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Response to Conor of Louder Voice. Encouraging entrepreneurship in Ireland.

I got a lot from the Curry 2.0 dinner in Dublin Organised by Paul of Seguela. Like Conor it generated some thinking on how to generate a culture of entrepreneurship I Ireland. It restarted some past thinking and resuscitated an idea I had. I am about to make the leap to dedicated office space to I would now also have the space if we were to do it. Conors proposal is great and very well thought out and I post this proposal not as a better suggestion but in the interest of continuing discussion on the issue. Its actually pretty similar but a little less reliant on other parties to make it work.

This is a bit rough as it was quickly written travelling between meetings today.

My proposal is to take a group of students from varying disciplines and combine them into a well rounded business group, give them space and a basic support wage and let then run at a project for the 3 summer months.

Its an idea heavily inspired by Joel of FogCreak software and their development of CoPilot.

A group of 3 students, consisting of a developer, a designer, a marketing person.
A build and launch deadline of 3 months.
A small space in an office with a company to act as mentor and provide resources.
And a budget of 6000 euro invested by the host company.

A business idea is proposed by the team (selection process ?) or by the mentor company that is achievable in the 3 months.

The mentor company gets a 10% share of the new business.

Ideal would be to develop a group of these student start ups around the country and get them to interact with each other through out the duration of the programme and beyond.

They get legal help to develop the business as a legal entity. Trade mark the idea.

They also get the usual work experience of being exposed to how the host company runs.

Budget of 6000 which they can assign as they wish or use solely for wages.

Students would then hopefully bring back their real world start up experience into the classroom to share.

I like the idea of involving the colleges more directly but my main worry is how slow these institutions can be to run and make decisions. Maybe their involvements can be looked at long term.

It would be great to document the process, perhaps just for a dvd at the end or an apprentice type programme for RTE or TG4. Even better a 5 minute weekly video like rockstartup.com
It would also be good to encourage the teams to blog.

Resources needed and possible solutions.
Host companies:
Summer months are often the quietest for businesses as staff and customers go on holidays. Hopefully that means they have a little more time to mentor.

Office space.
What is required is a short term solution for start up students.3 guys sitting around a big table should work as the absolute minimum. A bit of hardship is part of the norm in a start up.

Equipment.
There are not many students today who do not have access to a computer. Any self starter motivated person I am sure would have found a way to get a computer by now. Worst case scenario is they have to buy a couple of 500 euro dell laptops with their 6000 budget which they can take home with them at the end of the project.

6000 euro.
Ok, a lot of us start ups are counting every cent as we try and survive and grow but it wont always be the case. Don’t look at it as an expense but an investment. You will be an angel investor in a new start up that you get to mentor from the start. Perhaps a big corporate sponsor for the programme could be found or one of the funding bodies could match fund 3000 euro. However with the speed these agencies operate I am not sure that is feasible.
It breaks down to 666.66 euro per student per month.
Next summer I could see Spoiltchild being able to do this.

Legal help. We need to find a way for this to be donated by someone or one of the agencies. Or perhaps it can come out of the 6000 budget but it wont leave them much.

So that’s it basically. What do you think?

  1. Maybe I’m biased as a developer but I think that the teams should be all developers. I’d suggest that almost all the work of an early stage startup would be development work. For example, all the teams coming out of Y-combinator consist entirely of developers, with the web design and marketing either being done by the devs or being outsourced.


    Aidan Finn    Jul 4, 10:00 PM    #
  2. Except for the fact that someone actually needs to do the grunt work of writing the code i think the team should be all designers :)
    But seriously i think a team needs a balance. Its not about building an application its about building a business.
    You need to do the market research to target the problem and pitch the solution, you need the interface design, sales design and brand, you need the product itself and you need to sell it afterwards in an attractive compelling way. Everyone learns from each others skill and learns how it ALL works to make a business succeed. As you say you are a developer so you look to solve problems in a developer way. How would experience of the other areas help you be better?


    Alan    Jul 4, 11:36 PM    #
  3. At last, someone else who follows RockStartup! ;-)

    Seriously though, I love that video series as it really gives an entertaining insight into the workings of a Web 2.0 type startup. And I think a smart producer would hop on the idea of throwing that kind of reality format into a bowl with something like Tycoon.com and whipping it up to do something unique on Irish TV.


    James Corbett    Jul 5, 10:54 AM    #
  4. Dang. Posted a comment here last night but it never got through. In any case, great stuff Alan, like it a lot. I’ll try to get David Copithorne to put up his ideas on his blog as they are strongly aligned with yours and he has some even more rad ones.


    Conor O'Neill    Jul 5, 11:39 AM    #
  5. Aidan perhaps it would be worth trying different combinations of teams to see who performs better?

    James, its a guilty pleasure. I know i am being marketed to but cant help enjoying the (limited) behind the scenes look :)

    Conor does he have a blog?


    Alan O'Rourke    Jul 5, 02:26 PM    #
  6. This is a fantastic idea. Ditto Conors original post which unfortunately doesn’t allow comments.

    I’m actually in such a three person group right now – 1 dev, 1 dev / designer, and 1 ideas / marketing person (whose idea the project was – Aidan!), who are all undergrad or just graduated; and the lack of a place to work together and seed expenses is a huge problem. Such a setup would be ideal. I would suggest that it be open to several groups, rather than one, as per Conors original posts; for a number of reasons, once being that startups usually fail, and the project should not be branded as a failure if that happens.

    Ps: You’ve still got the placeholder text just below your header, might want to change that :).


    Gareth Stack    Jul 5, 03:57 PM    #
  7. Sorry about the comments problem. Fixed now. Had turned them off as part of my move off hosting365 and forgot to turn them back on when move complete.

    David’s blog is: http://www.waveson.com/


    Conor O'Neill    Jul 5, 04:54 PM    #