GradHow, an early-stage University College Dublin (UCD) student venture, has won the inaugural UCD Startup Stars programme.

GradHow is developing an online platform to help college students reduce the uncertainty they encounter when they graduate by helping them to understand the employment opportunities that are relevant to them and by challenging the way employers recruit.

By improving connections between employers and universities GradHow aims to improve the graduate employment process.

The founders of GradHow are Ben Chadwick and Alan John Browne, who have both recently completed 3rd year commerce at UCD and Stephen Duffy who has recently completed 1st year commerce (international) at UCD.

UCD Startup Stars has been developed by NovaUCD and the UCD Innovation Academy to provide a framework, and support programme, for UCD undergraduate students who want to work together to build start-up companies.

UCD Startup Stars began earlier this year with cross-disciplinary workshops delivered over a 3-month period as part of the UCD Innovation Academy’s Creative Thinking and Entrepreneurial Endeavour modules. During these modules students from across the university learned creative thinking, teamwork, design thinking and lean business skills.

Following pitches at the end of the modules 6 early stage student ventures, with 16 team members, were selected to participate in an intensive mentoring programme which took place over 4-weeks at NovaUCD.

The aim of this 4-week programme was to assist the participants in refining their start-up ideas. It consisted of a series of structured workshops including taught content from industry experts, interactive workshops, regular pitching sessions and mentoring.

In addition each team also received a cash stipend and office space at NovaUCD for the duration of the programme.

Following final pitches GradHow was selected as the overall winner as it was judged to have the most commercial potential and the founders received a cash prize of €3,000 sponsored by Xilinx.

Each of the five runners-up also received a cash prize of €500 sponsored by Xilinx.

The members of the final judging panel were; Brendan Cremen, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation; Libby Gribben, Senior HR Director, Xilinx; Owen O’Byrne, Head of Product, Fire Financial Services; Alan O’Dea, Entrepreneurial Specialist, UCD Innovation Academy and Andy O’Sullivan, AIB Innovation.

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