SXSW & the Cachet of Curiosity

The first piece of advice I got from the Samsung guy sitting beside me on the flight to Austin was to steer clear of all the free food at SXSW. Last year, he put on 15 pounds in a week he said. He also told me to hang out at the Driskill Hotel on 6th street. Thankfully, this advice was a lot easier to follow and I spent many fun and productive hours meeting VCs, reporters and startups in the Driskill foyer and cafe. Bumping into Robert Duvall was, of course, the grand finale.
I came to Austin from London where we had just launched Dublin Globe at the Irish Networks lunch with Ambassador Dan Mulhall. As I sat down for my first of many coffees at the Driskill, Tom Lyons texted from Dublin to say that Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz had just retweeted his article in Dublin Globe. I felt like taking a very long holiday, but too much fun awaited for that.
There was no shortage of star performers at Enterprise Ireland’s booth at SXSW including one of the festival’s most successful startups, Teamwork from Cork; companies representing the next wave of Irish innovation like Gramma Music, and young and inspiring investors like Illann Power. The booth also featured the most popular swag in the history of SXSW, our “You’re a Total Legend” tote bags.
I was impressed at how well stocked with meetings the Irish companies were and how much value they all seemed to get out of the festival. EI organized a number of breakfasts, panels and evening events and then of course, there was the Taoiseach’s address; the first by a sitting Head of State at SXSW, ever. All in all, the Irish invasion was a great success.
My purpose in Austin was to spread the gospel about Dublin as a great tech city and to get a feel for how other cities were promoting themselves and why. Everyone I met really liked the idea of the Dublin Startup Commissioner role, and talking about it was a great opener to a conversation about what I call the “3 forces of Dublin” - startups, multinationals and ecosystem - that together make us unique, innovative and give us a competitive advantage over other cities.
You see, neither Dublin, nor Ireland has a well-defined context in the SXSW “Interactive” view of the world but neither, to be fair, do most other cities. What cities like Detroit, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and Austin itself do enjoy is the cachet of curiosity. People are eager to find out what’s new in these cities for fear of missing out on something cool.
During one of those hours at the Driskill, I bumped into an American filmmaker who had worked in the global marketing team at Google in Dublin in 2012. She said she had been looking forward to learning about the lifestyle and culture of Dublin but was exposed to very little of that, not to mind our startups, during her year plus living here. Clearly, Dublin also has the cachet of curiosity. We just haven’t figured out how to capitalize on it, at home or globally.
Curiosity is the big takeaway from my first tour of duty at SXSW. How, as a small but important global city we can leverage it, amplify it and capitalize on it to connect our great startups to the world, and connect the world to Dublin? Figuring this out will be a huge win for us all.

#NYDUBAccelerate - The Competition for the NY Virtual Accelerator March 20th

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In total, 36 companies applied to pitch at the New York Virtual Accelerator competition being held tomorrow, Friday 20th at 5pm in the offices of Mason Hayes Curran, Barrow Street, Dublin.

Below is the shortlist of 12 companies who have been invited to pitch on the night. Congratulations to all for getting this far!

5 of these companies will be selected for the Accelerator which will run April to June in conjunction with ERA Global.

Apart from the pitches, we’ve a packed agenda featuring a panel of VCs from Dublin, New York and London and a keynote from Eamon Leonard.

More details and final audience registrations are now being accepted if you’d like to join us. See you there!

The Dublin Globe Rocketship has Launched!

startupdulbin-modal Today at the Irish Embassy in London we launched DublinGlobe.com, a global voice for tech, creativity and innovation coming out of Dublin. This daily publication will showcase and celebrate worldclass Dublin and Dubliners wherever they happen to be. And there’s no shortage of great stories to tell.

One of the goals of my office is to develop a voice for Dublin that resonates globally. DublinGlobe is it. Through its articles we’ll explain “Why Dublin?” from all perspectives - why Dublin for investors, startups, talented professionals, multinationals and media. On behalf of our wonderful Editorial Board, I’d like to thank Derek O’ Connor and Roisin Kiberd, our Editor and Contributing Editor, for taking on this challenge and for making it fun and smart and inspiring, from the very start. And thanks also to our launch sponsors - Vodafone, the DCU Ryan Academy and Dublin City Council for allowing us to go on this journey and coming along for the ride.

All that’s left to say now is, go check us out and sign up! Enda’s stetson on the front page will bring a smile to your day, I guarantee.

Launching the New York Virtual Accelerator!

I’m thrilled to announce the launch of the New York Virtual Accelerator in conjunction with the prestigious New York based ERA Global.

This accelerator programme will give 5 early stage Irish companies targeting the US East Coast markets, the opportunity to work one-on-one with a handpicked industry-leading ERA mentor. The focus of the programme will be on marketing, business development, strategic partnerships, funding and sales.

Applications to the NY Virtual Accelerator are open as of today, Friday March 6th. Startups are invited to apply and a shortlist of companies will be invited to pitch at our competition on Friday, March 20th in Dublin.

All are welcome to attend the pitch competition kindly hosted by Mason Hayes & Curran at their offices on Barrow Street in Dublin. Click here for more information on our international panel of judges, our prizes (thank you Microsoft!), the event and to apply to pitch.

Good luck to all and looking forward to seeing you on the night!

A Big Week in Dublin!

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I’ve been in this role long enough already to know that pretty much every week in Dublin is a big week for aficionados of the startup scene, and thanks to Russell Banks and his recent Event Board meeting, we now have an up-to-date calendar to promote and keep track of it all.

This coming week however feels particularly auspicious.

On Monday, the Editor and Contributing Editor for our new Dublin focused tech publication take up their roles. Derek O’ Connor and Roisin Kiberd have already invested many long, bootstrapped hours with us but they officially join the team (read: start getting paid!) on Monday. Our publication launches in London in a couple of weeks time so more on that buzz as it happens.

Wednesday brings us two exciting launches: Firstly, there’s the launch of RTE Player International which, as I understand it from Muirne Laffan, will be the most significant slate of Irish TV programmes ever to be made available to a global audience. This launch is massive for Irish communities around the world who can rely on the Player for a closer connection to home. It also invites a global audience to engage with Ireland in a contemporary and powerful way whether the topic is startups, tourism or Feis Ceoils, and that’s good for all of us.

Wednesday afternoon in Dublin also marks the much anticipated launch of the Startup Gathering. The brainchild of Startup Ireland CEO Eoin Costello and strongly supported by government and private industry, the Startup Gathering is a week long series of events taking place across Ireland in October. We look forward to hearing more about Eoin’s plans on Wednesday but for those who can’t wait there’s a sneak peek available here!

Last but not least, Friday is International Women’s Day and Dublin is becoming a global nexus for the celebrations with events all around the city including two I’m especially looking forward to hosted byAccenture and Network Ireland.

Friday is also month two of the Startup + Friends Brekkie at my office (white building beside the Sean O’ Casey Bridge) from 8-10am. Our newly appointed editors Derek and Roisin are hosting this month so get there early for a chance to pitch them your startup story. Given the week that’s in it, we’re expecting quite a big crowd:)

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