Tuesday 20 March 2018

Dublin Web Summit: Start-ups are urged to focus more on product than money

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

START-UP companies in Ireland need to spend less time trying to raise funds and concentrate on improving their product, according to one of the most successful entrepreneurs from these shores.

Ray Nolan, who has set up and sold numerous companies, including Web Reservations International, which reputedly fetched several hundred million dollars when it was sold, believes start-ups here need to adjust their priorities in order to be successful.

"I've started five or six companies and sold three or four and it's the same every time. People won't give you the money you need and as a company, you have to face that fact.

"When I see start ups now, they sometimes spend more time raising money than working on the product and, if they spent a little more time on their product, they could raise money at a better price. In a perfect world, you would raise funding every Friday because the product would be better and you get to raise funds on better terms, so start-ups need to balance the need for cash with [working on their business] the other hours of the week," he added.


Mr Nolan went on to emphasise the lack of computer coding talent in the country, but said that was a problem that can be fixed. "There's a real problem with the availability of talent in Ireland.

"We can't get the software engineering talent here so we need to bring it in from abroad, nurture it or cross-train people."

There are a lot of engineers who are unemployed because they worked in construction.

"It's not a huge mindshift from civil engineering to technical coding, so we need to encourage them to move across now. We can't wait [for the next generation of coders to come through] because we won't be here in 10 years time when they are ready to work for me," he added.

Meanwhile no Irish start-up made it to the last four of the "spark of genius" award at the summit.

The Electric Ireland-sponsored competition, which gives new companies a €40,000 support programme, had been open only to Irish companies until this year.

It was won by Smart Things, which is developing an application that converts a smartphone into a remote control for numerous devices.

Chief executive Alex Hawkinson said Dublin will be "high up on the list" if the US company is looking for an international office in the future.

Irish Independent

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