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Dublin

It is no coincidence that Google, Facebook, PayPal, and many other tech giants have established their European headquarters in Dublin. Ireland’s favorable corporate tax rates and government regulations attract the world’s largest corporations to lay roots, providing Dublin with a diverse pan-European talent pool. The city’s welcoming reputation and generous government programs provide the community with ironclad support. The government-backed Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund (CSF) is a leader in early-stage funding, offering startups €50,000 in exchange for equity. Coworking spaces such as Dogpatch Labs and the Guinness Enterprise Center along with organizations such as the DCU Ryan Academy demonstrate both the breadth of support for the city’s entrepreneurs, and the collaborative atmosphere that has attracted over 1,200 startups. While Ireland’s small market is a drawback, it forces companies to scale rapidly and makes Dublin a good place to test ideas. However, Ireland’s tax laws regarding early employee stock options, which discourage individuals from leaving their corporate jobs to join a startup, and the punishing capital gains tax (twice as high as the UK) are both significant challenges to growth. And while many are grateful of governmental support, some accuse it of disincentivizing the growth of a vibrant angel community.

In This Market

These businesses offer industry expertise and are a source of startup talent and potential customers. They help fuel the local startup community.

Opportunities

  • Presence of multinational tech giants means that the talent pool is extremely diverse. The community consists of people from across Europe, and across many industries.
  • Dublin has a generous and welcoming reputation. A stranger can arrive and be welcomed as though they were a local. This carries over to the city's startup community, with a strong pay-it-forward mentality among entrepreneurs and investors.
  • Tremendous governmental support across all levels. Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund invests in entrepreneurs at their earliest stages with additional matching funding available for 'high performing startups', the NDRC is a government backed accelerator, and the Dublin Business Innovation Centre supports a variety of startup programs in the city.
  • Dogpatch Labs, a Google For Entrepreneurs-backed coworking space, provides the community with resources and support to scale and thrive, giving them access to events including workshops, developer meetups and fireside chats.
  • Startup density in Dublin is relatively high, with the NDRC, the Guinness Enterprise Center, Trinity College, and Silicon Docks all located within walking distance of one another.
  • Ireland is a small market (4.5 million people), making it possible to test ideas and forcing companies to scale quickly into other English speaking markets and greater Europe.

Risk Factors

  • There is speculation that governmental support and programs for early stage funding are crowding the field, and suppressing the rise of more angel investors. Others point to tax laws around angel investing as a significant hurdle, citing the UK's generous tax laws as a model to live by (which brings its own pros and cons). The reality is, more angels and VCs are needed at the seed stage and beyond.
  • Irish tax laws can be very punishing towards returns made from stock options. This makes it challenging to recruit international talent, and discourages individuals from leaving their comfortable, corporate jobs to join a startup.
  • The is no major billion dollar exit. While there are plenty of startups well on their way to exit for a substantial amount, the lack of an Irish “unicorn” means that there are fewer founders that could be angels, mentors, or advisors for the community.
  • The presence of multinational tech companies means that sales, engineering, and customer support positions are more easily filled (keeping in mind the stock option challenges). However, product management and higher level technical talent is difficult to come by.
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