Irish Startups Expanding in London: It’s Worth the Risk


Did you know, Ireland is the European headquarters for some of the largest tech companies in the world. The so-called “Silicon Docks” in Dublin’s Tech Quarter, home to tech giants including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Paypal, Microsoft and eBay.

The reasons for Ireland being the “chosen one” is debatable: the most popular argument being the low corporate tax, while others point towards the high percentage of the population with a university education mixed with the added advantage of native English as the predominant language.

Regardless of the motivations, Ireland is home to the tech giants which have helped to foster a strong entrepreneurial spirit within the country. As a result, there has been an increase of start up companies, unsurprisingly in the tech industries, erupting from Ireland.

Should Irish start-ups risk expanding in London?

Creating a successful startup company on your own native soil is no mean feat, so it will come as no surprise to hear that expanding a successful business abroad can prove to be even more challenging. So why then should a successful Irish startup take the risk by expanding in the UK?

“In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” - well said, Mr. Zuckerberg. What’s more, the question should really be, is it worth the risk?

If your ultimate goal is to get a firmer international footing, London “the centre of the business universe”, is definitely worth the risk.

London already has a strong start-up culture, a hard work ethic and pioneering spirit. Resources, ranging from potential advertisers, to new partners, to a wider pool of talent and problem solvers as well as global exposure are more far-reaching than that of Ireland. Expansion in London could be a real gamechanger for your startup. Take Spotify for example, the Swedish music streaming startup company has become a global sensation, reaching 30 million subscribers in March 2016. Spotify Ltd. set up its headquarters in London in order to help control and continue this huge growth, while Spotify AB the original headquarters in Stockholm handles research and development.

The importance of “doing your homework”

Being the “new kid” on the block in London after having been the big dog back in Ireland is a difficult adjustment. One way to ease this transition is to make sure you have done your homework, as it were. Find out the answers to the following questions:

  1. What does the competition look like within your particular industry?

  2. How does your company fit within the new business environment?

  3. Is your startup still applicable on this foreign soil, or does it need adapting?

  4. Which schools would be the best for you to tap into the graduating pool of local talent?

  5. Which locations would best suit your startup company?

City Insights Programme: Irish Startups

The London Irish Business Society, (LIBs) was setup in 2009 as a forum for Irish business professionals to network and share ideas. LIBs facilitates meetings and organises events for Irish business professionals in order to build long lasting business relationships and build a strong Irish business community which can easily embed itself in a foreign context.

Last year the London Irish Business Society teamed up with Enterprise Ireland to create the City Insights Programme. Last year was the first year of the programme and following its huge success, it will take place again later this year.

What is the City Insights Programme?

The aim of the City Insights Programme is to facilitate a successful introduction for selected Irish startups to break into the London business climate. Five high profile start-up companies in Ireland are selected by Enterprise Ireland, and they are all highly specialised in the risk and finance sectors.

These start-up companies are then assigned their own “advisors” to aid them throughout the transition. Each advisor is a member of the London Irish Business Society and sectoral experts within their specific markets. They assess the viability of the business propositions, the potential growth of the company and advise on how to internationalise the company to be suitable in the London business climate. The mentors can also help to land deals, facilitate connections and grow networks in London.

Irish Business In London: It’s Worth The Risk

It takes serious commitment to sell, develop and expand in an international market, this goes without saying. However, the Irish network abroad, particularly in London is not one to be underestimated. There are many established networks in place, like the London Irish Business Society as well as Enterprise Ireland, which are there to help you find your footing within the Irish business community that bit faster.