Whizz-kid club reopens its doors in Dublin
It is one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, but there are no Jimmy Choo shoes, membership fees or handbags at dawn at this club, whose members consist of the best and brightest young entrepreneurs and innovators globally.
They have founded companies, been invited to speak at the White House and the World Economic Forum, been selected as Collegiate All-Stars by Forbes magazine and written books and yet they are all under 30. And now, the Dublin hub of the Sandbox network is re-opening membership applications for young tech titans and business moguls.
The network allows no more than three people worldwide to join each week, and there is a rigorous application and referral process. The Dublin-hub closed the application process several months ago after reaching 15 members.
Described as the foremost global community of young innovators and entrepreneurs, the Sandbox network was founded in Switzerland in 2008, and has since grown to over 750 leaders in more than 53 countries. More than 25,000 people have applied to be in Sandbox over the last three years.
And why wouldn’t they? Sandboxers have featured on the front covers of Wired, Fast Company and Forbes magazine. In fact, the 2011 Forbes selection of “30 under 30” included five Sandboxers.
The network’s founders believed the bright young people shaking things up in the tech, food, fashion, media and entertainment industries would be all world leaders in 20-30 years time, according to Dublin Sandbox ambassador John Egan.
Egan, who sold his first company aged just 20 and went on to found a further six organisations, said the Sandbox network was established so the global leaders of the future would not just be meeting when they were in their 50s, but would have already established relationships spanning more than 30 years while in their 20s.
“The high achievers now could be the movers and shakers worldwide in 30 years time and the relationships will have already been cemented,” he told a group of more than 60 including Sandboxers and star-struck prospective members at a Sandbox open evening.
With 23 connected hubs around the world including London, San Francisco, Nairobi, Bangalore, Beijing and Zurich, the network identifies exceptional young people and helps incubate, accelerate and power their visions. The Dublin hub of Sandbox was launched in April and has 15 members, said Egan, who added the network will never surpass 20 members.
Award winning director, founder of Studio Rua and SuperQuest creator Padraig Mannion told the crowd of savvy businessmen and women at the open evening he joined the Sandbox network after finding he had no-one in his peer group to discuss business problems with.
“I set up my own company five years ago and it was really difficult as I had no one in my peer group to talk to about paying taxes, being sued, paying employees PRSI.”
His fellow Sandboxer Will McQuillan, whose entrepreneurial talents are no end, found no problem big enough for the network with everyone willing to help everyone else.
Sandboxers have been known to post messages on the network’s forum looking for people to connect them with everyone from Bill Clinton to Somali pirates, and nothing ever proved too difficult for them.
The 27-year-old Dubliner co-founded online fashion marketplace Osmoda, start-up accelerator Betapitch and more recently his own private equity firm called Frontline Ventures.