Category Archives: The HUB

How Trinity Start-up ‘Locallee’ plans to save shipwrecked SMEs

The waves of restrictions that have been strangling Irish commerce in order to curve the effects of Covid-19 have wreaked havoc upon all levels of business within our domestic market and further afield. One group which has been particularly affected are the 248 small and 344 medium enterprises within Ireland. Many retailers within this group were left without major footfall, and with only 32% of these retailers having a functioning website, their source of sales dried up, starving them of any opportunity to survive Covid-19. This is where 3rd year Computer Science and Business students Seán Larkin, Franklin Ume Obiekwe and Daniel Grace have come together to design a much-needed platform for small retailers, enabling them to be able to connect with their customers online.

The Team

Seán knows firsthand how much of an impact COVID-19 has had on small business in Ireland. His parents are owners of an SME themselves, and while they have been fortunate enough to weather the hardships, many Irish businesses have had to endure during this time; some of their friends and many others in a similar position have not been as lucky. Seán asked himself what he could do to help small firms not only recover but prosper post-pandemic, and quickly identified the potential power of the internet. E-shopping has skyrocketed in light of restrictions cutting off the chance to shop in person, with Amazon alone seeing profits shoot up over 200% over the course of the pandemic.

The team’s efforts have culminated in ‘Locallee’, which hopes to act as an online shopping centre for local businesses. Locallee hopes to address current small retailer’s challenges by allowing businesses to meet their potential demand online, while also providing a host of online resources to allow retailers to perform to the best of their abilities. Locallee’s potential is obvious; with a model reminiscent of Amazon’s and with Ireland’s S.M.E.s forming the backbone of the Irish economy, Seán, Franklin and Dan are confident in their ability to scale their project as traffic rises. Seán and Franklin already have some experience in this field, having been successful in reaching the knock-out stages of a start-up accelerator competition within Tangent with their commerce app, Digitill. This prior knowledge has been instrumental in creating a product with real potential.

Where They Are Now

Locallee’s sign-up process takes less than thirty minutes providing retailers with little to no e-commerce experience the opportunity to benefit from this mode of trade. No technical experience is required by Locallee users, bridging a skill gap which in many instances can be the death of retailers trying to ply their trade online. Seán highlights how the likes of Squarespace, while allowing retailers to establish a website, lacks the marketing and other business functions needed to create monetary value. Locallee hopes to change this.

The team highlighted the trojan effort taken to get their idea off the ground, the platform is currently in its developmental phase, with focus being placed on creating their ‘minimal viable product’, or the first workable version of their business concept. Dan has been handling the technical side of things, while Franklin has been busy establishing platform features needed to add value to the user experience. Even with well north of one hundred hours of individual work put into the project each, the team also wanted to mention all the help they’ve been glad to receive so far regarding their project. In particular, Tangent’s Joe Lanzillotta and Alison Tracey have been a great help to Seán and Franklin’s previous projects and they are glad to have their expertise and support, as well as that of Tangent’s C.E.O. Ken Finnegan, with this new endeavour also.

Plans For The Future

In the immediate future, the Locallee team will be testing and refining their software and business models in a select group of towns across Ireland. Seán, Frank and Dan are hopeful that before the end of the year, Locallee will be boosting local businesses across Ireland.

During our conversation, the team alluded to the further potential of Localee’s ability to provide not only a platform, but also support to their patrons. They firmly believe that Locallee will also be able to assist businesses using the platform in regard to the fulfilment of orders through the design and provision of an order and delivery model. This scalability is not only restricted to how Locallee can function, but also to where it functions. Small retailers across the globe have all been faced with a lack of customer interaction, and with a meteoric rise in e-commerce, many need to shift the way they operate to stay competitive within the evolving retail climate. Countries within the E.U. and the U.K. are an obvious first choice. In Seán’s view, after expansion throughout Ireland, the allure of the United States economy is not out of the equation further down the line. All of this hope for the platform’s future is validated by the fact that Locallee possesses the ability to enact real positive change to small retailers across the globe.

Get In Touch

You can check out Locallee’s brochure website here, and if you wish to hear more about the project, the team can be contacted at @locallee2021@gmail.com

Trinity Entrepreneurial Society: Dragons’ Den Through the Years

by Daryna Kushnir and Urte Perkauskaite

The show Dragons’ Den is based on the Japanese television series ‘Manē no Tora’ (‘The Tigers of Money’). It was broadcast from 2001 to 2004. Since then, the concept of ‘Dragons’ Den’ has gained popularity in many countries. For example, in the United States the show is known as ‘Shark Tank’ and the panel of investors are known as the ‘Sharks.’

Entrepreneur Michael Cotton made history in the show as his invention – a device used to stop motorists filling up their diesel cars with petrol – received the largest investment to date, totalling £250,000. While ‘Tangle Teezer’ which did not receive investment in the show is now worth an estimated £200m.

Pitching competitions are held in many world-renowned universities. For example, the University of Oxford launched its ‘Humanities Innovation Challenge,’ where students pitch their entrepreneurial ideas and compete for a prize of £5000. Similarly, in 2020, Durham University held its fourteenth pitching competition ‘Dragons’ Den with a Difference’ with environmental sustainability as the event’s focus.

The TES Dragons’ Den has been active in Trinity’s college community for a long time, we look back on some successful and strange ideas that have gone through the competition over the years;

Equine MediRecord

A company which hails to be the first of its kind, Equine MediRecord was founded by Trinity students Pierce Dargan and Simon Hillary. The idea was first pitched at the TES Dragons’ Den competition in 2016. The equine startup went onto Launchbox and has become a successful business operating in Ireland, the UK and France.

Bounce Insights

The novel market research startup placed second in Dragons’ Den 2019, also securing a place in Launchbox. It has been operating successfully ever since. The team consisted of five Trinity undergraduates – some making sacrifices such as foregoing Erasmus to work on their idea! An interview with Charlie Butler, one of the founders is available on the TES website.

CFlood

Winner of last year’s Dragons’ Den competition, CFlood’s core product is a simple and accurate tool which visualises flood data. The company is currently looking for investors and hopes to make its product available to the market very soon. More information about their plans are available here: https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/cflood-visualise-flood-data-tcd-launchbox/

Aurius

The winner of Dragons’ Den in 2017 aimed to sell hearing aids at a much more consumer-friendly price of €550. The company also secured funding at the Irelands Funds competition.

Little Farms

A startup proposing to grind up crickets into flour as a sustainable alternative to beef came close to winning Dragons’ Den back in 2016! It didn’t seem to work out, but a California company called Little Farms is doing very well with the same idea.

Despite the pandemic, the TES Dragons’ Den competition persists, taking place over Zoom this time. The society’s current ‘Incubator’ participants suggest some very promising ideas for Dragons’ Den 2021. The competition will offer more than €20,000 worth of prizes, with judges Alison Treacy, Kate Fullen and Sean Judge representing the sponsors Elkstone, Amazon Web Services and Tangent. Be sure to apply before it’s too late!

More information is available at https://www.testrinity.com/dragons-den

ProMotion – ‘Be Healthy, Be Eco-Friendly’

Speaking to co-founders Bidemi Afolabi and Lauren O’Reilly, Trinity Business Review gained exclusive insight into the up-and-coming ProMotion app. ProMotion is an online platform built to connect brands with cyclists. Simply speaking, ProMotion provides the opportunity for a cyclist to be paid to promote brands on their own private bicycles. ProMotion is a COVID born company which aims to get people moving. Their work focuses on incentivising consumers to ride their own bicycles encouraging a healthier, more eco-friendly form of transport.

The Team

ProMotion’s founders are Trinity students, Bidemi Afolabi and Lauren O’Reilly both of whom are final year Pharmacy students. Due to the youth of the business, Lauren and Bidemi share most of the business roles. However, Bidemi focuses on Business Operations and Marketing while Lauren tackles Research and Development and Business Strategy.

Both Bidemi and Lauren have had an inclination towards entrepreneurship since the beginning of their degrees. Their motivation to set up ProMotion came from their passion to promote healthy living through exercise. As participants and winners of Trinity’s LaunchBox programme, they were given a platform and the support required to pursue their idea.

Where They Are Now

Currently, ProMotion is in the product development phase. Since LaunchBox, ProMotion have focused their attention on improving their prototype, building their user base and gaining important connections in the industry.

Once bicycle owners and brands are linked, a promotional attachment for the back wheel of their bikes is sent to the cyclists. The ProMotion app aims to pinpoint the location of cyclists who are using the app in order to verify that they are cycling around with the paid business’s promotion. ProMotion plans to have the app up and running in the next couple of months.

Plans For The Future

ProMotion’s immediate goals are to get as many brands involved as possible, as ultimately the brands will provide their main source of revenue. Both Bidemi and Lauren have a positive outlook on this goal as they have encountered encouraging experiences with brands so far. ProMotion drives a positive message out to the population – “Be Healthy, Be Eco-Friendly”. ProMotion plans to utilise the Trinity network as best as possible, aiming to incorporate Campus Ambassadors and continuing their market research.

In the longer term, ProMotion plans to use Dublin as their testbed, and then expand to other cities in Ireland. Following this, ProMotion’s aim is to enter the UK market as it has a similar structure to Ireland. ProMotion have the advantage of being infrastructure light, which facilitates rapid and inexpensive future growth opportunities.

Get In Touch

Keep up to date with ProMotion’s social media;

https://twitter.com/ProMotionCycle

https://www.instagram.com/accounts/login/?next=/promotioncycle

https://www.linkedin.com/company/promotioncycle

‘Your Network is Your Net Worth’: Trinity Business Alumni

What is the Trinity Business Alumni?

The Trinity Business Alumni (TBA) is an association of Trinity College graduates who are engaged in the business world. The aim of the TBA is to create a forum for Trinity alumni to connect, network, learn and contribute to the development of College, business and our wider society. Since it was founded in 1592, Trinity has educated a community of alumni that spans the globe, and currently has over 140,000 alumni in over 148 countries worldwide. In recent years, the membership base of the TBA has grown to over 6,000 members. The TBA recognises the diversity of thought required to drive successful organisations and for that reason it welcomes members of all academic disciplines, industry sector or career level. The TBA believes that a Trinity education continues beyond the front gates and throughout our graduates’ lives, which is reflected in what they do as an organisation.

The TBA has a number of core values that shape the culture and define the character of the organisation. These core values ultimately guide how the TBA behaves and makes decisions. They are outlined below:

Club For Life
Aiding and enabling members to maintain a connection and sense of identity and pride as a Trinity College Alumnus.

Excellence and Relevance

Providing high calibre events for our members which are pertinent to their interests and business needs.

Inclusive and Accessible
Welcoming all graduates of Trinity, regardless of academic discipline, industry sector or career level.

Strong TCD Heritage

Fostering a continued sense of our collective history in College while contributing to its development as a leading global university.

Mutual Value Creation
Developing a community of professionals who connect for mutual gain through personal development, business opportunities and shared interest.

What are the Benefits of Being a Member of the TBA?

Being a member of the TBA has a number of benefits including:

  • Invitations to exclusive TBA Dinner in Camera events, which have boasted fantastic speakers in the past, such as former professional rugby player Gordon D’Arcy and Minister for Finance Pascal Donohoe
  • Invitations to joint TBA and MBA Masterclasses and breakfast briefings with top-class speakers. Events recently have included topics such as “Networking & Career Transition in a Post-Covid World” and “The Future of Start-Ups: the innovation landscape after Covid-19”
  • Opportunities to develop your professional network through events and online platforms
  • Mentoring current Trinity students online and at in person events

The TBA also possesses close ties with the Trinity Business School and supports innovative events such as the Trinity Global Business Forum, not to mention sponsoring the Trinity Business Student of the Year Award. As well as this, the TBA is affiliated with a number of corporate partners that help to bring much needed resources, skills and capabilities to the association.

As aforementioned, the Trinity community of Alumni spans 148 countries across the globe. The TBA is no different, with active member groups in a vast number of international cities, including places such as New York, London and Brussels. Having access to such a diverse range of members and locations is most certainly another benefit of being a member of such a broad and experienced association.

Plans for the Future

The ambition of the TBA is to grow the Trinity Business Alumni in support of the evolution of Trinity College, and to become an ever more relevant network to the wide range of Trinity graduates in business today, as stated by President of the TBA and Managing Director of Investec Corporate Finance Ireland – Liam Booth. Although the ongoing pandemic has put a halt to the in person events of the TBA, the current series of webinars hosted by the TBA have proven popular.

However, the TBA is looking forward to a time in the near future where the option of hosting in person events is once again available. Recently, there has been a focus on increasing the membership of younger Trinity graduates. In today’s world there is no limit to the amount of connections that a person can have, so why not start to expand your network now.

Membership with the Trinity Business Alumni network is automatically given to all graduates from the School of Business. However, the TBA network is not just for Business alumni – it is open to all graduates of Trinity College, from every discipline, who work in the business sphere. If you wish to join the TBA, please go to https://tba.ie/become-a-member-of-the-tba/ and fill in the form, it is free to join and I would highly recommend it.

“Your network is your net worth” – Porter Gale

Butterfly – Trinity’s New Social Media Start-up

Butterfly is a new social media concept, created with the mission of negating biases and connecting people through shared interests. The primary objective of Butterfly is to connect users over events that relate to their specific interests. For someone with an interest in fitness and art, the app might suggest a photo walk in St Stephen’s Green, a group jog the Phoenix Park, or painting seascapes at Dun Laoghaire harbour.

Functionally, the app is quite straightforward. Users input their information, build a profile, and navigate events on the app’s map-like interface. The idea is built around user anonymity. Users are connected based solely on shared interests. Users do not know who will be in attendance until they arrive at the events. This has been implemented with the objective of safeguarding against bias by removing the opportunity to judge others based on perceived racial, cultural, or economic status.

For safety reasons, people may be intimidated by the prospect of meeting a group of strangers. The plus one feature incorporated by Butterfly allows users to include a friend in the event without making other attendees feel too excluded. The group dynamic is a defining point for Butterfly as they believe as it is less intimidating than meeting strangers one on one, as people do with their competitor apps, Tinder, Friender and Bumble.

The Team

Butterfly’s team is currently two members strong, consisting of Seamus Conlon and David Kubala. Seamus is a 3rd year Global Business student with start-up expertise in the field of software development and enterprise software sales. Dave is a 3rd year Computer Science student known for his graphic design work and is proficient in Python, Java, Dart, C#, C++, and Objective-C programming skills. They was inspired to create the idea during a discussion about race following the Black Lives Matter movement in America.

Where They Are Now

Over the past two months, Seamus and David have accomplished a number of early milestones. Their initial market research included 500 responses and yielded promising results regarding their target market’s enthusiasm for the project. Using the feedback gained from the survey, Dave refined the app to coincide with relevant design queues.

Butterfly’s functional minimum variable product (MVP) is now ready for testing with a small group of users and the team is excited to gain more insight into what users would like to see in future versions. Butterfly has benefited greatly from the Trinity Entrepreneurial Society’s Incubator experience as they have had access to experts to help them refine strategy and realise their vision. They highly recommend the programme to all students studying in Trinity.

Plans For The Future

Butterfly hope to conduct alpha testing on an MVP of the app and develop a research report from the findings within two months. At the same time, they are looking to get letters of intent from local businesses that will promote their venues on their platforms when it goes live.

In the longer term, Butterfly aim to launch the app exclusively to Trinity students in 2021, after which they will conduct further research and refinement of the platform for a Version 2. This will be released to all college students in Dublin, and later to the general public. Butterfly plan to firstly release to college students because their market research indicates that this group is the most enthusiastic for this idea and Butterfly hope to gain traction here before expanding outwards.

Get In Touch

If you would like to volunteer for alpha testing for Butterfly’s product or are interested in promoting your venue on Butterfly, please email Seamus at the following address: Seconlon@tcd.ie

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