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

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.


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