Dublin’s business-friendly tax regime, favourable economy and educated workforce have proved alluring to big names in tech including Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Airbnb, Twitter and Amazon, all of which have their EMEA headquarters in the city. Their presence helped Dublin rank within the top ten of the most recent European Digital City Index, with the authors noting that, thanks to so many tech giants based at Dublin’s Silicon Docks, local high potential start-ups are afforded unprecedented collaborative opportunities.
Covid-19 has not put much of a dampener on the local scene: TechIreland chief executive John O’Dea says that, in spite of the pandemic, Irish tech funding exceeded €1bn for the first time in 2020, with a record 264 companies raising investment. More than two-thirds of that poured into Dublin-based businesses, as the city continues to support a thriving startup ecosystem.
Manna founder Bobby Healy is no stranger to the startup scene, having built and sold companies including Eland Technologies and CarTrawler earlier in his career. Though Manna was only founded in 2018, it has already taken the investor community by storm, with its use of drones promising to turn the delivery sector on its head. Atlantic Bridge, Elkstone Partners, FF Venture Capital and Frontline Ventures were among its seed investors. Greenman Investments has since joined the fray, with Manna closing a further $25m Series A round in April. Healy says investors have been attracted by the “possibilities that drone delivery offers”, while customer feedback highlights the attractiveness of “a safer, quieter, greener and more efficient delivery option”. Initially focused on delivering food from restaurants and dark kitchens, Manna has since branched out into groceries and medicines. Its ambition, Healy says, is to completely replace road-based delivery.
Shane Curran was just 19 years old when he dropped out of his business law course to found data privacy startup Evervault. Dubbed an encryption solution for developers, Evervault helps other businesses manage data protection by encrypting sensitive data before it lands on their apps. Before his product was even built, Curran had attracted $3.2m (£2.3m) of seed funding, with California’s Sequoia Investments and Kleiner Perkins among the company’s initial backers. He has continued to pique investor interest since, raising a further $16m last year from backers including former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos. Curran says the cash has flowed on the back of the business being able to show that encryption can be made easy. “Companies have always avoided encrypting data because they’re scared of getting it wrong,” he says. “When they see how Evervault makes it simple, they’re bewildered by how easy encryption can be. For us, investor love follows developer love – on that front, things have gone well so far.” The money is being used to develop Evervault’s offering so that, Curran says, developers have “the entire toolkit for building encrypted apps”
Given how extensively home-working has been adopted in the wake of Covid-19, Boundless’s technology could not have been more timely. The startup allows employers to compliantly hire people no matter where they are in the world, something co-founder and CEO Dee Coakley says “solves an acute pain point” in the current environment. “We’re hearing from customers in sectors that would never previously have considered supporting international remote work for their teams,” she says. The business remains early-stage, but already provides payroll and tax services in 13 countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the UK. A further 24 – including the US, Japan and Hong Kong – will be added this year, with Boundless also looking at how it can expand its business offering. “Ultimately, we want to be the employment platform for your international team, which means expanding our product capabilities into areas adjacent to employment compliance,” Coakley says.
The coronavirus pandemic has been good to grocery delivery business Buymie, which closed two funding rounds in quick succession after seeing revenues soar in the first half of 2020. The firm expanded a delivery deal with Lidl after securing €2.2m of funding led by Act Venture Capital last April. That was swiftly followed by a €5.8m round led by Wheatsheaf Group, as well as expansion into Bristol via a partnership with Co-op.
Digitisation may be good news for consumers, but it is bad news for charities that rely on spare change being dropped into their collection boxes. Founded by Lizzy Hayashida and William Conaghan, who came up with the idea while completing an MBA at Trinity College Dublin, Change Donations wants to rectify that. The app links users’ debit cards with a host of charities, rounding up their purchases to the nearest euro and donating the “spare change” on their behalf.
Dockless scooter startup Zipp Mobility may be just two years old, but already it is expanding out of the Republic of Ireland and into the UK. Headquartered at the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at University College Dublin, the organisation last year won UK Department for Transport approval for e-scooter trials. The business has created four jobs in Taunton and seven in High Wycombe as a result.
Aimée-Louise Carton and Will Ben Sims met as postgraduate students at Trinity College Dublin and founded “mental health gym” Keep Appy after Carton experienced a mental health crisis. The wellbeing app combines mood tracking with other psychologist-approved features to help users identify and act on triggers of poor mental health. The early-stage business has raised €250,000 in a pre-seed round from angel investors as well as €30,000 through a Kickstarter campaign.
Originally envisaged as a digital news subscription service, Kinzen quickly morphed into a tool that scrutinises audio and video content to prevent the spread of misinformation. Founded in 2019 by former journalists Mark Little and Áine Kerr, the company’s tech identifies organised campaigns of disinformation by combining artificial intelligence with human judgement. Clients include content platforms and online marketplaces that want to stop themselves becoming hosts of false information.
Founded in 2017, Sweepr diagnoses problems with smart-home devices and so reduces the need for customer-support calls. Its platform uses connected devices’ diagnostic data to deliver customised in-app instructions that help solve common technical problems. Amazon’s Alexa Fund, which provides venture capital funding for the development of voice-controlled technology, is one of its backers, last year joining its €9m scale-up round as a strategic investor.
The founders of cybersecurity firm Tines cut their teeth in organisations including eBay and DocuSign, where they learned how to automate the steps needed to respond to a range of online threats. The business quickly caught the eye of heavyweight investors Accel and Index Ventures, who jointly invested €10m just six weeks after it closed a Series A round in 2019. The company has just been valued at €300m after securing a further €22m in funds.