Welcome to part two of Dublin Globe’s round-up of how Irish companies fared at Web Summit 2015. In Part One, we spoke with Tribal VC, DAQRI, Intercom, NewsWhip, CurrencyFair and Pundit Arena to find out how Web Summit was for them.
Here in Part Two, we catch up with Bizimply, Soapbox Labs, ChannelSight, Beachhut PR and the IDA to find out how they maximised the Web Summit.
Bizimply pulled off an amazing double at Web Summit: they won the ESB Spark Of Genius Award and the Audi Pitch event. Their restaurant management software was born when founders Gerard Forde, Mikey Cannon and Norman Hewson joined forces. Gerard had previously worked with Norman in his Nude restaurant chain, which Bono was also involved in. Bono’s recent investment in Bizimply has accelerated their growth outside of Ireland in the past six months. To win one of the competitions was awesome enough, but pulling off the double generated a massive buzz. Gerard’s arrival into the press area clutching the ESB Spark of Genius Award sparked the biggest media scrum of the weekend.
When I asked Gerard was he surprised they’d won his response was instant, “No, we’ve got a really good company. We’ve got a whole bunch of investor meetings later on today. I’m actually running late for a few of them at the moment, but we got a really good excuse now. We can actually walk in and say, sorry we’re running late. We just won Spark of Genius. That’s really good.”
Patricia Scanlon, Founder of proprietary speech recognition innovators SoapBox Labs, enthused about the connections Web Summit enables, “It’s finding out what’s out there, what’s vibrant. You see the feedback when you’re right there, and somebody is interacting with you. You know what resonates with them, what they’re maybe diving into deeper.”
SoapBox have applied their tech towards child literacy. Patricia had come to the Summit fresh from signing their first big education publisher. “We’re not going to the market direct ourselves,” she says. “We’re going B2B, We’re going to stick with what we’re good at, which is speech tech. When you look at the numbers of US school districts, you can’t do that alone. A big thing I learned while working at Bell Labs for years is that you can’t do an end-to-end solution. These days it just doesn’t happen. You partner, and you find the right partner and get those sales channels that are elusive to most people.”
One click purchase providers ChannelSight were at Web Summit having just announced their €3m investment. CEO John Beckett was in full flight, truly making the most of the opportunities to hand. “I found it to be another brilliant event,” he says, “there were some important talks that I couldn’t miss, I connected with new and existing media contacts to fill them in on ChannelSight’s progress, met new partners and prospective clients that were in Dublin for the event and then of course there were the random speakers and attendees that I got chatting to at the Night Summit, or over lunch or coffee. They could be invaluable to know. I’ve already got my ticket for Lisbon, it’s just a shame I won’t be able to get the DART home next year!”
IDA Ireland’s SVP for High Growth Companies Barry O’Dowd was also pleased with their Summit. “We’ve had a great Web Summit this year,” he says. “It’s gone really well for us. We’ve got a dedicated team now focused on the early stage, fast-growing companies. We put that team in place about 4 years ago. Since then, we’ve brought in over 120 new projects in the area, including the likes of Zendesk, HubSpot, Viagogo, Squarespace, New Relic and Udemy, to name just a few. Drones is an area that we’re beginning to look at. It’s an area that a lot of people are talking about here at the Web Summit. We’re taking a good look into that space to see what’s happening there. Ireland also has an awful lot to offer in anything to do with analytics. There’s been a lot of analytics companies that have come through now. We’ve seen a lot of announcements this year of very good analytics play. That’s really working well for us. That and business intelligence, I think, will be a big growth area.”
This time last year Mark O’Toole, Chief Strategy Officer at Beachhut PR was the Web Summit’s Head Of Press. He was full of praise for his former employers, “Once agin they’ve defied expectations. My big takeaway was the amount of locally based tech companies that used the event as platform to showcase their own innovation, whether that was Love and Robots’ pop-up shop, Intercom’s Speakeasy, CurrencyFair’s FinTech night or DAQRI’s party. Key for the Irish scene now is to continue to convey internationally the stories of innovation and product built here.”
Mark is so on the money. Business is storytelling and spotting a gap in the market is the first chapter of a new story. Watch the accompanying video to hear even more great Irish tech stories from Web Summit 2015:
The Irish tech scene keeps expanding and the Web Summit moving to Lisbon underlines that. Every Irish company that succeeds creates better teams, easier access to capital and a deeper understanding of how to conquer global markets from our ideal location.
We all grow together.