Mayhem and technology on full display at Uprise Festival

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Having been to more tech conferences than I’d like to admit, Uprise Festival is refreshing. The people-first technology event is loosely organised around tackling big issues with an irreverent attitude.

Technology, music, workshops and mayhem: that’s what the organisers promised. In a way, that’s what we got.

Uprise is a beautiful way to see startups (both from Dublin and abroad) in ‘the wild’ as they make a big splash. Speakers share their wisdom in conversations, not egocentric keynote talks that you’ve heard variations of before.

The battle

And then there’s the pitch battle. Conversations about the past battles are legendary. Four Irish startups and five business from beyond our shores battle in an extremely quick elevator pitch-a-thon and it gets pretty crazy.

“Did you hear someone dropped their pants last time?,” one entrepreneur told me.

I’m not quite sure what to make of that story but it’s clear some of the best minds in the room want to see all of these startups succeed.

Ronan Kelly, co-founder of Bespoke Choice, pitched as part of Team Green (the Irish startups). His family business, the Errigal Hotel in County Cavan, helped inspire his software to help wedding venues showcase their offerings.

Instead of a PDF with Option A, Option B, and Option C, Bespoke Choice gives brides a way to drag and drop options to plan out a customised wedding online.

Brides can chose everything from the dinner menu to tablecloths. The system also helps with the event management on the back-end with a way to potentially up-sell items later.

For independent venues, this could be a huge opportunity to stand out in a growing industry.

“There are more and more weddings,” says Kelly. “And [couples are] going to more and more unique places.”

For many venues, like the Kelly family’s hotel, the real advantage of better software is that it can reach wider audiences. Consider the couple planning a destination wedding. Kelly says their system makes it easier for the bride to make decisions without physically visiting the venue.

“This makes this process so much easier,” says Kelly.

Bespoke Choice is currently only in a beta stage (the family venue has already tried out the software) but they plan to launch in early January, right in time for all of the Christmas and New Year engagements.

Also on Team Green is Trupe founder Brian Halligan. Like Bespoke Choice, Trupe will launch later this year. It uses geofencing for people to share video and photos. For example, fans attending a concert could share their snaps with other fans in the arena.

This differs from most social experiences because it means you are sharing things with people you don’t necessarily know but you have a shared interest.

“There’s a lot to learn. People do want to actually reach out further than their social graph,” says Halligan. “At the same time people with anonymity can lead to negative behaviour.”

Halligan says they’re trying to avoid the pitfalls that brought down another social network depending on geofencing called Yik Yak.

As reported, the anonymous messaging app became a haven for cruelty and bullying before it was shut down this year.

Trupe, will not be fully anonymous, since it will be linked to a person’s Facebook account. The platform will also be open, which Halligan believes will lead to better quality content.

“We are very much photo and video based,” says Halligan. “Video is the new keyboard.”

The winners

Trupe, Bespoke Choice and the other Irish startups, of course, have a tough fight ahead of them. They have to out-pitch startups from around the world. 30 minutes and a crowd vote determines the winner…

The prize eventually went to Dutch-based Bloo Vision, which provides training to help children overcome a lazy eye.

And just like that, another year of Uprise Festival in Dublin was finished and moved onto the streets of Dublin to party the night away… The conversations were intimate and real. The battles were wild. And thankfully, trousers remained firmly on.

See you all next year for more mayhem!

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