Mapping Dublins tech ecosystem, one human at a time.
I’m used to doing deals in Australia and New Zealand, at the same time we’d have stuff happening in San Francisco and L.A. and Mexico and God knows where – Dublin is the only place where you can manage those timezones in some sort of proper fashion. That’s a big point for me.
The other thing is empathy; when you’re building a HQ, that ability to get on, relate with different nationalities, that’s key – even internally, never mind the external, the sales and partnership stuff. That sets Irishness apart – and I don’t just mean Irish people. People come here and they love living in Dublin. I have to believe, on a macro level, that’s why the multinationals have settled here, and scaled, and grown their operations – the ability to build a team that gets on well, and communicates easily internationally… That’s the fuel that’s really firing up the ecosystem here.
A lot of people talk about Enterprise Ireland, but I really think they do a phenomenal job. I was trying to do a deal in India, and Minister Bruton came along to the dinner and told the biggest mobile operator there that we were the hottest mobile company in Ireland. Whether they believed it or not, we closed the deal with them, which was unheard of then for any Irish company. If they had known how big we really were, I don’t know if they would have done the deal. That sort of support is perhaps only possible in a country the size of Ireland, and only with an organization that’s geared up the way Enterprise Ireland is. They go the distance.
I don’t know if I’m an entrepeneur, I’ve got a lot more to prove before I can claim that, but I’m having the time of my life building a new company. I spent the guts of ten years building Ding – we started in a one-bedroom apartment, working from my business partner’s kitchen table – and it was great. Now I’m in the payments business, focused on the charity sector – it’s absolutely for profit, but we’re having a big impact in a sector that’s lacking in innovation, particularly in payments for mobile, so we get to do a bit of good, too.
What do I love about Dublin? It’s about going to your local coffee shop and running into some other people you know from the tech sector – like, we’re sitting in Cinnamon Cafe (in Ranelagh) – and every time I come in you run into somebody who’s involved in some way with a technology-type business. Those passing conversations, it’s like a water-cooler conversation on a citywide scale.
David Shackleton is the Director of Embedded Payments, a proprietary white label platform for charities and charity appeals, as well as the co-founder and Non-Executive Director of international mobile top-up market leader Ding.