An Irish brother and sister have secured Dragons’ Den investment in their college notes sharing business they hope will become Europe’s best virtual learning community.
Sarah and Mark Dineen from Cork are now poised to hire staff and gather content for their website ahead of its official launch in September.
UCC graduate Sarah, 23, from Blackrock, became one of the youngest entrepreneurs to land Dragons’ Den investment after successfully pitching the groundbreaking e-learning tool for students that she developed with brother Mark, 28.
Their UniWink.com idea so impressed entrepreneur and Dragon Barry O’Sullivan that he agreed to plough €40,000 into the venture.
“Our ambition is to build a third-level virtual learning community in Ireland and the UK, and, ultimately, become the number one peer-to-peer learning platform in Europe,” Sarah said.
UniWink allows students to access and share approved and rated lecture notes, textbook notes, essays, sample exam answers, tips, and tutorials.
Its ‘wink’ credit system allows users to contribute and benefit from the community, with plans to provide real-time tutorials with UniWink experts.
“The idea for UniWink.com came from my own frustrations as an undergraduate student,” said Sarah.
“I found it difficult to source relevant course material and assistance in the lead-up to exam time or assignment deadlines when time pressures are generally at their greatest.
“UniWink.com meets this gap in the market by providing a genuine solution to the time pressures facing students, while also ensuring that the content available is top-class course material that will support them in achieving strong grades at exam time or for project work.”
They will spend the summer sourcing content and paying honours students up to €150 for high-quality course notes, but Sarah said they are finding it particularly difficult to source good science notes.
Once the site goes live, they will target undergraduate and postgraduate students in UCC, NUI Galway, UL, CIT, and UCD, before rolling it out to all universities and institutes of technology.
There are plans to target the UK by 2017.
They are working on a tiered pricing structure but it is expected that monthly subscription fees will start from €9.99.
Commerce graduate and master’s student Sarah is managing director. She is undertaking a dissertation around female entrepreneurs and tribal marketing at UCC. She plans to convert her master’s to a part-time PhD in October.
Mark has an honours degree in business studies from CIT, and is currently the marketing manager for Right Price Tiles.
* If you’re an honours student and think your notes are up to scratch, email firstname.lastname@example.org.