By @SimonCocking

Neill Gernon Head of Program @TCDLaunchbox. Founder of the Cyber Startup Summit.

Launchbox – the 1 minute pitch, what is it?

Launchbox is Trinity Colleges startup accelerator for student technology ventures. The core programme helps students (grad and post grad) with an early stage startup to accelerate a pace of growth and get investor ready within three months. The Launchbox brand has now also extended twelve months which means, ahead of our three month programme we support students throughout the academic year and give them the support and resources they need to find co founders, get mentorship, experiment and validate early stage ideas.

Neill(B&W)_window_hands

How was 2014/5? What went well?

Last year I helped out as a mentor and I only took on the job and adopted the programme in Jan 2015 so working with this years cohort I could see that the quality had gone up a level. We had a great mix of both hardware and software startup’s across the domains of agri-tech, telco, consumer marketing, payments, ed tech, ecommerce.. etc and many of them working on their products with different technology’s such as image recognition, machine learning/AI, blockchain etc. After three months we had Unituition signup UK customers, Bachelors Box selling their fashion product to customers in Ireland and the UK, team Blazer continue to make news on their IOT product for beekeepers and Sitespy started live testing with telco giant Ericsson.

Anything you’d do differently?

Discussions on founder vesting earlier, condense the calendar activity in sections to make more productive, more assistance to teams before entering the programme.

Goals for the future?
Make sure students in TCD understand that separate to the employment and research route they also have a third route post university in order to “Startup” with support, resources and activitys throughout the year.

What’s your role, and how is that going?

My role is to run the day to day management of Launchbox and also to extend what was a three month accelerator through to a twelve month programme to give students in Trinity the option of starting up a company. Its going well, universities can be slow and with that comes challenges but with lots of entrepreneurship and startup activity in Trinity its a good time to be involved

Does hustlehack & Cyber Startup Summit still exist, what lessons did you learn from doing it?

Hustlehack was an experiment I ran in Imperial College in association with other university’s as I’m interested in university talent connecting and experimenting with early stage concepts, valuable lessons learned but am not currently focused on hustlehack. The Cyber Startup Summit is still going and was Europe’s first conference specifically focused on Cyber Startup’s. What ran in London this year I’m looking at bringing to Dublin in 2016.

What tech tools do you use to help you in your work?

All things Google, like to keep it simple

Tips to startups coming into Launhbox?

Don’t wait for the programme to start,  ask yourself what you can do pre programme to validate or learn more about your market/customer without committing extension resources or money. Understand your prospect customers without having an agenda which often guides founders down thee route of finding answers to questions versus just simply understand how things work within the market sector/world of your prospect customer.

 

Online / offline, work / life balance, your strategies / tips?

Work smart… there is plenty to do and then there is what needs to be done. I’ve become good at shelving the irrelevant stuff and not trying to please everyone. Big advocate of being more product through decent food, I like to gym train and run and often found swimming off the 40ft in Dun Laoghaire. Its good to have mini and bigger digital detoxes now and again. VERY important for founders to have away from work time. I have seen too many burn outs so believe people often work better and happier when all the side items from work are going well.


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or @SimonCocking

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