Web Summit told ‘kids can start firms’ while at school

Youngsters told anyone can start a company at any age


School-goers should not wait until they have graduated to set up a business, Marcus Segal, entrepreneur in residence at the Web Summit and former chief operating officer of Zynga Games has said.

Encouraging the thousands of school children in attendance at the Web Summit for Schools event to consider being an entrepreneur, he said: “anyone can start a company, you don’t have to wait until you’re out of school. Kids can start companies”.

Segal told the kids to google “how to start a company” and take their ideas to the next level.

He said Facebook and CoderDojo were both started by first-time entrepreneurs who had never said up a business before.

The schools summit also heard from head of digital at Parkwood Entertainment (one of the people behind Beyonce), Lauren Wirtzer-Seawood.

“As a kid, I didn’t put any thought into what I was doing or what I wanted to be. I knew I loved music but I couldn’t hold a tune or play an instrument,” she said.

Speaking of her previous job in Vibe magazine, she said she worked extremely hard even though she never got paid a single cent, in order to get ahead and get experience.

“I got fired one day and to this day I still don’t know what I did (wrong),” she said.

The schools summit also heard from 10-year-old Dubliner Lauren Boyle who was recently named European digital girl of the year. She has a series of lifestyle websites aimed at children under 12, which she coded using HTML and CSS. The sites have attracted more than 7,500 visits.

Speaking beforehand, she said she loves coding as she can “create really cool things”, and her “ideas come alive”.

The schools summit also heard from 12-year-old Niamh Scanlon, who has recently developed an app for electric cars.

Speaking beforehand, she said the app, called “recharge my car” shows users where all the various electric car charging points are around Ireland and whether or not they are in use. It also gives users directions to various charging points.

“I saw that the ESB had an app, but their app didn’t show if the charging points were free or not. So I decided to add that,” she said.

Scanlon, who is a mentor at CoderDojo DCU, said she gave a presentation to the ESB about her idea, and was then able to secure the data off them.

“Adults could learn a bit more about tech as it will be the future,” she said.

CoderDojo founder James Whelton, Google vice-president for engineering Anna Patterson, Google science fair winners Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy-Thow and Emer Hickey also addressed the students.

More than five thousand students, some as young as 8, from all over the country attended the event in the RDS last night.