Former Solve-It Challenge winner up for USI entrepreneur award

Jonathan O'Donnell accepting his cheque from AIB WIT and AIB Lisduggan branch having won the Solve-It Challenege

Jonathan O'Donnell accepting his cheque from AIB WIT and AIB Lisduggan branch having won the Solve-It Challenege

WIT Applied Health Care student Jonathan O’Donnell tells us of his entrepreneurial journey following on from his 2015 WIT Solve-it Challenge success

Final year Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) student, Jonathan O’ Donnell, has gone from strength to strength since winning the Solve-It Challenge in 2015. Most recently he has been nominated for Student Entrepreneur of the Year award in the USI Student Achievement Awards 2016.

The BSc Applied Healthcare student won the WIT innovation competition with his healthcare services product, Appidoc, an app which encourages patients to keep on top of their appointments.

Jonathan found “staggering statistics” highlighting the prevalence of “no shows” in Ireland regarding doctors’ appointments.

The concept of Appidoc came to Jonathan while on clinical placement in his second year at WIT, he said he had “identified problems with missed healthcare appointments” and he found the whole process of making, rescheduling and cancelling appointments to be outdated and difficult.

“The HSE estimates its loss through missed appointments each year is approximately €33 million, which excludes the cost for general practitioners. Other research has found that 1,300 appointments are being missed on a daily basis, costing in the region of €8 million,” said Jonathan.

Having won the 2015 Solve-It Challenge, Jonathan was one of 20 students who were selected for the Student Start-Up Week in Dublin, where he pitched to potential investors.

Following on from his experience at Student Start-Up Dublin, Jonathan went on to find himself becoming a finalist in the Waterford division for the Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Competition.

More than 1,400 entrepreneurs, between the ages of 18 and 31 applied to become Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, and Jonathan, was shortlisted as a finalist.

Finalists are chosen on the basis that their initiative is an outstanding idea/commercial venture for a start-up or established business.

Following on from the Solve-It Challenge, Jonathan managed to make it into phase one of the Enterprise Ireland New Frontiers, which is Ireland’s national entrepreneur development programme for innovative, early-stage start-ups, with Appidoc.

Since his success with Appidoc, Jonathan has begun a new initiative, Home Carers Ireland.

“Home Carers Ireland is an online platform which allows families of those requiring home-care assistance to search a directory of available private home carers in their locality.”

Jonathan says the inspiration for Home Carers Ireland came about while working for an agency.

“I am not currently working for this agency anymore. I took some time off work to finish the remaining weeks I have left in my degree,” Jonathan says.

 The Home Carers Ireland online platform is the first of its kind in Ireland, according to Jonathan, the WIT student says that families can make up to a 50% saving when avoiding agencies and choosing to employ a home care giver privately.

Jonathan’s primary focus is to finish college and obtain his degree in Applied Healthcare, Jonathan says his long term plan involves applying to phase two of the New Frontiers Programme when he has completed his three year degree at WIT.

“I have found it a bit of a challenge, developing my enterprise ideas and juggling my final year in college. It is my priority to finish my course with a solid grade, so once I am finished, I hope to apply to phase two of New Frontiers and continue on my entrepreneurial path.”

About the BSc Applied Health Care

The BSc in Applied Health Care is the first course of its kind in Ireland and is designed to help students understand the varied needs of patients across their lifespan and enable you to deliver direct health care in hospitals, community care, general practice, pharmaceutical industry and health research. It is delivered in a purpose-built, state-of-the-art learning environment and students undertake clinical practice in a variety of healthcare settings around the south east region. The student will be taught over three years through a model that we call KSVSE (Knowledge, Science, Values and Attitudes, Skills and Experience).

About the Solve-It challenge

The Solve-It competition was launched by the Centre for Enterprise Development & Regional Company, a research group in the School of Business at WIT. The challenge focuses on students who consider themselves creative and have an idea for a new product or service. Students who take part in the competition will gain entrepreneurial experience and have the opportunity to win mentoring worth €400 as well as the possibility of winning €3,000 more. Students who are eager to enter must identify “a problem” and come up with a solution to solve it. The competition is open to both undergraduate and postgraduate students at WIT. Entrants are required to develop their idea at a conceptual level and do some basic market research to demonstrate the opportunity they have found.

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