Irish internet firms need to scale up and grow fast, but lack the supports to do this, established entrepreneur Colm Lyon of Realex Payments told siliconrepublic.com, as he prepares to launch an Enterprise Ireland-backed initiative to scale up start-ups.
Internet entrepreneurs including Colm Lyon (pictured) of Realex, Dylan Collins of Jolt Online Gaming and Ray Nolan of Worky.com have spearheaded a new initiative aimed at helping Irish internet start-ups to navigate the unfortunate red-tape of Irish business and go global fast.
They have enlisted the support of organisations that include Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Software Association, the Irish Internet Association and the Institute of International and European Affairs to devise a training programme aimed at fast-tracking entrepreneurs’ international business efforts.
The new Internet Growth Alliance is to be unveiled by Lyon during his address at next week’s IIA Congress in Dublin.
Speaking with siliconrepublic.com about the endeavour, Lyon said there is an urgent need to create an internet-growth acceleration programme.
“There’s a stupid notion that just because you’re an Irish internet business you can’t scale internationally. You can.
“The idea is to create a training programme that is supported by peer internet companies that have gone the journey. The training is to help businesses identify the pieces they need to scale internationally from compiling a strategy, succeeding in online communications, localising products, cross-border VAT accounting, etc.
“Start-up culture in Ireland seems to be stymied by the perception that there is a lack of start-up capital around. The landscape has changed, the internet is a means to get going and you don’t need €100,000 to get a company up and running anymore. The challenges Irish start-ups face is not solely about funding, but the strategy to go about doing something.”
Lyon is one of Ireland’s most successful internet entrepreneurs, having started Realex Payments in 2000, it has grown into an internet payments giant that processes €6bn in e-commerce transactions a year for companies such as Aer Lingus and Superquinn, as well as prominent Irish and UK banks.
Ray Nolan is co-founder of Web Reservations International, the company behind the phenomenally successful hostel booking site Hostelworld.com, while Dylan Collins is co-founder of DemonWare, a games software company that was bought by Activision for €15m.
Lyon said he got the inspiration to create the Internet Growth Alliance from his own experience attending an Irish Software Association/Enterprise Ireland-sponsored Leadership for Growth course at Stanford University.
He added that if it weren’t for the latter programme, he wouldn’t be leading Realex on its current internationalisation strategy that will see the company create 25 jobs this year as it pushes into UK and mainland European markets.
“That programme gave me a sense of ‘there’s no reason why you can’t do this’, and I think that’s what Irish businesses need.”
Lyon added that with the internet, today’s innovation is tomorrow’s commodity, and Irish firms need to learn how to develop newer products in quick succession.
“You have to keep researching back into your product. As well as trying to scale geographically, you have to reinvent your product strategy and introduce new products to market the whole time.”
Colm Lyon will be one of the keynote speakers at next week’s 2009 IIA Congress that takes place on 21 and 22 May at the Crowne Plaza Dublin Northwood. For more information go to: http://www.iia.ie/events/iia-congress/
By John Kennedy
Pictured: Colm Lyon of Realex Payments