An Irish newspaper is moonlighting as a start-up incubator. Check out the small companies it's trying to nurture.
The newspaper The Irish Times is looking to answer a question near and dear to the hearts of media companies everywhere: What is the future of advertising? It asked entrepreneurs to submit their best ideas for companies that might help media--say, a newspaper--make money in coming decades, now that the sun has set on classified ads.
More than 100 start-ups applied to be incubated at the Times, applicants has been whittled down to a final 10, which were selected by a panel of Ireland's largest media buyers, including Tyson Pearcey of Mindshare and Paul Farrell of Initiative. The competition, dubbed Fusion, will close on June 14, when a judging panel selects an overall winner right before the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in Dublin.
Meet the finalists:
FrockAdvisor: This fashion community unites fashion fans who want to share their interest in garments, interact with boutique retailers, and make stylish purchases. FrockAdvisor is the brainchild of veteran fashion broadcasters Brendan Courtney and Sonya Lemon. The duo, which also runs a fashion label, initially conceived of an online fashion TV channel but the idea has morphed a more conversational environment that hopes to engage fashion fans more deeply.
Sian's Plan: Mother-and-son team Sian and Vincent Breslin founded the Web app-based healthy food planner, recipe, and grocery system Sian's Plan. The system consists of a color-coded recipe plan to balance diets throughout the week and a grocery planning system that shows nutritional values and complete online purchases. The Belfast-based start-up currently has 5,000 beta users and has integrated with an online grocer in the UK.
D2E: D2E is a garden design site that connects garden design, garden centers, landscapers, architects, and designers. Design Director and Co-Founder Terry McEneaney, a serial entrepreneur and former horticultural therapist, is the green thumb behind D2E's operation.
ParkYa: Dublin-based ParkYa, a new smartphone app, aims to make it easier for people to find car parking spaces in real-time and pay for them using their phones. Cofounders Jason Roe, Kirk Donohoe, and Paul Flood devised the app to pull in data based on revenue from parking meters, using it to forecast availability.
GetHealth: This healthy lifestyle app that tracks the user's health, diet, fitness, and social life, is the creation of Liam Ryan and Chris Rooney. The cofounding duo, who met in college while playing in a brass band, initially created the app--and made it into a social game--with the goal of improving their own health.
Loylap: This free mobile application designed for small to medium-sized businesses aims to put small enterprise on equal technological footing with large multinationals. Loylap enables a business to reward customers in its own store. The system also allows a business to send real-time, demographic-specific rewards and information directly to customers' smartphones.
FoneSense: Thanks to FoneSense, mobile phone users can now get paid every time the phone rings. The Carriganore-based company allows users to select an advertising jingle as ringtones and get paid when the phone rings, as data on the call transpired is transmitted to FoneSense.
Prowlster: Fashion magazine and community Prowlster, which is based in Dublin, grew as the founding McGinn sisters developed their blog, What Will I Wear Today? The team built up a community around Prowlster, and has an initial group of emerging designers who want to use the start-up as their e-commerce channel. Next up is the implementation of a "buy now" feature, through which an item that appears in a fashion shoots can be instantly purchased online.
Buzzoo: Dublin-based Buzzoo is a social music service for businesses. The interactive experience enables listeners to influence the music being played by connecting through their smartphones--creating a mobile jukebox that turns listeners into DJs.
Limetree: This start-up gives parents a place to gather special moments in their children's lives by collecting, storing and arranging photos, videos, audio files, and texts in a "digital shoebox." The founders are Portuguese, and most of Limetree's current 10,000 users are based in Brazil, but the company is starting up in Ireland.
JULIE STRICKLAND covers start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurial endeavors of all kinds for Inc. Her work has been published in Brooklyn Based and City Limits in New York, the Free Times in Columbia, SC, Real Travel Magazine in London, and Daegu Pockets in South Korea. She lives in New York City. @Jules5168