Startup Hubs Around the World: Dublin
Dublin offers the entrepreneur the chance to live in a city rich with history. In a country dotted with castles and where legends of leprechauns abound, entrepreneurs may wish they had some extra luck to help their company succeed.
To find out what Dublin has over other startup cities, we’ll explore 1) the location, 2) the tax incentives, 3) legal incentives, 4) investors, 5) local resources, 6) specialization of the area, and 7) startups to watch.
Strategically located on the west side of Ireland, at the mouth of the River Liffey, Dublin is quickly becoming one of the hottest entrepreneur markets in the world. Conveniently located near the larger European cities, it is establishing itself as a proving ground for startups that are looking for a gateway to the European market or simply want a more relaxed setting to work in.
The River Liffey runs straight down the middle of the city, effectively creating a diving line that marks distinct differences between the two halves. Eloquently referred to as ‘the Northside’ and ‘the Southside’, these two parts of the city are markedly different. The Northside of the city is predominantly working class, while the Southside is home to the middle to upper-class portions of Irish society. Along with the physical division of the city, there are stereotypical divisions that correlate to the respective sides. Entrepreneurs who are establishing a startup within Dublin must be aware of the subtle differences in the various locations around the city.
Bordered by farmland to the north and a flat mountain range to the south, Dublin is surrounded by beautiful pastoral scenes that give it a picturesque edge over the massive metropolis cities it competes with. With such peaceful surroundings, the entrepreneur has an easy escape when a break is needed from the bustle of the big city. Home to approximately 2 million residents, Dublin can become congested easily, but can still manage to feel as though it is a small town.
Advantages of choosing the city
As the capital city of Ireland, one would expect the philosophical belief that ‘all roads lead to Dublin’. In fact, the reality is that Irelands’ literal roads all lead to Dublin. Transportation by car within Dublin is easily established. The roads use a tier-toll system to accommodate the growing needs of the city; all cars must be registered and electronically tagged. The electronic tagging allows for quick and easy tolls as the car goes past the station.
Another form of transportation is the public transport system. In Dublin, that system contains busses and railways. The busses operate on a time-stage system move seamlessly through the ten regions that make up the city. The busiest airport in Ireland, Dublin has an international connection that can transport entrepreneurs anywhere in the world easily. Due to its location, Dublin is the startup hub closest to the United States. It offers shorter, more frequent flights to the US.
Finally, one of the more recent additions to the transportation dilemma is the use of bicycles. While the idea of riding a bike everywhere is not new, the concept of renting a bicycle through a usage membership is definitely new. DublinBikes is a self-service bike rental that allows users to ride and return the bikes throughout the city. This innovative service has provided millions of bike rides over the years – in a city that normally focuses on cars and trolleys, using some willpower to get exercise and sightsee at the same time can really pay off.
The city is also home to a thriving culture with libraries, literature and entertainment regularly offered for residents. Nightlife can be found around the city’s center, with its focus on the younger crowd with their dress, drinks, and entertainment.
Dublin is in a unique business position. The economic downturn that the global economy suffered served to push talented workers out of the workforce. In conjunction with skilled workers graduating from college, there is a deep pool of talent that can help to create some of the brightest startups in the world. This workforce ready group of people has the ability and the knowhow to change their world through the establishment of startups.
Many people mistakenly assume that Dublin’s claim to fame is their lower tax rate. While their tax rate is low, it is important to understand that more than a simple tax code is going to be needed to draw entrepreneurs to the capital city. However, for the companies that are lured by the prospect of tax advantages, the visit to Dublin will not be a disappointment.
Rated by World Bank’s ‘doing business’ report as the EU location that is the easiest to start a business in, Dublin has the most business friendly tax structure in Europe.
Corporate tax rates set at 12.5% – one of the lowest rates in Europe. They have an extremely flexible Research and Development tax strategy, where startups are allowed to claim tax back, even if they have claimed a loss. This essentially allows startups to avoid having to pay any corporate profit taxes. Additionally, there are agreements that allow for double taxation.
Tax depreciation on intangible assets and intellectual property is available for entrepreneurs, and the wise startup company will take advantage of it as quickly as possible.
With extremely business friendly government support, the entrepreneur in Dublin is already at an advantage over startups in most of the world. The tax structure is an added bonus.
Atmosphere Dublin 2014 – Eoin Costello – Embracing Entrepreneurship in Ireland
Along with an array of startup friendly tax codes, Ireland has created a number of legal incentives that allow the entrepreneur to quickly and easily establish a business. The streamlined process to start and license a company is handled efficiently, allowing entrepreneurs to get up and to run right away. There needs to be an improvement in the immigration process to allow entrepreneurs to secure the appropriate visas quickly, but overall the government is highly supportive of the startup market.
The culture of Dublin is very welcoming to the multi-nationals who have made it their home. This global representation can be seen in virtually every startup within the city and is a dynamic force in the continued development of entrepreneurship in Dublin. It is not uncommon to find a German, a Jew and a Russian all in the break room at the same time and even all partners together in a startup.
With a business friendly environment and fantastic tax codes, it is no wonder that Dublin has managed to attract some of the biggest names in investment to set up offices in Dublin.
In keeping with their business friendly policies, Dublin is making it as easy as possible for outsiders to invest in startups within the city. By allowing both investors and entrepreneurs a chance to flourish in the Irish city, the economy of Dublin is beginning to recover.
The Employment and Investment Incentive (EII) was designed specifically for Irish investors. Resident taxpayers who invest in startups are eligible for additional tax credits and deductions. The Immigrant Investor Program allows individuals with a background in business to relocate to Ireland and invest in a startup. There are a variety of options available, depending on where the investor’s comfort threshold falls.
Over 35 international investors have expressed an interest in the Irish start-up marketplace and invested over the course of the last year. With such a strong backing, it is no surprise that Dublin has more seed funding available than any other EU nation.
Venture capital funders are finding that they have a number of startups to choose from when selecting where to invest their money. Additionally, startups are discovering that initial funding is easy to come by, providing the startup has handled all the paperwork and legalities.
Funds are being established to allow for funds to be distributed to startups who reach their second wind and need to take a leap of faith to expand. By constantly being on the lookout for upcoming startups and technologies, Dublin’s entrepreneurial market is continuing to grow.
Sweet Success in Dublin, The Experience of Being an Entrepreneur
One of the strongest resources that Dublin has is the size of the workforce. Skilled workers with several years’ experience working for some of the world’s biggest tech firms begin to look for opportunities to use what they’ve learned. This sub-culture of entrepreneurs has become essential in the continuation of Dublin as a global startup hub.
In global rankings, Ireland is fourth for the availability of their skilled workers and 7th for how they handle their financial skills. Dublin’s entrepreneur group is one of the youngest in the nation and has some of the most highly skilled labor forces in the world.
The Liffey Trust is another resource that entrepreneurs can take advantage of in Dublin. The trust, named after the river that divides the city, is a trust that has been in existence for over twenty years. Formed with the idea of helping entrepreneurs get jobs, the trust has converted a floor in an office building they own into an incubator. By prioritizing that space specifically for startups, they are encouraging entrepreneurship to flourish in the city. As a hub and a community, the building will serve as a beacon of hope to potential entrepreneurs everywhere.
Another important resource that Dublin has is the English language. Entrepreneurs who are looking to set up their business in Dublin need not fret over learning a second language: they are all speaking English. This is a tremendous advantage for a city located so closely to other European hubs – and can help it to come out on top when doing a side by side comparison.
Enterprise Island is the government of Dublin’s organization to help the bustling startup community to breathe. Through Enterprise Island (EI), startups have the opportunity to collaborate on projects, find funding, make connections and build relationship within the community. It provides information to its entrepreneurs about housing, relocating to Ireland, etc.
While the marketplace in Dublin is thriving in a multitude of fields, there does not seem to be a clear distinction of specialization. However, there are several areas that seem to be attracting more attention than the others and deserve some mention or attention.
Two opposites in scope, gaming and health are big fields in the entrepreneur marketplace in Dublin.
Gaming tech development ranges from the gaming protocols and software needed to play games. Gaming is a billion dollar industry; new games are being released every day that have the potential to go viral. Game developers in Dublin are creating new games, new methodologies and new technologies to increase the gaming scope, develop a new game approach or add new protocols to existing games.
The other end of the specialization scope is the field of healthcare. As the global population begins to age and slow down, the demand for new and innovative technologies to improve quality of life will continue to increase. Dublin’s startup market is determined to be on the forefront of the industry with their development of apps, programs and other resources that can be used to improve and track client health.
STARTUPS TO WATCH
BragBet: An interactive gaming experience, BragBet allows users to create a team, establish a team ‘pot’ of money, trash talk each other and bet on their favorite sports teams and games. A mix of social networking, gambling, and innovation, this is the new era of gambling. Users can establish an account that allows them to track and manage their bets, as well as keep in touch with the others in their team.
Conker: Designed specifically for game developers, Conker is a gaming platform that helps programmers make more money in games. Specifically, this platform was designed to be run in conjunction with a freetoplay app. By using behavioral analytics, the system can use predictive technology to develop what response a player will have, and then plan the game accordingly.
Foodcloud: An indicator that entrepreneurship is not limited to specific age brackets, Foodcloud is an outstanding example of what happens when young developers start to design. Created as a smart phone app, Foodcloud allows local businesses and restaurants to upload details about surplus food to the app. Messages are then automatically sent out to the nearest community service group. They can accept the surplus (and go pick it up for use) or decline it (it will then be offered to the next nearest group).
CloudDock: The answer to many an online storage user’s prayers, CloudDock has developed a platform that allows their accounts to all be synchronized. As a standalone system, CloudDock can work with storage programs like DropBox, Google Drive and more seamlessly.
Intercom: A customer relations management tool, Intercom is designed for SaaS and web based businesses. An easy to navigate interface, it allows the user to integrate all of the data within a database to be updated easily, tracks social media interactions, and monitors customer activity. With a successful funding campaign, it is expected to be a heavy weight in the growing CRM market over the next few years.
BalconyTV: A throwback to the days when MTV was about music, Balcony TV is a new reality show designed to allow viewers to discover new music in the form of live concerts. The series features indie bands, musicians and other performers from around the globe and has amassed a large following already. An authentic source for rediscovering the pure joy of good music, the founders of Balcony TV are reminding the world that music used to be about, well, music.
Soundwave: Another music based startup, Soundwave is an interactive app that tracks the users’ playlist preferences, detailing where and when music was listened to, how often a track is played, where it was downloaded and more. It provides an interesting look at an individual’s listening habits and also offers music companies analytics of who is listening to particular songs.