Square CFO Sarah Friar pledges support for NI's entrepreneur community

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  • Northern Ireland’s entrepreneur community was given a vote of confidence with a visit from Sarah Friar, founder member of Ormeau Baths and an influential figure in the Californian technology industry.

    Originally from Strabane, NI, Friar now lives and works in San Francisco where she is Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Square. Founded in 2009 by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, Square helps business owners to accept credit and debit card payments, as well as providing other tools and resources to help them start, run and grow their business.

    As one of several members of Northern Ireland's “digital diaspora”, NI natives who have found success in the technology industry overseas, Friar is passionate about supporting entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland. She visited the newly developed co-working space and tech community in Belfast to lend her support to the space and to startups in the region. 

    She said: “I'm delighted to be supporting the Ormeau Baths and innovation within the city of Belfast. I always enjoy hearing about the burgeoning tech scene in Northern Ireland, and I am keen to lend my support to the region's entrepreneurs.

    "The Ormeau Baths is a fantastic initiative because not only does it provide entrepreneurs with a physical office to work from, but it also offers them the opportunity to tap into a network of expertise and experience from professionals here Northern Ireland and internationally. That network is a critical part of any startup's success and something I'm proud to be part of."

    The founders of Ormeau Baths, which opens this month, aim to create an entrepreneurial campus that helps the brightest and best indigenous tech startups gain access to new networks, funding and expertise and give them the tools to flourish in global markets.

    Ormeau Baths co-founder Jon Bradford believes Northern Ireland’s “digital diaspora” are an untapped resource that could help more local tech entrepreneurs succeed on the world stage if their expertise and networks are utilised properly.

    Co-founder Jon Bradford said: “For well-known reasons many of the exceptionally talented entrepreneurs from this part of the world have had to go elsewhere to achieve their full potential. But there is a real willingness among the diaspora to help build the indigenous tech community. In many cases, yes, that means investing their money, but they are also prepared to open up their contacts books and share their expertise, which could be far more valuable to Belfast startups.

    “Ormeau Baths will be a collaborative entrepreneurial environment where we will help connect those people from Northern Ireland who are in global tech companies with the current crop of ambitious startups, enabling them to share their collective knowledge and professional networks.”

    Other high profile tech founders and leaders from Northern Ireland’s digital diaspora who are backing Ormeau Baths alongside Friar include FanDuel’s Nigel Eccles, Dave Singleton, VP of Engineering at Google, Thought Machine CEO Paul Taylor, who previously exited to Google, and Lystable founder Peter Johnston.

    Barclays is also a major partner in Ormeau Baths, which will be home to the bank’s first Eagle Lab in Belfast.

    Speaking as media were given a first look at the new Ormeau Baths, Adrian Doran, Head of Corporate Banking for Barclays in Northern Ireland said: “We’re delighted to be bringing the Barclays Eagle Lab concept to Belfast alongside the vision of the Ormeau Baths team and look forward to welcoming more businesses into the space. We can help link local businesses to our Eagle Lab UK network of events, workspace, mentors and entrepreneurs across our other sites including London, Cambridge and Salford. We will also bring on the spot business and financial advice and access to specialist funding.

    “The stronger this local community and business network becomes, the greater its successes and potential for growth will be. Without doubt, ‘Eagle Lab at Ormeau Baths’ will be an exciting place to scale and grow your business.”

    Ormeau Baths will officially open on June 15. Anyone interested in becoming a member can find out more at www.ormeaubaths.com.

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