10 tech companies from NI learn from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs

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  • Ten growing tech companies based in Northern Ireland have completed an exclusive visit to San Francisco and New York to soak up advice from some of the world’s top technology companies, including Google, Yahoo, Square, Expedia, Trov and Seatgeek.

    The company founders travelled to the US as part of the Ignite NI Accelerator programme, which is supported by Invest NI, to meet with prominent figures from the world’s leading tech communities. The study trip gave the teams insight into how tech companies in Northern Ireland can ‘scale up’ to compete on the global stage. 

    The 10 teams taking part in in the Ignite NI Accelerator programme are established technology companies hoping to grow their business.

    Tristan Watson, CEO of Ignite NI, said: “Northern Ireland is packed with talented technology companies with the potential for growth. The knowledge and experience the Ignite NI teams can soak up from these companies is invaluable. Learning how to scale business and breaking into new market isn’t easy. Exposure to US tech firms who have made this transition is vital for encouraging companies to scale up.”

    The delegation was able to draw on the expertise and experience of companies who have made the journey from start-up to global success.

    This included Seatgeek, one of the largest online event ticket search engines, which started life as a small tech start-up and now handles hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of ticket sales every year.

    Ben Clark, vice president of customer retention at Seatgeek, encouraged teams to focus their energy on attracting the right investors for their company, noting that the process itself takes a lot of time and money, so it’s important to target a compatible investor. 

    The Ignite NI teams also met with Sarah Friar, CFO of Square, a payments company started by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey which has market capitalization of $15bn. Sarah, who is originally from Strabane, shared the importance of looking beyond Northern Ireland and taking advantage of the transatlantic connections they will make on their journey.

    Emma Gunes, Founder of recruitment automation business LANDED and one of the founders on the Ignite Accelerator, said: “It was such a privilege to get exposure to these amazing companies. In terms of growth and marketing models, those are the companies that are setting the bar, and it’s high. They have survived the journey that we’re currently on, and they have bruises to show for it.

    “The practical guidance really encouraged us to take LANDED to the next level of growth. It opened my eyes to what we could potentially achieve. My vision for LANDED has grown knowing it could be us in Silicon Valley one day, giving advice to aspirational start-ups.”

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