Reams of articles have been written about US corporations investing in Ireland, and true enough it’s been a source of good news in the Irish Republic during the dark years just after 2009. But in our opinion, what’s not given due attention is the story of talent and investment streaming from Ireland to the US.
The large flow of Irish technologists and tech entrepreneurs to the US is beginning to excite investors and the industry press in the States. Increasingly they are building hugely successful operations in America with Irish enterprise and engineering smarts.
Readers shouldn't be surprised at this under reported success story. There's been a steady infusion of American business culture into Irish professional life for decades, not only from US corporations setting up in Ireland but also from the huge numbers of Irish people returning home after years working in the States and bringing US enterprise and business practices with them.
This means the current generation of Irish business people and engineers who have gone stateside to work were raised in a culture that gets America and the American way of doing business. This is certainly useful when it comes to setting up a company in the States, recruiting staff there and pitching to investors.
The Irish Tech Entrepreneurs
Companies like Fleetmatics typify a straightforward expansion by an Irish based firm into the United States. Fleetmatics markets software that allows commercial fleets to manage their vehicles. Clients can keep track of their vehicles’ location, fuel usage and productivity.
Paul Walsh, the company’s Head of Software Development, spoke to us on our Business podcast NewJobRadio earlier this year, and talked about the Fleetmatics story. The company was formed in late 2004 in Dublin with a staff of 20 people. It now has a workforce of 600 globally.
In 2010 it bought over SageQuest in Cleveland, Ohio. The company also has offices in Boston, Chicago, in Tampa, Florida, Phoenix, Arizona and Charlotte in North Carolina as well other hubs in Europe and Australia. In 2012 it was launched on the New York Stock Exchange.
Qstream, another software firm, provides a twist in the narrative of Irish investment flowing to America. It's an American firm founded in 2008, but it was co-founded by two Irish tech entrepreneurs Duncan Lennox, who is currently the CEO, and Paul Barry, who is now Qstream’s Chief Technology Officer. The company offers online training products to sales professionals in a range of industries from life sciences to banking.
Their product is based on clinical research carried out by Associate Professor Dr. B. Price Kerfoot at Harvard Medical School. Dr Kerfoot is also a co-founder of Qstream.
His work focused on a methodology called “spaced education” that boosts memory retention and Barry and Lennox developed technology that allowed them to apply this research to the world of corporate sales.
Qstream’s offering uses science, data, gamification and mobile technologies to reinforce information retention and boost sales performance.
And in an exciting development in the Qstream story, it announced last November that it was setting up a European HQ in Dublin. The hub would drive global sales and also be an engineering centre with a team of software engineers working on the company's core products. Qstream also featured on our Business Podcast earlier this year when we met with Louella Morton, VP International Sales & General Manager for Ireland to talk about their expansion plans.
A factor that encouraged Qstream management to choose Dublin is the excellence of the growing Irish IT talent pool. That’s also one of the reason’s many of the top tech firms are setting up in Ireland and many of the secondary and tertiary ICT firms are establishing bases in Ireland as well.
"Now we're seeing a vibrant start-up eco-system in Dublin like that in Silicon Valley and Boston. If the eco-system wasn't there I justify coming back to my investors."
Duncan Lennox, CEO Qstream
The Stripe story offers evidence supporting Qstream's faith in the quality of the new generation of Irish tech engineers. It's a software firm founded in the US by two young Irish technologists.
Stripe founders, Patrick and John Collison, are brothers who hail from just outside Limerick. They started the company in 2010 and it’s now one of the hottest new tech enterprises in the US web services industry.
Stripe is the challenger in the online payments market that was dominated by incumbent PayPal; their objective was to develop a solution that was going to make online payments a whole lot easier for vendors and shoppers. And the market feedback, certainly by their investors and backers in Silicon Valley, is overwhelmingly positive. Earlier this year Stripe was valued at $1.75 bn.
Neither brother finished college in the US, and both are to a very large extent self taught coders, buying computer programming books when they were in their early teens and building their first websites entirely untutored. In fact the author of their first computer text book, Larry Ullman, was hired by the brothers to work for Stripe in 2013.
Coming up behind them is Jordan Casey, a 14 year old from Waterford, he’s CEO of his own online games company, Casey Games. Although still based in Ireland he’s been noticed by the big tech players in the US who have invited him to speak at a number of industry events in Silicon Valley and other stateside venues.
Irish entrepreneur, Oisin Hanrahan, set up a fast growing online business called Handybook in Boston along with fellow tech entrepreneur Umang Dua in 2012.
Hanrahan is a serial entrepreneur, having established commercial and non-profit ventures in Ireland and Hungary. He moved to the US to attend Harvard Business School and started Handybook after identifying a gap in the domestic service market.
The company offers an online service where users can book cleaners and handymen in their locale. Its core commercial objective is to make the whole process of hiring domestic help a lot quicker, easier and safer for users.
As an American online service co-founded by an Irish entrepreneur, it’s getting a lot of favourable attention in the US. The New York Times reported in June that it has raised a total of $49m worth of investment by leading American investors, including Revolution Growth, Highland Capital and General Catalyst Partners. Since it started Handybook has expanded across the States into 26 cities.
The Future is Bright
These are just highlights of the white hot flow of Irish tech entrepreneurs into the United States that’s benefiting both countries. And this is in the immediate aftermath of the biggest recession in post-war history.
Once the recovery on both sides of the Atlantic really takes off it can only intensify. And if the European Union and America finalize the new trade deal that’s currently being negotiated, then Irish Entrepreneurs, particularly in web tech services, will be well ahead of the curve.
This piece was written by Verify Recruitment, Ireland's top specialist recruitment company for the Technology sector.
Verify Recruitment have developed a unique recruitment model using external industry experts to assess a candidate's skills and experience assuring there is a match for an employer's role.
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