'It's a really good opportunity' - Trinity students pitch their startup app Bounce stateside
A group of Trinity students who created an app have been picked to go Stateside to pitch their start-up business at an accelerator event.
The group of five, Brian O’Mahony (21), Josh Stafford (22), Ronan Dowling-Cullen (22), Brandon Dooley (21) and Charlie Butler (21), launched their app 'Bounce' in January.
Bounce is a market research app that rewards its target demographic of 19-26-year-olds for giving their customer feedback on products and services via surveys.
"We began working on it back in January, a team of five of us. We had a go at a start-up before, myself and Brian. We worked a lot on it, and when we came to pitching it we realised that after all of our work, we just created a solution and we didn't really solve a problem," Butler said.
“When we went to try and do research on it, we found that gathering feedback from people and consumers was actually really difficult, we realised it was really expensive, and unless you just got your mates to fill out surveys, there was a huge bias in the industry. It was really hard to validate ideas, and that's why so many ideas fail.
"When we got back together as a team, we figured out how we could move forward with it, and we began looking into market research. We realised that there's a huge monopoly in the industry in terms of surveying software. There was no real platform connecting brands with consumers.
"There was no way of reaching us as a cohort from 19-26 year olds. We came together and said, ‘Well why don’t we reward these people properly, and why don’t we build a platform that allows users to give their feedback and get rewarded," he said.
The group, who are studying at Trinity college, entered a competition in February that kickstarted their venture.
Butler continued, “The five of us locked ourselves in a room over Christmas and we began working on it. Three of the guys are computer scientists, Josh, Ronan, and Brandon. Myself and Brian are doing Business in college and that requires a lot of marketing and sales background.
“When we began researching it, we realised there was a Dragon’s Den type competition in Trinity on 7 February of this year. We only began working on the idea in early January.
“We did six weeks work and we built a piece of hardware that we would put in shops which would send money to their phones, ie if they gave their feedback to surveys they would earn points, then they could spend points through their phone on these little Bounce pads that we have around the shop.
“We got on stage, we pitched, we ended up coming in second and we won two-and-a-half thousand euro. After that, we realised there were a lot of flaws with it. There’s no way we should have done anything with hardware."
The team of innovative youngsters came up with incentives for users to fill out surveys, which are called 'Bundles'.
After completing a Bundle, the user is rewarded with points, which will then allow them to withdraw money via their Revolut account, or spend online.
“What we realised we could do is, for rewarding people on the platform, we could allow them to withdraw money to their Revolut account, or we can allow them to spend online - like top-up their Spotify subscription, their Netflix subscription, top-up their Leapcard. Things that align far better with the cohort we were trying to engage," Butler said.
“All we needed to create was a platform where the brand could create any question they want, select their exact target market, and then they could publish it. When they publish the survey, anyone that was in the targeted cohort would receive a notification, and they would journey through what we call our ‘Bundles’. We don’t typically call them surveys because they’re kind of a taboo subject.
“Initially, we started off with free coffees and free food in their locality. Then, we’re going to allow people to withdraw money to their Revolut, or else build up this money and spend it online," he added.
After months of hard work, the group are now being sent to New York as part of Trinity's Tangent Pioneers programme. While there, they will attend a TechStarts event to mix and mingle with some of the fastest growing companies in the US.
“We spent the last four months in Tangent’s LaunchBox accelerator, which is in it’s seventh year. We were in the new business school on Pearse Street over the summer, and we were given €10,000, and funding to develop," Butler explained.
"Tangent Pioneers is a week long event which is run by Tangent, based in Trinity. They fly us out to New York for a week. They try and tap into connections in New York to getting into the US market. It's all about how you can bring your company from starting in Dublin to expanding it to the US and UK. It's a really good opportunity.
"10 days later, there's a much bigger event where we've been selected with one of the other companies in LaunchBox this summer to go out to TechStarts, which is one of the largest accelerators in the world to host a two day event. We have to pitch and network at that event as well."