The Talented 38: Ireland’s top technology and startup leaders

Dylan Collins and I put our heads together to make a list of Irish people under forty who are leading the startup and technology scene. Watch these names closely. This post has been jointly published here and on Dylan’s blog at Founderware.


Sean Blanchfield is founder and CEO of Scale Front. Previously he was founder of Phorest, founder and CTO of DemonWare (acquired by Activision Blizzard) and CTO of Jolt Online (acquired by GameStop). He is extremely active amongst the startup community in Ireland as advisor, mentor and buyer of beers. You can follow him on Twitter or AngelList.

Dylan Collins is investor and Chairman of Fight My Monster.  Previously he was founder of Phorest, founder and CEO of DemonWare (acquired by Activision Blizzard), founder and CEO of Jolt Online (acquired by GameStop). He is Enterprise Ireland’s startup Ambassador and splits his time between Dublin, London and San Francisco. He’s pretty active on Twitter and has a not-so-secret profile on AngelList.


In our view, these are some of the most important people in technology and startups based (mostly) in Ireland today. All of which are under forty, all of which have had or will have a significant impact on the country. This list is in no particular order.

Paul Kenny,

(Twitter | AngelList)
“Mr. Middle East” is the guy who took on both Groupon and LivingSocial and beat them at their own game. While both companies have now retreated entirely from the market (it’s not an easy place), has become the biggest daily deals site in the Middle East with double-digit million dollar turnover. Rumour has it that the company may officially become the biggest ecommerce company in the entire region by the end of the year.

James Whelton, CoderDojo

(Twitter | AngelList)
James Whelton is the 19 year old Corkonian hacker and entrepreneur who started the worldwide phenomenon known as “CoderDojo”, teaching children everywhere to program. With chapters springing up from Tokyo to San Francisco, James is on this list for his tremendous contribution to the future of technology. Although we’re not ranking people numerically, in terms of influence/age, he deserves a place near the top of the list.

Steve Collins and Hugh Reynolds, Havok + Swrve

(Twitter | AngelList)
The duo who originally put Ireland on the map as a games location. Founders of Havok (acquired by Intel for $100M+), they made realistic physics a standard feature in video games everywhere. Rumoured to be slightly north of forty, their youthful looks make us feel lenient. Their new company, Swrve, provides analytics solutions to games on the web and on mobile, and is rapidly becoming an industry standard. The smartest guys in the room.

Will Prendergast, Frontline Ventures

(Twitter | AngelList)
There’s only a handful of professional startup investors on the Irish scene who don’t have grey hair. At 34, Will’s career has already taken him from chef training to chemical engineering, then to management consultancy before becoming a partner at NCB Ventures. As an “entrepreneur’s investor”, he is often at startup events, spending time helping founders create investable companies. Early this Summer he teamed up with Shay Garvey to launch Frontline Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm.

Tadhg O’Toole, Modeva

(Twitter | AngelList)
In the startup world, publicity seems to focus on those who attract the most investment. This seems to suit Tadhg O’Toole, who has been quietly empire building without any VC assistance. After graduating from Computer Science at UCD, he co-founded Modeva in 1996, developing all kinds of mobile entertainment and media services. Sixteen years of growth later, the Modeva empire shows no signs of abating. Meanwhile, Tadhg has become one of Dublin’s smartest angel investors.

Russell Banks, DublinBeta

(Twitter | AngelList)
Baptised by fire in the first dotcom bubble, Russell spent much of the noughties in sales executive roles in Microsoft and Vodafone before exploding onto the Dublin startup scene last year. As curator of the Dublin chapter of StartupDigest and producer of the hugely successful DublinBeta event, Russell has quickly become one of the most influential organisers on the scene. His startup, Prescience AI (analytics technology for freemium games), won a place on the Launchpad accelerator program.

Cian O’ Maidin, nearForm

(Twitter | AngelList)
Cian is CEO of nearForm, one of the latest additions to the growing Waterford tech mafia and extended TSSG ecosystem. Cian and his business partner Richard Rodger have become quickly known as the country’s leading evangelists of the emerging Node.js cloud technology. Their Node Dublin 2012 Conference (being held in October) is a sell-out event, establishing them as key influencers among the best developers in the country.

Damien Mulley, MulleyComms

(Twitter | AngelList)
Irrascible. Irreverent. Ingenious. Damien is the top guy in the country for social media, marketing and PR. Highly respected (and in places feared) by the startup and media world, he’s known for calling bullshit on politicians, businesspeople and investors who are trying to pull a fast one. He’d probably murder us for saying he’s the Carr Communications of the next decade, so we won’t.

Connor Murphy, Datahug

(Twitter | AngelList)
Serial tech entrepreneur, management consultant, computer scientist and corkonian, Connor is the CEO of one of the highest regarded startups around, Datahug. In case you’re wondering, Datahug crunches through all the emails sent in and out of a business, providing analytics on who knows who. With all-star investors from Silicon Valley and a product regularly used by top VCs around the world, Datahug is almost certainly on the radar of some major acquirers.

Ray Cunningham and Andronikos Nedos, Fieldaware

Dons of Trinity’s DSG tech mafia, Ray and Andronikos have assembled one of the best tech teams in Dublin, through a developer-led focus and emphasis on open source. In short, they do mobile workforce management. With funding led by Oyster, offices in Dublin and Texas, and a fast growing international business, this dynamic duo have shown they know what they are doing. We’re looking forward to seeing what the next decade brings.

Michael Cordner, Mindconnex

(Twitter | AngelList)
Originally hailing from Canada, programmer-turned-CEO Mike Cordner is now more Irish than the Irish themselves. His company makes tablet-based educational software. For example, Shakespeare In Bits brings plays such as Macbeth to life with great animation, and features that help children understand the text and character development. With a strong seed round behind them, plus a great product with international appeal, we’re looking forward to seeing what the next few years hold for Mike and the team.

Trevor Parsons, LogEntries

(Twitter | AngelList)
Unless you’ve been there , you won’t understand what a pain log management in server infrastructures is. Not to worry: suffice to say that Trevor was able to convince not just some of the smartest Irish investors (Frontline Ventures) but also two of the best US VC firms (Polaris and RRE) to invest in his UCD spinout. Now housed in the hotbed of Dogpatch Labs and solving a problem central to cloud technology, expect big things from Trevor and the Logentries team.

Peter Cahill, Scream Technologies

It’s refreshing when you find a startup that is actually doing some hardcore tech. In Peter’s case, he can very closely synthesise anyone’s voice. Being able to procedurally generate speech in, say, Samuel L Jackson’s voice, has valuable applications in areas as diverse as video games and advertising. Peter is ultra-sharp and passionate, looks more like a student than the head of UCD’s CNGL group, and is that rare kind of technologist who is able to close sales with major international clients before receiving a penny of VC money.

Ronan Lyons, Economist

(Twitter | AngelList)
Curiously, Trinity College Dublin produced two star economists (Stephen Kinsella being the other) who graduated in the same year from the same degree course.  Now well-known media commentators, authors and lecturers, it’s clear that they got their timing spot on and that both know precisely how to leverage social media. While both are extremely accomplished (and exceptionally nice guys) Ronan wins the tie-break by being an early member of the Daft team as their in-house economist.

Conor Stanley, Bloom Equity

(Twitter | AngelList)
Conor Stanley is a fulltime angel investor, and a founding partner of Bloom Equity. As an entrepreneur, Conor founded Clearscape, riding through the dot-com bust through to its acquisition in 2009. Throughout this time he also invested in and advised some of the best startups during that period (including some of our own). He’s one of the few people in the country that has been thinking carefully about future direction in venture capital, and given his local visibility and activity in the Kauffman Fellows Program (the US-based VC network), Conor is sure to be a key player in the future of Ireland’s startup industry.

John Beckett, Eirtight

Slightly understated in person, John has many reasons not to be. A serial entrepreneur, he started his first successful business at the age of 15. While that first business was focused on software development services across three continents, others were as varied as biometric solutions, a dental laboratory, taxi rental, a mole screening service and, from which you can buy one square foot of genuine Irish countryside. Those last three are ongoing concerns, along with his latest software development agency, Eirtight. Clearly, the only way to get so much done before the age of 40 is to start at the age of 15!

Mark Sugrue, Kinesense

(Twitter | AngelList)
It’s hard to believe that such a nice guy could create technology to empower Big Brother. But there you go. With Kinesense, Mark is applying his research experience in machine vision to automated monitoring of CCTV footage by police forces around Europe. In short, it means that police officers don’t have to spend hours searching footage for suspicious activity, but can let Mark’s product do it for them. The good news for Mark and his investors is that in this post-911 world, CCTV is an expanding market, and they have a rare product that solves a major customer pain.

Liam Ryan, GetHealth

(Twitter | AngelList)
Liam has an enthusiasm that spreads to everyone in a 50 meter blast radius. With co-founder Chris Rooney, the first company was an SMS service that reminded women to take the contraceptive pill. Their latest company, GetHealth, is a mobile app that gamifies all aspects of a healthy lifestyle between a group of selected friends or colleagues. It may be Liam’s tractor beam of enthusiasm that has attracted advisors to the company, such as the former director of fitness at the White House under Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43 administrations.

Mark Moore, OralEye

(Twitter | AngelList)
It’s not every day you meet an entrepreneur who is actually trying to cure cancer. With OralEye, Mark is providing a smartphone app that enables remote screening for oral cancer. It’s simple enough – you take pictures of your mouth, and experienced dentists review them and provide feedback. The good news is that oral cancer can be detected easily enough this way, and when caught early can be treated without radical disfigurement or death. Groundbreaking.

Niall Harbison, SimplyZesty

(Twitter | AngelList)
Niall started life as a chef, founded an online video company, then launched a social media agency which was recently acquired by UTV. About a week later, he launched a startup investment contest, whose first result has been the intriguing Carve Cases.  As someone who has mastered the art of rapid company-starting, expect many more ventures from this guy.

Richard Barnwell, Digit Game Studios

(Twitter | AngelList)
Formerly COO of Jagex (the company behind MMO success Runescape) Richard came to Ireland to take the reins of Jolt Online after its acquisition by GameStop. Although Jolt was recently shuttered by its parent, Digit Games Studios rose from its ashes, with Richard as founder and CEO. Not only is he commencing development on a high quality cross platform game, but he has donated a floor of his office to up-and-coming gaming startups (Bitsmith and Batcat). Backed by Delta, ACT and Enterprise Ireland, Digit may be the company that catalyzes the Irish games scene.

Kevin Bluett, Tophat

(Twitter | AngelList)
Most of the folks on our list have either raised invetment or sold a company, but sometimes you need to make an exception. Kevin Bluett is the ringleader of a group of twelve computer science students from Trinity College Dublin, known as Tophat. Not only are they providing excellent software development services to multiple companies, but their are creating a sophisticated open-source platform for location-aware mobile gaming. When the smartest eighteen year olds from a leading university coalesce into an effective team, you know you’re probably watching the prologue of a great success story.

Pete Connor and John Farrelly, BulletHQ

(Twitter | AngelList)
These guys are on a mission to replace accountants. Their elegant web and mobile SaaS product handles employee expenses and payroll, monitors cashflow and automatically generates all your tax returns for you. This translates into serious savings on accountancy fees, plus it also demystifies the whole weird wide web of,,, which otherwise suck up valuable brainpower. With the irish startup scene exploding, these guys are set to play a crucial role.

Paddy Cosgrave, Dublin Web Summit

(Twitter | AngelList)
There’s not much to compare to Paddy Cosgrave’s expanding WebSummit empire. The first summit in 2010 was relatively small (mere hundreds) and held in Trinity College Dublin, from where he graduated. Catching the wave of the expanding Irish startup scene, the web summit has expanded to 3000 attendees and will this year be housed in the RDS. In addition to the summit, multiple side events are held including evenings with visiting startup dignitaries, launch events, and the exclusive F.ounders. Over the last year, the enterprise has gone international, with events held in London and New York. This is now a slick social-media powered organisation, operated by about twenty people from an office in Ranelagh.

Ronan Perceval, Phorest

(Twitter | AngelList)
Founder and CEO of Phorest, Ronan has grown the company to become one of the leading appointment software firms in the billion dollar European beauty salon market. It means that a) he always has a great haircut and b) he’s now the envy of Groupon, LivingSocial, KGB Deals and others which end up being processed by the Phorest platform. Building out a platform of this scale is impressive with investment, but even more considering the company just took on external investors in the last year.

Brian and Eamonn Fallon, Distilled Media

(Twitter | AngelList)
The Fallon bros are regulars in these lists and have been since they rose to success with, capturing 90%+ of the Irish property listings market. The reason they continue to be mentioned is that they haven’t sat still. With the excellent, they have created one of the most disruptive web properties in Ireland, displacing leading newspaper websites with a blend of comprehensive, intelligent, witty and web-savvy content delivered in a constantly updated stream throughout the day. With the addition of to their empire, they now clock in with more than six times the monthly page impressions of the Irish Times. If there’s a William Randolph Hearst of Irish websites, it’s these two guys.

Vinny Glennon, Seenbefore

(Twitter | AngelList)
An alumnus of Y-Combinator and denizen of DogpatchLabs, Vinny is a highly-energetic programmer-CEO. If you’ve ever spent 30 minutes looking for a webpage you know you read before, only to give up in frustration, then you’ll like his company. Simply, SeenBefore is a browser plugin that allows you to easily find webpages that you have previously read. Apart from SeenBefore, Vinny recently launched, to collect together resources and information about the Irish startup scene.

Dave Kearney, Fluid

(Twitter | AngelList)
After five and a half years as head of engineering in Tadhg O’Toole’s Modeva, Dave Kearney set out with co-founder Ian Hannigan to create a mobile prototyping tool that they wanted to use. FluidUI allows you to quickly visually prototype mobile applications, and also connect the different screens to create an interactive version that can be tested on a handset. Invested in by Enterprise Ireland, and admitted to Dogpatch Labs, they are finding fast traction with mobile app developers and designers.

Eamon Leonard, Engine Yard

(Twitter | AngelList)
There’s very few developers or entrepreneurs in Dublin who don’t owe Eamon Leonard a pint. As MD of EchoLibre he built a web consultancy business while managing to fund the development of a technology platform called Orchestra. Within 7 months of its launch, San Francisco Platform-as-a-Service Engine Yard had acquired them. Now housed in amazing loft offices on Barrow Street, Eamon ardently supports the growing tech and startup scene through a cocktail of facilities and beer. Most of the developer meetups are held from his offices, pizza and beer provided, and every month he runs PubStandards, at which about 200 geeks and change-makers gather to enjoy his hospitality.

Tom Cusack, Enterprise Ireland

(Twitter | AngelList)
One of the leading lights within Enterprise Ireland, Tom Cusack has been the driving force behind many of the recent initiatives that has transformed the organisation from where it was three years ago. Previously Director of North America and now responsible for the High Potential Startup (HPSU) division, Tom has the experience and drive to be at the very top of the table in the future.

Vincent Lyons

(Twitter | AngelList)
Vinny Lyons is possibly the best super-connector of the startup scene, as well as being one of its youngest members. He played a pivotal role in bringing Dogpatch Labs to Ireland, and was heavily involved in the Startupbootcamp accelerator programme, which ran earlier this year. With Phil Fogerty he founded Dubstarts, a series of jobs fair events designed to connect willing students and graduates with the best startups. With a keen interest in Education Tech, and a personal network to the most talented developers and business people in the startup scene, Vincent Lyons is a name to watch out for.

Johnny Ryan, Irish Times

(Twitter | AngelList)
Tech thinker, author, captivating speaker and now Chief Innovation Officer of the Irish Times, Johnny is intense, energetic and set on making a change. His first initiative was the Irish Times Digital Challenge, an accelerator programme supported by Launchpad, but housed in the Irish Times itself. Through this programme, the newspaper welcomed in a handful of startups for which they might offer value as a sales channel. The intersection between traditional media and new technology is rife with opportunity, and Johnny has the opportunity to build something special here.

Charlie Von Metzradt, Metricfire

(Twitter | AngelList)
After creating a system to track statistics across the vast Demonware game server infrastructure, Charlie co-founded MetricFire. MetricFire aims to allow anyone who deals with servers to keep track of the many important numbers that influence performance and reliability. Like Logentries, it’s a problem you only understand if you’ve been there, but similarly it’s a growing area inextricably linked with cloud technology.

Stephen O’ Reilly

(Twitter | AngelList)
Based in London, Stephen is one of the best connected guys within the music startup scene (and indeed beyond). As Head of Entertainment/Sport for MobileRoadie, currently one of the hottest startups in LA, he has created the kind of awareness which has secured practically every major music label as a customer. Now turning his focus to the sports world, he’s almost certainly going to replicate the same growth there. All while remaining one of the nicest guys on the planet.

Patrick Collison, Stripe

(Twitter | AngelList)
Won the Young Scientist competition at the age of sixteen, went to MIT for a while, teamed up with brother John Collison to create the company that became Auctomatic (leaving Ireland for Y-Combinator, after failing to win hearts and minds at Enterprise Ireland). Sold Auctomatic at age 19, and is now co-founder of one of the hottest companies in Silicon Valley – Stripe. Stripe is a fastly superior web payments solution, allowing companies to more easily charge for their products online. It’s so good that software developers everywhere swooned when they heard about it’s Canadian launch the other day. Our fingers are crossed that it will soon be available here.

Gene Murphy, Redeem&Get

(Twitter | AngelList)
From the launchpad of Portobello College’s Students’ Union presidency, the charismatic Gene Murphy has blasted through multiple marketing and events-based startups before landing on his current daily deals winner. Redeem&Get makes it possible for merchants to benefit from the likes of Groupon and Citydeals without getting overwhelmed by managing all the new customers. A super-connector of Dublin’s many startup events, Gene can often be found holding court over noodles and wine at Izakaya Bar on George’s Street.

Posted in Enterprise, Ireland, People, Tech
10 comments on “The Talented 38: Ireland’s top technology and startup leaders
  1. […] Sean and I put our heads together to make a list of Irish people under forty who are leading the startup and technology scene. Watch these names closely. This post has been jointly published here and on Sean’s blog at […]

  2. @darse123 says:

    Great piece put together by sean…only a new comer on the start-up scene but have to say it’s inspiring to see how Dublin has all this talent on show…keep up the good work

  3. Mick Skelly says:

    Great list. I’ve been lucky enough to have personally received great advice from easily half of the guys on it.

  4. Peter Connor says:

    Thanks for the mention, myself and John are humbled to be on this list. As always we’d like to thank the team that work with us.

  5. Patrick says:

    Fantastic list of innovation, I have to say, Oral-eye has caught my Eye, pardon the pun, but anything that can save people’s lives in such a simplistic fashion with technology already there, just twinning the expertise to that technology, is pretty genius alright, hats off and it is a priceless piece of innovation as how can anyone put a price on life..

    • Mark Moore says:

      @Patrick- thanks for the words of encouragement! We’re pretty excited about the global potential of our system and relatively cost effective means of mass cancer screening. If you’d like more info on the clinical aspects let me know and I’d be delighted to followup.

      @Sean & @Dylan, our whole team are very grateful for your support. You guys are like shepherds for so many Dublin startups! Thanks again

  6. Lucinda says:

    Great list but no women on it!

  7. Nurney says:

    Should really be “The Pale’s Top Technology and Startup Leaders” – such a limited view of whats happening in Ireland

    • Thanks for all the feedback. Naturally the list reflects our own networks, even though we *do* make a serious effort to get to know everyone. In terms of female entrepreneurs, we’d really love to hear about people you think should be included. There’s some really great female-led tech startups emerging now, though we couldn’t think of any that have got strong traction or an exit yet.

      In terms of the Pale, there’s plenty of non-Dubliners on the list, but most of them do indeed work from Dublin. If you know people who we missed, please mention them!

  8. […] Here is another list (more recent, 38 tech entrepreneurs from 2012) […]

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