Primer: Irish-Led Startups In New York City

Manhattan Irish Led Startups in NYC

We’ve already addressed the Irish-led companies taking over Silicon Valley, but what about the city that never sleeps?

This time, we’re talking about New York  City, and the Irish-led startups blazing a trail on the East Coast – that’s not to ignore Boston’s finest, however, like Clavis, Boxever and Glanola.  A special mention must also go to Digital Irish, a non-profit community which provides a soft landing for Irish startups in NYC.

There’s a definite media theme running through this piece – some of our brightest and best news analytics, video and TV startups have made NY their second home, from the headline grabbers (here’s looking at you, Storyful) to the quirkier viral-driven success stories – ever wanted to see Dublin pop rockers The Script play an impromptu gig on an apartment balcony?

We’ve rounded up a guide to Irish-led startups in New York, the latest in our ongoing series of bluffer’s guides.


Founded by Chris Kennedy and Pat Phelan, this ‘fraud fingerprinting’ software company first gained international notice when they took top prize at the accelerator competition at SXSW Interactive in 2014 (they had already been named 2013’s top technology startup in Europe by the European Commission) and were called one of the ‘Hottest Global Startups’ of the previous year by Forbes. This year, they won again at SXSW as ‘Most Disruptive Retail Technology’, and have raised $7.8 million in funding. Their client base includes Vodafone, RadioShack, Telefonica and TransUnion. @trustev 


They made our Silicon Vallley piece, and they’re rocking NYC, too. Named for an actual species of surreal box-shaped fish, Boxfish are helping to create the new and super-smart breed of TV. Founded in 2010 by Eoin Dowling and Kevin Burkitt, their products turn your television into a veritable on-screen nerve centre, complete with multiple screens, tags and updates. With offices in NYC, Palo Alto, Singapore and Dublin they’ve received $10 million in funding to date, with Atlantic Bridge leading the VC charge, and Samsung ponying up additional cash. @bxfsh


Scared of where online media is going? NewsWhip decodes and breaks down ‘going viral’ into palatable insights – tracking over 100,000 sources every two minutes in 12 languages to find the ‘social velocity’ of stories for PR professionals, publishers and brands. Funding currently stands at $1.1 million, and they’ve earned coverage from the BBC, Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post. Read their founder Paul Quigley’s Guide To World Domination (penned exclusively for Dublin Globe) HERE@NewsWhip


There’s a reason Storyful is making news, and it’s not just about recent reports connecting former Sun/News Of The World editor Rebekah Brooks with the company. The media startup, bought by News Corp for $25M in 2013, was founded by Dubliner Mark Little in 2010. It creates a ‘human algorithm’ for finding trending content in real time, and sources and verifies viral stories for professional news outlets. They maintain a strong presence in Dublin, while Little, who stepped down as Chief Executive last year – Rahul Chopra replaced him – now works from their NYC office in his new role as Director Of Innovation. @Storyful

Eagle Alpha

Fintech startup Eagle Alpha is ‘curating the world for Wall Street’, using proprietary technology – coupled with adept human judgement – to mine insights from the social web, as well as breaking news stories for  clients in the finance industry. Formed in 2012 by former Morgan Stanley investment banker Emmett Kilduff, they’ve attracted $2.7 million in funding so far (with a bigger round in the pipeline) attracting high profile investors such as Massimo Tosato of Schroders and Marc Hotimsky of hedge fund CQS. @dollareagle


Co-founded by Niall Smart, who also serves as their CTO, HighTower provide a mobile collaboration platform for landlords and their brokers to strike deals in real time and track analytics from their smartphones. Founded in 2013, the company has already attracted $8.7 million in funding from such prominent names as Thrive Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, David Tisch and Aaron Levie. @hightower

Balcony TV

Balcony TV works exactly as it sounds: they broadcast videos of musicians playing live  on balconies around the world . Founded in a Dame Street apartment in 2006 by filmmaker Stephen O’Regan, with musicians Tom Millett and Pauline Freeman, they shot their first videos on their own roof – they have now produced over 4000 videos in 43 cities around the world, including sessions from million-sellers like Ed Sheeran and Mumford And Sons. With over 50 million views to date, they’re based in NYC and Dublin’s Dogpatch Labs: their first funding round in 2012 raised $750,000 from Polaris Venture Partners, Lerer Ventures and Greycroft Partners, and they were acquired last year by distribution network The Orchard. @BalconyTV


This NY startup (formerly Handybook), co-founded by Dubliner Oisin Hanrahan, offers a platform for finding and employing household service providers – a competitive space where they’re gaining significant traction.  The booking process takes 60 seconds, and they’re aiming to quadruple their customer base in the next twelve months. Handy has raised $64 million thus far, including a recent investment of $15M from TPG Partners. And yes, they do IKEA assembly. @Handy


Adblocking is going global, and PageFair helps publishers to see exactly which adverts are being blocked by their consumers – an urgent issue for big web publishers. Founded in 2012 by Brian McDonnell, Neil O’Connor and CEO Sean Blanchfield (previously founder of DemonWare and Phorest), funders have included Tribal VC and Frontline Ventures and they currently work with more than a thousand different web publishers. @Pagefair


Conceived by Cork-born businesswoman Susan O’Brien, Smigin teaches users conversational foreign language skills using games and videos, operating without any need for a wi-fi signal. The iPhone version has been downloaded 65,000 times in 70 countries since its launch last March, and Smigin is extending to other platforms in coming months. Championed by the likes of Lifehacker and The Huffington Post, O’Brien invested  €75,000 of her own funds into the project, with additional support from Canoe Ventures CEO David Verklin, amongst others – all in, angels have invested €190,000 thus far. @Smigin


The newest startup on our list is due to go live with their first App in coming weeks. PennyOwl aims to teach children to develop basic money management skills, whereupon parents can lodge pockey money into a PennyOwl account – kids can then redeem the value in a specially curated online store. CEO Seamus Matthews is a former Cisco Systems sales manager, with his brother Gene (formerly with JP Morgan) serving as Chief Technology Officer. A seven figure seed round is close to completion; early supporters have included MasterCard, Silicon Valley Bank and Enterprise Ireland, with Gamesworld founder Kevin Neary a key investor. @PennyOwl


Founded in 2012 by Julie Currid and Sean Fennell, this  job training platform is specifically designed for contractors and short-term workers. The company has recently rebranded from Orientation Manager (in the US)and Induction Manager (in EMEA) to initiafy, in order to unify its online software into a single brand, and increase its United States presence – they anticipate growth by over 300 percent through 2015. To date, they’ve raised $1.5 million of seed funding from investors including Delta Partners Group, ACT Venture Capital and private investor Leslie Buckley; with bases in Dublin and NYC, their clients include Pfizer, Gilbane, Balfour Beatty, Amey and Domino’s Pizza. @initiafy



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