01 April 2015

Following on from the successful inaugural Student Startup Weekend in 2014, the innovative student event takes place this year from Friday 10th to Sunday 12th April in UCC, bringing together bringing together the highest calibre young entrepreneurs from all over Ireland, the UK and further afield. Coordinated by UCC’s Entrepreneurial and Social Society, the Student Startup Weekend will see students converge at UCC’s Western Gateway Building for weekend long workshops where they will pitch business ideas, form teams, and start companies.


On Friday evening, participants will pitch their startup ideas and receive feedback from their peers. Following the initial pitches, teams of students will join forces and focus on the top ideas during a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation.


Organiser of the Student Startup Weekend, David Hardwicke of UCC Entrepreneurial and Social Society says “Over the course of the weekend, participants will delve into the professional and personal challenges, the high and lows, and the successes associated with being a young entrepreneur. Whether these young entrepreneurs who join us found companies; find a cofounder; meet someone new; or learn a skill, we can guarantee they will leave better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups.”


He continued “UCC, and Cork as a whole, is fast becoming a hub for young entrepreneurs, and our event is targeting students from all over Ireland and abroad, with our organisational team made up of representatives from five of the top Irish Universities, which include UCC, UCD, DCU, Trinity College Dublin and NUIG.”


Students in attendance will hear from guest speaker Fraser Heaslip, Director at TouchDown Partners. Having worked with strongly recognized international brands such as Vodafone, Meteor, and Otterbox, Fraser has demonstrated his entrepreneurial flair through his organization of events such as the monthly gather 'Mobile Monday'; as well as founding his current venture 'Touchdown Partners' which aims to help scale EMEA consumer electronic brands.


An experienced team of coaches, many of whom themselves are successful young entrepreneurs, will be on hand to offer gems of wisdom and advice to students, based on their own entrepreneurial journey. Coaches include UCC graduates Richard Barrett and Ross O'Dwyer of Pundit Arena; Jayne Ronayne, Head Honcho at KonnectAgain and her colleague Tommy Dunton; Sarah Dineen, Founder of UniWink; Frank Hannigan from Pathfinder, Ireland; Louise Hodgson, Executive Director at The Undergraduate Awards; Kieran Walsh, Co-founder of WhatSalon; and Ernest Cantillon, Director at Electric and Sober Lane and past President of the Cork Business Association.


The weekend will culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders and influencers, with another opportunity for critical feedback, and finally an overall winner will be selected by an esteemed panel of judges including Eamon Curtin, Director of the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme at UCC, who has significant experience working with early stage and startup companies as a consultant, mentor and trainer. Eamon will be joined by Christine O’Keeffe, Director Schedule and Dispatch at EMC, who is skilled in formulating and driving strategies for business development and performance improvement; and DC Cahalane, CMO at Teamwork, who is one of the leaders of the Cork startup community.


The Student Startup Weekend is supported by the IGNITE Graduate Business Programme at UCC, along with Deloitte, Electric and Sober Lane. IGNITE is nine month business incubation programme for recent graduates from any discipline from any third level institution with a viable business idea; aimed at nurturing, developing and strengthening their entrepreneurial potential. Four of the weekend’s coaches, Richard Barrett, Ross O'Dwyer, Jayne Ronayne, and Sarah Dineen are themselves former IGNITE participants who’ve seen success in their own ventures.


Speaking about what’s expected from the weekend, Eamon Curtin, IGNITE Programme Director said “Last year we saw over 40 attendees from universities, institutes of technology and other third level institutions, with backgrounds in computer programming, graphic design, marketing, and finance come together to share and develop a number of  viable and ingenious startup ideas over the course of the weekend. We’re anticipating another great turnout this year, and we hope participants will make solid contacts that the can engage with following the weekend’s event.”


Ireland’s Student Startup Weekend is one of hundreds of events that take place globally as part of Startup Weekend, a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs, who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs and in 2014, over 1800 events took place in 120 countries around the world.


Ireland’s Student Startup Weekend is open to all third level students from any discipline, and Early Bird tickets are available for just €15. Ticket price includes goodie bag and delicious burritos, pizza and Asian street food, as well as breakfast and lunch. 


Find out more and register to attend at http://irelands-student.startupweekend.org/.