Thanks to Brexit

UK based startups are reeling from Brexit. More than 80% of them wanted to remain in Europe before the vote and now they're wondering if the UK still works as a location to start and scale their businesses. Thanks to Brexit, almost every one of the key ingredients that made London a world class tech hub is now in question - access to talent, to investment, a large customer base, a stable economy, an "open for business" culture. And all of Britain's cities are in the same boat.

Brexit represents a challenge for Irish startups too, especially those leveraging the UK as a stepping stone into global markets. Uncertainty around trade policy could drag on for years, but because of Brexit, overnight Britain seems slower to innovate and take risks, and harder for newcomer businesses to break into.

Brexit is depressing on so many levels but it's also the prompt we need to enhance current FDI policy and position Ireland as the best place in Europe to start an innovative company.

We’ve lots to recommend us like language, culture, our committed relationship with Europe and our deep ties to the US. We’ve also just pulled off an economic recovery and return to growth that ensures our credibility on the world stage.

And then there’s Dublin, our capital city with a density of over 1200 startups, among them world leaders in travel tech, fintech and SaaS. Dublin still has a long way to go to fulfill its massive potential, but we don’t have a huge amount to learn from other European hubs. For its size, Dublin already leads the pack.

Thanks to Brexit we have a new opportunity to attract Europe’s (and Russia’s and …) serial or first time entrepreneurs to set up shop in Dublin. These people have likely never been more open to Dublin than they are right now, but they’re also open to Berlin and Barcelona and Stockholm and Amsterdam.

If we attract these founders to Dublin, they’ll bring with them innovation. With innovation comes more funding, and with funding comes more skilled talent and the kinds of roles that define the new digital economy.

With Brexit comes opportunity. Lets not waste it.

Niamh Bushnell

Growth Day in Dublin. Remain Day in the UK.

This Wednesday, June 22nd, we’re hosting the Newstalk SaaS Bootcamp Growth Day.

8 of the companies who participated in the 6 month bootcamp will present at the Growth Day, taking the audience through their evolution, from relative sales and marketing novices to the experienced practitioners they are today. If you’ve already reserved your seat at Growth Day, grab a notepad and prepare yourself for an afternoon of rich insights and lessons learned.

The Bootcamp is a first-time experiment for this office and also I believe, for the NDRC, who expertly delivered it. Teamwork, Phorest, Intercom, Hubspot, SalesForce, Qualtrics, Marketo, Trustev and many others - the companies and mentor list reads like a Who’s Who of the SaaS world globally.

I love that the Bootcamp brought the next generation of Ireland’s best SaaS companies together to learn, and I love that the focus was building global sales and marketing machines to scale these companies fast. Supporting this level of ambition and ability is what this office is all about.

The Bootcamp is also a solid precursor to SaaStock, Europe’s first ever SaaS conference, happening here in Dublin in September.

I’d like to thank Newstalk for their generous support of the Bootcamp programme. SaaS may not be the bread and butter of a media company like Newstalk but telling the story of great Irish businesses is, and that's why CEO Tim Collins will be joining us on Wednesday.

You can register for the Growth Day here. If we’re already full up, fear not, every session of the Bootcamp has been recorded for sharing across the Irish tech community.

And now Irish startups, while I have your attention: read John McGrane’s piece on Brexit published Monday in Dublin Globe. John wrote it specifically with our “flock” in mind.

The Remain side seems to be experiencing an 11th hour rally so lets leverage our networks and help make June 23rd Remain Day in the UK.

Niamh Bushnell

An Open Letter to the Minister

Dear Minister Mitchell O'Connor,

Congratulations on your new post as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. I was excited to hear your early plans around capital gains and entrepreneurial income tax relief and look forward to meeting in person to discuss them further.

I’ve been working with Dublin’s startup community for over 18 months now and I’m deeply impressed by the quality of our startups and can-do attitude of our ecosystem. Given the relatively large number of startups we have in Ireland, I'm also struck by how few of these companies are managing to scale globally.

As an expat recently returned from years in the US, I believe that many Irish startups have yet to develop a global mindset and a deep understanding of the culture of doing business in global markets. They need to travel more, engage overseas mentors and advisers more, compete more agressively for international talent, board members and accelerators, and even speaking slots at conferences.

And yet the quality is right here, in our products, teams and companies.

One approach to filling our knowledge gap is to leverage the hundreds if not thousands of talented people at our FDI based multinationals.

These people have trained to be leaders and they’ve learned the mechanics, step by step, of building large sales and product management organizations. They know how to conduct international business development. They compete every day with the biggest and win. And they’re right here in Ireland, within arm’s reach.

Minister, I would love to see a shift in our economic strategy to focus more on supporting scale ups - a small number of best of breed companies who we can help internationalize quickly and deeply.

I strongly believe that our multinationals have one of many crucial roles to play in this plan and if presented with quality companies, they will step up and play it.

I’m looking forward to discussing these ideas further with you when we meet but I'll leave you now with one other suggestion - that the DJEI launches an Entrepreneur in Residence programme whereby a young startup team gets space in your offices in exchange for regular updates on their experience building an innovative company in Ireland - warts, wonders and all.

Yours Sincerely,

Niamh Bushnell

At the office this week

What’s up at the Dublin Startup Commissioner's office this week? Well, lets see...

Derek, our dearly beloved Editor of Dublin Globe has left us for a big new role at RTE.ie.

Our loss is their gain, but promoting great talent like Derek is what we’re here to do, so Go Derek!!

Wonderfully, Irina, a regular contributor to Dublin Globe, is our new Editor.  And just as Derek is pure blue and of Dublin, Irina is brand new, from Bulgaria. She’s been in Dublin 18 months now and we’ve wanted to work with her ever since our first cup of tea.

Derek and Irina talk Dublin tech and the handover of one year old Dublin Globe here.

And there’s another new recruit to the Commish’s team, Ciaran Casey, the data and research analyst behind our shortly launching TechIreland platform.  Welcome, Ciaran! Your work will help Dublin, and Ireland’s innovative companies tell their stories on the international stage!

Last but not least, Summer has arrived in Dublin, and our office, made of glass and overhanging the Liffey river, has become a draw for Dublin’s wetsuit divers who jump off our roof to the adulation of a global audience.

In 2013, Motherland Films made a movie about these divers so if you have 3 minutes, sit back and enjoy their story.

NIamh Bushnell

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