Six things *WE* learned from Student Startups

A key philosophy of Blackstone LaunchPad at Trinity is that it is not an educational course but instead aims to steer student stratup towards success through mentorship and general guidance.  In many ways the most valauable assistance we provide is an introduction into the Trinity and Blackstone networks. It is all about empowering startups to think for themselves. 

There are many reasons for this approach including the fact that the startups are in different sectors and at different stages of growth. It would be impossible to run a structured course programme that would match the needs of each entrepreneur.   Another very important reason is that the start up space  is evolving so quickly  that it is impossible to keep up with best practice in technology and disruptive business models. Student startups are at the forefront of the latest disruptive trends in technology and value creation for customers.

This is often driven by necessity as the tools are not always easily available to them and certainly resources are very limited.  Such necessity and urgency is good as it drives creativity and disruption. Fortunately LaunchPad and LaunchBox can curate this valuable knowledge and share it back to the startups in our network. 

 In fact in our experience as implementors of student supports in Trinity  we are often just the information distributor or broker by making valuable community knowledge available to any student interested in entrepreneurship in Trinity. 

To illustrate this let's look at some real and useful stuff we learnt this year:

1. Snapchat is REALLY important for marketing and Social Media engagement

Facebook is good, Twitter is ineffective  and LinkedIn is expensive. For X and Z generation SM marketeers,  Snapchat is the new king. It was students who told us first about Gary Vaynerchuk Snapchat guru before he visited Dublin earlier this year. Nobody really knows (including Snapchat themselves) how Snapchat will evolve as a paid marketing tool but our students will be first to know of the new developments as they are often in contact with Snapchat in London on several occasions. 

 

2. Digital Ocean

Cloud infrastructure  provision is a competitive area .As outlined above university startups need a cost effective solution that provides great customer service. That is why they evangelize about Digital Ocean as an alternative new provider that is nipping at the heels of the big incumbents. 

3. Ownership is so 2016

Young entrepreneurs are very concerned about preserving the environment for future generations . So much so that so that even the traditional concept of ownership is being disrupted with key trends such as the sharing economy and of course sustainable products. One student designing a recyclable backpack put it like this recently: "You don't own what you buy you just borrow from the environment and return it when you are done". 

4. Email is dead. Long live email

It is impossible to reach Generation X'ers through email in any reliable way. They are not weighed down with a culture of aiming for a clean zero inbox , that some of us once had .  They do not feel any compulsion to read email regularly and respond ever. Get over it it is just a fact.  So MailChimp look out . The ideas behind "4 hour working week" are very popular with this year's batch of startups.

 

5. Don't shake hands

While in business meetings it is still of course normal practice to shake hands the Fist Bump is a real thing and not going away. Also of course it will save us from the next pandemic which is useful. Seriously.

6. Prezi is over

This year we noticed less Prezi use in pitches than we would have had in previous years. I am still a fan if used correctly, but Powerpoint has improved a lot. Students are great at creating their own pitch slidedecks as there lots of great templates are out there. Also usage of cool tools such as www.canva.com  Emaze and tweak is growing.

JOHN WHELAN, DIRECTOR BLACKSTONE LAUNCHPAD and LAUNCHBOX