Fever pitch: What’s the big idea

Start-ups take the stage

At The Irish Times stand, start-ups were invited to pitch their business ideas to journalists. Here’s a brief selection from yesterday

Panos Meyer: Flying, Germany

When frequent flyer Panos Meyer read a tweet about a flying app developed by students at Copenhagen Institute of Interactive Design, he contacted them to see where he could download it. When he discovered it was just a concept he decided to help them develop it into a business model. What resulted was a free air travel app, which in the 4.5 months since its launch, has garnered 17,000 users, bringing in close to $30,000 in revenues.

It has a social side for people to compare how much they have travelled with their friends. It also has a useful side, thanks to an inbuilt feature that allows users to apply for compensation for a cancelled or delayed flight in just two clicks.

“Only 5 per cent of people claims compensation for cancelled and delayed flights as no one wants the hassle. We make the process of getting compensation easy. ”


Cormac Walsh: Avansera, Finland

Cormac Walsh is hoping to bring his product from Finland to Ireland, and with it, the ability to reduce your shopping bills. "We have real time product price and location data on the database, and we tell you how to split shopping list between stores," he says. Already in use in Finland, the app can deliver up to 20 per cent savings on grocery bills he claims; a saving he'd like to replicate here.

Kevin McCloskey: Househappy
HappyHouse hopes to change the way we search for property. It's a global property search engine that takes the simplicity of CraigsList, the thumbnail based design of Instagram and Pinterest, and the search of Facebook, and rolls it into one. "Anywhere in the world you can post and search a property for free," Kevin McCloskey says. The ads are free but the site is planning to build a database of services, such as plumbers, electricians, to go along with the site. That is where it plans to make money.

Tahir Mansoori: Colwiz, United Kingdom

Mansoori created research collaboration platform Colwiz from his dorm room at the University of Oxford, after noticing researchers are often frustrated by the huge number of different applications to manage research.

Research students weren’t able to share resources or collaborate easily due to different people using different programs. He said there was a glaring need for a single place where researchers could do all their management activities.

“The founder of Siri came up to us at the web summit and said we are the most exciting platform he had seen,” the Oxford dropout said.

Anyone from any university, college or research institution can sign up to Colwiz. Companies can also provide it to their employees.

Cathal Furey: FanFootage Dublin

Formerly known as 45Sound, FanFootage is getting ready to disrupt the music industry. “It brings together together bands, fans and brands,” says Cathal Furey.

The platform allows fans to upload their footage of a particular event, and matches it to high quality audio so that an event can be viewed from multiple angles, but sound as the band intended. The rebrand allows the company to branch out into sports event, which Furey says is getting a good respons

Fionnuala Healy and Tony Riley, Gotcha Ninjas, Ireland

Gotcha Ninjas is a rewards platform for primary school kids. It was created by teachers for teachers, to encourage positive behaviour in the class room, motivate kids and engage with parents.

“Every child gets an avatar. They get ninja starts for behaviour and attendance. For example, they could get stars for participating in class,” Ms Healy said. The team behind the start-up read research in the US which said teachers spend 40 per cent of their time in classrooms trying to manage behaviour, which inspired them to develop the platform. There is a rewards system for kids. The more stars they collect the more features they can have for their avatar. They can also earn things like free time in class. The platform gives instant feedback to children and real time notification to parents about how well their kids are getting on.

Des McFadden, Wobego, Sligo

“Just enough, just in time, when and where the person needs access to it.” That’s the philosophy behind Wobego, a mobile learning platform that allows people to create videos on their smartphones or tablets. “It’s tapping into the technology people already have in their hands, to support them in their roles and decision making, and help them achieve sales,” says Des McFadden.

Augustin de Pelleport, AdMe, Dublin and Manchester

AdMe is a community management platform, targeted at college societies and clubs. With the web app, college societies can sign up members, manage their members, keep in touch with them with messages, and also organise events and sell tickets to those events.

Students use a smartphone app to browse through society events and buy tickets. It also allows students to browse through student-specific deals in businesses near campus. Launched in Trinity College a month ago, it went through an incubator in Trinity last year. They got about 80 per cent of societies signed up, with about 10,000 sign-ups. The student demographic isn't the most lucrative, but de Pelleport says that they commission through every ticket sold. The next step is to launch in Manchester, where de Pelleport is a student.


Offir Gutelzon, Keepy, New York

Gutelzon sold his previous start-up, image exchange app Picscout, two years ago, and his new start-up is also all about images. But he was inspired not by the work of photographers, but by the artwork of his children.

“Our apartment began to look like an art explosion, but I couldn’t throw them away.” The solution Gutelzon designed was Keepy, an iOS app designed to preserve those drawings and doodles, building a private timeline of pictures.

Users have embraced the app and are using the timelines for all sorts of childhood events, and users can invite friends and family to look at some of the timeline events via a web app. The business model is subscription-based, after an initial free trial you can pay to get the full experience.


Anastasia Leng, Hatch.co, New York

Hatch is an ecommerce site that allows people to customise the range of products available on the site. It brings a large, 700-strong community of makers and buyers together, in effect making a commission-based Etsy. “Makers are often faced with the problem of what to build next, how to gauge customer demand,” says Leng. “This turns the problem on its head, you make the design specifically for the customer.” Both Leng and her cofounder are former Googlers, and the team is aiming to grow to seven members in coming months.


Mustafa Ozturk:
Ozturk presented a hardware product, which is a rare category at the Summit. It's a wifi-connected box that offers control over household multimedia devices and even domestic lighting and settings with a smartphone and tablet app.

Ozturk says his firm has five years experience producing entertainment systems for airlines, and are now moving into the commercial space. Though still at the prototype stage, Ozturk says it offers more functionality than rival devices from firms such as Sonos.

Ozturk is focusing initially on the German market, where there is already a high take-up in the “smart-living” market.


A longer selection will appear on irishtimes.com/websummit