Diary of a student entrepreneur

Three student entrepreneurs on the LaunchBox programme at Trinity have agreed to chronicle their adventures, the highs and the lows, as they build their businesses.

Cian Fogarty

Cian Fogarty, founder of Greener Globe (Science)

I became an entrepreneur because I want to make the changes I want to see in the world. Too many people say they want something to change but then don’t do anything about it, don’t act. I wanted to be the person to lead that change. I could never see myself in a nine to five job, my goals for life are way too big.

My startup, Greener Globe, is a business that makes environmentally-friendly, innovative products. Our focus at present is tackling the issue of water wastage in the shower through our revolutionary LED timed shower head. We’re working in this market as we believe it’s a way we can help improve the world and still have a growing, profitable business.

“We’ve been in the ‘trough of disillusionment’ for a long time, and it’s definitely a tough time, having your product ready to go but not being able to get it out there.”

LaunchBox has been a fantastic programme for me because at Trinity I study Science, not Business. I wouldn’t change this, because I believe looking at a problem with a scientific mindset is advantageous, but it does mean I have to learn as I go on the business side of things. LaunchBox provides this education, with speakers and seminars, to determine the fundamentals of business which is invaluable for me.

One of the significant challenges we’ve faced so far is getting our product onto shelves. We’ve been in the ‘trough of disillusionment’ for a long time, and it’s definitely a tough time, having your product ready to go but not being able to get it out there. Since the beginning of LaunchBox, we’ve made great contacts with some retailers and wholesalers, so here’s hoping we’re climbing out of the trough soon. Watch this space.

Anika Riley, co-founder of Work Smarter (MSc. Entrepreneurship)

Creating my own company means that I get to have a real impact on the world, and that’s a beautiful thing. I’m an entrepreneur because I love to question assumptions and challenge the status quo – I get to build something from the ground up, and this thing we’re making has my fingerprints all over it.

Entrepreneurship is also the ultimate form of taking responsibility. You can’t push papers on this programme because if you try to just coast, you’ll utterly fail. You and your team are the only ones steering the chaos, and success or failure lies in your hands.

“No matter how hard you try, you can’t build a product and seek funding at the same time.”

My co-founder and I are tackling the late payment of freelancers because we believe that self-employment should not come at the cost of financial security. Half of Europe’s population will be freelancing within the next ten years, and they deserve cash flow security as much as any employee.

Even though LaunchBox is only getting started, I’ve already found that you should just ask. It will blow your mind how many extraordinary people are willing to help you when they see that glint of passion in your eye.

And the challenge of the moment? No matter how hard you try, you can’t build a product and seek funding at the same time. Literally. I’ve heard it’s frowned upon to write code in a VC’s office. Good thing LaunchBox is kind enough to provide us with bottomless coffee because we are just getting warmed up.

Lizzy Hayashidam, co-founder of Change Donations 

Being from Silicon Valley, I’ve worked in startups for most of my career, and I have always known that eventually, I wanted to start one of my own. In the summer of 2017, I had left my job at a fintech startup in San Francisco and was trying to figure out what was next. These days it seems that more and more startups have come out of MBA programmes, so I had been toying with the idea of going back to school to do an MBA in hopes that I would both think of an idea that I was really excited about, and meet someone that I wanted to start the startup journey with.

The first thing that I decided was that I either wanted to stay close to home or go somewhere completely different. The next factor that I considered was my interest in startups, so I looked at the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ of different programmes and their locations. This narrowed down my search quite a lot and put both Dublin, and Trinity on my radar. In the end, I chose Trinity because of the team-based, case style of learning, and entrepreneurial focus of both the programme and the college. When reading more about Trinity’s programme, I learned about Trinity’s LaunchBox programme which made the prospect of joining the programme even more exciting.

“These days it seems that more and more startups have come out of MBA programmes.”

Fast forward a few months, and I had been accepted into the Trinity MBA programme, moved to Ireland and been assigned my first team, who I would spend the next five months working alongside. It was in this team that I met Amelia and Willie and together we created what would eventually become Change Donations.

Change Donations is solving pain points for both donors and charities. We have done this by creating a platform that connects donors to charities, giving members a comfortable and convenient way to donate to the causes that they care about. Our platform allows members to link their credit or debit card to automatically round each of their purchases up to the next euro and donate that cash to the charity of their choice. Unlike the traditional direct debit option, Change members can adjust their charity allocation at any time, so if there is a natural disaster or a new cause that they wish to contribute to our members are able to quickly update their allocations.

For more information on LaunchBox and what it does, go here.