StartLocal and Hit Global in an Incubator

By louisejohnston

December 20, 2016 at 12:18am


When we launched
Lovin Trends 10 days ago we promised that the publication would act as a platform for the growing tech scene in Ireland and highlight startups, entrepreneurs and people who are making it their business to improve Ireland. Yesterday I posted a video that IDA Ireland released which proves that Ireland is the perfect destination for foreign direct investment. There's been an obvious shift towards the technology sector and it can be seen with the likes of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb and so on all finding their homes in and around Grand Canal Dock which is also known as the Silicon Docklands. Several years ago when I graduated from secondary school and was making the transition into university, our guidance counsellors were quite ignorant towards the tech sector. We can all relate to them guiding us towards professions like accountancy and medicine that are considered to be more traditional and reliable roles. No one was encouraging me to think outside the box. I can honestly say that I didn't find my feet until I started working for a startup (Lovin Dublin), its a lifestyle that definitely suits my personality and work ethic. It is amazing that young people entering the workforce now have so many different horizons to chose from and are encouraged to take risks to find their niche. There's been a massive emergence of startups and young entrepreneurs in Ireland over the past 2-3 years.

One person that I've been following for a while who has their roots firmly in the ground in this industry is
Gene Murphy, he's involved with StartLocal which is an incubator program sponsored by FCR Media. FCR Media is a digital marketing agency for SME's and publishers of Startlocal supports tech startups by providing solutions for Local Merchants / SME's. Tech Startup + Local Merchant = StartLocal! I caught up with Gene and met the 9 startups in the incubator last week and I have to say I left feeling fully charged knowing that there are so many innovative businesses scattered around the capital building their brands which will ultimately become part of the patchwork that's helping Ireland recover.

When I asked Gene how did StartLocal come to fruition he said that they (FCR Media) had thought about different ways to interact with startups and decided to create their own incubator on the third floor of their lavish offices (in St. Martin's House on Waterloo Road, Dublin 4) that was unused. They offer the startups selected a base to work from for a period of 6 months during their pilot program. The most valuable offering on the table for these startups is that they get free sales training and access to FCR Media's wider group that is based in 12 locations across Europe. FCR Media has extensive experience in local advertising and sales which has been built up over the past 47 years. The startups are also given access to over 145,000 customers throughout Europe in the local advertising space which is a pretty whopper starting audience and platform for any business.

Startups are in an exciting time right now which should start leading to more and more great Irish success story's scaling around the world

So how is StartLocal funded? They're offering rent free office space to their startups which obviously saves a lot of money when companies are in their infancy). StartLocal is a corporate incubator program where unlike
accelerator programs they actually don't invest in or take any equity from the startups. Instead, they provide them with a office space, their invaluable sales training and access to their wider group as mentioned. StartLocal is open to startups working on solutions that benefit local merchants and SME's and the 9 startups in this incubator were selected through a series of interviews to ensure they were the right fit. Right now their application process is pretty much complete, but Gene informed me that they're always happy to meet startups in this space in case there are other ways they can help. He tells me that the experience so far has been a great success so much that they have extended the program until next June with their current cohort of startups.

Gene believes a lot more can be done for young entrepreneurs and startups in Ireland. We sat for 45 minutes after my tour of introductions and chatted about the many opportunities to convert particular unused Dublin buildings into massive hubs for encouraging co-working environments and keynote zones. Gene goes on to say that a huge amount of supports are already in place from public to private programs and funding "Ireland is at an exciting stage of our startup communities development. Thanks to the previous years of work from people in the Tech community, the foundations are laid to help people learn faster and move quicker, ultimately building rapidly scaling businesses. In Dublin we have the newly appointed Startup Commissioner (
Niamh Bushnell), throughout Ireland we have the group Startup Ireland who are also pushing for better resources, policies and access to funding. Startups are in an exciting time right now which should start leading to more and more great Irish success story's scaling around the world".

What I admire most about Gene in particular is that he's always so active in the startup community- constantly inviting me to external events he's organised. The team in LD spend so much time behind our screens in the office that its refreshing to see that someone is acting as the connector to encourage us to get together and socialise in the 'real world'. Internally at StartLocal they organise 'meet the teams events' to help mix the gang at FCR Media and the startups. These get everyone in the building talking, sharing and collaborating. They've also held the regional finals of the Startup Nations competition in their offices in conjunction with Startup Ireland.

Joining An Incubator

For those looking to join an incubator Gene has these three important pieces of advice:


  • For anyone that's been through an accelerator you'll know first hand the power of the coffee machine (outside of it's caffeine dispensing goodness)
  • It's a great place to keep up to date and learn from the other companies around you
  • The environment of an incubator is much the same with lots of companies in the same position as you, that you can chat with and learn from


  • Some incubators are tied to specific industries that can be tough to make contacts in for startups
  • An incubator can give you instant access to hard to meet people and help you develop business relationships with them


  • You are going to be spend a lot of time around other startups in shared office space so get to know them
  • There can be quite a lot of benefit to networking with your office neighbour and in some cases even business done

The one thing you hear a lot about in relation to startups is that a lot of them run out of money too fast. Gene believes this is because raising funds is a lengthy and time consuming process and it never really ends for a founder (sorry to say!). A current case in point can be seen at Uber, "recent raises are astronomical but they need mass amounts of funding to fuel their customer acquisition engine" he says. It takes time to build a startup and for any amount of reasons things can happen that aren't mapped out that burn through cash. Ultimately getting paying customers has to be put at the top of the to do list for founders, which is explained very well by this post from Conor Murphy.

Having a good handle on analytics is key for understanding and driving your business forward

How To Get Your Name Out There

Gene has this advise to any startup looking to get their name out there:

Clear Message

  • A clear message about the value your Startups provides is a key starting point

Targeted Press & PR

  • Press and PR targeted in laser like fashion at publications that serve your customers vs one's that drive no real benefit to your user growth is a big error I see quite often (hands up I have done this in the past!)

Be A Thought Leader

  • Overall being a thought leader as Paul Hayes from Beach Hut PR discusses in his talks can be a great way to attract the right customers
  • This knowledge can be pushed out through social channels, blogs, talks at specific events etc.


  • Make sure you have a firm understanding of analytics- this is key
  • Trace the work you put in
  • Measure the results in user growth

Meet The Startups In The StartLocal Incubator

1. UsherU

75% of cinema seats go unsold wasting $100bn in revenue annually. Cinemas can do little when a film isn't performing, distributors waste billions mass marketing films and consumers don't even know what's in the cinema.

UsherU connect consumers better to film and make personalised recommendations for what to watch. The consumer will get a discounted cinema ticket and they will continually make better recommendations based on film reviews. Their goal is to get great films seen by you based on what you like and not how big a film marketing campaign is, helping reduce marketing costs for distributors along the way.

Follow UsherU's progress:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn

2. Pucker

Pucker is disrupting the beauty industry- Providing on-demand, last minute beauty appointments with vetted freelance professionals. Pucker was founded in 2014 by Niamh McHugh and Louise Dunne who have identified problems first-hand from both the customer and supply side of the beauty industry. Travelling to get nails/hair/make-up done takes time. Salon opening hours are awkward and do not fit in with busy schedules and 93% of women surveyed have needed a last minute beauty appointment. On the supply side, freelance professionals do not have one specific place to connect with customers.

Pucker is currently taking bookings for Hair, Make-Up and Nails through
their website whilst their location-based mobile app is in development.

Follow Pucker's progress:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Instagram

3. Popdeem

Popdeem is a social marketing platform, that allows brands to reward their customers for sharing local experiences. By rewarding customers for sharing these experiences on social networks, brands can turn their loyal customers into brand advocates. Founded in 2012 by Richard Whelan and Gavin Hayes, the platform offers a set of social marketing tools for brands to engage users at physical locations. Brands can run mobile promotions that incentivise users to share content on social networks at specific venues. Customers can check-in or share photos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at a venue to redeem rewards.

Follow Popdeem's progress:
Website / Twitter / LinkedIn

4. Fan Footage

FanFootage is a Dublin-based event video crowd-sourcing start-up. It is the world's largest video crew. They take fan-shot videos of a live performance and automatically sync them all up with professionally-recorded live audio. Fans can then watch back the event from all the different angles, share the videos with their friends, and they can produce broadcast-quality edited videos from all the uploaded footage.

In addition, creators can use the platform to view every angle from an event, upload and share with friends, and all for FREE.

Follow Fan Footage's progress:
Website / Twitter / Google+ / Facebook

5. Bizimply

Running a restaurant just got easier with Bizimply. They take the pain out of scheduling hourly staff, tracking attendance and preparing payroll. They offer business owners instant access to day-to-day sales, issues, attendance & more across all their locations.

"We built Bizimply because we believe that restaurant and retail managers should always be out on the shop floor driving sales and developing their team, but unfortunately they are all too often stuck in the back office under a mountain of paperwork", Gerard Forde, CEO.

Powerful Rosters – Labour Cost Forecasts – iPad Clock In – Easy Payroll Prep – Employee Profiles

Follow Bizimply's progress:
Website / Facebook / Twitter / Google+ / LinkedIn

6. FoneSense

FoneSense is a new mobile engagement platform where the consumer is in complete control. Consumers can opt in and select a brands message of their choice to use as their ringtone, text message tone & notification tone on their mobile phone. The consumer is now a walking audio billboard, micro-broadcasting a branded message and earning a reward for themselves or for a charity of their choice.

Brands can create a campaign selecting their target consumer by age, gender, location, mobile network & smartphone usage. Brands can also display rich media at the end of calls when a consumer is naturally interrupted and alert in the form of coupons, videos, content or engagement activities based off intelligent consumer movement analysis and prior engagement behaviour, meaning FoneSense identifies what advertising medium should be served at this point by using any relevant context available.

Follow FoneSense's progress:
Website / Twitter / Facebook

7. Acteavo

For tour and activity businesses seeking to grow and manage their online and offline bookings, Acteavo automates and streamlines your booking and business operations. Unlike email contact forms or excel spreadsheets our product allows you to manage your business from one simple dashboard.

Acteavo provides users with a beautiful mobile ready marketing website to showcase your activities, a flexible e-commerce system to schedule, price and manage your inventory with built in integrations to market leading payment gateways. They give you the tools to accelerate your business, setting you free from the office and mounting paperwork.

Follow Acteavo's progress:
Facebook / Google+ / Twitter / YouTube / LinkedIn

8. OpenWifi

Open Wifi's technology enables organisations to build on their existing mobile strategy and add value and enhance their customer's in-store experience.

They have developed a proprietary hot-spot system which combined with dedicated high speed internet back-haul delivers a high performance Wi-Fi service to smartphone, laptop and tablet users.

Follow OpenWifi's progress:
Website / Twitter / Facebook


Automated buying and selling of text ads and native ads. RTLINX provides advertisers with a new way of purchasing text links across the Internet. Their platform uses Real Time Bidding (RTB) technology to provide the right and most relevant links, at the right time and price to the right audience.

Follow RTLINX's progress:
Website / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn

I'd like to commend the hard work and support that Gene Murphy and FCR Media lends to the startup community in Ireland. If you'd like to profile your start-up, accelerator or incubator please email [email protected]

Photo Credits