It was June 2018 when Gorey's The Hatch Lab had its official opening and already the team are thinking ahead to the second anniversary, reflecting on how things have progressed at the tech incubator space.
Speaking to manager of The Hatch Lab John O'Connor, he said he feels like a proud father following success of the project and that of the companies and hot-desk workers who use the space for their innovative work.
'It's a great mixture of both business that are starting and established businesses in the IT sector, that might stay at one or two employees that are all happy in that shared space. It has been proven that a high potential start up will grow and all the people working there are able to help each other.
'We have regular events like tech meet ups, founder Friday's, visits from industry experts and we are working towards one to one mentoring. Some of our businesses had been working at home when they started out alone but now they are co-working with people. You have people around you to help and listen, coming from all different professional backgrounds,' he said.
The ethos of The Hatch Lab is to help ideas become commercially viable for its clients, by composing a good business plan, creating a sustainable business model, developing a good foundation and building a solid structure that can scale while evolving into a world class business, depending of course on the wishes of each individual start up or established business.
John explained that it is something great to witness, when you see individuals bouncing ideas off each other and new dynamics developing as each person has their own role to play.
'They share the knowledge of working in large firms, for example like Salesforce and DoneDeal. They know how to operate themselves and their clients, particularly in getting new contracts. The networking at the Hatch Lab is huge. We have this space where five different companies now work together as each has a different skill to offer. There's a web designer and developer, content creator, advertiser and social media marketing agent, although they are all individual companies, they make a great little team and they are involved with providing sub-contracts to each other.
'Instead of driving up and down to Dublin, they are now able to use that space for a few days a week as their office when it suits them. I've noticed that people are choosing to sit in the best location that matches their needs. We have another group forming now of start ups, and they are sharing their knowledge on how to get funding from government agencies and enterprise grants.
A key aspect to the development of The Hatch Lab is its integration with Gorey town.
'There are synergies that have been created around the way people work together. There is a link now between the main town and the Hatch Lab, as people can come in for help advice, help and support on all things digital and technical. We have had some well established retail businesses come in to hear about app building,' said John.
'But it works both ways. Our workers are all renting near by, shopping locally and it has a knock on affect bringing in people to Wexford. We have eight different nationalities working here now.
The Hatch Lab recently held a Vanity Fair styled photo shoot, organised to mark the innovation hub's second anniversary and its successes.
Earlier this year, US tech company Grand Pad chose the Hatch Lab to base its European headquarters and John O'Connor described the frequent visits from the IDA to North Wexford as one of the key success stories of the project.
'Being involved in organising this at the start, there's a lot to consider and a nervousness starting out like there is with any business. You hope and intend for things to go a certain way, but I've learned that the best things are the things you don't plan, especially with the Hatch Lab.
'We have had some major successes, one company with us, which was one of the very first in the door two years ago, has expanded and now have 55 employees from all around the country. Companies that began here that are now doing very well, they can pass their experience on.
Although there are plans in process for expansion and extension of more offices, John O'Connor wished to thank those that had been part of the journey so far.
'We wouldn't have come so far without Wexford County Council, in partnership with Bank of Ireland, and all the different agents we're working within business in the South East such as the Local Enterprise Office, Enterprise Ireland and Brendan McDonald of the IDA,' he said.
With the Irish ambassador for Morocco soon to visit the Hatch Lab, the future and development of the tech incubator space is looking bright.