Young entrepreneurs defend Irish start-up scene

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

Mon, Aug 19, 2013, 16:18

“Dublin is an extremely active entrepreneurial centre, but the same can’t be said across the rest of the country. There are a huge number of start-ups in the capital and accelerator programmes, but when you take the whole country into account, I think there is less aspiration to be an entrepreneur.”

While he agreed with the finding that the majority of new businesses have no aspiration for growth, he said it’s important to differentiate between certain tech start-ups and people who set up their own shop or restaurant.

“A person who sets up a shop might have no aspiration for growth. They don’t want a chain of shops, or to locate their shops abroad. They might not want to work 24 hours a day. Then you have the likes of Soundwave, which was specifically set up to go global. While most tech start-ups want to be international companies, the same can’t be said for most corner shops.”

However, he believes the number of young entrepreneurs is rising, with more graduates opting to set up their own business than join the workforce.

“It’s far more culturally acceptable to be an entrepreneur now and there are good role models such as the Collison brothers from Stripe. The rockstars of this generation are entrepreneurs. People look up to the likes of Mark Zuckerberg.

“We have a very empowered group of young people who grew up in strong economic circumstances. They are very well educated and have masters degrees in sophisticated subjects. All that’s open to them is a low level job so they choose entrepreneurship instead.”

The 2012 Gem research for Ireland also indicated the level of women’s entrepreneurial activity had remained steady though their expectations for the growth of their businesses have increased significantly. The report said this was a result of increased spotlighting among policymakers and development agencies to encourage more women to become involved in entrepreneurial activity and to be more ambitious for their new businesses.

“It’s the duty of men and women to be role models, stand up, tell their story and show the next generation it can be done. CPL Resources chief executive Anne Heraty and Colette Twomey, of Clonakilty Black Pudding, are great examples of people who put themselves forward and tell their story. We need more women to do that,” Ms O’Connor said.