FUSION start-ups down to the final 10

This week we look at five start-ups that put life and style into lifestyle choices

 

The Irish Times FUSION programme is well underway and the initial 20 start-ups have been whittled down to a final 10. FUSION is an experimental initiative to explore the future of advertising, an area of core concern to The Irish Times as it grows its digital business.

The final 10 start-ups were selected by a panel of Ireland’s leading media buyers, including Tyson Pearcey of Mindshare, Shenda Loughnane of Aegis, Paul Farrell of Initiative, Patrick McConville of ICAN, Garret O’Beirne of OMD, and Jason Nebenzahl of PHD.

This week we look at five of the “lifestyle-focused” finalists.

Prowlster
Prowlster is a fashion magazine and community. The startup builds on the three founding McGinn sisters’ experience with their blog, What Will I Wear Today. The blog, much like the start up, brought an irreverent voice to fashion coverage.

Last year the three quit their jobs and started to brainstorm ideas for a new kind of online lifestyle magazine. The resulting pitch for Prowlster won them a three month spot at LaunchPad, the start-up incubator based in the NDRC at the Digital Hub.

The team has built up a community around Prowlster, and has an initial group of emerging designers who want to use the start-up as their e-commerce channel. Now, the McGinns are implementing the technology to power a “buy now” feature, through which an item that appears in a fashion shoots can be instantly purchased online.

According to Jennie McGinn, the ultimate objective is to have “every single item that appears in a shoot purchasable” from any supplier.

Sian’s Plan
Sian’s Plan is a healthy food planner, recipe, and grocery system founded by mother and son team Sian and Vincent Breslin.

Sian Breslin, who runs a cookery school in Donegal, noticed her students abandoned the fine dining of the economic boom for a budget diet that they found difficult to keep balanced. So she developed a colour coded recipe plan to balance diets through the week.

At the same time her son Vincent came up with the idea of building a grocery planning system to show nutritional values and complete online purchases for the user. They combined their ideas in 2011, and in November a year later Vincent quit his job to pursue Sian’s Plan full time.

Now, the service has 5,000 beta users, and has integrated in the UK with an online grocer. According to Vincent Breslin, they intend “to grow Sian’s Plan into a portal that simplifies how families create healthy diets that take account of the budget and of each person’s tastes”.


GetHealth
GetHealth is a healthy lifestyle app and system that tracks the user’s health, diet, fitness, and social life.

GetHealth was founded by Liam Ryan and Chris Rooney, who became friends while playing in a brass band. After an initial start-up, founded while still at college, the duo decided to create a lifestyle app that would function as a game of health, with the objective of helping a user improve their own wellness. In the summer of 2011 they entered LaunchPad, and began to secure commitments from HR managers at large companies to pay for the service once it was built.

A test version was built in four weeks but it took a further nine months to complete an app ready for the market. Now, GetHealth is being used in large companies such as Aer Lingus and VHI, and has been accepted on to GE’s Start-up Health programme in New York.

Ryan says “GetHealth is not an app company, we are a health and a wellness company”. It plans to broaden its offering over time, finding new ways to work as a catalyst for healthier living.


LimeTree
LimeTree gives parents a safe, private space to chronicle moments from their child’s life.

A year and a half ago co-founders Jaime Quintas and Pedro Veloso compared notes on their attempts to chronicle their happiest moments with their children. They discovered a shared need for a safe repository to store those memories.

Maintaining their previous project managing software business in the background, Quintas and Veloso made LimeTree their full-time activity upon launching in the summer of 2012.

The founders are Portuguese, and most of LimeTree’s current 10,000 users are based in Brazil. But Quintas says they decided to set up in Ireland because “it has a good start-up scene, and is a bridge to the US and other English markets”.

They won a place at the Ryan Academy’s Propeller Incubator in DCU.


FrockAdvisor
FrockAdvisor is a fashion community that allows fashion fans to share their interest in garments, and allows boutique retailers to converse with them.

The start-up is the brain child of veteran RTÉ fashion broadcasters Brendan Courtney and Sonya Lennon. They came up with the idea two years ago when they noticed that viewers were consuming their TV show, Off The Rails , online instead of via broadcast. At the same time, consumers were increasingly researching and buying online.

Courtney and Lennon, who run a fashion label together too, initially conceived of an online fashion TV channel that would serve niche audiences. They won a place on LauchPad and started working full time of their startup, changing the idea in the process.

The crux of the change was to transition from a viewing experience to a conversational one that would engage fashion fans more deeply.

According to Courtney, it became clear “fashion boutiques want a channel they can participate in, which is run by people they trust”.

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