The second annual Dublin Startup Week, which took place from October 21st – 25th 2019, was a celebration of the city’s innovation and startup ecosystem.

With five days of networking events, keynotes, panels and workshops – all free of charge – the event was aimed at future, current, and repeat startup founders. Find out more at dublinstartupweek.com

In the third part of our Startupweek mini-series, we meet Roisin Lyons, captain of the event’s university track.

Roisin Lyons, who is a professor in entrepreneurship at DCU, has no time for the mindset that says, in effect, ‘Innovation? Oh, that’s just for innovators’. “Everyone needs to be innovative”, she believes, “everyone needs to be enterprising, particularly with growing issues of sustainability in Ireland. People have to be more inventive about solutions”.

People have to be more inventive about solutions

Which is precisely where Startup Week comes in: “I think the things that you can learn from something like Startup Week, or something like entrepreneurship, you can apply to any context.”

Fundamentally, she believes it’s all about a way of thinking. “Yes. It’s a real problem-solving approach to life. I think that being around people who are on that journey, it’s infectious. You start to see the world differently, how you can make value out of something that someone maybe has disregarded.”

Which is why she suggests that even non-entrepreneurs have a role to play. “We’re trying to create an ecosystem where not everyone has to be an entrepreneur, but you should know enough about entrepreneurship and what’s going on around you to be able to support them and to scaffold their development.”

Roisin Lyons

Roisin Lyons

Naturally enough, Dr Lyons is very keen for students to think along these lines too: “Some students opt out of the entrepreneurship lifestyle because they think, ‘Well, I don’t think I want to have a startup’”. She thinks they should come on down to Startup Week anyway. “You don’t need to have a startup idea all ready to go. You might be just interested in what’s going on in the city with regards to business, enterprise, and community.”

She believes that students can benefit from the networking opportunities that the event will provide. “It’s an excellent network of people to be around”, she says. She mentions some of her students who are taking entrepreneurship modules in college. “They could be accounting students or engineering students, and while they may never want to join the world of startups themselves, they’ll have to consult with entrepreneurs in their day-to-day lives”, she says. “I want students just to look up from whatever they’re doing and see the ecosystem in Dublin, and whether that be to attend one event or ten, a student event or something online, I just would like them to be aware.”

I want students just to look up from whatever they’re doing and see the ecosystem in Dublin

Another great thing to be aware of as a student, she says, is that there’s a lot of people out there who are willing to help you. “You can get loads of free advice and free mentorship from teachers and business people because everyone in Ireland is supportive of student entrepreneurship. Get yourself a mentor or a coach, join a program, and start reaching out and getting support”.

Any other top tips for students from the university track captain? “Well, I’m a teacher,” she says, “so I like it when people do their homework. An idea is only as good as the research to support it. Maybe not so much the business plan, but I think a good feasibility study helps with everything. If you have a good idea and it’s stayed with you for a certain length of time, and you feel quite excited, start doing your homework and start looking into it, and start talking to people”.

And where better to do that than at Startup Week? Keep up with the event organisers on social to get continued insights throughout the year, and head along to next year’s events!

Laurence is a writer, cyclist and gardener. He’s always finding new things to like about Dublin, the city where’s he’s spent most of his life.

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