Creative Minds 2016 – Top Takeaways

Creative Minds 2016 – Top Takeaways

It’s been a long week, from Creative Minds to Uprise Festival. Along with my normal client work, I’ve been through the wringer recently. I’ve loved every minute, but damn I’m tired. So let’s get this going because even a week after the whole thing, I’m still shattered!

Creative Minds 16 is a partnership between the US Embassy and DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship which invites young social innovators for a cross-border social entrepreneurship hackathon.

The theme of the hackathon was to create a social innovation, product or service that facilitates Refugee Inclusion, Integration and Self-Reliance.

The theme varies for every event, but at you can probably guess, it was quite topical!


So anyway here are my takeaways from the weekend.


Creative Minds 2016

You create a social enterprise in 52 hours.

Yes. It’s crazy. Just like startup weekend (which is on the 4th November in Limerick by the way) you will build a working(thereabout) enterprise in 52 hours. On the first day, participants pitch their ideas for what they think is a viable business that will assist in the integration of refugees. The pitches ranged from fully developed ideas, to off the wall and half baked ideas. Quite a mix, but both sides saw success. For example, one of the highest voted team’s initial pitch was:

“Intel are sponsoring this event, and they have money, so let’s do something with that!”.

Of course I joined that team!


Over the next two days each team of 10 or so worked on their ideas and developed them into a viable MVP (minimum viable product) for the final pitch to the judges. In our team we split into research, presentation and strategy teams, and cooperated to design our ideal solution to the problems that we had identified.

Hackathons like Creative Minds really allow you to flex many of your talents in a business sense. It doesn’t matter whether you have professional background, your a student or just have an interest in the theme, everyone’s input matters. From my experience, I truly learned a lot from my teammates, and hopefully I influenced one or two of them to explore a career in startups. (Come to the dark side!)

Creative Minds 2016

The networking opportunities are insane!

Seriously. Where else do you get to meet the US Ambassador? However, that’s not even the most valuable connect you can get over the weekend. You see the people you meet at #CMHack16 are some of the most forward thinking individuals that I’ve ever met!

The sheer awareness of serious social issues that they possessed was amazing. Now I’d be the first to admit that social awareness isn’t the highest on my list of priorities. Honestly it was quite hard for me to not constantly pose the question:

“How do we make this profitable?”

Now this lot, they know what they’re talking about, and the best part, they want to make a difference.

I met people who worked for multinationals and startups alike, and from my experience, building a network of the next generation of thought leaders is incredibly important in both a personal and professional sense.

Seriously, develop your damn network!


Creative Minds 2016

You make a difference

At the end of the day if you affect one individual, you’ve done great. That’s the amazing thing with Creative Minds. Even though everyone is in direct competition with each other, you are all working towards the same common goal.

Improving refugee’s lives.

With teams such as Líonra, a peer-to-peer platform that facilitates refugee integration through skill exchange and knowledge sharing, Isle of Hope a programme to promote inclusiveness by matching refugee and local families to build friendships and support systems and Health Path a digital health platform to help refugees access health services in their native languages. You can see the excellence in these ideas, and all benefits for refugees.

One other noteworthy tech solution was Identify Refugee, (*cough cough* my team) which uses block-chain digital identification to help refugees establish and verify their identify and medical information. Although we didn’t win, we received an honorable mention as “Most disruptive”. What can I say, we aimed big.

Very big.


Creative Minds 2016

You’ll meet some excellent mentors

As with any hackathon, there is always an excellent suite of mentors on hand to help. The mentors provide key insights into a particular industry, can connect you with thought leaders to help validate your ideas and seek out the flaws and help you pivot your business.

We were particularly influenced by Lye Ogunsanya, who leads the newly established Irish Chapter of Techfugees (So new it coincided with the event!). Of course a major help to all teams throughout the weekend was the energetic and inspiring Hackathon Facilitator – Nubi Kay. Whenever a team started to falter, Nubi was there to reinvigorate them. There were several more mentors who helped guide the teams and really are great connects. Who knows you might see them at the next hackathon!

At the end…

Creative Minds 16 was a great experience, and I’d like to think its had done a lot of good for the world. I would highly suggest that you attend the next one.


Bonus tip: Try and keep the Red Bulls & Coffees to a minimum. In the long run, its not worth the energy crashes. Trust me.

Creative Minds Top Takeaways:

    • You create a social enterprise in 52 hours.

    • The networking opportunities are insane.

    • You make a difference.

    • You’ll meet some excellent mentors.

If you’re interested in attending a hackathon then you should definitely keep an eye on the CM series page for the next Creative Minds and also check out Startup Weekend Limerick taking place November 4th.