Dataships raises $3m from backers including Tony Smurfit

Company is focused on helping SMEs comply with data protection and privacy laws

Dataships, a start-up that specialises in automating compliance for data protection and privacy laws, has closed a $3 million (€2.57 million)seed funding round.

The company, which is co-located in Dublin and San Francisco, was founded by Ryan McErlane and Michael Storan in 2019.

The new funding round was co-led by the US-based Urban Innovation Fund and Lavrock Ventures with participation from well-known businessman Tony Smurfit and Peter Crowley, co-founder of investment firm FL Partners and formerly chief executive of IBI Corporate Finance.

The State's national tech accelerator, the NDRC, which is operated by Dogpatch Labs, is also a backer, as is Irish rugby player Ian Madigan.


Dataships is focused on helping SMEs comply with laws such as General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), by automating privacy compliance.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr Storan said the company intends to use the investment primarily to boost headcount, with Dataships likely to raise a further round late next year as it looks to scale rapidly.

Mr McErlane has a background working with EY and Accenture on enterprise compliance, while Mr Storan studied regulation at the London School of Economics and is formerly the founder of an online gambling platform, known as Fantasy Rugger, which was sold to Sky.

“We want Dataships to become the de facto way in which companies comply with different legislation and that consumers can view their information. This is a lofty goal and in order to achieve it we’ll have to do multiple rounds of funding,” said Mr Storan.

He said while there are competitors in the space, most of these are focused at the enterprise level with few companies taking care of smaller businesses.

“The companies we’re targeting are big enough to need to deal with the legislation but probably not so large that they have an internal legal team. Many of these are business to consumer (B2C) companies that have a lot of data and obviously have to ensure they are looking after it correctly,” Mr Storan added.

He said while companies are having to contend with legislation, they also need to be cognisant of what large tech players like Apple and Google are doing in terms of shifting away from third-party cookies.

Continued relationship

Dataships is one of 10 start-ups selected for the 2021 NDRC accelerator, along with the likes of Legitify, Kana Vidu and Robotify, which earlier this year agreed a partnership with Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak and his company Woz ED.

The accelerator, the contract of which was won by Dublin-based Dogpatch Labs late last year, held a demo day on Tuesday. Speaking to The Irish Times, Patrick Walsh, chief executive, said that unlike previous incarnations of the programme, the plan is to continue the relationship with companies that qualify over the long term.

"There has been some amazing progress made by the cohort during the accelerator, thanks in part to having been mentored by well-known tech entrepreneurs like Ray Nolan and Brian Caulfield, " he said.

“We’re also receiving a lot of interest from other start-ups who are looking to participate in our next accelerator,” he added.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist