube allowing potential clients to easily find and listen to the musicians they want to hire for an event.

Applaud.live disrupts the traditional live music business model by enabling independent musicians easy access to their target market without expensive management fees or high commission rates. 

The platform charges €12 per month or €100 annually for a customisable profile that independent musicians can use as a tool to market themselves. Musicians that sign up can select what type of events they wish to perform at as well as define the genres that they most closely align themselves to. The profile serves as an online electronic press kit/music résumé that they can use to send to booking agents and event organisers independently. 

A member of TU Dublin’s Hothouse New Frontiers programme, Applaud.live is led by founder Luke Rynne Cullen. A freelance classical musician, Luke has performed at weddings and festivals and learnt first hand how challenging it is to secure bookings and get paid for these gigs. 

“I was inspired by my own experiences to create this platform for musicians who find it hard to market themselves to event organisers. It enables potential clients to find the perfect musicians for their event. Independent music artists, without professional management, have all had issues both in marketing themselves and getting paid for bookings.”

“Applaud.live has really had a chance to grow as part of the New Frontiers programme and build a platform that can help independent musicians market themselves to a wider audience. This is only the beginning as we are currently building features to help musicians manage their bookings and receive payments securely” he added.

Applaud.live currently has over 400 musicians signed up to their pre launch website and has secured musicians on the prototype platform bookings from the Castleknock Hotel, The Grand Social and ThinkHouse Marketing Agency. Applaud is looking to double the number of musicians signed up to use the service and increase the number of bookings made via the platform with the release of the Artist Tier

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