I love Dublin because of the exciting stories that lurk around each corner. Some of my favourites come from fellow “New Dubs” – the people who came here to be part of Dublin’s exciting tech story.
We invited eight of them to speak at the September 1st Friday brekkie, held, as always, at the Office of the Dublin Commissioner for Startups. They told us about what originally brought them to the city and what continues to keep them here:
The Ecosystem of Learning
Nubi Kay, Nigeria, Business Analyst in Accenture
“After reading an article on The Next Web about the tech scene in Dublin, I decided to move here. The third-level educational opportunities available confirmed my decision.
I had made mistakes as a founder previously, and it was good coming into an ecosystem that offered a lot of opportunities to learn. I got involved with Startup Weekend and got to know the community quickly. Entrepreneurs and mentors are very inclusive and openly shared their knowledge. If I decided to go back into startups tomorrow, I would be far more knowledgeable than before I came to Dublin.”
“I came here because I did not want to be remembered as the guy who sold his chickens and never saw the money. I wanted to make a difference. I worked for Google in Dublin but wanted to experience the real Ireland which you sometimes miss in a multinational company.
Ireland is the best place to build a business. The ecosystem is small and friendly, and the people are open and give feedback easily. We had firsthand experience of this when we were at the NDRC (National Digital Research Centre) as part of their Catalyser Program. Another startup in their portfolio had a similar idea to ours. They suggested that we bring the companies together rather than competing. We became a quintessential Dublin-based startup – four co-founders from four parts of the world.”
“I was headhunted by a company here ten years ago. I lost my job during the crash in 2008 and had to start my own business.
Early on, I met Joe Morley at an event in the Guinness Enterprise Center. He invited me to work from there for three months free of charge. “You’ll do well here. You can grow your business,” he told me. He was right. People helped me develop my idea and a few funded it. Everything moved quickly after that. I’ve heard and experienced many similar stories of support along the way.”
— mike sikorski (@SikorskiMike) June 4, 2016
“I came here 15 years ago this month. I got off the bus at Temple Bar late at night and thought it was a bit crazy. When I went back the next day, the place looked as if nothing had happened. People smiled at me, they talked to me. Coming from a small town in Transylvania, I found this unusual and cool.
One of my favourite things about Dublin and Ireland is the piss-taking. I am good friends with Eoghan Stack, CEO of the DCU Ryan Academy. He always tells people I’m from Gebrovia, a country he made up. The piss-taking thickens your skin and helps you on your way to do all the hustling you need to.”
— DCU Ryan Academy (@RyanAcademy) September 1, 2016
“LogoGrab was born in 2012 in Switzerland. Whenever we presented it, we got the same questions: “How old are you?”, “Who is your father?”, “Where do you work?” Things that had to do with prejudice rather than the business itself.
A friend suggested we should pitch our idea in Dublin. We were welcomed by a gentleman called David Scanlon, who back then worked in Enterprise Ireland. To my surprise, he asked questions like “How big do you think we can make this thing?”, “How many jobs can we create in Dublin?” Completely different questions from the ones we were asked in Switzerland. The more I went around, talking to people in Dublin, the more I realised that my age, my social background, and my nationality didn’t matter at all. All that mattered was the value of the business we could bring to town.”
“Originally I came to Dublin for six months. 16 years later I am still around. CurrencyFair was born out of my experience as an expat. Initially, we thought we would sell the idea for someone else to build. A night out two weeks before a potential meeting, and a dose of serendipity changed the course of events.
I bumped into David, a former colleague, in a pub. He told me about the programming languages he was experimenting with. At two in the morning I asked him if he could code the CurrencyFair platform. “Yes. Easily.” It wasn’t easy, but he built it, and CurrencyFair became our company rather than an idea sold to someone else. Those pub-origin stories are incredible in Ireland.”
— Brett Meyers (@brettlor) June 20, 2015
“I came from Serbia about seven and a half years ago by accident. I thought I was applying for Microsoft in Serbia, but it turned out I was applying for Dublin.
I came for an interview and was offered the job, but wanted to see more of the city before accepting it and I explained this to the bus driver on my way back to the airport. “Don’t worry,” he responded, “we’ll take a little detour, I’m going to show you Dublin.” I went back home and told my fiance, “We’re going. This place is so warm and loving.” The immigration officers at Dublin Airport have greeted me with “Welcome home, honey” ever since.”
— Maja Djordjevic (@ovcica) July 20, 2013
“I came here in 2007 to work for Google. At the time, “startup” was not a word you heard in Dublin, startups were at a very embryonic stage.
In 2010 things began to change. A boutique conference called Web Summit was started with a few hundred people and a few pizzas. Polaris Partners came in and established Dogpatch Labs across the road from Google. The first Startup Weekend happened in March 2012. The community shaped up. At that point I quit Google and started Cesanta with a few fellow Googlers. I wanted to be a part of this startup ecosystem.
In Ireland, it does not matter if you’re Irish or not. What matters is what you bring to society. The conditions exist for people to come here, raise money, hire people, be successful and change Ireland for the better. Ireland is a small English-speaking island in the middle of the Atlantic, just a short flight from most of Europe and six hours from New York. It is probably the best place in Europe to start a company and make things happen.”
— Office Worker Health (@_officehealth) September 2, 2016
The next 1st Friday Brekkie is on October 7th with special guest Elaine Coughlan, co-founder and managing partner of Atlantic Bridge.