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Emerging HR Start-Up Wins NovaUCD’s 2022 Student Enterprise Competition

  • Date: Thu, Jun 30, 2022

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Photo: Strive team members Aness Al Qawlaq, Saoirse Kelders and Sean Hughes. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

“We want to help students across Ireland by matching them to jobs and enabling them to realise that the first step in their career is exciting. We also want to help employers to recruit the right person for their organisation,” said Saoirse Kelders, part of the winning team of the 2022 NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition.

‘strive’, an emerging HR start-up, was recently announced as the overall winner of the competition receiving a €5,000 cash prize.

The members of the ‘strive’ team are, Saoirse Kelders, who recently completed the BComm International with Chinese language, in the UCD Lochlann Quinn School of Business, Raena McElwee, who has just completed her studies in the UCD School of Mathematics and Statistics along with Yevhenii Mormul and Aness Al Qawlaq, both undergraduate students in the UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Sean Hughes, a graduate of Global Commerce at NUI Galway.

What is ‘strive’?

“The inspiration for ‘strive’ came from our own and friends' frustration with recruitment processes and the lack of available information on internship/graduate opportunities in startups/SMEs,” said Saoirse, a Rathfarnham native.

The team found that students and graduates are unsure of what internships or jobs offers they want to accept during or after college, and end up accepting roles that they are not excited or passionate about. In addition, employers struggle to increase their brand visibility to source ‘the right fit’ and improve retention rates.

“We decided to speak to students from universities across Ireland and recruiters/employers in different companies. We figured out what the three consistent issues were and developed the platform as a solution to those key problems.”

The team came up with ‘strive’—an online platform to match students and recent graduates to job opportunities by providing an optimal fit between the individual and the employer using a machine learning algorithm and an intuitive user experience.

“strive’s goal is to be the world’s first transparency-based recruitment platform, providing equal visibility to start-ups, SMEs, social enterprises, and multinational corporations and to encourage students and graduates to think bigger about the first step in their careers, to be bold, and spark curiosity and excitement for the future,” said Saoirse.

The platform aims to focus on providing higher quality information about career opportunities, transparency, and data driven insights to empower students to find careers they are truly passionate about and to enable employers to improve retention rates and hire better suited candidates for their organisation.

“Winning the competition was incredibly exciting and the feedback we received from the judges was invaluable,” concluded Kelders. “We are currently in the process of applying for New Frontiers Phase 2 and several incubators and accelerators. We plan to soft launch in a month and hard launch in UCD in September.”

Follow strive on LinkedIn here and Instagram here.

NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition

The NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition is an intensive 4-week mentoring programme for student entrepreneurs. The programme now in its 8th year, is run by NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at University College Dublin, as a framework to support undergraduate and postgraduate students who want to work together to develop and grow start-up companies.

The aim of the competition is to assist the participating students in refining their start-up ideas through a series of structured workshops, including taught content from industry experts, interactive workshops, regular pitching sessions and mentoring. Ten early-stage student ventures and 24 participants took part in year’s competition. Over 60 early-stage ventures and nearly 150 students have now completed the NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition over the last 8 years.

Two other participating ventures, Trust Homes and, were announced as second and third place winners and receive €3,000 and €2,000 cash prizes respectively.

Trust Homes aims to provide a transparent, reliable, and secure housing platform for both tenants and landlords to protect them from scams. Trust Homes removes biases, stress and anxiety in the house hunting process. With user-friendly features and credibility, the platform promotes inclusiveness and provides a fair system for both landlord and tenants to find the right home and right tenant.

The members of the Trust Homes team are, Thejesvi Bhagavath Kumar and Reshma Shetty, postgraduate students in the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. 

Tom Flanagan, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, said, “It was fantastic that after two years of being virtual this year’s 4-week competition took place in-person enabling the participating students to come together at NovaUCD to refine their start-up ideas. We now hope in the months ahead to see many of these early-stage student ventures move forward and develop further and in due course successfully launch on the market. I would especially like to congratulate the strive team, the overall winner of this year’s NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition.”

The members of the judging panel were Michelle O’Grady, Senior Development Advisor, Fintech, Financial and Business Services, Enterprise Ireland; Weili Wang, Investment Associate, Atlantic Bridge; Orla Reynolds, New Frontiers Programme Manager, IADT and Tom Flanagan, Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, NovaUCD (Chair).

The 4-week mentoring programme, which used the Lean Startup and Business Model Canvas approach, included a series of  structured and interactive workshops and interactive workshops led by Raomal Perera and Rohan Perera of Lean Disruptor.

The sponsors of the 2022 NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition are, AIB, Arthur Cox, Deloitte, Ericsson, Goodbody Stockbrokers and Xilinx.

Information provided by Micéal Whelan, Communications and Media Relations Manager, NovaUCD.


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