7 tech founders and leaders that inspire entrepreneurs

2 May 2022

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We asked entrepreneurs which start-up founders and leaders they are most influenced by. Here’s what they said.

Through our Start-up of the Week series on SiliconRepublic.com, we speak to founders on a regular basis. We find out all about their business ideas and ambitious plans for the future.

We also ask them which start-up founders they admire the most. Some big names from the Irish tech scene regularly crop up, such as Intercom’s Des Traynor and the Collison brothers of Stripe, but many others are mentioned.

Here are some of the tech founders and influencers that continue to inspire entrepreneurs who are launching their own fledgling businesses.

Tobi Lütke, Shopify

Billionaire Tobi Lütke is co-founder and CEO of Canadian e-commerce company Shopify. What came to life more than a decade ago as an online store selling snowboards today hosts nearly 2m merchants globally and achieved revenue of $4.6bn in 2021.

“The best part of the product for me is the suggestions and insight on how to sell better and more often, whether adding imagery, improving descriptions or price points,” said John Hannon, CEO and founder of SalesTier (formerly Gain Grain).

“I also liked Tobi’s Twitter thread around working smarter versus longer, and time needed to grow a start-up. Not all businesses fit the same mould, but it was a really good insight into what it took for Shopify to grow.”

John and Patrick Collison, Stripe

The Collison brothers need no introduction in Ireland and, indeed, the wider tech world. Originally from Limerick, John and Patrick Collison founded fintech company Stripe in 2010 and by 2017 they were listed among the world’s youngest billionaires.

“I really admire the Collison brothers,” said Conor Lyden, founder and CEO of Trustap, which recently raised $3.4m in seed funding for its payments platform. “I think it’s great to see people that you can relate to succeeding on the world stage.”

Des Traynor, Intercom

Another household name in the Irish tech community, Des Traynor is one of the founders of software company Intercom. Based in San Francisco, it helps businesses connect with their customers and has, in the past decade, grown from a small start-up to a global company with more than 800 employees.

“Des has such a great ability to dive head-first into a completely new area of interest and become an expert in a fraction of the time you’d expect,” Daniel Kyne, co-founder and CEO of OpinionX, told SiliconRepublic.com. “Every couple of weeks, I listen back to my favourite podcasts that Des has appeared on, and I always pick up something new for our strategy at OpinionX.”

Traynor is set to chat about Europe’s entrepreneurial ecosystem at Future Human, Silicon Republic’s sci-tech event taking place later this month.

Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble

Naomh McElhatton, co-founder and CEO of Stimul.ai, praised the “phenomenal success” of Bumble under the leadership of Whitney Wolfe Herd, who founded the dating app in 2014.

Wolfe Herd oversaw the company’s journey from a small start-up less than a decade ago to its stock market debut last year at a $14bn valuation.

Sarah Friar, Nextdoor

Tyrone native Sarah Friar, who was formerly the CFO of Square, is now the CEO of social network Nextdoor and arguably one of the most powerful Irish people in the Silicon Valley tech scene. “Being a former Tyrone girl myself, Sarah Friar is certainly on my list,” said McElhatton.

Last July, Nextdoor went public in a deal that valued the company at $4.3bn. It’s a network that attracted much attention during the pandemic – for both good and bad reasons.

Darragh McCarthy, FinTru

Northern Ireland-based FinTru, which provides regulatory resourcing services, was founded by Cork native Darragh McCarthy in 2013 in response to increasing global demand for resources to navigate an increasingly complex regulatory landscape.

“To watch their grassroots businesses flourish over the last few years has just been spectacular,” McElhatton said in reference to McCarthy and Kainos CEO Brendan Mooney, who is next on this list.

Brendan Mooney, Kainos

A former EY Entrepreneur of the Year, Brendan Mooney has been the CEO of Belfast-based software company Kainos for more than two decades. Kainos provides digital services to businesses and organisations primarily in the public, healthcare and financial services sectors.

As well as its Belfast headquarters, it has offices across Europe, Canada and the US. Earlier this year, it snapped up US tech company Blackline Group to expand its Workday operations in North America and Europe.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic