Author Archives: TBR Network

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

How the Internet of Things is Changing Business

John Fink

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a relatively new term used to describe the relationship between modern digital technologies; it is a paradigm under which consumer technologies record data about their usage and operation and share it with relevant devices for certain purposes in a sprawling network of interconnected machines. The power of the Internet of Things is in task automation, by using the data recorded from usage analytics, devices within the IoT can satisfy simply and repetitive tasks with minimal to no human input. It allows for your home thermostat to know when you’ve arrived home based on your phone’s location data, and warm up your house for you; Or it sends you an email when the postman was detected as arriving at your front door through your IoT security camera. The potential for what tasks can be automated, and what quality of life improvements can be developed, are vast in scope.

The market for the Internet of Things is rapidly expanding. Research, development, and marketing of IoT enable devices from major tech developers has seem a massive uptick over the past decade, and it’s slated to grow ever larger, you may be familiar with several AI personal assistants that have become more popular in previous years and are often bumbled with modern smartphones and speakers. As of late 2018, Forbes predicted that world spending on Internet of Things technologies will reach 1.2 trillion in 2022. This growth in popularity and creative application of IoT devices has not only affected consumers but has also changed business in more than a few ways. How businesses interact within themselves, with other businesses, and with customers all have the potential to change with IoT technology, and many already do. Using them, data about internal operations and external interactions can be unified within one interconnected network of devices for easy access and organization. Here are just a few of the ways that the Internet of Things has affected business.

  1. Product Management: Using scanners, cameras, digital ID tags, sensors for pressure/impact/temperature/humidity, and computers to manage them all, buyers and sellers in the IoT world can track not only the location of a shipped or stored product, but the conditions of its storage and handling. Grocers can ensure that perishable food was stored at the correct temperature throughout handling, and a window pane installer can ensure that a tempered glass screen was not dropped at any point while shipping.
  2. Operations Management: By connecting devices to your workflow that measure the frequency of the completion of a task, it can be quantified how productive certain measures are without the need of a human observer. Scanners, switches, and computers that record the use of devices on a worksite can compile their data into an accurate summation of workplace efficiency. In a complimentary light, devices like smart locks, lights, and HVAC systems can help to automate certain simple tasks, increase security, and decrease waste.
  3. Customer Management: Through IoT enabled consumer devices, notably the popular AI personal assistants that are found on smartphones and speakers (Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant), businesses can interact with their customers, and make sales, on a completely unprecedented platform, with an unprecedented amount of ease in making a sale for both buyer and seller. A good example of this is the Domino’s Pizza Alexa skill, by downloading it, you can shout at your Alexa enabled TV or speaker to order your favorite pizza without even requiring you to pick up your phone. This benefits Domino’s in that no employee time (and therefor, company money) is utilized to make the sale.

These are just a few of the ways that IoT devices are changing business. Several modular and bespoke technologies/software have been released recently with the aim of increasing consumer and business interconnectivity with the internet of things. Such devices are the raspberry pi and other popular small computer kits, the Amazon Alexa skills kit, AI assistant control interfaces like the Google Assistant Home, and more. There is a great opportunity now for businesses not only to integrate these technologies into their workflow, but to develop services that utilize the consumer versions of these technologies to increase their level of customer interaction.

Seanad Calls for Irish Government to Offer More Support for Irish SMEs

Paddy Ryder

The Seanad in recent days has called upon the Irish government to introduce additional supports for Irish SME’s. There are three classifications that compromise the SME sector: micro enterprises, small enterprises and medium enterprises.

A micro enterprise is an enterprise that has fewer than 10 employees and has either an annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet not exceeding €2 million; a small enterprise is an enterprise that has fewer than 50 employees and has either annual turnover and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding  €10 million and a medium enterprise is defined as an enterprise that has between 50 employees and 249 employees and has either an annual turnover not exceeding  €50 million or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding €43 million.

The supports recommended by the Seanad will impact all of the aforementioned enterprises. Such supports include further entrepreneurial education in primary schools, specific supports for female entrepreneurs and the introduction of a new junior ministerial role to represent SME’s. The new ministerial position will enable the shaping of SME policy and help to foster the growth of small businesses in traditional sectors. It is hoped that exposing primary school students to entrepreneurship will lead to more economic activity and similarly, that new supports for female entrepreneurs boosts female leadership.

The Seanad found that typical SME concerns included rising business costs most notably the costs of rent, insurance and rates, competitive recruitment, Brexit uncertainty and continuous delays in the roll out of the national broadband plan. Ireland’s tax system was also highlighted as a difficulty with CGT rates significantly higher for SMEs in Ireland than in the UK and other jurisdictions. The EIS scheme for investment into early stage business is also less attractive in Ireland than the UK equivalent.

The EU and US rarely see eye to eye on matters of trade and commerce, but both see SME’s as the backbone of their respective economies, meaning SME’s are the cornerstone of commerce across the globe not just Ireland. Having said this however, the role of SME’s in Ireland is particularly important given that 99.8% of business activities in Ireland are represented by SME’s. This translates to 238,000 businesses, employing more than 1.3 million workers in Ireland, almost half of the entire Irish workforce. SME’s are therefore the main source of jobs in the Irish economy, thus, the new Seanad recommendations are a welcomed proposition and it is hoped that the recommendations can positively impact the Irish business landscape creating conditions that allow Irish SME’s to flourish.

Read the full report at –https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/committee/dail/32/seanad_public_consultation_committee/reports/2019/2019-05-16_small-and-medium-sized-businesses-in-ireland_en.pdf

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