Diary of a Student Entrepreneur 2023: Maria Cairns

Part of this year’s LaunchBox cohort at Trinity College Dublin, co-founder of Verify a Vendor Maria Cairns shares her thoughts at the start of her entrepreneurial journey.

Every summer LaunchBox, Trinity’s student accelerator, offers student entrepreneurs €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.

“The thriving mobile food industry necessitates digital advancements now more than ever”

Stay tuned for the upcoming Diary of a Student Entrepreneur series which charts some of the teams’ reflections as they prepare for the upcoming Demo Day.

Verify a Vendor

My name is Maria Cairns, a 22-year-old from Wexford. From a young age, I’ve been captivated by the world of business, starting my first entrepreneurial venture aged 13, selling baked treats and sweets to peers.

“It’s refreshing to focus on it full-time, without the balancing act of studying”

As I grew older, my interest in technology grew, inspired by my sister’s studies in Engineering and the encouraging initiatives promoting STEM careers for girls, like the IWISH conference and Code First Girls.

Having just completed my joint honours degree in Computer Science and Business at Trinity, I consider myself fortunate to secure a spot in the LaunchBox programme before I leave university. The programme offers an exciting opportunity for student entrepreneurs like me.

Verify a Vendor, our compliance document management system focuses on servicing the event management and mobile food vending industries. Consolidating all administrative areas onto one platform, we help event operators and food truck owners streamline processes saving valuable time. The thriving mobile food industry necessitates digital advancements now more than ever.

My Co-Founder, Seany McCleary, brings a wealth of experience in the mobile food industry. With his own fleet of Tex-Mex caterers, Blasta Street Kitchen, and Streat School, an all-in-one resource for setting up a street food business, his expertise complements my entrepreneurial drive.

Together, we participated in the NDRC Founder’s Weekend at Dogpatch Labs, completed the NDRC pre-accelerator, and won Trinity Entrepreneurial Society’s “Dragon’s Den” competition, which earned us a coveted spot on the LaunchBox programme.

Personally, I am eagerly anticipating this three-month period, fully dedicated to progressing Verify a Vendor. It’s refreshing to focus on it full-time, without the balancing act of studying.

The programme offers valuable speaker sessions, mentoring, and various supports, presenting an ideal opportunity to learn from seasoned founders who have embarked on a similar entrepreneurial journey, including Lauren O’Reilly and Bidemi Afolabi, co-founders of ProMotion Rewards and winners of LaunchBox in 2020.

Transitioning from the world of academia, with its deadlines and marking schemes, to the entrepreneurial ecosystem can feel like navigating uncharted waters. Nonetheless, it’s an exciting change and it must be said, the Irish entrepreneurial community is a very supportive network, with the ethos of “paying it forward” embodied by so many.

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