Ireland is the place to be if you’re looking to start up a business.
Buzzing with entrepreneurial spirit and awash with big international investors, our little country has recently seen an influx of savvy individuals burst out of the recession with fresh and innovative business ideas.
In 2014, Gibson & Associates took a look at some of the talented entrepreneurs emerging in and around Dublin. Two years later, and we’re back to see what’s changed, re-visiting some of the businesses we met then, and discovering some fresh ones too.
So, get ready to be inspired. It could be your business here in 2018!
Initiafy was born in Dublin in 2012, and since its launch, the company has experienced some really impressive growth.
As a leading supplier of on-boarding software, offering software specifically tailored for contractors and temporary employees, Initiafy has found a niche that is in demand and profitable.
As well as Ireland, the company now has offices located in the UK, the Netherlands, New York and Toronto, and boasts customers across the globe, with tens of thousands of workers hired through Initiafy every month.
Initiafy say the secret to their success is focus. “We focus on one thing and we do it really well. The Initiafy platform is the best in the world at helping you manage the initial steps of your contingent workforce. We have remained steadfast on one core product and continuously improving it.”
Laundr.ie is ‘Dublin’s first on-demand laundry and dry cleaning delivery service’, and was started by Evan Gray in June 2015.
The app offers a same day pick-up laundry delivery service throughout Dublin, with free pick up and delivery on all orders over 20 euros.
And the app seems to have gone from strength to strength, with 5 people now working with the start-up.
Commenting on how he’s built the company so far, Evan Gray, Founder of Laundrie, told us, “Fortunately we have a great infrastructure here with support through EI & LEO,” adding, “Our government is very good at reducing red tape and making starting your business very accessible. This isn’t always the case in Europe.”
But Evan is quick to add that despite support from the Irish government, starting a business isn’t all fun and games. “ You have to appreciate the work that is involved and the strain this will put on all aspects of your life.” Evan told us, “Don’t do it unless you are 100% committed because it is not a job – it will take over your life and no point in wasting time unless you are willing to see it through!”
But Evan has faith in the Irish community, adding, “Irish people are very quick to adopt new technologies and are extremely entrepreneurial.”
3. Little Vista
Little Vista started as an idea jotted on the back of a napkin in 2013, and now, only 3 years later, the company boasts a team of 14 in their central Dublin office.
The cloud-based web software for early education care aims to disrupt the childcare sector, offering a tablet based childcare tool that simplifies the process of activity recording, eliminates paperwork, connects parents, and frees up child-carers to focus on caring for children, rather than admin and paperwork.
The team also offers a learning hub that helps parents and practitioners alike learn to use their software, and the company already has several clients already.
Since being launched in 2015 by Chris Fildes and Danny Lane, Gaybrhood has already taken the world by storm, with the app now available in Belfast, London, Manchester, Sydney, New York and San Francisco. However, despite it’s global success, its roots are fully secured in Dublin.
Gaybrhood, a real-time city guide that caters for the LGBT market, gives an up to date commentary on what’s going on in the LGBT community in a range of popular cities.
Co-creator Danny is proud of how far the business has come over the last year, telling us, “Gaybrhood is aimed at an international audience and our goal is to become a one-stop shop for any gay traveler no matter where they are in the world. We’ve just come through a year where the passing of the Marriage Equality Referendum last year put Ireland on the map. I think showing that a startup that is openly gay can grow and develop in Ireland is yet another great sign of how far we have come and might be of encouragement to other LGBT businesses both in Ireland and in countries where gay rights are less progressive.”
Danny also thinks that Ireland is a great place for start-ups, explaining, “There’s a great energy in Ireland at the moment when it comes to start-ups. Ireland has always had a strong entrepreneurial spirit, but as a nation, we can be quite shy about our achievements.”
He continued, “But that has changed over the last ten years. With the help of state and local authority-funded programmes and an energetic friendly start-up community the digital start-up scene has blossomed. This has definitely given people a new confidence to take the jump and start out on their own.”
And Danny thinks that other countries shouldn’t judge our little Island on it’s size. “For a small country we definitely punch above our weight when it comes to the creation of start-ups. While larger countries might have certain advantages due to their size, Ireland has used it size to create a thriving start-up community, which is easy to break into and become part of.”
And for any budding entrepreneur looking to get things started, Danny has some simple, but direct advice: “Get out there and talk to people.”
“Starting a new business can be daunting, especially if you have a great idea but do not know how to make it a reality. There are so many people out there who are more than willing to help. Whether it’s getting in contact with the NDRC or popping in for a pint at the Silicon Drinkabout, there is always someone at hand that can steer you in the right direction.”
Jibbr is a social tech startup, aiming to keep you and your friends in the loop with any type of social goings ons. So, whether there’s a big event in the pipeline, or if it’s just for a couple of drinks on a weekend, the jibbr app aims to make it as easy as possible to communicate plans to the masses.
The idea for the app came after it’s makers decided that more traditional tech platforms didn’t provide a seamless way of communicating as a big group. They designed Jibbr to challenge the method of group messages often used on Whatsapp and Facebook messenger, arguing that in the noise of a group conversation, messages get lost and details get missed. With their carefully planned design, they hope to make communication as part of a big group easier than ever before.
The story behind one of the biggest ecommerce websites to come out of Ireland so far is a story of Irish, entrepreneurial blood.
The Mc Ginn sisters, Sarah, Grace and Jennie, started OPSH with a vision to connect all major clothes vendors, allowing customers to buy clothes and accessories from a whole range of shops and outlets, without having to leave one website. And that website is opsh.com.
The sisters say that they’re at “the forefront of Ireland’s newly booming tech start,” a generation of young entrepreneurs bursting out of the recession with new ideas backed by big international investors. They’ve won awards, moved into the UK and are now seeking global domination.
It’s not just tech start ups making waves in Ireland. The Irish entrepreneurial spirit has even reached the food industry.
Nuritas, a Dublin based food ingredients company, claims to be ‘revolutionizing the discovery of novel and natural active ingredients with scientifically proven health benefits.’
More simply, the company hopes to provide natural, sustainable and scientifically proven health solutions, by unlocking ingredients from food sources in a completely unique way.
Its’ disruptive approach to ingredient extraction combines artificial intelligence and DNA analysis to data-mine billions of molecules, allowing Nuritas to rapidly and efficiently provide access to the most health-benefiting components within foods, called bioactive peptides
And it’s these peptides, currently the subject of pending patent applications, that could provide unique solutions for the maintenance of health and wellness, including anti-inflammatory activity, antimicrobial activity, muscle recovery enhancement, skin anti-aging solutions, and the potential management of blood sugar levels for type 2 diabetics.
The company hopes that these ‘dynamic peptides’ have a vast range of applications in multiple industries including functional and medical foods, pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, and cosmetics and personal care.
8. Currency Fair
Currency Fair, an Irish start up now making waves worldwide, were also featured in our 2014 article. The company has gone from strength to strength, and now has offices in Australia and the UK, as well as their original Dublin office.
The idea behind the business is to offer a ‘fairer’ way to send and receive money from abroad, challenging the expensive conversion rates offered by the mainstream banks. CurrencyFair charges 0.35% of any transaction, along with a fixed fee of €3, a highly competitive rate when compared with many other fees on the market.
With a large team already, the company plans to move into the USA and continue their bank challenging work from there.
9. Stint Ireland
Know anyone who fancies doing a stint in Ireland? Well, the lovely bunch behind Stint Ireland are the best people to help them get the most out of their stay in our beautiful country.
The Dublin start up offers young people from overseas the opportunity to gain ‘international experiences’ in Ireland, by helping them to find individually crafted internships or places of study. The team also assists with finding housing, transport, visas and insurance.
The company also featured in our 2014 article, but since then, a lot has changed for the start up.
“Besides our constant scrutiny of our customer journey to improve every interaction with our program participants, we’ve also implemented internal systems to optimize our workflow.” Explained marketing manager, Jeffrey Shiau.
“Many companies find themselves bogged down by things like inefficient databases, communication channels, and project management procedures. The longer you put off solving these problems, the harder it’ll be to solve them in the future when you’ve grown and taken on more staff,” he explained, adding, “It’s important to think, how will this look in 5 years, when we have X number of staff?”
He added that one of the keys to successfully starting up a business is a great team, explaining, “Startup teams are small. That’s just the way it is. So it’s important that each person on that team carries their weight, working towards a collective vision. That kind of culture has to start with an open and forward thinking leader. We’re fortunate to have that in Melanie, our founder and managing director.”
However, Jeffrey thinks that planning and keeping focused on your goals is also key to the success of a company.
“Imagine this, you’re hiking through the woods and all you know is that where you want to go is somewhere to the north,” Jeffery tells us, “You keep hiking in that general direction, hoping to reach your destination. Maybe you’ll make it. Chances are, you won’t! Now, if you take the time to plan out your journey ahead of time. Identifying checkpoints along the way. We’ll pass by this lake, this valley, this river, etc. Each time you check off a point, you’ll feel like you’ve made progress.”
10. Food Cloud
We wrote about Food Cloud two years ago, and just like the other companies we’ve revisited, a lot has happened since 2014.
The company was set up by Iseult Ward and Aoibheann O’Brien, two women who met at an event in February 2012. They bonded over a love of food and a distaste for waste, so put their brains together and created Food Cloud, a service that allows a food store to donate its left over food to a local charity.
By June 2012, they facilitated the first donation from the Honest 2 Goodness farmers market in Glasnevin to the charity, Don Bosco Teenage Care. Then, after researching business and charity needs, Food Cloud invested in technology to make the process sustainable, and in June 2014 they launched a national partnership with Tesco to roll out to every store across Ireland.
But now, FoodCloud is taking the world by storm, expanding in the UK in partnership with FareShare and Tesco with an aim to provide their service to 1000 Tesco stores by December 2016.