Ripples Search marries a passion for oceans and technology to build a platform that helps people to live in a more sustainable way.

If the current Covid-19 crisis has had any upside, it has demonstrated how much our environment can recover if given the opportunity,” said Ripples Search founder Diarmuid O’Donovan. “Plastic pollution is one environmental issue that is set to spiral out of control, with plastic production set to quadruple by 2050.

“This issue was always on my radar but it wasn’t until I travelled to Asia last year, that I really became fully aware of the problem we face with our plastic waste.”

“I think Ireland has many great examples of successful start-ups. Especially in the tech space. The Collison Brothers, Nora Khaldi, Shane Curran and Fiona Edwards Murphy to name a few”

O’Donovan says he is not an activist, just an ordinary person who realised he can do more.

“But I am a techie. And an ocean lover. So, I thought about how I could marry these two passions and create a digital solution that would help people become more sustainable.”

Sustainable solution

Plastic pollution causes up to $2.5trn losses in marine ecosystem value each year, according to the Marine Pollution Bulletin research. In Ireland alone, the seafood industry contributed €1.2bn in GDP to the Irish economy in 2019.

As a social enterprise, Ripples Search is developing a digital tool that will combine generating revenue and supporting NGOs to address these problems.

“We aim to raise awareness and influence behaviour through education of these issues. There is a large and varied market of people out there that want to be better and we want to help them. That is our market,” O’Donovan said.

Digital and green lifestyles

Ripples Search is developing a digital product, that can be easily integrated with people’s digital lives.

“For now, we are researching the type of people that might engage with this product and how they might use it, and how we can make it easier for them.

“So now we need to engage with people that would like to improve their sustainability, especially when it comes to plastic reduction and cleaner oceans. Currently, we are using social media and our website to connect. Through posts, blogs and our newsletter we can develop closer links between our product and the digital life of potential users. 

“My hope is that a promotion at this early stage would increase engagement and traffic and allow for the market research to be more accurate. The engagement at this stage of development, means that our product stands a better chance of being successful.”

The founder

O’Donovan is currently working alone on the project, focusing full time on the product development.

“I have a degree in BIS and a Masters in Innovation and several years working in a digital marketing environment, so I know the steps necessary to develop a minimal viable product.

“I come from a family of entrepreneurs and techies, so business opportunities are the dinner conversation most evenings. Even in the current Covid-19 crises, my mum’s business pivoted to PPE acquisition in China – and we all helped out and input where we could.

Seeing opportunities

O’Donovan said that the hallmark of Irish entrepreneurs is the ability to spot opportunities ahead of anyone else.

“I think Ireland has many great examples of successful start-ups. Especially in the tech space. The Collison Brothers, Nora Khaldi, Shane Curran and Fiona Edwards Murphy to name a few.

“We are good in Ireland at seeing opportunities, creating networks and making things happen. So, there is definitely a strong ecosystem that is open to listening, mentoring and investing in good ideas and youth. These success stories prove that.

“Ripples Search is still in an early stage of development. I understand the problem I want to solve but I still need to finalize the best way to achieve the goal. Currently I am applying for the Ignite Accelerator program. As a former student at UCC, I feel this is a great programme to participate in and is the perfect environment to develop the concept for future investment.”

O’Donovan has worked in start-up companies and was heavily involved in new business projects since 2018.

“I believe I learned the importance of the right financial modelling. Assumptions should be validated as quickly as possible.

“What I have found is that friends and colleagues are more than happy to help out with advice or testing. Use them with gratitude. I think at the beginning I was a little apprehensive about sharing my ideas. However, if you can open up and share with people more, I think you see the benefits.”

The key to being agile as a founder, O’Donovan says, is goal-setting. “This is the most important way to keep on track. As I am doing the development, marketing and user research, I use a tool called Asana to keep track of what needs to be done. This definitely helps out on planning and being productive.”

Pictured: Ripples Search founder Diarmuid O’Donovan 

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 8 July, 2020

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