Student Inc. Accelerator Programme

The Stories Behind The Projects

By Mafalda Hruskova

YouMaven has been in my mind for over 4 years now. First called YouCreate, the idea came to me about 4 years ago after I had filmed a collaboration with another YouTuber in my hometown.
Firstly, I was shocked to find out that there were other YouTubers in my hometown, and furthermore to find out there were many of them! That is when I first thought about how great it would be to have an app that would allow me to find these YouTubers close to me. This idea has been stuck in my head for 4 years, yet I never acted upon it, until I came across the UCC Blackstone LaunchPad.

As an ethnic minority, I always felt included in whatever Blackstone LaunchPad was doing.
I was invited to participate in the Start-up Lab, and other events, eventually getting offered a place on Student Inc. This was the first time I was ever going to work on a business, let alone my own business! Since I have no business background, I viewed this as a great challenge going forward. I am always hungry for knowledge and the inclusion and support I feel in the programme help my motivation to keep on learning and developing my business.
Student Inc. has opened my eyes to all the possibilities that lie in business and has already impacted my future academic studies.

Besides the continuous support and knowledge provided to us in the programme, an essential component as to why I would recommend Student Inc. for anyone is the mental health support provided. Running a business can get stressful, especially with no revenue and the team behind the programme are always quick to point that out and let us know these  are issues that can be discussed in confidence. 


I cannot begin to express all the things I have learned which are helping me on my path. As a student entrepreneur with no business background, the Student Inc. program is what is shaping my business. The workshops, mentoring, peer learning, are all helping me establish a solid basis for my business, but most importantly the programme is shaping my future.

By Alastair Brook

I was first taught the invaluable lesson of ‘design in the real world’ when I began to study Industrial Design in 2011. That summer, on a studentship to India, I encountered the tale of one young father who spent his hard-earned money buying fizzy pop for his children. When asked why he did not buy water instead, he simply pointed to a huge billboard advertising the health benefits of fizzy pop. Yet, in the same breath, this young father was reluctant to work with us on new design techniques to improve his pottery business, which would have earned him more money and added to his family’s well-being. How could education and industry allow designers to be so blind to their actions in the real world? And how could we work together with local communities to change this?

That same summer, I attended my first international student design workshop in Turkey, building small scale projects to be used by the local community. As a starry eyed 19-year-old, I thought this had to be the answer! Over the next few years I kept attending these workshops, running projects in Dublin, Serbia, Bucharest, and Lebanon. But there was one problem- these workshops did not work together with local communities to create projects that benefited them long term. Instead, the focus was upon short term skill sharing between students. Great for some, but how could everyone benefit?

With that question, my 2-year journey to become the Co-Founder and Director of Design Student Global Network (DSGN), and a researcher at UCC studying the engagements between craftspeople and students in Bali, Indonesia began. DSGN help architecture students’ progress in their personal and professional development by working with indigenous communities in hands-on, design and travel programmes. Together with a community organisation in Bali, we have developed a range of short experiential activities for students and general travellers and are working towards an educational range of ‘design in the real world’ programmes with local universities. These projects will culminate in the construction of a Learning Centre for local Balinese youth.

By David Killoughy

Before I came on board for Setlist, I was on my work placement as part of my degree in Computer Science, in July 2018. One day I got a message on LinkedIn from my business partner, Jordan. This was our first contact. He explained the idea he had for Setlist and that he was looking to bring someone on board who has a background in software engineering. We met for coffee and I really liked the idea, so I decided to join him. I finished my placement and started helping him with the development of the app on the side. I kept the development of Setlist as a side project through the final year of my degree, but in the meantime, Jordan was attending the Startup Lab and looking for opportunities for us for when I finished my degree. Near the end of the second semester, we realised that we could participate in the Student Inc. Programme for the summer.

 

Student Inc. seemed perfect for our needs as an early startup. We knew that we had a lot to learn and this programme would give us the support we need, both in our business’s development and financially. I am glad to say our assumptions were not misplaced. Student Inc. has helped us more than I could have imagined. I didn’t realise just how many people in the business world around Cork would be willing to offer a helping hand and I would not have gotten the opportunity to connect with them without this programme. The workshops and training provided for us cover the essentials for any startup and the grant given to us through this programme has allowed us to fully commit to the development of our business without needing to worry about our finances. 

By Maria Nagle 

Inspired by Ireland’s new approach to health and well-being I created a brand called Pure Sonas. Sonas, meaning ‘wellness’ in Irish is the overall category in which I am working under. I am currently building this brand and will be releasing a suite of hemp-based products here in Ireland. So, where did it all begin? I guess you could say it all began in my youth. I am from a small village in West Cork and from a young age I have been interested in healthy living; from making Kefir at home with my mother to other alternative medicines.

I was introduced to CBD Oil last year through a friend. Initially, I disregarded it as another ‘health craze’ as I found no immediate beneficial effect. It was through research and further discussion with avid users of CBD oil that I realised the importance of hemp-based products, especially hemp oil. I found that CBD/hemp is a popular natural remedy used for many common ailments. It is said to be beneficial to those who suffer from insomnia, inflammation, general aches and pains and is even said to reduce stress. CBD has become a go-to for athletes, aging people and anyone who finds themselves frustrated with chronic conditions. I hope that these benefits will be more accessible to all consumers in Ireland by providing a range of products to suit different preferences. Our products include; Broad Spectrum CBD Oil, CBD tea and CBD infused bath bombs.

I started this programme with just an idea. Student Inc. has not only helped me turn this idea into a business, but also has given me adequate resources to build my brand. The programme has provided me with the necessary advice, guidance and mentoring to enable me to further my business journey. It has also assisted me in developing a professional network that will be pivotal as my business continues to expand.

By Jordan Morrison

Setlist is a social music app that connects user’s music streaming services together such as Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer, it then analyses their listening history and creates perfect playlists for groups of people of all sizes. Setlist aims to solve the age old problem of trying to play music in social settings – whether it’s at a bar or restaurant, at a gathering with friends or even a DJ performing in front of crowds of thousands of people; Setlist will give anyone the power to play the right songs at the right time and at the right place. 

I came up with the idea for Setlist on the 5th of March 2018. On just another “study filled” night in my friend’s apartment, I kept finding myself trying to play music that everyone in the room would like. I found very quickly that this task was almost impossible. I could say that I was almost spot on with a couple of people in the room (partly because they were my best friends…), but I’d admit – I was way off with most people. I also couldn’t find a song that every single person the room would like. At the peak of my frustration, I remember asking myself these 2 questions: How could I know, programmatically, what a person’s exact music tastes are and how could I know exactly what they listen to?

I became obsessed with these questions and I remember the bolt of lightning hitting me at the bus stop on the way home. On my frantic and admittedly vague Google searches, I came across the Spotify Developers website. This was it. Their extensive documentation and tutorials showed me that, with enough determination (and a touch of madness), I could learn a way of finding out exactly what a person listens to. Finding a solution to the first principles posed by my initial questions made me beyond excited. I knew once I had proven the first principles, I could extrapolate everything else from there. With about a weeks’ worth of research and experimentation, I discovered that a technology such as Setlist (called DJ Buddy at the time…) could be possible.

Fast-forward 15 months, I am working full-time with co-founder and CTO David Killoughy on Setlist in Blackstone Launchpad’s Student Inc. Programme. The resources and knowledge provided by Blackstone Launchpad over the past year have been invaluable to not only my business but also, to my personal development. 

By Luke Pottinger 

I started my first job as a bartender around 4 years ago when I began college. I had worked my way up from collecting glasses and doing the cleaning jobs to finally getting a shot behind the bar. I was fascinated with bar-tending and loved nothing more than having a bar packed full of customers to serve. There was an adrenaline to it.

Whilst working at a high speed one night I accidentally sliced my finger on a piece of broken glass and still have a scar to this day. At the time because of how busy I was, I grabbed some superglue and did a quick job on the finger myself. By the end of the night my finger was destroyed. I had to go to South Doc to get stitches.

Soon after that, I was on a holiday in Ios in Greece and noticed how bad the skin on my hands were. My skin was dry, cracked and inflamed and I felt embarrassed to have my hand out. I tried moisturizers, steroid creams and natural remedies but nothing alleviated the problem. When a doctor told me that I should just get a new job, I decided to go find a solution myself.

Protective gloves were the option that I decided to pursue and after multiple meetings and hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours of research and work, the gloves are almost fully developed. This is quite a niche market that I have made these gloves for, but the features and capabilities will allow these gloves to be used in a wide range of industries.

                                                                                                    By Célem Deegan 

After I completed my leaving cert, I wasn’t sure of which avenue of academia I wanted to pursue. I decided to apply for a level 5 post leaving-cert (PLC) course in multimedia production in Waterford College of Further Education. I had a natural interest in graphic design, web design, video creation. These were just three of the modules which made up the eight in total for the course. It was this opportunity which sparked an ever-increasing love for film and video creation, which led me to apply to the BA in film & screen media in UCC. Through this degree, I chose economics as my minor degree.

When I began my studies in film and screen media, a member of staff in our department advised us as first years to make the most out of the opportunities which arise throughout the duration of our time in university. I didn’t take this advice lightly. I invested in a camera of my own and began building out my inventory of equipment slowly over my first year. I started shooting events and posting material online. Soon after this, I received many inquiries about covering
events for video and taking photos for college balls. Without realising, I was earning money from something I had a real passion for.

I booked an appointment with Peter Finnegan of Blackstone LaunchPad in UCC. I had previous knowledge of their existence as the entrepreneurial and social society in UCC held events in the
creative zone where Blackstone LaunchPad is based. 
When I met Peter, I discussed my basic idea of creating a business with him and he advised me to take part in some of the several workshops in which Blackstone LaunchPad offers. I took part in Be Your Own Boss (BYOB) and Startup Lab in semester two of my second year in college. It was from these workshops that I realised the true business potential in the creation of unique video material for businesses in today’s economy.

Currently, Deegan Media is refining its business model and working towards growing into a larger production house over the next two years, specialising in providing unique, cinematic video services for businesses.