Five start-up firms shortlisted for 'Irish Times' Digital Challenge
DIGITAL CHALLENGE:FIVE COMPANIES have been shortlisted from more than 80 entrants to The Irish Times Digital Challenge.
The challenge aims to help The Irish Times Group build strong and mutually beneficial relationships with emerging digital businesses.
The five start-ups – Getbulb, MyiFli, Picturk, Storyflow and Knockon.ie– will now embark on an eight-week incubation in The Irish Times building to refine their products for market, reach customers, develop their business plan and scale their businesses. They will be supported by the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC) LaunchPad, Amárach Research, KPMG, Arthur Cox and Enterprise Ireland.
Gary Leyden, LaunchPad director of the NDRC, said: “We decided to create a mini launchpad within The Irish Times. It’s unique. No one in Ireland has been running mini launchpads within their business.”
He said the exercise was a win-win situation for both the start-up companies and The Irish Times, with the companies benefiting from The Irish Times’s knowledge and experience and The Irish Times benefiting from the finalists’ ideas and creativity.
“Opening the doors of this 153-year-old organisation to MyFli, StoryFlow, GetBulb, PicTurk, and KnockOn.ieis a way of accelerating change within The Irish Times,” said Irish Times chief innovation officer Johnny Ryan. “This may be the first time that any news media organisation has taken such a radical step. And by doing this, we are also helping these start-ups to dramatically grow their businesses.”
The five finalists were selected based on two criteria: revenue potential and potential improvement to the user/reader experience.
A judging panel of entrepreneurs, investors, and Irish Times senior management selected the five finalists from 81 entrants to the competition. The judging panel included Laurence Garrett of Highland Capital Partners; Shay Garvey of Delta Partners; Eamon Leonard of EngineYard; Gary Leyden of NDRC LaunchPad; John O’Sullivan of ACT Venture Capital; Seán O’Sullivan of Rococo; Brian Caulfield of DFJ Esprit; John Collins of The Irish Times, and senior managers at The Irish Times.
Over the next eight weeks, the five shortlisted companies will have access to mentors including veteran entrepreneurs such as DemonWare founder Seán Blanchfield, and marketing experts such as Paul Hayes to help fine-tune their business plan and path to revenue.
Each of the finalists will also be invited to pitch at the 2012 Dublin Web Summit.
At the end of the challenge, an overall winner will be selected by the judges using two criteria: most significant improvement to the reader or user experience, and greatest revenue potential.
DFJ Esprit will give the winner a €50,000 investment prize in the form of a convertible loan note.
Entrepreneur and partner at DFJ Esprit, Brian Caulfield, said: “Everything that can go digital, will go digital. This digital switch is challenging the business models of many industries, from newspapers to record companies to retailers. However, this same disruption is also creating fantastic opportunities for start-up companies to exploit.”
MYiFLi is a web application that allows non-tech users to create customised yet instant mobile web pages. The page contains key information by way of video, text and images, and it offers one-touch links to other sites and contact details. Each page is created as a unique URL and QR code.
GetBulb is a web-based data visualisation (infographic) generator. It transforms dry data-sets into eye-catching, memorable graphics simply and quickly. The application is built entirely on HTML5, runs on all modern web browsers, and only takes one hour to learn.
Picturk is a photography platform aimed at amateur photographers. Picturk proposes to create – in co-operation with The Irish Times – a vertical social network of keen amateur photographers, as well as an amateur photographer of the year competition.
StoryFlow’s storyline widget replaces the outdated “related stories” lists on news sites and blogs by providing the reader with a timeline overview of the articles main topics.
Knockon.ieis an online hyper-local news source for grassroots rugby. Local sports have always provided a considerable conundrum for media organisations. While the club and home town team usually matters more to the sporting enthusiast, the fragmented nature of the market means coverage is limited, even in local media.