In an event in Google's London HQ, organised by the London Irish Business Society, to showcase Irish tech talent we listened to Irish start-up companies pitch their businesses to judges in a Dragon’s Den style setting.
Here’s a flavour of the companies that pitched:
How long do you spend trying to figure out how to get from the airport to the nearest town centre? Problem solved with CityHook! This clever app collates all the travel information for 130 different airports and presents them in an app for iPhone and Android smartphones.
Everyone that lands at an airport leaves it one way or another. Flights, hotels and to a certain extent car rental are easy to find online — but when we started nobody had ever thought of making a simple search engine for transport to and from the airport. It turns out that over 60% of air passengers will take a taxi, bus, express train or shuttle to complete their journey.
When we started out, Uber was still relatively unheard of, and none of the transport companies we approached had ever imagined this kind of service. It took a lot to share our vision. We wanted to make transport easy to book, then do it right on mobile. The back-office for this turned out to be a giant undertaking and today, we license this technology to the travel industry as a standalone product called Indigo.gt.
We love to demo the app. It's great to see people smile when they use the app for the first time.
Escaping airports faster.
Partnerships take a long time to strike. Choose wisely, and the rewards can be more than you'd ever expect.
Ship first, ask questions second.
Watch out for some surprises, exclusive to the London market! You'll need to sign up for our beta to find out more (hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Would you like to be able to watch any gig you fancy anywhere in the world? - Enter Firstage, the first augmented reality music stage that brings the concert to you! It’s pretty cool but also difficult to explain so I recommend that you watch the video on their website to get a feel for what they can do!
As an ex-professional musician, I had first hand experience of just how difficult it is to make money in the current industry climate. It's almost impossible to make music your sole profession and 99% of artists supplement their income with another job. The idea came from being able to multiply the amount of gigs an artist can play. Play more gigs, make more money. Virtual gigs allow artists to have their holograms out on virtual tours.
Education is difficult, we are dealing with a brand new industry and people find it hard to grasp the concept of holograms. Pokemon Go has done wonders for augmented reality, people can now understand that they can drop digital content in to their physical environment. Now we find it easier to reference it, 'we're like Pokemon Go for music fans.'
Setting up our own physical studio was certainly a big step, it has allowed us to test and record artists much more regularly. Plus having our own home feels like a great achievement in itself.
Augmented Reality Gigs.
Patience! Rome wasn't built in a day and perseverance is the key, you just have to keep on pushing through. We're nowhere near where we want to be yet, but we will continue to push on through every barrier that gets in the way and inevitably, there's lots!
Go easy on yourself, building something brand new that hasn't been done before is a massive undertaking. Celebrate the milestones and take great satisfaction that you are creating something new. It's a fantastic life achievement so be proud of yourself.
We are about to relaunch Firstage, the new version will have weekly virtual concerts, behind the scenes interviews with artists from around the world and live streaming of AR gigs from venues directly to your coffee table! Exciting times!
Are you tired of paying a lot of money to see a doctor or waiting a long time to get an appointment? WebDoctor.ie makes it easy for you to order a repeat prescription or have a video consultation with a doctor. I think it’s going to revolutionise the industry! Check out what WebDoctor can do here.
This company helps small businesses with limited credit, it takes the hassle out of trying to get a bank loan by using technology to connect businesses with potential investors. These investors are just ordinary people who have some savings and are looking to invest in promising companies. Read more about LinkedFinance.
Where did the idea come from?
It first started back in 2010. At that time the financial system had ground to a halt. The banks just weren’t lending to SMEs. Our founder, Peter O’Mahony, is a serial entrepreneur. He’d run various businesses for many years. He knew how important it was for businesses to access credit in order to survive and grow. He also knew that Irish people had billions on deposit, earning little or no interest. Peter had a simple idea - if we could use technology to connect the businesses who needed cash with the ordinary people who had money to lend, we could help to get things moving again.
Peter set about researching his idea and quickly discovered he wasn’t the first person to come up with this. In the US and UK there were already successful P2P lending platforms like Zopa, Lending Club and Funding Circle. He knew a similar model could work in Ireland. In 2013 Linked Finance was launched.
Surprisingly, the biggest challenge early on was attracting borrowers. We believed that business owners would be beating a path to our door and that getting Irish people to lend would be the toughest nut to crack. As it transpired the opposite was true. We quickly gained a lot of lenders, ready to support great local businesses. The businesses who needed finance were a harder audience to reach. They are busy people and often times their noses are so close to the grindstone that they don’t have the chance to step back and look at new alternatives.
Thankfully, we’ve overcome that challenge and Irish SMEs are becoming more aware of the alternative options available to them. The job is by no means done but we’ve seen huge increases in the number of businesses using Linked Finance in the last 12 months.
Early on the site was very much a basic working model. All of the critical functionality was there but the UX was lacking. In 2015, after we had secured backing by a Dublin-based VC, we were in a position to completely redevelop and improve the entire platform. We made major improvements to the way the site looked and how easy it was to use.
Business Loans. Better.
Make it as simple, and as easy to use and understand for users as possible.
Simplicity is key.
We’ve recently changed some of the fundamentals of our model. Traditionally, business loans were provided by way of a two-week live auction. Lenders had 14 days to place bids and they could choose the rate. This slowed down the process and created uncertainty for borrowers. They had to wait two weeks to fund and to find out what the ultimate interest rate would be.
We’ve now moved to a fixed-rate model, whereby we grade each loan request and assign a rate at the beginning. This means borrowers know from the start what the rate will be and ultimately loans can hit their targets much quicker. That means the businesses get their funds faster. Rather than having businesses wait 2 weeks to get funded, we now have loans filling in seconds rather than weeks. The fastest loan on the platform fully funded in just 16 seconds this week.
The London Irish Business Society is the largest Irish Professional network in London and they provide a platform for Irish professionals to network and share ideas. Morgan McKinley UK are one of their proud sponsors.
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