Tech Humans Of Dublin # 21 Ann O’Dea, Silicon Republic

Mapping Dublin’s tech ecosystem, one human at a time.

We were doing technology supplements for the newspapers when we realized our readers, the techies, were all online. When we launched Silicon Republic (with co-founder Darren McAuliffe) in 2001, we had around five thousand readers – now we have a quarter of a million a month. We’ve grown up alongside the tech industry in Ireland. It’s been fascinating to see it all grow around us, particularly in the greater Dublin area, from Intel in Leixslip to Microsoft in Sandyford.

Where we’ve really seen massive change is Dublin’s city centre, with the number of accelerators, and startups, and small companies emerging… The real difference I’ve seen is this move from just technology to convergence with science and innovation – really interesting companies in the areas of EdTech, and MedTech, and CleanTech, for example. I’m particularly interested in the area of diversity. Enterprise Ireland will tell you that they’re funding a lot more high-potential startups with female founders, or co-founders, then they were a few years ago – that’s a change I’d like to see a lot more of. I’d like to think that we ourselves are a very good model for what a diverse company can do – as far as gender diversity goes, we’re about 50-50.

Looking at the sector, we got a little bit frustrated that every time we went to events, it was always middle-class white straight males – people who didn’t fit into those categories tend to fall below the media radar. So we’re trying to give those remarkable people a higher profile daily on Silicon Republic – it’s not tokenism, it’s about embracing people doing truly creative things. Inspirefest is the culmination of that. It’s an event where – and we really shouldn’t be surprised by this – 70% of the speakers onstage happen to be women. We try to bring in a diversity of ethnicity, of sexual orientation, people from Iran, from Africa… We believe there’s an innate openness and inclusiveness about Irish people – hopefully Inspirefest draws that out, and shows that we can lead the way when it comes to diversity, and how innovation can come out of diverse workforces.

I absolutely adore Dublin, we’ve always been based here. I can’t think of a more exciting place when it comes to technology. Some might say Silicon Valley, but I prefer it here – it’s different, more laid back and intimate, and it really has a tight community that are incredibly supportive of each other. Even with Inspirefest, so many people jump on board and help us.

I love to walk with my dog on Bull Island. It’s stunning. To be able to live in a city where, in a few minutes, you can be on a beach, looking out at the ocean… It’s just amazing.

Ann O’Dea is the CEO and Editor-At-Large at Silicon Republic. Inspirefest takes place from June 18-20 forthcoming.

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