Young entrepreneurs defend Irish start-up scene

Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report said aspiration to become an entrepreneur in Ireland is low

Archipelago chief executive Steven Menton

Archipelago chief executive Steven Menton

Mon, Aug 19, 2013, 16:18

Some 19,000 Irish people may have started new businesses last year, but the aspiration to become an entrepreneur here remains low according to the recently published Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (Gem) report – widely perceived as a key barometers of entrepreneurial activity worldwide. The report found fewer people currently planning on starting new businesses in Ireland, and that the majority of new businesses have no aspiration for growth. But what do Ireland’s young entrepreneurs think?

Steven Menton, the chief executive of young entrepreneur network Archipelago, believes Ireland is an extremely entrepreneurial-focussed society with numerous start-up and incubator programmes in place to support entrepreneurial activity.

He said the demand for these programmes proves that aspiration to become an entrepreneur in Ireland is high and that a large number of people are seeking to start their own business.

“There are a huge number of incubator programmes, such as NDRC Launchpad, Wayra, Dogpatch Labs, Startupbootcamp, Nova UCD, Ignite and the DCU Ryan Academy. These programmes are not empty. They are oversubscribed. They receive far more applications than there are places. There wouldn’t be so many programmes if there was very little aspiration to become an entrepreneur.”

Growth aspirations
He also disagreed with the finding that the majority of new businesses have no aspiration for growth, saying that if someone has the confidence to set up a business, they will “absolutely take the risk to seek growth”. “Liam Ryan from GetHealth is a case in point. He is currently partaking in the GE Health Academy in the US. He has global ambitions for the company.

Sophie Morris from Kooky Dough is another example. Her business is doing well domestically but that didn’t stop her looking abroad. Her products can be found on supermarket shelves in the UK and United Arab Emirates. The same goes for Robin Blandford of Decisions (D4H). He operates out of an office in Howth but recently signed a contract with the Canadian government to supply software to search and rescue teams in Alberta.”

Menton says Irish people have, throughout history, been looking abroad for growth, as the domestic market is so small.

And while Ireland may lag behind many other European countries when it comes to entrepreneurship, he said we are still a hugely entrepreneurial country.

“A study said Dublin had the potential to become a tech hub for Europe, creating nearly 3,000 jobs. They wouldn’t be saying that if we didn’t have a good start-up ecosystem.”

That study, compiled by Dublin City Council, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and the Creative Dublin Alliance, said the city could be recognised as the top EU hub for innovation in technology, and could sustain the already thriving start-up sector in the city.