Trinity sent six startups to New York on a week-long international accelerator programme, called Tangent Pioneers. They went, they saw, they pitched – did they conquer?

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Aisling Byrne, The Nu. Wardrobe

The Tangent Pioneers programme taught me a lot about myself as an individual.

I learned that there is just no use in paying attention to people who think it is acceptable to disregard my business because I speak about its environmental impact alongside its profitability. I find the thinking on the matter similar between both Ireland and the US – there is an understanding by many business people (often older white men) that it’s not a businesses’ responsibility to consider their impact until they are held accountable by some sort of third party. This damaging thinking is not reflected across Europe, where sustainability is far more progressive. I also learned that I have a responsibility to talk about gender inequality in entrepreneurship when I can. It’s not going away.

On a more personal note, I learned that I’m capable of meeting, pitching, or talking in front of any given audience. It doesn’t phase me anymore. I’ve grown up so much since I did the LaunchBox programme. Bringing my company, Nu. to the States was huge, and I was shocked at how far Nu. has come since then. 

“There seems to be far more support for startups in Ireland.”

Jack Greener Globe

Jack Dooley, Greener Globe

Based on my experiences working in NY as a Tangent Pioneer, I think the main difference between the US vs Ireland, aside from scale obviously, is that there seems to be far more support for startups in Ireland compared with the States.

There is an attitude in the U.S. where you are either a student or an entrepreneur. In Ireland, we seem to support students’ entrepreneurial dreams more. As an individual, this programme showed me how much I had underestimated how difficult the US market would be to approach. However, I heard many success stories from Irish entrepreneurs who were in a similar situation to me at one stage not too long ago. This provided me with hope and determination to follow in their footsteps and grow my business to similar success.

“In the US, the mentality seems to be profit first. Passion, benevolence, values, mission and culture come a distant second.”

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William Conaghan, Change Donations

I think the main difference between operating a startup in the US vs Ireland is the focus in the US is geared towards the bottom line. We are all trying to make a profit, but in the US, the mentality seems to be profit first, passion, benevolence, values, mission and culture a distant second. In Ireland, the focus tends to be more on the team, the love, and the idea. Terms like “responsible innovation” or “responsible investment” seem to carry much more weight in Ireland, whereas in the US they are considered naive and delusional.

My biggest personal takeaway from the Tangent Pioneers programme is the importance of risk. Studying finance at Georgetown and working in New York as a financial analyst, we were always pushed towards mitigating risk. However, as an entrepreneur, risk is inherent in everything you do. While risk needs to be balanced and reduced to a degree, accepting the inevitability of uncertainty and moving forward is something that can’t be taught. Risk can be mentally crippling to some people, and being a Tangent Pioneer taught me to accept and move forward taking on each hurdle one step at a time.

“In the U.S, investors are extremely direct and like to tell you their views as soon as possible.”

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Ciara Hennessey, Greener Globe

Small wins can be as important and beneficial as big ones. Before the trip, success for our startup would have looked like getting our product into every store in the US. Now, having worked on the Tangent Pioneers programme, our mindset has changed; every connection we make and meeting we have had has been a small success, a small step to building a worldwide company.

Going to the U.S has allowed us to get a feel for the market and gather as many contacts as possible, developing many networking skills, tips and tricks along the way.

In Ireland, and maybe it could kindly be called modesty, but we tend to beat around the bush and gradually tell investors what the potential is. In the U.S, investors are extremely direct and like to tell you their views as soon as possible. They don’t waste time. Investors in the States don’t have time to build a relationship first; they want to know how much money you are going to make them and then see if the working relationship would work.

“Irish startups must start thinking on a global level if they wish to compete.”

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Pierce Dargan, Equine Medirecords

As a Tangent Pioneer operating in New York, I learned that in Ireland we can get too focused on our Irish bubble. We get so focused on the process we have made in Ireland that we can forget the bigger picture. Startups in America aim to be global players, as this is the only way they can compete in their market as it is so competitive. We have really changed our mentality since being in the US around how can we scale both within Europe, the US and around the world.

Based on my experiences on the programme, I think the main difference between operating a startup in the US vs Ireland is scale. Startups in Ireland can be making a real impact in Ireland, but they should really only view it as a test market. Irish startups must start thinking on a global level if they wish to compete.

“U.S. investors expect to see a much larger target market, and much faster revenue projections.”

anika reilly

Anika Riley, Work Smarter

The most stand-out difference between operating a startup in the US vs Ireland is that investors expect to see a much larger target market, much faster revenue growth projections and a much higher ask to even consider you. The Tangent Pioneers programme really highlighted the need for us to prove considerable traction before we consider any form of expansion. I expected investors and entrepreneurs in New York to be less open than in Ireland, but they were very welcoming. Nonetheless, as a result of our learnings on this trip, I would hold off on scaling or expanding to the US market because of the complexity of US escrow and financial regulations (state-by-state licensing).

The Tangent Pioneers programme is supported by Bank of Ireland. 

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