So, one of the big differences I’ve noticed between the startup scene in Dublin and the one I was weaned on in New York is around this thing called funding. Early stage funding (up to amounts of €50K) is relatively plentiful here in Dublin, thanks mainly to local and national government supports.
Instead of emptying bank accounts, running up credit cards or tapping relatives with a few bob, entrepreneurs here can apply for funding to take their startups through those early stages of development, from concept to MVP and beyond.
This approach may benefit the entrepreneur’s pocket but I’m wondering how it ultimately impacts their businesses, and the startup ecosystem here in Dublin. Clyde Hutchinson, an expert on the Israeli scene, says that Israeli companies tend to be leaner than Irish ones and quicker to deliver a product because seed funding is so hard to get and they’ve no cash. Sounds like New York to me.
DC Cahalane, one of my advisory board members (and favourite person from Cork’s impressive startup scene) also suggests that one reason our angel community is so small in Ireland is because there’s less of a need for early stage “friends and family” funding. Again, this resonates even if we don’t have the data to prove it.
Last night at a Bell Labs startup event, one of the company executives introduced himself by saying that he comes from an era “when startups had products and customers, even if they didn’t have revenue”. The remark made me wonder whether early stage companies are being taken seriously enough, and whether they always deserve to be.
When I meet startups in Dublin I ask them how much of their own money they’ve invested and where they want their businesses to be in 3 years time. I never took funding for either of my startups in New York. Not because I didn’t want it; I just preferred to keep building and selling than give away early equity at a lower valuation.
We all have our own stories to tell and Dublin’s great story is just starting!