The Full Startup City Guide For Dublin

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Ireland's capital Dublin was ranked as the "best city to found a business in" by Forbes Magazine. Here are some insights why & how to build your startup there!

Check out the Infographic on How To Start Your Startup In Dublin!

“Ireland is the number one place to do business” according to Forbes Magazine.

In 2011 Ireland was named as one of the top 10 friendliest countries in the world, by Lonely Planet and I’m proud to say that Dublin is the capital of Ireland.

Dublin is a great place to set up a business and for a varied lifestyle. Dublin is located on the East coast of Ireland with a population of circa 1.4mln. A 20-30 minute drive in any direction from the city will lead you to green fields and livestock, this will help in unwinding the stresses of the day. Dublin is a city that encompasses many hidden nooks and crannies, from beautiful beaches to relaxing nature walks and for the more adventurous, the amazing Dublin Mountains for hikes that will work your lungs! It is packed full of activities; yoga, dancing, paddle boarding, golf, kayaking, cycling, Dublin Zoo, the list is exhaustive.

Great food is everywhere. From amazing michelin star restaurants to hipster cafes all competing for your presence. Dublin is so crazy about food it has adopted and re-coined the term “Brunch” (which is a late morning meal time somewhere between breakfast and lunch). There are hundreds of cafes spotted throughout the city and the quality of food is intense. Be careful though, you may even put on a few extra pounds while experimenting with Dublin Brunch’s. Ranelagh Village has over 40 cafe’s and restaurants on one little street with 4 cafes claiming the title “Best Coffee in Dublin”, it makes me laugh, however the coffee is dam good 🙂 This is the best way to catch up with friends and family and unwind after a crazy week at the office.

We have the Creative Quarter, Croke Park Stadium, the up-and-coming Dublin 8 district, a Flea Market and an Asian Market for exploration. When we get some sunshine, grab the chance to enjoy it by joining the rest of the city relaxing at St Stephen’s Green park. This is a city with a long history that stems back to 800’s and was once ruled by the Vikings. And lets not forget the Rugby! Almost every second Dub (a person from Dublin) loves the Rugby game accompanied by a “good aul pint of Guinness”.

Dublin is very easy to get around, whether you use the public transport or drive you can get from one end of the city to the other practically within the hour (unless there is traffic). As Dublin is quite a small city, when you spend a little time here you will realize that you are only one or two degrees of separation away from anyone in Dublin. People often refer to it as a “Big Village”. This attracts people to set roots here as it’s small enough to feel like a village however big enough to have the amenities of a city.

The government, their agencies and the startup ecosystem have been pouring a lot of resources into creating Dublin as the best European startup hub. We are home to most of the top 10 Global Tech Companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn who have chosen Dublin as their EU HQ and reside in the world renowned “Silicon Docks”. Dublin is also home to circa 2,000 startups. These are the pillars to a strong ecosystem and community, ranking Dublin 8th in the European Digital City Index (EDCI), out of 35 hubs. Which is not too bad for our Big Village.

In The Irish Capital

Advantages Of Starting Up In Dublin:

  • Youngest population in Europe, with 40% under 29 years of age.
  • 12.5% corporation tax & various grants/supports available (see below).
  • Standard VAT is 23%, however there are lower rates of 13.5%, 9%, 4.8% and 0% on offer.
  • As an English speaking country in Europe Dublin has a strong multicultural society.
  • Growing number of senior management and mentors are readily available. A growing trend shows senior talent opting for startups, as they like to see the immediate impact of their value, which they earned in the corporate world.
  • Great infrastructure to support business, telecoms, energy, water, road & rail networks.
  • Dublin airport has over 350 weekly flights to London, that has been dubbed the 2nd busiest flight route in Europe. This shows significant business confidence between Dublin & the UK. Similarly with other major European cities and New York, United States.
  • Dublin’s location is an advantage in terms of conducting international business as flight durations are relatively low.
  • Excellent support and infrastructure provided by the government for startups (more details below).
  • Dublin is home to a lot of the Top Global Tech Companies, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Microsoft, Zynga, Havok, BigFish Games, Activision, Blizzard, Boston Scientific to name a few.
  • Attracting top international talent at unprecedented volumes.
  • Ireland’s top universities are located in Dublin, producing highflying tech graduates.
  • Ranked #8 out of 35 European Startup Hubs, by EDCI.
  • Per capita, Dublin has more venture capital funding than any other European city, by EDCI.
  • According to World Bank figures, Ireland is 4th in the world for the availability of skilled labour and openness to new ideas, 6th for labour productivity, 7th for the availability of financial skills and 7th for the flexibility and adaptability of people.
  • Ireland has tax treaties with over 70 countries, improving the ease of business for your international growth.
  • Most of all, Dublin is “great craic” (pronounced like ‘crack’ and means fun/enjoyment).

What Startup Founders Have To Consider:

  • Some tax policies and benefits from the 2016 Budget is not in favour of entrepreneurs.
  • It can rain a lot in Dublin…sometimes you even experience the 4 x seasons in 1 x hour!
  • You will be competing for talent with the international companies however there is a growing community of talent who specifically want to work in startups.
  • Rents and the cost of housing is expensive however it has decreased significantly since 2008.
  • The Web Summit, the international conference attracting key players in the tech startup world has left Dublin, favouring Lisbon.
  • The public transport can warrant greater improvements, especially Dublin Buses. Never worry, as Dublin has more taxis than New York, so you’ll never be left out in the rain.

While there are some disadvantages to setting up business in Dublin, the advantages can outweigh any issues. There are many more resources supporting the creation, stability and scalability of startups in Dublin. While no city is perfect, we recognise this and are continuously working on improvement areas, which is a collaborative journey between our dynamic startup ecosystem and our government. For example, DCU Ryan Academy is funding a new initiative namely, Dublin Commissioner for Startups. Their mission is to give startups a voice, an image and platform to lobby any concerns.

Niamh Bushnell, Dublin’s first Commissioner for Startups, sums Dublin up nicely:

“Dublin is the city of “the 3 Forces”: worldclass startups, a strong local ecosystem, and the most innovative multinationals on the planet. The confluence of these 3 is what makes Dublin unique and a magnet for entrepreneurs, startups, investors and media globally.”

Step 1# Experience Dublin’s Startup Scene

Dublin_guide_community

Dublin is one of the fastest growing tech hubs in Europe, ranking 9th place with 14,400 people attending tech related meetups according to the report The State of European Tech from AtomicoVentures. There are hundreds of meetups and events running every month throughout Dublin. Most of these are quite niche and specific to a relevant topic. Many international companies are using the meetups as an effective channel to network, source talent and business opportunities.

The best places to find out what is happening from a monthly perspective is to check out the following websites:

  • Dublin Startup Digest – check out this link for a monthly view of events throughout Dublin’s startup ecosystem.
  • Silicon Republic – specializing in tech and startup media, click this link to keep updated on events.
  • Meetup
  • Eventbrite

Regular Events And Meetups:

Step 2# Choose A Place To Work In Dublin

Dublin_guide_coworking

There are many places throughout Dublin city centre for startups to co-work. Below lists a few and their target market. Depending on what type of startup you are, will determine the best place to become a starting office for you. Please ensure you choose the right environment to allow your creativity and innovative ideas to flow.

The places listed below have a great reputation in the startup ecosystem.

Co-working Spaces In Dublin:

  • Dogpatch Labs – co-working space for scaling technology startups.
  • Guinness Enterprise Centre (GEC) – a not-for-profit enterprise centre for ambitious and innovative companies.
  • The Digital Hub – for digital content and technology enterprises.
  • IADT Media Cube – supporting growth of digital enterprises.
  • TCube Dublin – for freelancers, entrepreneurs and startups in the web, app, mobile, software and digital sectors among others.
  • CoCreate – located in central Dublin, for progressive work environment dedicated to freelancing designers, developers, webdesigners, programmers, video artists, game developers, and more.
  • DoSpace CoWorking – a network of co-working spaces in Ireland.
  • The Hive @ Liffey Trust Hub – for early stage tech companies.
  • Coworkinn – based in Sandyford, just outside the city centre.
  • TOG Dublin Hackerspace – a shared space where members can have a place to work.
  • Versari Hub – located in Dublin Central Business District.
  • Tech Meeup Space – is a collaboration between tube co-working, a Dublin city centre medium and long-term desk space for digital, web and software, freelancers, remote workers and startup entrepreneurs, and a group of Dublin based technology user and meetup groups.
  • Regus – co-working spaces on flexible terms.
  • Office Suites – co-working spaces on flexible terms.

Step 3# Boost Your Budget In Dublin

Dublin_guide_financing.

Ok, so you have the great idea, you have tested the market and you need to grow fast to keep your competitive advantage, what’s next? Funding. Mentors. This is such a scary stage for most entrepreneurs as they are fearful about giving up control of ‘their baby’ or being too protective over their IP (intellectual property). Especially after they exhausted their network of friends, family and their granny for the next investment injection.

Never worry, Dublin has a well established network of mentors, infrastructure and support from an established ecosystem. As I mentioned earlier, EDCI declared that Dublin has more venture capital funding than any other European city. We understand startups, their fears, their dreams and aspirations. Rest assured, you are in safe hands!

If you already have your co-founder and or/ team and a good idea for your product and you see that bootstrapping is not going to help on the initial stage here are the early-stage options for you: incubators, government grants and crowd investing platforms.

Incubators:

  • NDRC (National Digital Research Centre) – a government sponsored accelerator for digital startups. It provides various programs for startups and ranked highly in the incubator market.
  • The Versari Partners – set up a Dublin Hub, 5mins from Silicon Docks. They specialize in digital and learning technologies. You will have access to international contacts, incorporating infrastructure, capital & expertise.
  • Nova UCD – is a hub for new ventures and entrepreneurs at University College Dublin.
  • Invent – is UCD’s Innovation and Enterprise Centre.
  • Trinity Technology & Enterprise Campus – houses a number of the College’s research laboratories and knowledge-based campus companies.
  • Learning & Innovation Centre (LINC) – making accessible the skills and expertise of the Institute to the business community.
  • DIT Hothouse – provided by Dublin Institute of Technology.
  • The Media Cube – provided by Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dun Laoghaire focusing on digital enterprises.
  • NCI Business Incubation Centre – provide by National College of Ireland (NCI).
  • Synergy Centre – provided by Institute of Technology Tallaght offering office space and business supports to early-stage enterprises.
  • University Bio Incubation Facility – provide by St. James Hospital, Dublin, funded by Enterprise Ireland.

Accelerators:

  • Wayra Ireland – access to a global network of mentors, business partners and talent. You can attain up to €50k investment.
  • NDRC LaunchPad – Ireland’s first and leading digital Accelerator. You can attain up to €30k micro seed investment and the programme has a 12 week duration.
  • NDRC Female Founders – accelerator program encouraging and supporting female founders.
  • DCU’s Ryan Academy runs the Propeller Venture Accelerator – again you can attain up to €30k investment, over 3 months where you will have the opportunity to share offices with over 80 mentors. Specializing in technology startups. Up to €30k investment for 7.5% equity plus €15k in services.
  • Female Propeller – also run by DCU’s Ryan Academy, specializing in female founders of companies less than 5 years old, both Irish and International.
  • The Innovation Academy – provided by University College Dublin (UCD), for researchers and executives.
  • LaunchBox – this is open to teams of Trinity students who have an early stage business. The program is 12 weeks in duration offering support, mentorship and access to alumni, funding & investors.
  • The SAP Startup Focus program – provided by SAP (AG), supporting startups in developing new applications on SAP HANA, which is SAP’s realtime database platform. The program focuses on big data, predictive and real-time analytics

Grants & Subventions:

  • Feasibility Study / Innovation Grant – provided by the Enterprise Boards and Enterprise Ireland. You can claim 50% of costs (excluding VAT). Click here for more info.
  • Innovation Voucher – provided my Enterprise Ireland, up to €5,000 to be used with a 3rd Level Institute. Full details here.
  • Competitive Start Fund – provided by Enterprise Ireland, up to €50,000 for a 10% equity stake with few restrictions. Check it out here.
  • New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Program – provided by Enterprise Ireland, up to €15,000 is available however this is quite competitive.
  • Refundable Priming Grant – provided by the Enterprise Boards. 50% of costs can be claimed back excluding VAT. There are also employment grants of up to €10,000 per employee (capped at €80,000).
  • Competitive Start Fund for Graduates – provided by Enterprise Ireland, up to €50k in support. Full details here.
  • UCD Student Innovation Fund – provided by University College Dublin, early stage startups to encourage entrepreneurship among UCD undergraduate and postgraduate students. To apply click here.
  • Guinness Amplify – provided by Guinness to support music startups by providing 60 days of free studio time. Click here for more info.
  • OPTIMISE e-commerce fund – awarded to a maximum 15 companies who can win prizes of 10 days of professional consultancy training and development, from a total fund of €150,000. Assisting the lucky 15 with knowledge and tools on how to “optimize” their existing website and grow their business online. Check it out here.
  • Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Competition – this is held at a county level and a fund of €50,000 is available for 3 x winners in different categories. As long as you are under 30 years old and have a great business idea or an existing business you can apply. Are you eligible?
  • Dublin Startup Community Fund – provided by the Dublin Commissioner for Startups, gives small grants to community-focused entrepreneurs and organizations in Dublin to promote entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation and startups in Dublin. Every little bit helps.

Crowd Investing Platforms:

  • Fundit – An Irish owned not for profit organization working to support resilience and transformation in the cultural sector through research, innovation and partnership. They charge 5% commission.
  • Kickstarter – the global crowdfunding platform opened it’s doors in Ireland a few years ago. They charge 5% commission and have funded over 77,000 creative projects since 2009.
  • iCrowdFund – developed by the same people who own iFundraise, iRegister and iDonate. They charge a commission of 4%.
  • Indiegogo – another global player opened it’s doors to Irish startups, they charge 4% net, initially they charge 9% however if your project proceeds, they will refund 5%.
  • Linked Finance – another Irish owned crowdfunding platform with 2.5% commission rates.
  • SeedUps – crowdfunding for technology startups.

Angel Investors:

Venture Capital Investors:

  • NDRC VentureLab Program – provided by NDRC, another great and intensive program, up to €100k investment.
  • ACT Venture Capital – invests from early stage to expansion stage, with operational and financial support.
  • Frontline Ventures – invests in seed (€100k-€750k) and Series A stages (€1-2mln). Specializing in Big Data, Internet, Cloud and Mobile companies.
  • Enterprise Equity Venture Capital Group (EEVC) – provides funding to early stages and expanding business.
  • Delta Partners – has over €250mln under management, specializing in early stage investments in both technology and MedTech sectors.
  • Kernel Capital – provided by The Bank of Ireland specializing in technology companies at all stages of growth.
  • Business Venture Partners – manage funds specializing in cleantech and renewable energy projects.
  • Atlantic Bridge LP – focus on investing companies that are seeking expansion capital, have a proven revenue model and evidence of market uptake.
  • DFJ Espirt – invest into visionary and growing companies and also have the ability to do direct secondary deals into late stage tech companies as well as buying entire venture capital portfolios.
  • Executive Venture Partners – invest in early stage startups, offering finance, investor relations, sales, marketing and channel advice.
  • Fountain Healthcare Partners – specializing in life sciences.
  • Greencoat Capital – specializing in the energy efficiency, resource efficiency and renewable energy sectors.
  • Investec Ventures – specialist bank, providing venture capital to companies in the following sectors; technology, digital and eCommerce, business support services, healthcare equipment and services, clean technology and renewably energy, consumer services.
  • MML Growth Capital Partners – rovide growth capital to private businesses on the island of Ireland for expansion, acquisitions, recapitalisations and shareholder reorganizations. €2-12mln.
  • Polaris Partners – specializing in technology and healthcare sectors.
  • Serbia Kernel – specializing in Life Sciences and breakthrough healthcare technologies.
  • Irish Venture Capital Funds (IRDG)
  • ScaleFront – a venture lab focusing on high growth tech startups in Dublin.
  • Smart Start – Bringing a fresh approach to venture capital, they will not only offer funding however they will also open doors for you with their contacts.
  • Irish Venture Capital Association – represents venture capital in both Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Other Investment Opportunities:

  • Startupbootcamp Ireland
  • Microfinance Ireland – provided by Microenterprise Loan Fund, you can attain loans from €2k to €25k. These are provided to startups or micro-enterprises that do not meet the conventional risk criteria of commercial banks.
  • Micro Finance Loans – provided by the Local Enterprise Office, you can attain loans of 2k to €25k from 3-5years terms. Click here.
  • GRID Finance – Irish online borrowing and lending peer to peer platform.
  • Google’s Ventures fund – provide by Google Ventures in Europe with $100mln for startups.
  • Mastercard’s e-commerce-focused Accelerator – provided by Mastercards for innovative early stage Europeans startups.
  • The Idea Works – provided by Compass Group, an initiative allows startups in food service, hospitality and facilities management industry submit their early stage ideas of cutting edge applications, solutions and products.

Step 4# Look For Extra Advice In Dublin

Dublin_mentors

If you are seeking further advice, the following organizations have tons of information that will provide light bedtime reading.

  • Guide to Enterprise in Dublin City – this site is a full directory of information from government support to networking opportunities.
  • IDA Ireland – is the government’s FDI agency and are responsible for most, if not all the major tech startups in Ireland.
  • ConnectIreland are delivering an initiative for the Government’s 2012 Action Plan for Jobs, which is designed to attract foreign direct investment and create jobs through referrals and Irish diaspora. Up to €150,000 reward is offered for a successful referral.
  • The Office of Revenue Commissioners – is the primary state body responsible for assessment and collection of taxes and duties in the Republic of Ireland.
  • Enterprise Ireland – is a government agency responsible for supporting Irish trade both locally and internationally. They provide support on financing, make introductions, hold events and export assistance, among many other things.
  • Think Business Startup Guide – provides advice about anything and everything to do with business in Ireland.
  • Dublin Commissioner for Startups – was set up to give startups a voice, their mission “to develop a voice, an image and a platform for Dublin as a great startup city, nationally and internationally”. Well done guys!
  • Dublin Chamber of Commerce – fully supports attracting startups, they launched “An Activating Dublin Initiative” which is focused on “maximizing the potential of the Tech Startup ecosystem in Dublin” click here for full report.

To summarize Dublin’s view on startups is serious business!

There is so many different types of support and initiatives available to startups who consider Dublin as their place to do business. Dublin wants you to succeed and has got your back. We want to help you scale faster, have access to a high level of seed funding and integrate into the already successful startup clusters.

Over the past few decades Dublin has focused on attracting, growing and supporting startups and are proud to house a strong multinational base with the most innovative and thriving ecosystem in emerging technologies typically mobile internet, telecommunications, software, digital platforms and digital gaming. #bestplacetostart

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Last updated: August 1st, 2016

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