“I’m interested in Galway’s growth as an entrepreneur’s city,” says the PorterShed’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Bob Rosenberg, who works closely with start-up founders – and funders.
Bob is a long-time angel investor who appreciates how it ‘takes a village’ to foster and grow new ideas and businesses. A village filled with optimism, energy, and deep pockets.
“Four years since I first came to the original Portershed. In that time, we’ve worked with hundreds of business ideas, successfully funded dozens of companies. Today, PorterShed has 45 member companies, by the end of 2022 we’ll have two new buildings, and the business ideas are coming from all over the island. It continues to be an exciting ride,” Bob adds.
Start-ups grow, succeed, fail, and – often – evolve into something else. The PorterShed, the GTC, ATU iHubs, and more are breeding grounds and greenhouses for these companies. The NDRC, for example, offers programmes like Pre-Accelerators and Accelerators through hubs like the PorterShed all around the country – lots of these alumni have gone on to big things. More importantly, they are the guiding lights that encourage others to follow suit.
Colin Hanley, Xplore Local’s CEO, agrees. “Galway has this energy – our start-up is growing faster than ever because of that. We’ve met amazing mentors, advisors, and people with helpful information simply by being in this city. The PorterShed is our base right now, and it’s the ideal place for us because we’re right at the centre of the Galway ecosystem.”
Xplore makes it easier for communities to shape their destinies by boosting engagement and keeping local revenue local. Xplore’s mission is to help revitalise towns and communities across the island – currently 18 locales in total. Xplore works alongside other startups, including Receipt Relay and Tonnta, having graduated from the NDRC Pre-Accelerator, a six-week programme designed to get start-ups accelerator-ready and prepare them for the next phase of growth.
“The founder life is an education, but being part of the Galway community makes the lessons learned actually enjoyable – I can reach out to fellow founders for advice, and vice-versa,” says Emma Meehan, founder of Precision Sports Technology.
“Having the chance to engage with the NDRC Pre-Accelerator through the PorterShed really boosted my startup’s growth and taught me how to navigate new aspects of the business. And there are government supports for Galway start-ups like mine to help us reach our goals, which is phenomenal.”
Galway’s growth as an entrepreneur’s city is visible across the region and an array of industries. As part of the ‘it takes a village’ mantra, many have taken advantage of funding through Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund and New Frontiers.
All kinds of ideas are taking root in the west, including a new way of keeping track of sales leads, a customer-insights software for retailers, an AI start-up that wants to make deep analysis available to companies of all sizes, and many more.
The open, accessible Galway start-up community makes it possible to get involved overnight, no matter how nascent or sophisticated their ideas.
“One thing people always ask me is how they can get involved in the startup community,” says PorterShed Programme Manager Rosemary Gallagher.
“The PorterShed’s doors are open to any member of the tech startup community. You can get to know other startups and founders through meetups and tech events, and meet and talk with other people going through the same pain points as you. That network effect becomes even more heightened through a programme like the Pre-Accelerator, because you’re really in it with other startups at a similar level to you experiencing similar challenges – and working through those together. It can feel like summer camp!”
No doubt, the loyal community is playing a huge part in this proliferation of tech, and it’s inspiring to see – no doubt, many more start-ups will follow suit as an increasing number of founders look to Galway as their go-to launch platform.
By Trevor Murray