6 Years Strong, 54 Hours Long

Having started way back when in 2010, Startup Weekend has grown steadily over the last 6 years in Dublin and during that time has taken hold in Cork, Galway, Limerick with even more locations planned in the near future to help introduce people to entrepreneurship.

What happens over those 54 hours is pretty special stuff. People from all manner of different backgrounds, skill sets and everything in between descend to pitch ideas, join teams, learn new skills and get a first hand experience of what it’s like to build a tech startup.

One of my own mentors in a way is a delightful gent called Adam Haun (with a scary addiction to beanie hats and notebooks…) helped me get to the bottom of what a Startup Weekend is when he came to Dublin to facilitate an event that I worked on previously. Adam helped me realize that a Startup Weekend is like a door that opens for a weekend to allow people to peer inside entrepreneurship and tech startups. At the end of that weekend it’s solely down to them if they want to walk through or shut that door. Invariably I find that most people jump in to a brand new world of great ideas, tough work and new friends and contacts. That’s for me at least what the real power of a Startup Weekend is in essence.

This year we had another American back in town to facilitate and although he wasn’t from the windy city of Yay-town aka Chicago as is Adam’s birthplace this energetic fellow was from the backbone of bourbon production in the states, Kentucky!

Daniel has over 30 Startup Weekends under his belt through a mixture of organising and facilitating and it was an honor to get to work with him during Starutp Weekend Dublin. As I’ve written about previously, organisers always get to learn as much from the facilitator as the attendee’s not only on the content at the event but also the sidebar chats comparing the work we do individually on building our communities. What works, what doesn’t work and everything in between. Daniel is a guy to get to know and definitely someone you need to choose to facilitate your next event (especially if it’s in Australia as I have a feeling this is where he’d love to head to next!).

We opened on Friday night not knowing that we wouldn’t be leaving Google (our lovely event venue patrons!) until Saturday am (ok technically it was 12.10am) but it was worth it as we’d had 42 ideas pitches and 12 final teams formed!

On the night we got to hear from Mack ‘The Attack” Kolarich from Startup Angels who was still in town from a great Startup Angels conference that had just wrapped the day before, also at Google.

It has to be said that Google in Ireland really are an amazing pillar of the startup community. Not only in providing their venue but also their team members such as my good ecosystem builder pal Gennadiy! Thank you as always!

So it was into day 2 with an early morning start thanks to our organiser / speaker / mentor / all round gif champion Paddy Quinlan who gave a sharp run through on the principles of the Business Model Canvas.

After that it was a morning of brain storming, task allocation and initial run through’s of the business model canvas teams left the building en route to start validating their ideas with people in the area.

A tasty refueling later and it was down with lunch plates and on to our mentors that very kindly gave up their free time on Saturday to spend it with our budding startups. During this time our teams were pushed by a range of different mentors on the core fundamentals of their ideas, business models and the way in which they were validating their ideas with real customers. As we know the big mistake to make is to go an build something with out getting critical early feedback from future customers. Otherwise it’s very easy to waste time, effort and funds building what you think people want vs what they ‘need’! Thankfully our mentors worked diligently to help teams validate, validate and validate their ideas! Thank you as always to you our mentors!!!

Later on Saturday afternoon we had Hertz the Huskie in to say hello (or more likely arf, as he’s a dog I guess) with his owner a Googler that was interested to see how our teams were progressing.

We were about to close on day 1 and as the teams folded up their Biz model canvas’s, packed their bags and began to leave the venue at 10pm some of our other teams were hunkering in for a long night of coding evidenced by one tweet hitting the @SWDub account at 5am Sunday morning exclaiming that it was finally time for bed for one of our coders!

It was Sunday morning and time for last minute pitch coaching by our Chief Presentationalist Officer Ed Fidgeon Kavangh of @clearpreso fame! Also it’s worth knowing he is the official judge and jury of the famed golden Eddie Award. A trophy of exquisite non monetary value only rivaled by it’s sheer social prowess in making startups dreams come true.

With a final day of pitch practices, last minute validation and hurried lines of code being finished it was time for the Startup Weekend Dublin pitch night at the Foundry in Google!

On opening the event it was over to Paddy Flynn of Google to welcome attendees, give startups a final word of wisdom and to thank our packed auditorium for coming down to Google on a Sunday night to whoop, cheer and generally power clap our teams to success!

All in all we had 12 final teams present at Startup Weekend Dublin 2016 and thanks to many mentors, great team members and a bevy of supporters both offline and online one by one they took the stage.

Thanks to Kehlan Kirwan we were able to shoot some pretty cool clips of the teams to accompany them online while they clambered on stage offline!

Meet the teams below and after the video montage find out who made it through to win Startup Weekend Dublin!



Hey Stack




People for Purpose


Allergy Awareness



Home Grow Hero

It was then down to our judges to make the tough decision of who was the startup that had made the biggest impact in their 4 minute pitch with a super fast 3 minute Q&A to make it to the top spot of winning Startup Weekend Dublin 2016. We were joined by Niamh Bushnell 
Dublin Commissioner for Start-ups, John Kennedy editor at Silicon republic, Jeanne Kelly Technology, IP and Commercial Contracts Partner at Mason Hayes & Curran, Dublin, Ireland, Kathryn O’Donoghue Director, Ads Policy Operations EMEA at Google and Nikki Canavan Head of Sectors at Bank of Ireland. But before that decision, we had a panel on stage to get through.

I was finally let loose on stage on a subject that I’m pretty fascinated about with some people who now a lot about it in their own way. The panel was entitled ‘Why Bother Building Communities,’ and between Patrick Walsh, John Taylor and Pamella Newneham the resounding message came across to be that by adding to your community in anyway that you best fit strengthens it, leads to new learning’s for your self and ultimately and much better way to work together and grow together as a startup location. (These are definitely people to follow so please do click on their names to connect with them on twitter).

So it was out with the panel, in with the judges results and it was time to announce a winner…

First up it was the Golden Eddie recipient from Ed Fidgeon Kavanagh which went to…

Then it was on to our judges decisions…

Honourbale Mention

Summer edition Winner

All in all another tiring, fun and even at some times husky filled 54 hours was had by our teams that in only 3 short days learned new skills to validate ideas, made new connections that will last into the future and hopefully enjoyed the fun we got to have in the process!

A big thank you and shout out to all of the mentors, teams, speakers and supporters of the weekend. A long term thank you to both Google and Bank of Ireland for their continued support of these events as well as Mobile Travel Tech.

Well done everyone that made it through Startup Weekend Dublin and make sure to follow our twitter account here to get ready for our next edition this coming November!

6 Years Strong, 54 Hours Long.