Monday 22 January 2018

Investors take to Achill for extreme start-up tech expo

Bill Tail kitesurfing
Bill Tail kitesurfing
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

ONE OF Silicon Valley's most successful investors will seek to uncover the next big tech start-up as part of a high-level industry kitesurfing event this weekend in Achill Island.

Bill Tai will welcome dozens of investors and start-ups to a three-day event being billed as one of Europe's most innovative start-up gatherings. The event, which has been a regular fixture in the US for several years, is coming to Ireland for the first time to seek out potential entrepreneurs and companies who might gain significant investor funding.

Mr Tai is one of Silicon Valley's most noted emerging technology investors, having backed firms such as Tango, Tweetdeck and Voxer.

One of the companies he led an investment in, online messaging firm Tango, has just received a fresh funding round of $280m (€206m), mostly from Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Tai said that hosting the event in Achill this year was a recognition of how Ireland is now perceived among the international technology community.

"Five years ago it wouldn't have felt like it was worth the time to come here for something like this," he said.

"It's very different now. Ireland is one of a few pockets of innovation around the world and outside of Silicon Valley where you can see the possibilities of building a company.

"In the long run, I hope that this weekend may result in funding opportunities for the investors that came out here."

Mr Tai said that he uses kitesurfing as an anchor activity for his start-up and investor gatherings because of its similarities to building and running a company.

"It's a sport of high technical complexity that can be dangerous with a lot of face-planting and being dragged underwater. It's a proxy for life as a start-up," he observed.

Irish Independent

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