Diary of a student entrepreneur 2021: Part 7

In the seventh episode of our Diary of a Student Entrepreneur 2021 series, our young founders look back on a productive summer and plot their business future.

Every summer LaunchBox, Trinity’s student accelerator, offers 10 start-ups €10,000 in equity-free funding and a place on the three-month programme. Follow how these start-ups get on here.

LaunchBox, in partnership with Bank of Ireland, and managed by experts in Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace, provides mentorship, funding, access to alumni and investors, and the ideal collaborative environment to launch new start-up ventures.

To sign up for the upcoming Launchbox Online Demo Day on 27 August go to: https://lbox2021demoday.eventbrite.ie

Heather Bruton, co-founder of UniPeer

Young woman in coffee shop.

“It takes a village to raise a start-up and this summer they have been raising 10, so we are very grateful”

This summer has absolutely flown by. The first day of LaunchBox when we were doing icebreaker activities seems like it happened yesterday and now all of a sudden it’s nearly Demo Day. How did that happen?

LaunchBox has been one of the most intense and beneficial learning experiences of my life. It has been thrilling to wake up every day this summer and learn something new. For me, the best part was being surrounded by such amazing teams.

Every team has gone from strength to strength, and I’m so excited to see where they all go next. When I started LaunchBox, I thought that there would be competitiveness between the teams, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Everyone is so supportive and willing to help. Some of the best pieces of advice I’ve received have been from my fellow LaunchBoxers.

Despite LaunchBox 2021 being completely remote, it has been such a unique and memorable experience and this is all thanks to Alison Treacy. Alison kept the programme running smoothly for the whole summer and managed to foster a sense of community amongst the cohort, even over Microsoft Teams. Additionally, Lola Nolan and Dylan Walsh have also been an integral part of LaunchBox, always willing to share UniPeer on the Tangent social media or to join in on a social session. It takes a village to raise a start-up and this summer they have been raising 10, so we are very grateful.

Now that LaunchBox is coming to an end, I need to think about the next steps for UniPeer. In September, we will launch the UniPeer platform as a proof of concept in Trinity and onboard as many users as we can. Hopefully, by 2022 we will be expanding into other Irish universities. Stay tuned …

Evan Mcgloughlin, co-founder of Diglot

Young man with dark hair wearing white shirt.

“To join the ranks of Airbnb, Stripe and DoorDash is a gigantic leap for us. A step we now know that we can make because of everything we achieved as a result of the LaunchBox programme”

Going into LaunchBox I was very unsure of what to expect. I hadn’t settled into the idea that I was an entrepreneur and I thought it would be difficult to communicate with my fellow LaunchBoxers in an online environment. This uncertainty was relinquished after the first few days as I realised we were all in the same boat. Diglot’s progress and evolution through the programme has been paralleled by my own personal development. Founder story after founder story, I began to feel more and more comfortable with the life of entrepreneurship that I was committing to. This is what I will look back on most fondly about the LaunchBox program.

Diglot has progressed an immense amount since the start of the program, mostly in our operations and systems. Workshop after workshop we learned to break down every aspect of the business and scrutinise it for inefficiencies and possible improvements. The greatest advancements have been made in our workflow automation. Founders often have to work long hours, for us it’s been 70 hours every week throughout the programme. Figuring out ways to automate tedious processes will massively improve your job satisfaction and allows you to focus on creative endeavours and future innovations, i.e. the tasks we all want to be working on.

The LaunchBox experience overall has been a true joy. Yes, there were times that I wanted to solely focus on my business but stepping away is also incredibly important. LaunchBox gave me the excuse I needed to step away and think about other aspects of business that were being discussed in on the programme that day.

I found that I often returned to a Diglot problem with a fresh perspective and a new set of solutions. I enjoyed this so much that we have decided to apply for Y Combinator, the largest start-up accelerator programme in the world. To join the ranks of Airbnb, Stripe and DoorDash is a gigantic leap for us. A step we now know that we can make because of everything we achieved as a result of the LaunchBox programme.

Diarmuid McGonagle, co-founder of Fonz Music

Young man wearing bandana.

“If the easy access to industry veterans was a LaunchBox benefit, building relationships with fellow entrepreneurs my age was a LaunchBox blessing”

I always know someone. Amongst my friends and the Fonz Team, they’re never surprised when I run into someone I know or start chatting to someone new on public transport. Speaking and maintaining relationships with interesting people, also known as networking, is the reason I get out of the bed in the morning. However, being born and raised in Boston, my network in Dublin was not nearly as vast as my network across the pond. LaunchBox has dramatically changed that.

On our weekly calls and sessions, I was given access to the best and brightest in the Dublin start-up ecosystem. I had the pleasure of speaking with the likes of Devan Hughes of Buymie, Finn Murphy of Frontline Ventures, and Ben Butler of Evervault, amongst other impressive people. More importantly, many of these interactions were on a 1-to-1 basis, so I had the opportunity to foster a relationship with these all-stars. 

If the easy access to industry veterans was a LaunchBox benefit, building relationships with fellow entrepreneurs my age was a LaunchBox blessing. I firmly believe that it requires a village to build a successful company. My fellow LaunchBoxers are those villagers.

Being in constant contact with various other first-time founders, such as Evan McGloughlin of Diglot, Timmy Orimolusi of QRx, or Mia Brzakovic of FikiLABS, has given me a great metric to compare the progress of Fonz Music. Additionally, it has been a pleasure to have the opportunity to learn from industry professionals like Tanja Girdham and Jane Flynn of One Sure Thing, and John Chambers of Park Turtle.

More important than the credentials of each team is the community surrounding us. I’ve made life-long friends who’ll accompany me on the entrepreneurial journey for the long run. For that, I’ll forever be thankful to LaunchBox.

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.