This week on Start-up Spotlight I interviewed Ellen Le Bas, co-founder of MLN (pronounced ‘melon’), a real-time commuting solution for enterprises in the form of carpooling. MLN is run by Ellen, a recent UCD graduate with a Masters in Computer Engineering, and her co-founder Manal, a final year Business and Law student. Still in its development stages, the duo are currently focusing on building a user-friendly app and sourcing their first customers. Their short journey has been nothing less than promising thus far; let’s take a look at it.
Ellen and Manal bonded over their mutual frustration over the lack of car parking spaces in UCD, a problem which is commonplace within the wider Dublin region. Supporting this was the motivation to reduce traffic congestion and harmful emissions within urban areas. But, most interestingly, a large determinant of founding MLN was the urge to reduce employee stress arising from commuting, and in turn improve concentration and productivity levels.
Employees will be able to sign up to the service, as drivers or passengers (or both!), for free, with employers paying the fees for them. This will save employees €1,100 annually, claims Ellen, whilst employers will benefit from increased productivity and staff morale. MLN will overcome stiff ‘hackney’ regulations in Ireland by ensuring no transfer of money to drivers, instead opting for a redeemable ‘pip’, which can be converted to money at a later stage.
So how exactly did Ellen and Manal, as young 20-something year olds, start a tech company during their free time? MLN won UCDNova’s Start-up Stars this summer, which propelled them into a DogPatch Labs accelerator programme. This affirmed that the idea had merit, and from therein the duo have been working on it whenever they have a chance. Currently, the duo are working towards raising a seed round of funding in 2020 to enable them to scale to the grand levels they envisage. Not bad for a pair of university students eh?
Alex Lohier – Deputy Editor