The Dublin Startup Scene: A Photo Essay

Oct 8, 2013
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The following photos were taken by Dan Taylor, cofounder of Heisenberg Media, during a weekend tour in September 2013 organized by the Dublin Tourism Bureau in cooperation with the Dublin Web Summit. The following are his thoughts, opinions, and, above all, his photos.

Dublin Startup Tour-15

Dublin: the name has become synonymous with European tech.

Giant names including Google, Facebook, Amazon, and LinkedIn all have their headquarters based in Dublin. And yes, certain tax incentives do play a role in all of this, but there’s much more than just a 12.5% corporate tax rate at play here. Mainly in the way of three accelerators, Dogpatch Labs, The NDRC, and Wayra Ireland.

Dublin Startup Tour-16

In the shadow of Google Docks, you’ll find Dogpatch Labs.

Headed up by Noel Ruane & self billed as “The Community of Choice for Extraordinary Entrepreneurs,” Dogpatch is the work of Polaris Partners, and has a specific focus on nurturing European talent and facilitating their entry to larger (read the U.S.) markets.

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“The Community of Choice for Extraordinary Entrepreneurs.”

Noel Ruane is at the top of his game, and is a key player in bringing Google, eBay, PayPal, and Amazon to Dublin.  Previous and past alumni at Dogpatch include the likes of CoderDojo, Intercom.io, Logentries, and Newship.

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A man who speaks his mind. With his hands.

With the track record that Ruane is sporting, and a clear passion for getting the very best out of his teams and investments, he’s also a man of great opinions.  When poised with a few opposing opinions by Mic Wright of the Telegraph, Noel isn’t one to hold back, and is a man who speaks his mind. With his hands.

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Dogpatch is paving the way for European startups…

….to feel right at home once they arrive on American shores. The building might have European plugs and sockets, but everything else about the interiors screams “VALLEY!” Guitar Hero for real, Riffstation, music discovery tool Seevl, and building permit finder buildingeye.com occupy one side of the space.

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“A prime example of the Dublin startup scene..”

Logentries.com, who focus on delivering actionable insights from the big data noise, occupy most of the other side of the building. A prime example of the Dublin startup scene, Logentries counts over 10,000 users in 100+ countries, but focuses on the SME market, as opposed to competitor Splunk, which is aimed at the Fortune 500.

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This man doesn’t break a sweat.

Co-founder Dr. Trevor Parsons just days before landing a $10 M round of funding led by Polaris Ventures. This man doesn’t break a sweat.

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In the middle of this organized chaos, you’ll find BalconyTV

Finding a home in the middle of this organized chaos, you’ll find BalconyTV who aim to help local musicians find a global audience. Staying true to their ethos, it’s nothing but music, motorcycles, and motherboards for this crew.  And yes, that IS a Van Morrison autographed guitar.

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Above the Dogpatch space, a vastly different interior.

Taking the elevator up one flight, the teams hard at work downstairs can literally see something to aspire to.  Above the Dogpatch space, a vastly different interior houses the Orchestra/Engine Yard space. A target of acquisition in 2011, the Orchestra space now plays host to a number of events and presentations, as well as providing ample space for the Dublin-based team.

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In a former Guinness Brewery storehouse, you’ll find the NDRC

Moving across town, housed in a former Guinness Brewery storehouse, you’ll find the NDRC (National Digital Research Council), who most recently received a fresh injection of cash to the tune of €17.5m from the Irish Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

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NDRC: an end-to-end solution for startups

With three programs running under one roof, the SandBox, LaunchPad, and VentureLab, the NDRC aims to be an end-to-end solution. SandBox is aimed at pre-seed stage idea generators, LaunchPad targets startup teams and aids them in converting to revenue generating businesses. The VentureLab specializing in science, tech, or intellectual property ventures.

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20 years of experience; a great mentor.

Directing the LaunchPad arm is Gary Leyden, who brings 20 years of experience with him, and drives teams to bring their product inline with solving consumer problems. In other words, a great mentor to have when entering the entrepreneur field.

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Startups need to cut the fat.

With plenty of room to spread out, as luck would have it, during my visit to the NDRC space, a pitch training session was in progress, with mentors providing valuable feedback on where eager startups need to cut the fat, and beef up their power of persuasion.

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Wayra.

Rounding out the Dublin Trio, poised on the banks of the River Liffey is the Dublin office of Telefonica’s accelerator venture, Wayra. To date, the accelerator has accepted 295 startups around the world – it operates in 12 countries, all countries where Telefonica is present.

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Impressive, modern facilities.

During my visit to these impressive, modern facilities, Wayra had just graduated one class and was preparing for the arrival of 10 new startup competition winners, which gave the cavernous location a bit of a ghost town feeling, but when fully stocked, appeared to be an active and vibrant workspace.

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A playful and creative atmosphere

The Wayra location features the usual suspects of beanbag chairs and exercise balls, all designed to facilitate the inevitable late night coding sessions, while still providing plenty of private areas for more formalized meetings.

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…Some brainstorming sessions hadn’t even been cleared from the windows yet.

Alumni of the Wayra Ireland academy include social recommendations platform popdeem, corporate culture matcher superbly.co, the social verification layer Trustev, and game revenue optimizer conker. The graduation of the previous class was so fresh that some brainstorming sessions hadn’t even been cleared from the windows yet.

An important point to keep in mind particularly regarding the startup scene in Dublin is the market that a number of them are targeting.  There’s a lot of not-so-sexy enterprise-focused action happening, topics that don’t always capture the headlines. But make no mistake, Dublin may be known for the big guns calling it home, but with this amount of talent converging on an area that has a population a quarter the size of Silicon Valley, the stage is set for some incredible outcomes.