Student Entrepreneurs Embark On Unique Collaboration

A group of student entrepreneurs are embarking upon a unique collaboration to bring an award-winning toy game online.

Three Leaving Certificate students from Leitrim, previous Senior Category winners at the Student Enterprise Awards National Finals for their Squeazy toy, have partnered with Sillan Studios, a visual effects and animation studio set up by a 15-year old Monaghan student, to develop the Squeazy App. 

The first-ever formal collaboration of its kind in the 13-year history of the awards programme, which is organised by the Local Enterprise Offices, the Squeazy App has being launched by the students just in time for Christmas.

Available as a free download on Apple and Android devices and with over 600 downloads to date, plans are in place to generate revenue streams at a later stage through in-app advertising.

Both companies were prize-winners in the annual Student Enterprise Awards, which are run by all 31 Local Enterprise Offices around the country and last year attracted 17,000 teenage entrepreneurs from over 370 secondary schools. 

Jonathan White (15), a student at Patrician High School, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan is a self-taught designer who set up Sillan Studio following his participation in the 2014 Student Enterprise Awards Programme.  Jonathan won third place in the Intermediate Category for his computer game, Recineration and recently attended the Future 8 Awards at the Google Campus in London.

Since securing the Senior Category Award win in 2013, Fergus Munday (17), Luke Sheridan (17) and Matthew Hewston (18) of Squeazy, who attend St. Clare’s Comprehensive in Manorhamilton have continued to grow their business.  They have diversified into different product ranges, including the ‘Wedding Squeazy’ and expanded their distribution channels to include retail as well as online.

Another previous participant in the Student Enterprise Awards, Stephen Alger (17) from Blackrock College, Co. Dublin, has also continued to develop his business beyond the classroom.  His company, Interactive Arts, has created the iRevise Geography iBook, an interactive Geography revision iBook, which synchronises with the Junior Certificate syllabus. The product spent 31 days at the number one position in the paid iBookStore textbook categories.

Congratulating the students on their new ventures, Vincent Reynolds, Chair of National Network of Local Enterprise Offices said: "These young entrepreneurs are fantastic examples of the energy and enthusiasm that we see on a daily basis at the Local Enterprise Offices across the country.  Seeking opportunities to grow their companies and expand their product range, they’ve moved their businesses forward; embracing technologies and establishing bright futures for themselves.”

The Chair of the Enterprise Education Committee with the Local Enterprise Offices, Stephen Walshe, said: “The Student Enterprise Awards programme offers secondary school students the opportunity to learn important business and teamwork skills in the classroom and Squeazy, Sillan Studios and Interactive Arts are prime examples of the longterm impact this kind of training can have on young people. Opening their eyes to the world of business and helping them to develop talents and skills they may not have otherwise explored, this educational proSEA Collaborationgramme offers students a chance to run their own real-life enterprise, and ultimately help to foster an enterprising culture throughout the country.”

Pictured: Stephen Walshe (Chair of the Enterprise Education Committee with the Local Enterprise Offices), Matthew Hewston (Squeazy, St. Clare's Comprehensive, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim), Luke Sheridan (Squeazy), Jonathan White (Sillan Studios, Patrician High School, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan), Fergus Munday (Squeazy) and Vincent Reynolds (Chair of the National Network of Local Enterprise Offices).

Launched by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D. in September, the 2014/2015 Student Enterprise Awards Programme is currently being delivered by co-ordinators into schools across the country.  The National Finals will be held in April 2015.

Further details about the Student Enterprise Programme are available on social media and Twitter: @StudentEntAward.  The hashtag is #studententerprise.