The first Dublin WeWork Labs start-up hub is about to open its doors

14 Feb 2019

Image: WeWork

As WeWork’s office empire spreads to six buildings across Dublin, the next step is to help start-ups scale up.

WeWork’s massive expansion in Dublin continues with the news that WeWork Labs is to open its first Irish location this spring, can exclusively reveal.

The first WeWork Labs operation in Dublin will open its doors at WeWork’s Charlemont Exchange location on 4 March.

‘It’s closer to an accelerator if anything. We take people who have already got their idea and product, and take them to the next level’

WeWork Labs is designed to be an inclusive, collaborative and flexible programme open to entrepreneurs from all industries and backgrounds. The Dublin lab will join more than 30 other WeWork Labs in locations such as New York, Washington DC, Shanghai and São Paulo.

In Dublin, WeWork Labs will aim to support local expertise in subjects including artificial intelligence and machine learning, augmented reality and virtual reality, food tech and prop tech, blockchain, and the future of work.

WeWork, which announced last month that it will be rebranding to ‘The We Company’ has been growing rapidly in Dublin with six locations. The latest location at Charlemont Exchange will host a community of more than 2,600 members and it has been reported that Amazon will be an anchor tenant.

Last June, reported how the company’s 55,000 sq ft operation on Harcourt Street became operational. At that point three of the company’s other premises in Dublin were already operational, hosting more than 1,000 workers including staff from Microsoft and Twilio, and it subsequently emerged that WeWork was also taking on the iconic former Central Bank building on Dame Street.

Co-founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in New York City in 2010, WeWork is a privately held company with more than 5,000 employees.

The ethos of WeWork Labs

Speaking with, the head of WeWork Labs for the UK and Ireland, Kenneth Siber, described the labs as a “global platform for start-ups and corporate innovation; a set of growth and acceleration services on top of the existing WeWork platform”.

Siber said that WeWork has become a kind of operating system for so many companies to do what they do best without distraction, and work more efficiently. “And we asked ourselves, ‘Couldn’t we take that and make it work for start-ups in a more focused way?’

“It’s a natural evolution of WeWork and a way of getting back to what it is all about: taking away all of the distractions like finding office space, and using our community and global scale to help start-ups.”

Siber explained that membership of WeWork Labs is open to existing members, new members and start-ups that want to join the global community. “We don’t take any equity and members only remain as long as they feel the labs are having a real impact to their business.”

He said that every lab will have a manager who will act as a kind of ‘superconnector’ to the lab, the region and the start-up world.

Services include mentorships from the wider WeWork community in a plethora of fields from legal to marketing; help with fundraising by leveraging the community; and access to a constantly evolving stream of content and programme events.

“By opening them up to this community, a start-up may find their ideal investor or customer might be in Silicon Valley or Berlin or Shanghai.

“It’s closer to an accelerator if anything. We take people who have already got their idea and product, and take them to the next level,” Siber said.

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