Back in May 2014 while prepping for my Commissioner interview I asked Shane Reiser of Startup Genome why Dublin wasn’t ranked as a startup hub internationally. His answer was flat and to the point: “because you don’t have good startup data”. From that moment I knew that great data would be a key objective of my office here in Dublin.
In March 2015, we sourced startup lists from the 40+ members of the Dublin Startup Leaders Group. Crunchbase cleansed the data, and by the end of May we had an all-in-one spreadsheet listing 2,136 Dublin companies. When a quick scan through it surfaced names like Aer Lingus it was clear we were on step 1 of a much longer journey.
The light bulb moment came a couple of months later when I met with Start-Up Nation Central, a non profit in Tel Aviv promoting Israeli innovation. As I wrote at the time, my discussions with their CTO Omri Baumer illuminated the opportunities (and challenges) of maintaining great startup data.
Omri’s database called Finder started as a side project for him and some friends who wanted to make it easier for multinationals like Google to engage with great Israeli startups. It quickly became clear to me how powerful a similar tool could be for Ireland’s great startups. Omri agreed to come on board as a voluntary advisor on the Irish project and we’ve been putting it together ever since.
On December 18th, we released a public database of 1200 Dublin Startups, and without any promotion beyond this blog post, requests to connect to our startups began to flow in - from St. Louis, from Austin, from London, from Slovenia. In early March, a Belgian telecoms company will be in Dublin to hear sales pitches from 5 of our telecom tech companies. Where did they source the startups? On the Dublin Startups database.
Yesterday was another milestone day for this young project. Omri came to Dublin and presented on Start-Up Nation Central’s data strategy to a room full of Irish universities, regional stakeholders, investors, startup representatives, multinationals, and the DJEI, and as a group we agreed to take the Irish project forward.
Our new team member Cathal O’ Sullivan will lead the Data project for Dublin - alongside the Multinational Engagement project which is also just starting. John Breslin from Galway and DC Cahalane from Cork will also be involved, and of course, the door remains open to others. The current Dublin Startups database will be expanded, and companies will be asked to share funding and other data in exchange for profiles and connections into investors, partners and multinationals in Ireland and across the globe.
It was fascinating to hear the different perspectives on data in the room yesterday, and the myriad of reasons people had for wanting this project to start and succeed. Policy change, investor engagement, multinational connections, academic engagement, positioning Dublin globally as a hub for TravelTech, AdTech, and more. As VC Brian Caulfield put it, “the use cases for this data are endless”. And now, we’re finally ready to get it started.