IGNITE's Sarah Dineen Receives Investment Offer on Dragon's Den
Sarah Dineen became the youngest female entreprenuer to receive investment from RTÉ’s Dragons’ Den following successful pitch of UniWink.com business concept.
UniWink.com is an innovative social e-learning platform for third level students across Ireland that facilitates peer-to-peer collaboration and knowledge sharing with the end goal of boosting grades nationwide.
UniWink.com has just received a welcome boost in the form of a €40,000 investment from entrepreneur Barry O’Sullivan as part of RTÉ’s Dragons’ Den. The episode, which aired on Sunday, 11th May, featured participants from third level institutions including UniWink.com MD Sarah Dineen. Ms Dineen was 22-years-old at the time of filming making her the youngest female entrepreneur to receive investment in the six seasons of the popular Irish show to date.
With the tagline of ‘Let’s Collaborate to Graduate’, UniWink.com allows third level students to access and share top quality lecture notes and course material that are star-rated and approved by UniWink.com before going live on the site. It is an initiative by students, for students and is the only dedicated peer-led tool of its kind in Ireland and the UK. Among the unique features of the site are:
- Innovative combination of social e-learning and peer-assisted collaboration with current and past students to facilitate knowledge sharing on a national scale.
- Customised content that enables students to access lecture notes, textbook notes, essays, sample exam answers, exam tips and video tutorials. The ‘wink’ credit system allows users to contribute and benefit from the community.
- Planned developments to the site will also enable users to instantly access real-time tutorials with UniWink experts.
Although the initial roll out of UniWink.com will focus primarily on Irish universities and institutes of technology starting with Cork and Limerick, there are already plans in place to extend the reach of UniWink.com to the UK market by year three.
From Blackrock in Co Cork, Ms Dineen is currently on the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme and comes from a family of entrepreneurs. She co-founded UniWink.com with her brother Mark Dineen who is the company’s CMO.
“The idea for UniWink.com came from my own frustrations as an undergraduate student,” explains Ms Dineen. “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.
“We will initally outreach to undergraduate and postgraduate students in the nine National Universities of Ireland and 14 Institutes of Technologies in Ireland before expanding our reach to colleges throughout the UK and Ireland in year three. 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.”
Collaboration is key to the success of UniWink.com and the team, led by Ms Dineen, is currently in the process of recruiting top students and graduates as UniWink experts who will create content and provide tutoring experience. UniWink.com currently employes three part-time paid marketing and sales staff, and plans to grow the team to seven full-time and seven part-time paid employees by 2016. Keen to maintain its ‘by students, for students’ philosophy, all employees will be current or past students.
There are also significant developments being made to future features of the site to allow for real-time tutoring sessions with UniWink experts, a UniWink Smart App to allow users to access their notes ‘on-the-go’, and mobilised flash cards to enhance the learning experience.