The Tangent Pioneers run by Trinity College Dublin sends start-ups for a week-long intensive programme in the US each year.  

Aimee-Louise Carton, co-founder of KeepAppy

Smiling girl with blonde hair.

It is incredible to think that nearly two years to the day I tried to end my life, and yet in just two days, I will be travelling to the US to use that pain to help others.

I am preparing to go to New York City with the start-up I co-founded, KeepAppy, as a Tangent Pioneer as a result of our time on LaunchBox, Tangent’s Student Accelerator this past summer. This journey, transitioning from the darkest day of my life to creating something that helps others, has been a whirlwind of highs and lows, but the Tangent Pioneers is an accumulation of countless wonderful highs and the support of so many wonderful people.

This opportunity will allow us to explore our largest market, and to gain real tangible insight into the US and their response to mental health and wellness. While online research can be beneficial, it is nothing compared to having on-the-ground conversations with people who work in this field and understand the market in a real way. Being a Tangent Pioneer has opened that door to us in a ground-breaking way, as it enables us to be introduced to the US market in a supportive environment, opening doors and assisting us through this experience. While it is daunting to enter into the much larger and new market, such as the US, working with the Pioneers programme will enable to do this.

Charlie Butler, co-founder of Bounce Insights

Young dark-haired man in white shirt.

At Bounce believe the market research industry is broken; it is expensive, time-consuming and completely disconnected from real consumers – we want to create the future of feedback through a mobile-first consumer insights platform connecting brands with their exact target market for accurate and accessible consumer feedback.

We are primarily focused on the cohort brands struggle to reach the most, 18-34-year-olds who have the highest customer lifetime value, but their voices aren’t heard from the brands that they align with most.

What I’m most looking forward to about the Tangent Pioneers programme is the opportunity to immerse ourselves in one of the largest, fastest and most high-functioning business environments in the world. I hope we can emulate the success of many platforms that have launched and scaled out of the United States, and learn how to operate at such speed and efficiency is essential as we attempt to expand throughout Europe.

We have realised the ease with which we can reach out to and meet people in Dublin doesn’t apply to markets such as New York – I think the most challenging thing about this programme was getting in contact with the right people, as everything operates at 100X the scale. However, we are so excited to throw ourselves in the deep end, and learn as much as we can from the experience!

Katelyn Prendiville, founder, Two White Socks

Young woman with blonde hair and white jacket.

My name is Katelyn Prendiville and I’m the founder of equestrian apparel business Two White Socks – a brand with a mission to brighten up the horse world, from the inside AND out. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to learn and gain fresh perspectives from those operating in a different business context in the upcoming Tangent Pioneers trip. The USA is the second largest equine market globally, with some major brands having originated there.

Although I’ve travelled to New York previously, it was purely from a tourist’s perspective! It will be interesting to travel there with a business lens on. Being one of the major start-up hubs, I’m excited to network and be inspired by those using innovation to solve problems and fill gaps in the market.

I think my biggest challenge will be finding people from the equine industry to connect with in the city, although I’m trying to reach out to those outside of the industry, as well. My plan is to more aggressively expand my business into the US market once my next line is launched in the coming couple of months; the opportunity as a Tangent Pioneer to learn about the nuances of selling in this market as an international consumer goods business could prove invaluable.

James Kennedy, founder of Aquahomes

Young man with brown hair.

I am James Kennedy, the founder of Aquahomes Ireland, a social enterprise that took part in the Provost’s Innovation Challenge at Tangent in March of this year. From there, we got a place on LaunchBox, Tangent’s Student Accelerator, which allowed me to gain access to funding and mentorship – and with the time the programme gave us myself and my team successful upcycled our first boat, Dignity 1.

Aquahomes is a truly affordable floating home solution that aims to tackle Ireland’s housing crisis. We upcycle decommissioned safety boats from the oil industry into beautiful barge-like floating homes.

I am thrilled to be heading as a Tangent Pioneer to New York next week. There I will meet up with other up and coming startups, community leaders, and people with different perspectives. I am particularly excited to meet other startups to see what amazing ideas they have. I am a little nervous about the unknowns, but I’m sure I will overcome the challenges.

What this opportunity means for my business is immense; getting overseas exposure with so many other business-focused individuals and organisations — who knows what could come out of this opportunity? I suppose I’ll know in a week!

You can follow their experiences here, and on #TangentPioneers on Twitter

New York City image: Andre Benz on Unsplash  

Published: 21 October, 2019

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