A Web Summit Visitor’s guide to Dublin!

This week 10,000 visitors will be coming Dublin for the Web Summit to celebrate all things tech & startup!  I thought I would welcome our new friends by giving them a few hints and tips in terms of getting around and some of my favorite places to eat, drink and be merry!

Getting in from the Airport!

Whether you arrive into Terminal 1 or 2 at Dublin Airport you have three main ways of getting into the city.

  1. Grab a taxi from the rank. There should be plenty (we have about 20,000 in Dublin) and expect to pay in the region of €25-€40 depending on where you are staying.
  2. Aircoach. This is a great service that goes through the city and into the suburbs.  There are several routes and between them they pass by most of the major hotels in the city. When you leave arrivals look out for the big blue signs. A return ticket is about €16 and travel time is about 25 minutes.
  3. 747 by Dublin Bus. This is another bus service, although this one tends to run straight through the city and doesn’t cater for most of the suburban hotels.

Getting around the city!

Grafton Street

Grafton Street

By Foot:

One of the greatest things about Dublin is how compact the city centre is. This makes it very easy to get around as a pedestrian. The key areas of the city can be traced from Ballsbridge, over to the IFSC, down to Capel Street and back over to Christ Church. Within that (almost) triangle shape you will find all the restaurants, bars and museums that you could care for. Getting from one side to the other would take about 60 mins walk.

by Bus, Trains and Tram:

Dublin has a good bus/rail and tram system if not as regular as one would like. I would strongly recommend picking up a Leap Card from Eason’s (Terminal 1) or Spar (Terminal 2) at the airport on arrival. They cost €5 and whatever amount of credit you put on it (I’d suggest €20). Leap card is contactless like Oyster Card in London and is accepted on all Dublin Bus, Tram (the Luas) and Rail (DART) services. It works out about 17% cheaper per trip to pay this way so well worth it. Also saves on trying to find change at the bus stop:)

by Taxi:

Hailo Dublin Screenshot

Dublin has over 20,000 registered taxis (more than New York, LA and Toronto) combined, so getting a  cab isn’t a problem. However as most Dublin Taxis do not accept credit card OR charge excessive  processing fees I would suggest that you download and install the Hailo App. Not only will this enable  you to pay be card seamlessly, but you can hail the cab while you are finishing your pint and should you  leave anything behind in the cab you will be able to trace it back. This is a superb service and you are  charged the exact same as a normal street hail but with many more benefits!

Additionally if you follow @HailoIreland on twitter and tweet “I’ll be getting around Dublin with  @HailoIreland during the @WebSummitHQ you could win €100 worth of trips while you are here. And no I  am not on their payroll!

the RDS:

In terms of getting to the RDS (where the Web Summit is being held) Dublin Bus routes 4, 7, 8, 18, 27x and 120 all pass by the venue.  Weekdays this is normally a very busy route for traffic getting into the city so give yourself some extra time on the Wednesday for getting in! Should you be coming in by DART The Sandymount Dart station is only a 10 minute walks from the venue.

Eating and Drinking! 

If last year is anything to go by Paddy and the Web Summit team will have enough to keep everyone busy and merry into the wee hours. However you may want to strike out on your own and if so here is my list of favorite bars and eateries.

Drinking:

john-mulligans-pub

If you are looking for some great pints of Guinness and Irish hospitality you could not  go wrong with any of the following The Duke, O’Donohues, Doheny & Nesbitt’s, The  Palace Bar and The Long Haul. For my money though the best place in town for a social  pint is Mulligans of Poolbeg Street!

If you prefer  cocktails you wont do wrong by going to The Lost Society, The VCC  (Vintage Cocktail Club) or the The Mint Bar.

Eating:

To makes this easy I will just list of my favorites and the cuisine they serve!  There are of course fancier places but for good affordable food on the go these are pretty damn good!

Elephant & Castle Chicken Wings

Elephant & Castle Chicken Wings

Elephant & Castle – Steaks, Burgers (and the best chicking wings anywhere!!!), Nico’s – Italian, Izakaya – Japanese Tapas (and regular hangout for startups!), Yamamori – Japanese Noodles, Crackbird – all things chicken, The Port House – Spanish Tapas and for the vegetarians, vegans, gluten intolerant or coeliac  among you Cornucopia is pretty damn good too:)

Finally, I would like to wish all who are travelling into Dublin for the Web Summit a fantastic few days with us and if you fancy sharing a pint on one of the nights hit me up on twitter @russellbanks77, or you will find me there wearing this face😀

Skype

6 ways to get the most out of Dublin Web Summit 2013

So it has been a long time since I posted and a lot of things have happened in my personal life (I got married) and in my startup life. However, I felt it was time to dust off the auld blog and give it another whirl and with the Web Summit only 6 or so weeks away I thought I would share my tips on how to get the most out of it!

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Now the first thing that you (especially if you are a startup in Ireland) need to do is get over the fact that you have to pay to go. It is a conference just like The Next Web and just like them it is a commercial enterprise. If you went to one of those events you would fully expect to pay. Those who know me know how I too have had major reservations in the past about paying to attend, but last year myself and the Conker team paid our €1,000 and went to the event. We were only 6 weeks old, got to meet some great people and got an investor out of it, however by no means did we get the most out of it, but here’s my advice on how to. That advice is based on my attendance at approximately 100 tech conferences and major shows around the world and I would like to share my top tips to get the most out of your conference experience.

1. You can only get out what you put in!

This is a simple rule for ALL conferences and shows. Those teams that plan in advance and bust a hump on the trade show floor (like the Soundwave guys did at SXSW this year) are always the ones that get the most value from them. The WebSummit team have managed to get the most influential and important people in the technology world to visit our little island for a few days! What those people do when they get here is up to you and how much work you are willing to put in! If you just turn up at your stand without a plan don’t be surprised if the world doesn’t make a bee-line to you, and don’t blame the WebSummit team afterwards either.

2. Know why you are going!

This is absolutely critical and may seem obvious but if you are not 100% clear and focused on what you want to achieve by going you will fail to achieve anything. Is it to find investors? sales leads? partners? or are you trying to get the tech world’s media to shine their spotlight on you? If it is a combination of these prioritise them and then start planning around that!

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3. Set measurable goals!

Once you have identified the main reasons you are going you then need to set measurable goals. Let’s say for example your key goal is investors. How many investor meetings should you have every day and over the 3 days. Did you have them? What were the outcomes? Knowing these things will allow you to measure how you are performing but also what real value you derived from attending.

 4. Prepare Now!

6 weeks will pass in a heartbeat. Start your preparation now and this is what I would be doing.

  • Assign a dedicated resource, an intern if you have it. There will be quite a bit of grunt work to do in terms of pulling lists together etc.
  • Go through the attendee list, reference them on AngelList and Crunchbase, and ask yourself how could they be of use to you and your startup? Have they invested in something similar, worked in similar startup or could they help you find customers and partners.
  • Mail the hell out of them. A simple 2-3 liner, stating who you are, why you are contacting them and if they are free for a 10-15 minute coffee while over. Remember these people are likely to get 100’s of emails and it will be those who scream loudest will get met. It’s not a “no” until they tell you so. Additionally if you have advisors or others in your network who can do the intro thing leverage the hell out of that.

5. At the end of each day

Resist the temptation to go straight to the nearest pub to enjoy all the fun the WebSummit has to offer. The first thing you and your team should do is find a quiet spot, review the business cards you collected (I like to rate them bronze, silver, gold) make a note on what actions you should take with each, review your meetings, action any items that you promised during meetings and then settle into a pint! You and your team can then celebrate a good days work done well and then head out into the general masses. Also I would advise that one person volunteers to do the early shift, maybe rotate this around the team.

6. Be fighting fit!

You have paid for the tickets, done all the prep work, you owe it to yourself to be at the top of your game. I would recommend you  go off the booze at least a week before, eat healthy and rest up lots. You will need to bring your A-game for 3 days straight. There will be late nights, heavy drinking, food on the go, early morning coffees and you will need to be as bright and effective on the last night as you were on the first morning.  

So that is it for my tips however there is one final thing you should consider. For 3 days Dublin will be the centre of the tech world. All the top people you could ever hope to meet will be here. You have an unparalleled opportunity to meet people who could have a huge impact on your business and what is that worth to you? For me if planned right, and executed well the Dublin WebSummit could be the best  thing that ever happens to you! The alternative is that you go to the valley and try and meet these guys there, and that will cost you a hell of a lot more than the €1,000 asking price!!

Disclosure:

DublinBeta has been asked to put on a Fringe event as part of the Dublin WebSummit. As we see this as a huge opportunity for some 10-12 of Ireland’s newest early stage startups to get exposure we intend to accept this offer.

Velocity and Momentum are not the same thing…

In the past week I was lucky enough to attend the Interactive part of SXSW in Austin, Texas.   I can safely report that everything you have heard about both the event (super laid back, hyper networking event) and venue (heaven on earth) is in fact true!!  But rather than bore you with the details of the many amazing people I met, free parties I went to and Tarantino-esque situations we found ourselves in for my first post I wanted to talk about the main difference in the startup culture that I encountered there!

End of Interactive Official Party

End of Interactive Official Party

It was Saturday afternoon and I was heading to a conference networking session “VC / Startup Meetup”.  As is the way with SXSW I struck up a conversation with the guy standing next to me.  He was about 30 years old, had had two successful exits and was onto this third startup.  Impressive!!  When he asked me about my own startup, Conker, I told him that we had been working on it since September 2012,  to which his response was “Wow, that’s a long development time!”.  5 Months??  A long time…..?!?!?  What was he on about?  That seems like a perfectly reasonable time to be working on something and still be early stage isn’t it??  Well unfortunately in the US the answer would seem to be “No”.   And from there stems the huge palpable difference that I could feel between US and European startups……..Velocity!

Velocity gives both how fast and in what direction an object is moving.  In the startup sense Velocity allows you to build up a head of steam and still pivot without losing that speed.  It is generated by all that good lean and agile stuff.  On the customer development side, signing people up, getting them to pay.  On the product side making sure to develop that product in quick sprints with the features that the customer wants.  All of this builds Velocity.  Once you have your startup roaring at an insane Velocity then you can focus on momentum.

Momentum is the product of the mass and Velocity of an object.  With Velocity cracked the search for more customers and funding can begin in earnest.  Each additional customer or investor adds to the mass of your startup until you are that winning Juggernaut that we all want to be!

In Europe, I believe many of us focus on Momentum because we confuse it with Velocity.  This manifests itself with how quickly we try to fund raise before we have cracked the Velocity of our startup.   This creates a distraction during that critical first 6 months of our startup when we should be focused on Velocity.  The US teams I met at SXSW had cracked their Velocity and were then looking for the funds etc for their momentum.

So with that in mind I know that everything we do in our  startup over the next few months will be solely focused on Velocity!

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