A Limerick-based start-up has won the top prize of $50,000 on a major American reality TV show competition.
On top of the huge cash prize, Huggnote co-founders, sisters Jacqui and Perry Meskell, will now receive mentorship from a panel of leading entrepreneurs as they look to introduce their messaging app to a global audience.
What is Huggnote?
Huggnote is a multi-platform application that curates music by emotion, making it easy to find the perfect song for anything you want to express and send it to friends or loved ones, wherever in the world they may be – using just your phone.
Essentially, the app turns people’s favourite songs into virtual ‘huggs’ to send to anyone, anywhere. It’s free to use, with the recipient getting to stream the song once.
Users choose a song from a selection of curated themes, including “I Love You”, “I’m Sorry”, “Happy Birthday”, “I Miss You”. The app has an option of adding a personal message which appears like rolling credits on-screen as the music plays.
The idea for the app came about while co-founder Jacqui Meskell was working on a project in Brussels.
While away, a song came on the radio – Grant Lee Buffalo’s ‘Fuzzy’ – that reminded Jacqui of a close friend who was going through a tough time.
The Limerick-native wanted to gift the song to her friend as a way to give her an emotional boost, but after discovering there wasn’t any suitable way to do that, Jacqui teamed up with her sister Perry to create a messaging app to convey emotion through music.
Making an impact
The beta version of Huggnote has been used by over 250,000 people in more than 200 countries since its launch in 2019, with users ranging from 18 to 80.
The start-up was awarded the Competitive Start Fund by Enterprise Ireland in 2016 and has gone on to win a number of awards, including the Mozilla Builders Award for companies with the potential to ‘fix the internet’.
Cracking the US
Huggnote was the first Irish start-up to be picked as a finalist for the US business competition show 2 Minute Drill, which airs on Bloomberg TV and Amazon Prime.
Hosted by legendary entrepreneur, investor, and best-selling author David Meltzer, five contestants have just two minutes to persuade a panel of four esteemed judges that their pitch is the best, with the winner receiving $50,000 as well as mentorship from the panel of judges.
Jacqui appeared on the show this week to discuss Huggnote and delivered a two minute pitch which impressed the panel and saw her claim the $50,000 prize.
Speaking after the show, host Meltzer praised Jacqui’s pitch and predicted a big future for the Limerick start-up.
“Huggnote is one of those ideas that seems so obvious you wonder why nobody else has done it before,” he said. “When I first heard Jacqui speak about her passion for Huggnote’s mission, it resonated with me immediately.
“I’ve long understood the power of music to motivate and energise athletes, and now Huggnote is harnessing that same power for everyone. With users in every country in the world, Huggnote’s potential to create a happier and more connected world is clear.”
“We’re absolutely delighted,” said Jacqui. “We were honoured to just be selected as it is such great exposure for Huggnote in the US – a key market of ours. But to be chosen as the winner by such an elite entrepreneurial panel is a great confidence boost because these guys really know what it takes to build and scale nine-figure companies.”
On top of the $50,000 prize, Jacqui and Perry will also receive mentorship from the panel, which the two Limerick sisters say offers them an incredible opportunity to bring their messaging app to a global audience.
This content was originally published here.