Mapping Dublin’s tech ecosystem, one human at a time.
I am an architect by vocation. One of my first breaks was winning the international design competition for the U2 Tower and overnight we found ourselves working on our dream project. Everything was going great; our small practice was working on landmark Irish projects. However it turned out a lot of our big clients banked with the same bank – a certain infamous bank – and in 2008 almost overnight everything stopped. In the wake of this, we did bits and pieces, small projects which paid the bills, but it didn’t excite me.
I looked around to find something that interested me. I love design and technology, and in this, I saw a potential future. I had fallen in love with the iPad when it first came out. It was a huge deal for designers. No more drawing on paper, scanning, and adjusting the levels. I noticed a problem though. The tips of the stylus were rubbery and did not accurately detect pressure sensitivity, especially after they had been used for a while. I wondered if the thickness of lines could be controlled in another way.
Not knowing where to start, I attended hackathons, meetups and Startup Weekends. I met an incredible bunch of people, and I shared my ideas with them. At one of the hackathons, I received an Intel Galileo board. Tenuously I attached a sensor and a LED to it, followed some instructions on YouTube, and with no real electronics know-how I go it to flash – it worked! With some additional components, I made a very basic electronic device that could detect how much I squeezed it. That would become the core of Scriba.
At the end of 2014 I was accepted into the Hothouse New Frontiers Program and with an almost working prototype I made the leap and quit my architecture job – the practice I’d spent 15 years building was doing nothing for me anymore. By the middle of January 2015, I had a first version Scriba prototype.
We ran a Kickstarter campaign last July and raised €67,000. Then the real work started as we tried to deliver to our backers. It turned out that our timing wasn’t great: Apple had just released their stylus.
We went to the backers and told them we were going to delay because we knew we could deliver something much bigger. We improved battery life and added haptics to the stylus which opened up its potential to go beyond design, into other sectors where a stylus made the difference in user experience.
Along the way, we partnered with Autodesk, the software developers behind Fusion 360 which we used to develop Scriba, and we are now exploring potential integration. We have also had a great response from Microsoft as we continue our development to make Scriba work with the Surface Pro.
The Scriba stylus goes on sale next month.
The Dublin startup ecosystem has been phenomenal in creating all this: there is so much openness and willingness to help. So many people have given time and effort altruistically. They got me over the line when things were not working out. Compared to a couple of years ago I’m busy and constantly challenged, and I barely have time to see my old friends anymore; most of the people that I spend my time with, I’ve known for less than a year.
I don’t think I could have joined the community at a better time.