‘Talka’ takes the prize home at TES Dragon's Den 2019!

By SHREYA PATTAR,
TES Incubator Communications Ambassador

6 amazing pitches.
5 ticking minutes.
€10,000 fund prize.

“And the winner of Dragon’s Den 2019 is...”, announced Ekaterina Lait, President of TES, “...Talka!”. A thunderous applause followed, as Francesco Tai Bernardelli walked up the stage to claim the prize for his pioneering solution for curing speech impairment.

Bounce’, a real-time market survey innovation by Charlie Butler, Brian O’Mahony, Ronan Dowling-Cullen and Josh Stafford, was the runner-up of the Dragon’s Den.

The most awaited TES event of the year, the Dragon’s Den, took place on 7th February at the fully packed Synge Theatre in Trinity’s Arts Block. Six teams pitched their revolutionary ideas to a panel of industry experts, which included Eamonn Quinn (RTE Dragon, Former Deputy Chairman of Superquinn), Zack Dutton (Founder of Unifund and Co-Founder of Bad Apple), Sarah Tully (Bank of Ireland), Ramona Nicholas (RTE Dragon, Executive Director of CaraPharmacies) and Gavan Drohan (Head of Student Entrepreneurship, Tangent). The teams competed for the ultimate prize fund of upto €10,000 and a place on LaunchBox 2019.

The event began with Callum Mc Donnell, TES Ambassador, welcoming and introducing the judges and teams, and thanking the audience for being a part of one of the most exciting TES Events. Callum invited the teams on stage one by one, as they pitched for 5 minutes, and were then asked questions by the panel for another 5 minutes.

Bounce (the runner-up) was the first to pitch. Their concept was to provide real-time feedback of customer/ market surveys to companies, and provide customers rewards for their feedback. They aimed to deliver value to everyone through the accuracy, speed, engagement potential, quality and rewards of their innovation.

This was followed by Caballis, a company that creates natural treats for horses. The team had already sold 6 tonnes of horse treats, including 2.5 tonnes in a span of 5 days at an event. The team backed their pitch with a sample of their products, which they presented to the judges to look at.

Talka (the winner) presented next, addressing the problems faced by speech therapists. The normal treatment involves therapists giving patients a list of words to repeat out loud at home, but this is not always effective due to lack of engagement, collaboration and data. As a speech recognition platform, Talka would identify the amount and quality of practice, while also sending data to the therapists. The business model would be a SaaS company, which seeks to provide a solution for children as young as 5 years.

Fitzy took the stage next. The team explained the problem of old people falling very often, and hurting themselves severely. Their solution was to develop an outfit out of viscoelastic material that absorbs pain shocks. Additionally, it would sense the motion of the person and send alerts to a healthcare centre after a certain time of fall. Their target market included insurance companies, health providers, nursing homes and private clinics. They ended the presentation with an impressive timeline showing the progress of the idea.

This pitch was followed by Quikserve, a company that aimed to encourage people to drink in a more controlled environment by getting them out of their home-drinking culture, while simultaneously filling venues. With the bar industry creating 90,000 jobs in Ireland and being a huge pull factor for tourism, the Quikserve app makes nightlife easier for customers as well as bartenders. The app allows the customers to pre-order and pay for their drinks, and go and collect it when ready. This provides the benefit of time efficiency, less cash handling, customer satisfaction and no more queuing.

The final pitch was Fire Bean, an innovative way to make the most of 500,000 tonnes of annual coffee waste. Their idea was a coffee firelighter which could be used to start fireplaces, since 68% of Irish homes still use the fireplace. They provided a sample to the panel of judges, while explaining the benefits of their product over logs and lighters. The also explained their roadmap, and shared about the future products like the fire bean log and colour changing firestarters.

The pitches ended with a huge round of applause by the audience, who were very impressed by the pitches. The audience excitedly discussed their opinion amongst themselves while they all awaited the results. After 10 minutes of an anxious wait, the winners were announced, as the audience roared and cheered for the winning teams. The night ended with an amazed audience, with the After Party taking place at Sams Bar on Dawson Street.