Host A Startup Returns

One of the drumbeats of this office is the "we need structure to have scale" drumbeat.

From the beginning it was clear that priceless collaborations were happening every day in Dublin - between startups and multinationals, serial entrepreneurs and new ones, investors and founders - but the ad hoc nature of it all was also a concern. You had to know someone to meet someone else, or be in the right place at the right time, for the magic to happen.

Over the last two years it’s been exciting to see organizations and individuals put solid frameworks around many of these important collaborations, and as a result, Dublin's offerings to startups have found new depth and new value. As Johnny Walker observed in our 2016 end of year Review: "We’re moving from a very loose, incohesive ecosystem here in Dublin to one that has shape, form and structure".

One of the structure-focused experiments we undertook in 2015 was the Host a Startup program with WebSummit. Instead of hoping visiting startups would bump into local startups on the conference floor, we matched them up beforehand and introduced them over email. More than 700 international startups applied for that program and it was very successful, if maybe a little oversubscribed!

We're launching Host a Startup again today in partnership with Dublin Tech Summit and aim to pair up 80 startups in total using vertical markets as matchmaker. Dublin startups can participate whether they're attending DTS or not. Go to the website here to learn more, and if you’d like to be involved email Sarah: Sarah@StartupDublin.com

We’ll bring the matched companies together for the first time on Feb 14th, the day before DTS starts, and we’ll make sure to finish up early for people with Valentine’s plans.

Niamh Bushnell

20,000 Startups?

When I read about the 20,000 new startups in Ireland in 2016 and saw all the positive social media surrounding the announcement, I felt more than a little conflicted. 20,000 is obviously an impressive number for a country our size but I wondered how many of these new companies plan to develop innovative products, services and intellectual property here?

Digging into the numbers to find companies with the potential for innovation and scale is not possible, although Vision-Net’s press release does say that the majority of them are services based - financial services, professional services and construction, so perhaps the data speaks for itself.

20,000 new companies... even if only half of them are trading, and not holding companies, it is a strong number. But I still can’t join the happy chorus.

I've just come back from 3 days at the DLD conference in Munich where almost every panel discussion touched on how artificial Intelligence and automation will replace half of all current jobs. Amazon Go's first automated grocery store  looks sleek and cool to be sure, but it brings this new reality into stark relief for us all.

I also heard in Munich that many of the new jobs being created in western -and global - economies are lower income, service based roles and that as a result, the gap between the wealthy and the poor is set to widen. At almost every session there was a call for politicians and corporations to acknowledge their "digital duty" to educate and up-skill the masses - and for the masses to find their voices and hold them to that promise.

As TechIreland data shows, we're building a good base of innovation in Ireland but we’ve a long way to go to secure our economic future. I worry that the great 20,000 figure distracts us from the real prize and challenge for Ireland - innovation driven companies that can export and scale globally, providing good jobs and incomes for a digitally skilled workforce.

Not all jobs are created equal and as we move deeper into the new digital paradigm not all companies are either.

Niamh Bushnell

A Year for Spoofers?

Happy New Year folks and what a year 2017 is already shaping up to be.

It was superb to see such a strong and positive response to the 2016 Review of Dublin Tech we published just before the holidays. Thousands of readers and reactions later, the one I appreciated the most was a conversation on Twitter between two guys in Melbourne, Australia: Hey, says one, do we have a report like this on the Melbourne tech scene? No we don't, says the other, not with everything in one place.

And right there the value of this office was perfectly communicated - a unified voice and platform that promotes what’s going on in Dublin and, at its best, makes compelling sense of it for people here, and across the world.

It's a topic that also came up in my interview with Richard Curran on RTE Radio's The Business on Saturday - a packed 15 minutes of conversation about entrepreneurship, tax policy, strategic clusters and TechIreland.

Some people who heard it told me they were surprised to learn that entrepreneurs and self employed people pay more income tax in Ireland than PAYE workers: “I thought entrepreneurs were all young people who have an idea and make millions out of it!” I wish! I’ll be writing about this seemingly ingrained misconception and the real challenges facing Irish entrepreneurs in a future post.

At the end of our interview Richard asked me what advice I had for women entrepreneurs. I’ve written about my personal experience as an entrepreneur many times before, and one of the lessons I learned was this: Have the confidence to sell a future that doesn’t yet exist, not just what you know right now.

So, you’re saying that men are better spoofers than women? asked Richard. Yes, I responded, much better.

Niamh Bushnell

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