Get Digital

Our fourth and final conference Get Digital took place in the Helix on Tuesday the 14th April. The first half of the conference consisted of the different DICE groups presenting their research posters on cloud computing and respective apps to industry professionals, academics and fellow students. This was a great opportunity to practice our presentation skills with technology industry professionals.

The second half of the conference consisted of talks from guest speakers Sean Baker, Irish Centre for Cloud Computing & Commerce Mary Moloney, Global CEO CoderDojo
Richard Garsthagen, EMEA Director of Cloud Business Development, Oracle
Shay Garvey, Partner and Co-Founder at Frontline Venture Capital
John Massey, EMEA Business Development Lead, SAP Ireland.

The main topic of focus for the conference was cloud computing with a quick introduction about IC4. Sean explained how we could get involved through sponsorship and surveys. As well as workshops, seminars and the ability to choose project you would like to be involved in, IC4 also provides for targeted projects outside of core funding which is a cost effective means of research and enabling investigations into areas of interest.

Mary Moloney – CoderDojo


CoderDojo is a global volunteer-led community of free programming clubs for young people. It was founded in July 2011 by James Whelton & Bill Liao, the first Dojo took place in Cork. James and Bill were self taught programmers who wanted to create a space where young people could learn code in a social environment as they understood the limitations of solo coding.

Mary Moloney is the Ceo of the CoderDojo Foundation globally. Mary first got involved with CoderDojo through her then eight year old son who was interested in gaming. CoderDojo theaches children to question technology and helps them build skills that can not be learned in school as it is more interactive learning and encourages children to be curious and creative rather than just  to learn things  by route. It helps children form a young age to be comfortable with technology as creators rather than just consumers.

Through CoderDojos 600 clubs in over 58 countries 50000 children between the ages of 7 and 17 are learning computational thinking and skills such as remote working, collaborative working making them flexible global workplace participants. CoderDojo aims not to make every child a coder but to give them a basic literacy in technology and teach them what is possible and what can be achieved through technology. CoderDojo only has two rules as there are very few discipline issues as it is entirely up to the child as to what they get involved in.
1. Be Cool i.e be well behaved, and calm
2. Ask 3 then me – the child must first ask themselves can they solve the problem by   themselves, if not then they must ask their peers and if their peers are unable to help them to try find the solution on search engines such as Google before asking for help from the mentors or teachers. This teaches children to use the resources they have themselves to work out problems.
Finally CoderDojo is rapidly expanding with a growth rate of about 5 new Dojos every week.

Richard Garsthagen – Oracle

The main focus of Richards talk was cloud computing. rg

He began with the top 5 reasons to love cloud

  1. Simplify IT
  2. Re- Engineer the economics of IT spending
  3. Accelerate and Optimise your Business Process
  4. Drive Innovation
  5. Enjoy World-Class Security

He then explained his interesting concept of running the cloud like a restaurant to make it more efficient and easier to consume. Although I found the idea interesting I feel like it could possibly restrict the cloud somewhat.

Richard then spoke about how digital disruption was changing industries such as television and taxi services with digital companies such as Netflix and Uber. And finally how IT can actually slow down innovation with old school thinking causing innovators to by-pass IT departments.

John Massey – SAP Ireland

jmWith over 1650 employees SAP Ireland focuses on early talent which makes up 56% of their work force. According to John , the economics of cloud are very different to traditional means and SAP’s transition to cloud was not overnight, in fact it caused a lot of uncertainty within the organisation. For these reasons John emphasised the importance of re-educating employees, partner companies and customers about the cloud. It was especially important to educate the partner companies as if they did not also incorporate cloud into their business SAP would also be unable to do so or they would have to start finding other companies to work with, who could meet their needs with the cloud.

Shay Garvey- Frontline Ventures

Recent years have shown a dramatic productive gain in the technology ecosystem withsg only 20% of companies generating $250k in revenues  within 18 months in 2005 to 60% of companies generating the same amount of revenues within 6 months in 2010. Pace has become the new protection for start-ups who have to be fast moving because if you can do it others can it is important to be able to grow quickly in relation to your competition. The  Advent of the Cloud and the Lean start up has meant the old €2.5m is now €250k i.e. cost to start a company and get to revenues is 1/10 of what it was

Sean then gave us tips as to how to look for capital from VCs such as making initial contact early and engaging with investors before looking for capital “Ask for advice, get money. Ask for money get advice”

Finally, the elimination of highly skilled jobs by automation delivered via the Cloud is underway.  This means that repetitive and cognitive jobs such as accounting are at risk of being replaced by the automation process


Get Started


Our latest conference here at the Helix was Get Started. A line up of entrepreneurs explained some of the aspects and their own personal experience of starting up a new business inspiring many including myself to hopefully do the same one day.

Niamh Bushell – Dublin Commissioner for Start Ups

Niamh spoke about her experience starting her own company in the United States and herNiamh-Bushnell-150x100 work as the first Dublin Commissioner for Start-ups. Niamh cofounded her first company Pan Research in 1996 with her brother in Dublin. She later became a mentor to entrepreneurs with Enterprise Ireland where she consulted and advised entrepreneurs on their businesses. Some of the key tips she gave us was to focus on the mission statement of the business, that scale and the ability to sell were key and to stop solely focusing on the functionality of your product. However, this is easier said than done as Niamh admitted herself, there was a big difference when the tables were turned and she became an entrepreneur herself and found herself making these very same mistakes.

Having spent 16 years in New York, Niamh then left her own startup in New York for the job as Dublin Comissioner to startups. Many would take New York over Dublin any day but Niamh explained that Dublin is actually a great city to be a start-up in and wishes to get this message across to the international community. She hopes that one day we will be on the same par as major cities such a Berlin but on a smaller much denser scale. Despite having a large pool of talent and images0RHARG2Rmany startups coming out of Dublin it is not known internationally that these are Irish companies. Dublin is also challenged in its structure, the startup community is not well connected and doesn’t often colobrate with each other. Niamh hopes to develop a formalised approach with a common message or mission statement as she believes that the Dublin community is small enough to present itself as one .

She also aims to establish the number of startups in Dublin as the figure is currently unkown through the Dublin Data initiative. Companies don’t internationalise early enough to help with this problem her accelator program will send five start-ups to New York for peer learning.

David McKernan – Java Republic

David emerged from the cocoon of Bewley’s having worked for them for 12 years to establish Java Republic in 1998 in Celbridge Dublin. Java Republic took 18 david--150x225months to set up and is now the second largest wholesale coffee company in Ireland just behind Bewleys. Not only that but Java Republic is now one of Ireland’s most successful brands, and one of Europe’s leading coffee companies. His top piece of advise was to trust yourself and to  never stop believing in yourself, a trait which he displayed by going against the grain by using “republic” in the name which many advised him not to as it may alienate customers who may associate it with the situation in Northern Ireland.

Java Republic is noted for it’s distinctive vision: “Premium, fresh handroasted coffee – with a conscience.” David’s aim was to challenge low ethical standards in the coffee business.  The coffee industry has one of the worst supply chains in terms of equality with the farmers who grow the beans getting very little of the profit and being the one most affected by price fluctuations and continuing to live in poverty.David explained that setting up your own company is a ruthless and sometimes brutal business, especially in an industry as unjust as the coffee industry.

David then spoke about funding a startup. he advised to invest in legals and be very cautious when choosing an investor whether it be an angel investor or crowd funding and he warned to stay away from venture capilaial completely as they always want double! Research is also extremely important, David spent the year from 1998 -1999 doing his research before he established the business.

In 2008 when the finiacial crisis hit he reengineered the brand with new packaging and relaunched it in Janurary of 2015. He is currently trying to target the gulf states as prospective customers .


We then received a talk which consisted a panel of speakers; Richard Stokes, Ronan Furlong and Eoin Stack, who spoke about DCU’s role in business start-ups, innovation and enterprise. The talk highlighted how enterprising DCU is as a university and how many opportunities it provides for students and graduates like myself to start our own business. It is certainly comforting to know that there is a good support structure in place if I ever wish to pursue this path.

Richard Strokes- Invent

InStokes-150x273vent is DCU’s Innovation and Enterprise Centre based on the main DCU campus. They work with both external companies and DCU’s researchers to promote DCU innovations predominately through start-up companies. The team at Invent provide a critical link between the university and businesses.

Invent also provides business incubation facilities, entrepreneurship training programmes as part of a wide range of supports for start-up technology businesses.

Invent has enjoyed much success with 11 of their 35 spin-out companies still running. Stokes highlighted that the biggest challenge regarding these start ups is that they are hight risk in that in many cases their products do not yet exist. This makes it extremely difficult to  raise money as there is a lack of incentive for  investors. Invent gives Angel investors 8-12 months to make a decision whether to invest in a company or not. Only 100 high potential startups a year emerge in the republic as opposed to double that in Northern Ireland. Invent is a vital project to hep boost these numbers and incubate startups.

Ronan Furlong – DCU Innovation Campusronan

The DCU Innovation Campus has been open since May 2014. The Innovation Campus is a national centre for innovation in the Cleantech sector, which is one of the fastest growing areas of economic activity and worth more than €5 trillion globally.

The Cleantech sector develops innovative products and services to address major environmental and sustainability issues concerning water, waste, energy and emissions. The Innovation Campus’s unique selling point is its engagement with the university and its community vibe. It houses and provides a test bed for many hardware technology companies. Hosting 27 companies in total with 300 staff working in the three core research areas of health, energy and ICT. It operates on a node structure with a large company being “orbited” by several smaller companies, helping the company succeed. With very little PR the Campus relies mainly on the reputation of DCU as an enterprising university.

Eeoghanoghan Stack – Ryan Academy

The academy is a partnership between Dublin City University and the Ryan Family (founders of Ryanair) The academy is a leading supporter of entrepreneurs in Ireland – helping innovative ideas become a reality – and is connected to other major startup ecosystems across Europe. Their aim is to promote the entrepreneurial mind-set and for it to be a driving force behind Irish businesses. They provide a ‘Propeller’ programmes one of which is exclusively to help female entrepreneurs called the Female High Flyers programme. These propeller programmes are ‘angel’ backed and there are 24 companies involved. They also run the ‘U-Start’ program which allows undergraduate applicants to run their own business for a summer,  they also receive, €5000 to help with the business and campus accommodation.


How are entrepreneurs directed in DCU? 215

Many entrepreneurs often come in the very early stages of their business. They are helped by setting up a community where they help them help themselves. Validation and support is provided along with an understanding of challenges and potential problems for the business. Some of the biggest problems the businesses face is noise and hype, they are advised to knuckle down and show rather than tell what the business is going to be.

It was stated these support systems may be Dublin’s best kept secret and entrepreneurs from outside DCU wondered how they could get involved and what mechanisms were in place for them.

In answer to this they were directed to the Ryan Academy which is undergoing work on it integration with the wider community and will direct entrepreneurs to the next port of call.

Overall I found this talk to be enlightening as to the opportunities available to entrepreneurs and start-ups in DCU. My only criticism would be as previously stated though much work needs to be done in terms of integrating it better with the wider business community outside of DCU.

Kelan Lennon – Cleverbug Keelan-Lennon_-150x150

Cleverbug has created a platform for customers to create  personalized, one-of-a-kind greeting cards and calendars for their family and friends.They have integrated mobile technology, social content and a worldwide printing network to create a greeting card app that allows customers to send meaningful cards to anywhere in the world in a matter of minutes.

It works by connecting to your Facebook account and figures out your relationship with the person be they your brother or your aunt etc. and then picks a selection of appropriate greeting cards and photo’s which you can edit to your liking. Clevercards now has over 75 printing facilities which took them 2 years to establish and are now bigger than Hallmark, huge in a physical greeting card industry which is worth over $27 billion.

SeSean-Ahern-Founder-and-CEO-ThankFrank-150x150an Ahern – Thank Frank
Seans vision is to establish a meaningful social currency that incentivises and rewards people for doing good things for others, measured solely by the number of people saying thanks. it took him 3-4 years to plan, an important stage of any startup as previously illustrated by David with Java Republic.
ThankFrank is an app that allows you to take part in their “Thanks Economy”. It allows you to quickly acknowledge any webpage with a “Thanks!” button. For every person that clicks “Thanks!” you get one credit. The goal is to collect as many “Thanks!” as possible each month. You can spend the credit on shopping vouchers for yourself or give it away to your choice of charity, or both, although charity would be more ideal considering the aim and ethos of the business.
Paul Kerley- Keynote Speakerpaul

Paul Kerley is a serial entrepreneur and investor. He currently serves on the boards of a number of technology companies including being Chairman of Fenergo. He works closely with the senior management team of each company he is involved with, assisting them by helping them develop a strategy and offering leadership, support and advice based on his previous experience in building and internationalising software companies.

Prior to this, Paul served as the CEO of Norkom Technologies, a global financial crime and compliance solutions provider, from its inception in 1998.

Despite leaving school at just 16 Paul later went on to study computer science in DCU. His first company ‘Maxinell Solutions’ taught him a lot about the personal sacrifices one makes when having their own company. He said in hard times letting people go is the hardest thing he had to do.  Like previous entrepreneurs who spoke, he also discussed the failures that must be overcome in order to succeed and how entrepreneurs must be ready to take on any challenges that face them. He stated that no matter how good a company is you must have the money to back it up and defend it against macro shocks.

To conclude, I thought the Get Started conference was hugely beneficial to us as business students as setting up our own business is something I feel many of us would like to achieve in the future. It was a great opportunity to hear the truth about what it’s like for many start-ups (even if its not all glitz and glam) , what it takes and how they overcame the challenges they faced which ultimately made them successful. I think its fair to say that we were all inspired by the conference and that we left in the hope that we have what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.


Get Mobile



Dr Theo Lynn – Business Innovation Platform Director at Dublin City University

Dr Theo Lynn once again opened the DICE conference. He pointed out that our phones are increasingly our constant companions. 96% of 18-35 year olds now own smart phones and the age demographic of ownership of first mobile is getting younger and younger, in fact it is expected to drop to 10 years old within the next two years! this was echoed by Alex Meisl later on in the conference who claimed that more five year olds can use a phone than tie their own shoelaces! 

Other interesting statistics we were enlightened to included:

  •  78% of us often compare prices of products and services online before purchasing an item in store.
  • 90% of people access Facebook on their smartphone and check their phone as soon as they wake up.
  • The 18% of people who use their phone while on a date then received some dating imagesJQE8OQ95advice from Lynn “don’t use your phone on a date, it will not help you score.” and as for the other 18% who use it in the cinema (probably on a date) I have my own advice, LEAVE THE CINEMA NOW!
  • 57% use their phone while on the toilet. surprisingly enough more women then men were culprits of this.
  • 3 out of 4 mobile searches trigger follow up activities such as a further search, word of mouth sharing or even a purchase.

 Lynn then went on to talk about the 4C’s of Mobile:

  • Cash– from online banking to online shopping, paypal and more.
  • Credentials– you may not know your PRSI number but you will certainly know your mobile number and as they are with us for life I must agree with Theo in saying they’re our most common identifier.
  • Communication– The primary function of our mobiles is of course communication, echoed in the amount of communicative based apps such as Viber, Whats App, Facebook messenger, Snapchat, etc.
  • Content– While most us have between 10 and 20 apps on our phones we only use less than 10 on a regular basis preferring apps that are useful and productive to those of entertainment value.

Location is not to be overlooked though. Location may be used to set ourselves reminders creating an interaction between the retailer, the device and the consumer. For instance, lets say you’re passing by the flower shop, your phone will prompt you with a reminder you’ve already set to go in and buy your significant other some flowers.  

Theo quickly closed his presentation with some comments on wearable technologies such as Google Glass which would be discussed in more detail later on by Dr. Cathal Gurrin.

Dr. Mark Hughes – Digifeyemark

Dr. Hughes is the Chief Technical Officer at Digifeye. As well as co-founding Digifeye,  former DCU student Mark also founded Style-Eyes an image recognition app, and was awarded Enterprise Ireland’s “One to Watch” prize. 

Digifye is an interactive store front which allows you to buy the same product or similar products to those featured in a selected image. Digifye searchs a range of products and suggests similar products in your price range or even the same product. It is also useful for magazines and newspapers, for instance the daily mail employees 3 staff to search for fashion but Digifye does this automatically.Thanks to Digifeye anyk celebrity or model featured on any fashion website can be turned into a shop mannequin. This is particularly useful for retailers as celebrities drive trends – The Duchess diEffect. It has also allows retailers to upsell with outfit suggestions.

Hughes then talked about training machines to recognise and understand images. computer vision has proven difficult to achieve due to the semantic gap, computers are unable to regognise core components on an image as they have no reference, they only see numbers. Flickr searchs are based on tags on the image not the image itself, this can lead to unwanted search results and inaccuracies. However, that been said we now have face recognition and car tracking with great accuracy. SIFT (scale invariant feature transform) has a 99.8% accuracy rate. Supervised learning is used to teach computers to recognise what an object is. The computer learns the characters of an object by being told what hundreds of images of the object is, ie learning what a dress is by been hundreds of images of dresses being uploaded to its database.

Dr. Cathal Gurrin – Lecturer DCU School of Computing

cathalAs well as being a lecturer in the DCU School of Computing Cathal is also a funded investigator in the INSIGHT Centre for Data Analytics. He gave us an insight as to how powerful mobile devices are now, for example the iPhone 5 is 60000 times more powerful than the computer that guided Apollo 11 to the moon.

Pervasive computing means technology is everywhere now. Wearable technology will be mainstream by 2015. Omnipresent technology such as Google glasses are activity aware. This means that the device will know if you are stitting, standing, walking etc. It will also be socially aware, i.e. if you are alone or in a bar with your friends.

These devices will know us better than we know ourselves, the will know the times of day we get tired, when we are most productive and the times of day whan we are most likey to make mistakes. Personally I’m not entirely sure of the use or purpose of this as I can tell all these things myself, which begs the question; Is this just technological development just for the sake of it? Because we can?

They wont just analyse data though they will also store it. You will even have your own personal life log. A wearable camera can take up to 4000 pictures a day which will provide a visual memory of your life. They are working with the concept of a surrogate memory, can’t remember someones name? This will no longer be a problem. However the issue of privacy does arise with this new taecnology, so if you don’t know someone on the street the camera will blur out their faces so that will remain anonymous, also your ‘internet of me’ will be your own private archive unavailable to anyone else.

You will also be able to track your health, it will tell you if you’ve had too much coffee today, if you go out drinking tonight by just how much it will affect your productivity tomorrow. It will also use pattern mining and chart and map your life and be able to understand your life experience i.e. when your stress periods are. It will also be able to look at a product and tell you if you’ve used it before and wheteher or not you liked it. It seem to me these wearables will experience your life with you if not for you.


Eoin Cruise – Microsofteoi

Before Microsoft took over Eoin worked for Nokia. Eoin discussed how the acquisition of Nokia came about and it simply came down to Nokia not being able to keep up with the times and letting their competitors get further and further ahead of them.

imagesEUE3030AThat been said Microsoft are on the up. They believe that starting at the bottom is the key to getting to the top. So fear not the “blokia” is going nowhere, no it is a perfect phone for festivals and the likes where people are weary of bringing their precious iPhone for fear that they will lose or break it. Next step is the affordable smartphone, I myself bought into this micprinciple as I couldn’t afford to buy a €300-€500 iPhone yet I still wanted to be able to use apps and everything else the iPhone offers, I bought myself a very affordable Nokia Lumia about 18 months ago and couldn’t be happier with the value for money I got. So with two out of the three conquered its now on to the high-end phones, question is will they be able to compete with Apple? Microsoft’s other aims are to build a universal system and behave as one windows ecosystem across various devices and upgrade previous devices before realising new ones.

2ca9ffa Paul Davey – IBM

From inventing the ATM to the swipe card,IBM has the most patents developed by any company in the world. It is now 103 years old and has over 431 thousand employees 4000 of which are in Ireland. ibm

Davey then  discussed Watson, the computer who beat two people on the hit US TV quiz shoe Jeopardy.  when it’s not partaking in quiz shows Watson has a more serious use. it can also be used in the treatment of cancer. Watson may revolutionise healthcare as it researches hundreds if not thousands of texts and sources, identifies the cause of the disease and then recommends various treatment plans for the patient.

IBM pointed out how many companies just want an app to keep up with the times but put little thought into what they actually want in an app. It is important to develop a good, useful app as the companies reputation is on the line. At the end of the day a poorly developed app is not going to attract or keep customers, in fact they may even switch to a smcompany with a better app! As 61% of consumers will not forgive your service is poor. To combat this Paul recommended the “iceberg” approach, with more being put into the content and data in the app than just a “cool” display. IBM produced the worlds first smartphone but decided to move to the applications side of things. Apple and IBM now have a strategic relationship where Apple produce the devices while IBM take care of the apps.

Alex Meisl – WiForia & Sponge

alex mAlex has being doing digital for the last 25 years making him and excellent keynote speaker at this years Get Mobile conference. He is Chair of mobile agency Sponge and Retail Technology Marketing Company WiForia.

Some quick statistics included ;
/3 of all UK adults interviewed said they would rather give up sex than their smartphone, guess Serie can keep you warm on those winter nights after all.
There are more mobiles than toothbrushes in the world.

Meisl then took on some myth busting.

  • SMS is dead- SMS is still alive people! 145 billion SMS texts were sent in the UK in 2013, 6.5 per head per day.
  • mobile advertising is trivial-  mobile advertising will be bigger than newspaper advertising for the first time ever this year in the UK.

80% of branded apps get less than 1000 downloads, as Davey said, its imporatant not just to have an app but to have a good app and not to forget good business practice. Barely 4% of budgets are spent on mobile advertising. Pretty ridiculous in this day in age in my opinion especially seeing as approximetly 20% of our day is spent on mobile devices , a figure only surpassed by TV! Not to mention you get more bang for your buck as it is a less clustered media space. So why isn’t there more investment in mobile marketing. According to Meisl, people often forget that mobile is part of the sales process even if the purchase is not made on mobile. Approximetly 49% of us start a purchase online but complete the purchase in store. 34% of all e-retail sales in the UK are via a mobile device and generate 48% of of all traffic. 1/3 of googles top 100 clients do not have mobile optimised sites leading to 61% of business being lost. now I’m no business expert but I would seriously question any business that is not investing in mobile and losing 61% of business! to further my point 50% of all uk sales in the next eight years will be influenced by mobile. there are 55 million public wifi access points around the world by 2018.

Meisl then showed us a fascinating video of  how one Guatemalan shoe shop Meat Pack managed to steal competitors with promotional discounts that diminished every second you wasted. despited the dodgey video this is a highly creative and innotive inniative way of engageing customers and encouraging them to buy. 

Wiforia enables retailers to send personalised offers to it’s customers upon entering the wifishop, such as “welcome back to our store, click here for special offers in store today” This could be even optimised further by minimising waste and sending messages such as ‘Hey we’ve too much of product X and it’s going out of date soon, why don’t you pick some up free of charge!’ this has the power of surprising your customer encouraging them to create brand advocacy. These messages can also be tailored to the time of day, such as lunchtime deals. It has many uses from customer surveys, loyality schemes to surprising and delighting your customers with unexpected offers. 76% of purchase decisions are made in store and 66% of shoppers said in store messages would influence their product purchasing decisions, making Wiforia an extremely useful technology for retailers.

Finally, here are Meisl’s 6 Key Takeaways;

  1. Don’t forget standard business priinciples
  2. mCommerce is more important than mShopping
  3. Get all customers to self identify
  4. Mobile makes anything a digital gateway
  5. Context especially location is a key driver
  6. Don’t forget old school technology such as SMSget m