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Small country a big edge for Irish tech startups

Local entrepreneurs forced to “think global” from the get go, startup backer says.

IRISH TECH ENTREPRENEURS are forced to “think global” which gives them an early edge on many of their European competitors.

Karl Aherne, the local head of international startup “accelerator” Wayra, said Ireland’s size meant new technology businesses needed ideas which would also work outside the country’s shores, unlike startups based in London or Berlin.

Our startups are automatically thinking globally because there is no money to be made in Dublin – it’s just too small,” he said.

Wayra Ireland recently took on another 9 tech startups to add to the portfolio of 21 companies it has helped push into the marketplace.

Source: Wayra Ireland/YouTube

Each get a €50,000 funding injection and 9 months in the Wayra offices, where they get advice on selling and scaling their products

The quality of the businesses applying to join Wayra Ireland are equal to or better than at other locations,” Aherne said.

What’s a Wayra? And who are you calling a disruptor?

Wayra, which is backed by Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, takes a stake in its chosen startups during their first, main investment rounds in return for the early support.

Selected startups, all of which come from the technology sector, have so far raised over €7.5 million in funding for their businesses, the company said.

Ahern said Wayra was looking for “disruptors” – entrepreneurs with the power to reinvent existing business models with their ideas – as well as startups with the potential to keep growing when their products were taken to a global market.

And here’s one of them

Restored Hearing, one of the latest round of startups to be chosen by Wayra, began life as a Young Scientist project when co-founders Rhona Togher and Eimear O’Carroll were doing their school leaving certificates in 2009.

They developed a new way of dealing with tinnitus – that annoying ringing in the ears that signals hearing loss – using sound to “massage” the inside of the ear back into supporting ailing hairs responsible for picking up audio.

Biz Dsk Wayra selects 9 new start ups-2 Chrissy Hughes, left, and Rhona Togher of Restored Hearing. Source: Naoise Culhane

Togher said their product cut treatment times for tinnitus sufferers from 2 hours a day to only 15 minutes.

Clients log onto the company’s website and listen through a pair of headphones for a claimed 15% improvement in their condition within a month.

“What we are hoping to do next is to take our product offline – we are hoping to launch that this year,” Togher said.

READ: Now there’s €40m up for grabs if software’s your bag

READ: Irish startup to develop breakthrough biotechnology test for major US clinic

About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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