How to create a socially conscious start-up

An event in Dublin this month aims to help Irish and American students who are interested in setting up social enterprises based on the UN Millennium Development Goals

Dublin's third-level hopefuls and students from the University of Texas in Austin (UT) are coming together later this month to take part in a unique international student-focused start-up event for social enterprises.

Looking to create startups in the same vein as companies such as Tom’s Shoes (which donates one pair of shoes to someone in the developing world for every pair bought in the developed world), the event is intended to be a springboard for socially conscious and self-sustaining enterprises.

"Working in small teams with mentors, the students will spend the weekend developing, testing, and pitching ideas for social enterprises targeting UN Millennium Development Goals," says Prof Brad Love, leading organiser of the UT team.

Over the course of a weekend, students from both sides of the pond will work together to come up with business ideas based on the UN Millennium Development Goals.

They will then develop a product pitch, build a prototype, and try to sell their idea to a group of seasoned panellists, who will “offer feedback and possible longer-term mentoring options”, says Love.

Apart from the 25 participating students – from Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, NUI Maynooth and Dublin City University, as well as Texas – a further dozen third-level students will be document and practise media relations to earn coverage of the event.

"Our mission is to further link Dublin and Austin's innovation communities following on the recent opening of the Irish Consulate in the Texan capital and a number of recent business links . . . We're essentially trying to fight the brain drain common to both Ireland and parts of Texas. We'd love any additional mentors from the local professional community to commit to two-hour windows of advising the teams, as well as more panellists to help evaluate final pitches," says Love.