Silicon Valley’s finest to descend on Dublin’s Silicon Docks

26 Jan 2016

Google's Foundry in Dublin will host the prestigious start-up event Silicon Valley Open Doors

A unique event at Google’s Foundry in Dublin this week will see some of Europe’s top start-ups meet with senior investors from Silicon Valley at the Silicon Valley Open Doors (SVOD) event.

Despite being called open doors, this year’s event is actually full up. A leading boutique tech and investment conference in Silicon Valley since it began in 2005, Silicon Valley Open Doors came to Europe for the very first time last year and it being brought to Dublin so soon is quite an achievement.

On Wednesday and Thursday this week (27 and 28 January), investors from IBM, Draper Esprit, Almaz Capital, Frontline Ventures, Eden Ventures, HMC, Mobility Ventures, Seed Camp, Wayra, MasterCard and TEC Ventures, to name a few, will mix with Irish and European start-ups.

On Wednesday, key speakers will share their knowledge and insights with the European tech community leaders, including speakers like Shazam founder Avery Wang, Deborah Magid from IBM Venture Capital Group, Outbrain founder Ori Lahav and Alexander Galitsky from Almaz Capital.

‘Europe just isn’t as homogenous as the US, but that doesn’t mean we can’t see European start-ups succeed and scale’

On Thursday, all the European start-ups will compete in a series of competitions spread across areas like B2C, B2B, internet of things, hardware, fintech and more. Irish start-ups taking part include Love & Robots, Bizimply and BonzaQuote, which are all Start-up of the Week alumni.

Bringing the event to Silicon Docks is something of a coup for Google’s director of product quality Paddy Flynn, who has been tireless in his efforts to promote and foster the start-up community in Dublin.

What Dublin doesn’t have in scale, it has in spirit

Last August, Flynn played a blinder in encouraging Google, which employs around 5,000 people in Dublin city, to add Dublin to its Tech Hub Network for start-ups as part of a deal with Dogpatch Labs.

“We had engaged with SVOD founder Anna Dvornikova and simply suggested Dublin as a good place and the kind of things we can do here and we didn’t set out to compete with other locations around Europe,” Flynn said.

“Europe is full of great start-up hubs from Stockholm to London and Berlin and we said that Dublin is also a vibrant place to consider.

“Clearly they agreed.”

Flynn said that Dublin has all the attributes of a vibrant European start-up hub.

“It has become a sustainable ecosystem that is competitive from a funding perspective, there is plenty of government support and, at Google, we’ve worked hard to help start-ups scale and be successful.”

He said that there is still some way to go in Dublin to develop the “stickiness” that exists in bigger European cities and to see start-ups mature and develop to the point where they are acquiring or funding other start-ups.

“But there is considerable momentum, especially around fintech. Companies engaging with the start-up community include Accenture, Mastercard, Deloitte, Barclays and many others. Other areas, like internet of things, are also gathering momentum.

“But scale is everything. We need to see start-ups scale up to a point where they too raise up others.”

Flynn said unlike start-ups in the US, European start-ups face hurdles that include languages and borders and, even with the EU’s Single Digital Market, there will still be challenges.

“Europe just isn’t as homogenous as the US, but that doesn’t mean we can’t see European start-ups succeed and scale. For innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive we need to see companies reach scale, and that is not easy.

“But that said, every country in Europe as far as I can tell is getting behind their entrepreneurs and are trying to give them the leg up. We must do the same.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years