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Demand for Space@Dublin BIC is high – but what makes this co-working hub different?

Monday, July 24th, 2017

If you’re looking for free coffee and bespoke furniture, you won’t find it in this new co-working hub. The benefits of Space@DublinBIC are a lot less tangible but perhaps better for the long-term success of your business.

Stepping into the lobby of the old building on Dawson Street – which also houses IBAT College Dublin – is somewhat underwhelming, especially when compared to other ‘hip’ hot desk hubs across the city.

And yet, this initial impression is soon forgotten when the sheer depth of what Dublin Business Innovation Centre (Dublin BIC) has to offer is understood.

“Our role in life is to support and empower entrepreneurs to start and scale businesses,” Michael Culligan, CEO of the public-private organisation tells independent.ie.

For over 25 years, Dublin BIC has been helping develop investor ready companies and providing high potential start-ups access to funding; combining EU and Government funding via Enterprise Ireland and funding through private and angel investors.

The creation of the Space@DublinBIC concept was borne from an awareness of the shortage of available space in the city – and the experience garnered from running the Guinness Enterprise Centre (GEC).

“Each year, we work with a large number of Enterprise Ireland high potential startup companies. Our consultants work with these firms to get a business plan together, to get a one page summary together, to get an investor deck together, all of that.

“That’s a tough love approach, you’re beating them up quite a bit and you’re really trying to get them to ask the hard questions in the first 6-8 weeks rather than in the later months.”

The firms that currently reside in Dawson Street’s Space@DublinBIC range from pre-investor ready to internationally recognised.

SwiftQueue work with hospitals and clinics to streamline healthcare appointments and enable a more efficient patient centred process;  Travelling Languages present a unique way for learning languages, and were Irish finalists for Richard Branson’s #VOOM2016; Run Last Man enables clubs and charities to raise funds for their organisations online through running sports prediction competitions.

Game development firm Black Shamrock and business analytics company RecommenderX are also startups of note who have set up shop at the city centre hub – and are constantly expanding internationally, and in terms of workforce.

Meanwhile, online platform Developer Fair is currently being guided through the ‘Investor Ready Preparation’ process to help it gain access to funding next year.

“I’m very positive about Ireland entrepreneurially. I acknowledge that with the quantity of start-ups, you are bound to have some flops; that’s just natural, but there are some really good gems there,” Mr Culligan said.

“The bar to succeed internationally is getting raised higher all the time.”

When Dublin BIC took the opportunity to take on Dame St with a focus on scaling up companies while facilitating co-working, they were overwhelmed with the attention.

“The demand for the private rooms here was incredible, we could have let this 4 or 5 times over,” Mr Culligan said.

“The biggest things for these companies is flexibility – the price of course is important – but being able to leave at the end of one or two or three months is the huge draw.

“I see opportunities for us to do Space @ Dublin BIC at a number of other locations in the city.”

In just two decades, Dublin BIC has assisted 167 businesses raise over €70m in funding. The group is a fund manager of the AIB Seed Capital Fund (current total of €53m) and manager of the Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) which has invested €40m.

“The type of people who invest money in start-ups are the types of people who have taken risks themselves and built businesses,” said Mr Culligan.

“They want to help someone not to make the same mistakes that they made; they’re doing it as they believe they can help.”

Dublin BIC is currently in plans to bring a new fund to the market “particularly to address the seed funding gap in Ireland”.

“We hope to have this fund in train by the end of the year.”


Tips for startups – Michael Culligan, CEO, Dublin BIC

1) It’s very exciting when you get into the start up world -  but it can be very tough. Companies need to know what exactly is involved, how hard it can be financially and emotionally

2) When you’re starting a business everyone’s going to tell you how great you are and how wonderful. Dublin BIC will be that little bit tougher on companies, asking the hard questions you haven’t asked yourself.

3) Every startup thinks that they only thing that they’re missing is money. Money is very important but if you gave SMEs all the money that they want, they would spend at least half of it not as efficiently as they should do.

4) You have to do one of two things – you have to eat someone else’s lunch or you have to come up with a completely new idea. But you can’t come up with the idea too soon as you’ll spend money creating that and someone will come in a bit later and take it over.

A lot of the young start-ups do advertising campaigns while they’re kicking their ball outside the posts. Even if you raise money over the next 18 months, you are still going to be the main shareholder so you’ve got to think like a shareholder as well as being passionate.

5) Surround yourself with really good people. In my experience, business people in Ireland are very helpful and giving of their time as long as you’re very clear in your ask. Ask good people, they really will help.


Increase of 6pc in number of start-ups on 2016

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Almost 1,900 start-up companies were established on average each month in the first six months of 2017, an increase of 6pc compared to the same period in 2016.

The most popular sector for company start-ups was professional services, with almost 20pc of new companies operating in this area, according to research from business and credit risk analyst Vision-net.ie

This was followed by finance which saw an 18pc rise in start-ups in the six months to June 2017. Other sectors that performed well include social and personal services, construction, real estate, and agriculture.

In terms of the geographic location of the start-ups, Dublin proved to be the dominant area with almost one in two start-ups established in the capital region.

All the major business events coming up this week

Monday, June 12th, 2017


Indicators: US consumer inflation expectations (May)

Meetings: Intraprenuers Squad event on workplace innovation (Bank of Ireland Workbench, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin)


Indicators: Irish construction PMI (May); Euro zone economic sentiment index (Jun); UK inflation (May), retail price index (May), PPI input and output (May); German economic sentiment index (Jun); US PPI (May)

Meetings: Kingfisher AGM, London


Indicators: Euro zone employment change (Q1), industrial production (Apr); UK unemployment (Apr), average earnings (Apr); German inflation (May); US mortgage applications (Jun), inflation (May), retail sales (May),

Meetings: IAG AGM, Madrid; US Fed interest rate decision; National Construction Summit (RDS, Dublin 4)

IAG annual meeting

While 75,000 stranded airline passengers are a major consumer and media event, it is not a scenario that will necessarily cause long-term ripples in the stock market.

Last month’s IT failure at IAG (International Airline Group) led to the grounding of almost 700 British Airways flights and a potential compensation bill of €170 million, neither of which will escape mention at the group’s AGM in Spain on Wednesday.

However, similar debacles did little damage to Southwest or Delta airlines, notes Stephen Furlong, transport and logistics analyst at Davy.

“The IT issue was a big customer event, a big media event, but not a big stock market event,” he said ahead of this week’s shareholder meeting.

However, it may rattle some nerves regarding the high-end brand of British Airways at a time when competing airlines increase investment.

“There are certainly questions on branding but the bottom line is the company continues to deliver and that is what shareholders want.”

IAG, which also owns Aer LingusIberia and Vueling, said total passenger numbers grew by 2.6 per cent in May to 9.1 million on last year. The airlines carried 39 million people in the first five months of the year, a gain of 4.9 per cent on the same period in 2016.

National Construction Summit 2017

Even as the Irish housing shortage remains at crisis point, the construction sector’s overall growth appears to be cooling.

On Wednesday, the National Construction Summit 2017 will address a number of key themes, including foreign direct investment, infrastructural investment, public and private housing and the by now ubiquitous Brexit.

However, according to Tom Moloney, managing director of Construction Information Services (CIS), and one of the key speakers at this week’s event, huge leaps in the sector, albeit from a low base, are beginning to wane.

The first quarter of 2017 has seen a fall off in activity compared to 2016 and 2015, a period which saw gains of up to 30 per cent.

Residential and hotel builds for the quarter rose but commercial and educational projects levelled off while the medical and care sector dropped. Overall activity appears to be static.

“Generally I would say it is positive but it just doesn’t have the same level [of growth this year]…and looking toward the second quarter it will follow at the same level of activity as 2016,” Mr Moloney said.

“We would say it’s certainly not enjoying the same increase across the three key stages – the number of projects coming into the pipeline, those ready to go and the number of projects on site.”

Summit speakers will include Tom Parlon, director general of the Construction Industry Federation; Pat O’Doherty, chief executive of the ESB; Roland O’Connell, chairman of Savills; and Hugh Wallace, director of Douglas Wallace Architects.


Indicators: UK retail sales (May); US export and import prices (May), industrial and manufacturing production (May)

Meetings: Bank of England interest rate decision; Data Summit 2017 on online privacy (Convention Centre Dublin; Aspira “Lunch and Learn” event on resolving workplace conflict (Hilton Garden Inn, Dublin Custom House)


Indicators: Euro zone inflation (May), wage growth (Q1); German wholesale prices (May); US labour market conditions index (May)

Meetings: Techstars Startup Weekend (Google, Dublin 4); The Marketing Society “Summer Future Festival” for new professionals (Old Wesley, Dublin 4)

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