Hubs and tech giants boost Irish start-ups

Founders across Ireland will be able access more than 1,000 mentors from some of the world’s largest technology companies including Google, HubSpot, Microsoft and Salesforce.

In a new initiative aimed at helping Irish start-ups to scale and expand internationally, Dogpatch Labs and the Irish Tech Hub Network are partnering with major tech giants.

The monthly virtual ‘First Fridays for Start-ups’ event delivers curated expert workshops, advisory panels and fireside chats with globally successful start-up founders. Central to the programme will be the opportunity for Irish start-up founders to engage in one-on-one mentoring sessions with key employees and experts from the world’s leading multinationals.

“The fact that Google, HubSpot, Microsoft and Salesforce are committed to and engaging with local start-ups is the next step to creating more indigenous unicorn companies and a unique economic differentiator for Ireland”

This new, revised, all-Ireland version of the programme will see 1,000+ employees from global technology companies committing resources to support the indigenous start-up community via free monthly mentoring and other software support. Founding First Friday multinationals that have committed to support the Irish startup ecosystem include Google, HubSpot, Microsoft and Salesforce with further partners to be announced. Other multinationals are expected to make meaningful contributions in the coming months.

Every month the delivery of the event will rotate around the country across the network of startup and innovation hubs – Ludgate Hub (Skibbereen), Portershed (Galway), RDI Hub (Kerry), Republic of Work (Cork), Ormeau Baths (Belfast) and Dogpatch Labs (Dublin).

The scaling imperative

Recent years have seen record levels of investment and growth among indigenous Irish start-ups, with six unicorn companies showing what is possible for domestic innovators. Fenergo, Intercom, Workhuman, LetsGetChecked and most recently Flipdish and Wayflyer are all Irish-origin companies who have passed the $1bn valuation mark in the last few years.

The First Friday initiative will work to foster innovation across Ireland, providing entrepreneurs with the skills and tools to build high-growth start-ups of their own.

To lead this initiative, veteran start-up advisor and founder of Cork’s Republic of Work innovation hub, DC Cahalane, will join Dogpatch Labs as Director of First Fridays for Start-ups.

“One of Ireland’s distinct advantages in building a strong startup ecosystem is our close proximity to the FDI community, and the evolution of First Fridays brings further cooperation from idea to reality,” Cahalane explained.

“The fact that Google, HubSpot, Microsoft and Salesforce are committed to and engaging with local start-ups is the next step to creating more indigenous unicorn companies and a unique economic differentiator for Ireland. We’re off to a great start with the first of our new partners on board, and my invitation is for the broader FDI community to be part of this.” 

The initiative is a significant expansion of the successful programme run by Dogpatch Labs and Google in Dublin for the past five years, which has to date attracted over 7,000 attendees, 650 start-ups and delivered over 1,000 mentoring hours.

Portershed CEO and CEO of the Irish Tech Hub Network, Mary Rodgers, said: “This is a real boost for the regions, extending equal access to the wealth of multinational talent to founders across the island of Ireland. We hope to inspire founders and give Irish start-ups unrivalled access to global networks as they seek to go out beyond our shores and conquer the world.”

The programme’s existing mentor network includes Google employees, entrepreneurs, and industry subject matter experts. With the additional multinational partners, the programme will further extend this mentor knowledge pool and reach all four corners of Ireland to support even more entrepreneurs. 

Commenting on the existing five-year programme, Paddy Flynn, VP Google said: “Over the past 10 years Google has taken great pride in supporting First Fridays as well as a broader set of initiatives as part of our long-term commitment to this country. I’m pleased to see the broader FDI community engage in this important expanded initiative with the shared intent of building a stronger ecosystem.”

Further information and registration are available at (Live 15 February), or by reaching out directly to DC at

Main image at top (from left): Mary Rodgers, CEO of Portershed; DC Cahalane, director of First Fridays for Start-ups at Dogpatch Labs; Andreea Wade, head of Talent Cloud AI iCIMS; and Paddy Flynn, VP Geo Data Operations, Google.

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.