By @SimonCocking guest blog post by Catherine Duggan @CD_Dublin, images by Andrew McMillan @_karora

Dublin StartUp Weekend 10 – 12 July 2015

StartUps and the startup scene in Dublin have captured my imagination recently, so I decided to go to the Dublin StartUp event which was held in Google HQ last weekend.

On Friday I arrived at the venue just before 6.30pm. As others arrived I started to feel a bit like a ‘fish out of water’, but that feeling didn’t last long. The organising team, the attendees and everyone involved were so welcoming that I soon settled in. I got chatting to three amazing young women, who were thinking of pitching, and we supported each other to ‘go for it’. This was just the start of an incredible experience of camaraderie, support, acceptance, excitement and altruism that I felt every day I was there.

Pitches were made, projects selected and teams were formed. It all happened very quickly. One pitch caught my attention. Dan Carr talked about his frustration of shopping online for clothes. He explained he had too many choices. He wanted to create a personalised selection solution. We got to work. The clock was ticking, with only 54 hours to go to the final presentation. The team StyleMix was formed.

StyleMix

(l-r) Konstantin Dubrovniy, Technical/Engineering, Alexandros Papageorgiou, Data/ Analytics, Catherine Duggan, Coaching/Mentoring/Entrepreneurship, Dan Carr, Business/Marketing (owner of idea).

StyleMix team

Photo by: Andrew McMillan, Google

Saturday the pressure was on, but everyone rose to the challenge. There were pivots, perseverance and sheer hard work. Time seemed to fly by, and real solutions began to emerge.  During the day speakers and mentors came and went it all happened in a bit of a blur. It was a long but exciting day, and the energy was high.

Sunday the ideas were shaping up, value propositions, customer discoveries and validations were thrashed out. Final presentations were furiously worked on. The nerves started to kick in especially for the team leaders. Support was high for these brave presenters. By 5pm there was no turning back, we went upstairs to a packed Google auditorium to make the final pitches.

My first impression of what I saw there was ‘Wow’. I secretly was glad I wasn’t pitching, but I kept that thought to myself. I felt more respect for our team lead Dan, and the others who were pitching. I also felt very humbled by their extraordinary courage and determination.

stylemix team on stage

As each pitch was made it became clear that it would be a difficult task for the judges to pick just one winner. The quality of the pitches blew me away. Eventually the winning team was announced:

Book-E a digital platform that enables users to bet on e-sports

Read more about the winners: Young bloods win big at #SWDub

The work was done, the final pitches presented, and the winner was announced. For me the weekend was a rollercoaster of emotions, from arriving at the venue to applauding the winner. I made friends, worked hard, collaborated and came away feeling humbled and hopeful with great respect for all who participated and organised the event.

Looking forward to the next one.

Catherine Duggan

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