Gimme coffee and VC


18 Apr 2008

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For the price of a cup of coffee developers, investors, programmers and anyone involved in the technology community in Ireland can pop into informal meetings known as OpenCoffee, which are held regularly in Dublin, Cork and Limerick.

Yesterday’s OpenCoffee Dublin attracted, among others, Microsoft developer Martha Rotter, Dennis Deery of web consultancy firm Irish Rose and web application developer Paul Campbell.

The OpenCoffee format started out in London last year from a blog post suggesting that tech-minded people meet up in a Starbucks for an informal networking session.

“Here in Dublin and around Ireland, OpenCoffee is used as a regular meetup for those interested in technology, including start-ups, VCs, web designers and developers, tech managers and even hobbyists,” said Rotter.

While the OpenCoffee format has taken off in Cork thanks to Conor O’Neill, founder of review portal LouderVoice.com, and is also flourishing in Limerick, the Dublin faction is only beginning to find its feet, said Deery of Irish Rose.

“Ultimately, it’s also about connecting investors with the grassroots, although this hasn’t really taken off so much in Dublin, mainly I think due to the limited start-up potential of many of the regular attendees,” said Campbell.

However, OpenCoffee does attract successful entrepreneurs such as Joe Drumgoole, founder of PutPlace, an online storage firm that recently raised €850,00 in a second round of funding from both Enterprise Ireland and angel investors.

“So far, I’ve met geeks, tech types, techie-business people, reps from InterTrade Ireland, programmers, small business owners, marketing types and even a few musicians in the early days last year,” Campbell added.

“People pop in for few minutes or a few hours, depending on their workload. Some come to showcase a project they have been working on, maybe pitch a business idea or seek collaboration or advice,” said Deery.

Rotter said that here in Ireland the informal OpenCoffee format works well because it is a great way of networking: anyone can show up and there will be a pool of potential business partners, investors or mentors.

At the same time, Rotter said the informal setting means conversation can range from tech topics like Test Driven Development to YouTube and even politics, which cultivates a community of like-minded people.

“A lot of us know each other fairly well, so sometimes we just get to catch up on each others’ projects and news, too, which is fun. I always learn a lot at OpenCoffee, and I’ve met many of my favourite tech people in Ireland there.”

OpenCoffee Dublin meets once a month at the Morrison Hotel and is moderated by Eoghan McCabe. Details of meetings can be found at www.opencoffeedublin.com.

By Marie Boran