Also known as the ‘town of the hurdled ford’ or the ‘black pool’, Dublin is Ireland’s most populous city. It’s home to the Guinness Brewery and counts 666 pubs. But we’re going to try and stay away from Irish stereotypes because there’s so much more to Dublin than beer. For instance, the city proudly owns the only bridge on the European continent that’s as wide as it is long (oh yes!) – and it’s the hometown of many famous writers and bands: from Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde to U2 and Thin Lizzy.
But you probably already knew that. Besides, we’re here to show you some awesome workplaces. Like we did for Berlin last month and Amsterdam in September. And even though Dublin may not be a startup hub like Tel Aviv or Seattle, there’s a healthy entrepreneurial vibe here. And plenty of Irish banter, even inside the bigger names. Be sure to read through to the end: we’ve got a little exclusive for you. Well, a gigantic exclusive…
In collaboration with WOVOX.com.
Technically not a startup, and technically not even from Dublin: Gaumina is a Lithuanian company founded in 1998. This Baltic interactive agency builds websites, mobile sites and apps. A couple of years ago it also opened offices in Ireland and the UK. This Irish team works from The Digital Hub, home to nearly 70 digital content and technology companies.
We promised not to delve into Irish stereotypes, but for this one we just have to: you can smell the roasted hops and barley from the Guinness Brewery that’s right around the corner. To counter the temptation and to stay healthy, Gauminians have totally taken to juicing. They turn fruits and vegetables into drinkable lunches twice a week: everything from spinach to pineapple. And they’ve got life-sized ducks.
What better way to avoid the betting stereotype than by featuring BragBet? Two years ago, this company created a social betting service. It lets groups of friends rely on each other’s sports savvy and knowledge to beat the odds and bet online. Overlooking the Liffey river and Samuel Beckett Bridge, BragBet has gone to Google-lengths to create an awesome workplace. Of course, sports play a big role here. People hold meetings on a table that doubles as a ping pong arena (sounds familiar?), and they’ve got their very own gym, with climbing frame and punching bag.
OK, not a start-up this. But Microsoft’s Dublin offices definitely deserve a peek, if only for the ideas behind the looks. Many companies are riding the ‘nouvelle vague’ of employment, with greater flexibility in working times and places. But many also see their efforts fail beyond cosmetic office improvements.
We personally visited Microsoft’s office (pun not intended) in Amsterdam. We talked to people whose working lives were made more fun and valuable because they’re being measured by output and achievements instead of hours worked. And they’re allowed to decide for themselves when and how they’re most productive. And this may sound cheesy, but the sense of freedom we experienced there was pretty impressive.
The story seems no different for Building 3 of Microsoft’s four Dublin locations: everything inside is geared towards supporting a culture of responsibility and trust. And a plethora of places to suit your working mood: from secluded private rooms to open collaborative spaces.
4. Lime Canvas
Operating from the Coworkinn on the IMI (Irish Management Institute) Business Campus, Lime Canvas shares their building with about 30 other small and upcoming businesses. But it’s not only about sharing space: companies also co-organize events like informal drinks and network meet-ups. The web design company, which specializes in WordPress, and also does e-commerce and inbound marketing, and is a startup in the truest sense of the word: it was founded in September 2012.
The Lime Canvas crew is stoked with their set-up: they’ve got access to the campus’ library and restaurant for example. And golfing fanatics can walk straight into the club, only a short trot from their office. But don’t expect an automatic membership. Ireland probably has as many golf courses as pubs. Close by the office is Dundrum Town Centre, a massive, very swanky shopping village with lots of restaurants, clubs, bars, cinema etc.
5. Von Bismark
We’re really trying to avoid the stereotypes, but Von Bismark’s giving us a hard time. This team works from what used to be the Guinness Storehouse. It’s now converted to office space and acts as a digital hub for Dublin startups. Beer no longer flows freely here, but the team loves to spend Friday afternoons at Arthur’s, the local pub aptly named after Mister Guinness himself. There they enjoy a few pints of local brew to ease them into the weekend ahead, to relinquish the stress built up during the week and to entertain new ideas about the company’s future.
That future’s about redefining online shopping. With a tool that allows consumers to physically try on digital clothing, the Von Bismark team takes inspirational cues from films like Minority Report and Lawnmower Man.
6. Scale Front
A startup that creates startups? Yep, Scale Front develops new startup concepts from scratch and brings them to the market. Successful concepts, mainly Web and mobile applications, become companies in their own right.
Scale Front literally lives an attic startup life on the top floor of a large Georgian house on Dawson Street that dates from around 1720. It’s in the very centre of the city, just a few doors down from where the Lord Mayor resides. You won’t find a fancy company kitchen at Scale Front’s office. But with a fantastic Italian restaurant behind the building, what better way to have more space for yet another startup?
7. Simply Zesty
This is not a stately Georgian house just outside of Saint Stephen’s Green Park. Well, it is. But it’s also home to Simply Zesty, a social media company that specializes in video production.
Social network logos litter the walls here, with the largest vertical space reserved for – of course – the Facebook Wall. When people aren’t working, they settle disputes over epic ping pong matches. That is to say, epic in their own minds.
8. Lucidity Digital
Based Dublin’s southern suburbs, Lucidity Digital designs for the web, but also works on various animation and digital video projects. With white floors and walls decorated with blue, yellow and pink rectangles, this office almost feels like a 21st Century Mondrian painting. Motivational phrases and inspirational quotes adorn the same walls. Creative teams are encouraged to come up with new and inventive ways of utilising the latest technologies,such as Microsoft’s Kinect. This they do in a break-out space, complete with sitting bags, known as ‘The Lab’.
To turn the office into something that truly belongs to the whole team, all staff are asked to bring a small personal item for the shelf. This has given rise to quite a collection over the years: from mini fighter-jets and rugby balls to toy cars and – yep, sorry – a hip flask for alcoholic beverages.
9. Realex Payments
A short walk along the river, you’ll find Realex Payments. If you’re making online payments, you may well be doing it via these guys, one of Europe’s leading online payment service providers.
They’ve decorated the workplace with large prints featuring typical Irish scenes. The ‘O’Connors staff area’ is a relax corner made to look like the actual O’Connors bar in Doolin on the west coast of Ireland, and there’s a pretty unusual meeting room here. Known to friends as the ‘Ringfort’, this, ehm, ring-shaped wall in the middle of the office allows team members to have standing meetings without being disturbed. To accompany the name, its walls are covered by photos of actual prehistoric ringforts in the Burren.
10. The Now Factory
This company has quickly grown since its inception in 2007 with over 130 employees drawn from 17 different nationalities. It has over 35 customers, providing network operators with real-time insights into how their customers use and interact with mobile devices and applications.
The Now Factory’s HQ is made up of a converted warehouse that includes an open plan office with funky furniture and art displays, meeting rooms named after all the worldwide cities where the company has regional offices, and a coffee dock where everyone can mingle with each other to discuss the latest and greatest in mobile technology. Despite the company’s rapid growth, the team has managed to retain the feel of its early startup days. Big comfy couches double as relaxation corners and meeting areas, and Fußball proves to be the a great way for team members to unleash their competitive streak.
This converted warehouse and office complex is no finished business: The Now Factory sees it as an ongoing project to make its office as fun and inspiring as possible.
Ready for your first look inside Google’s latest and greatest? Because, Google being Google, the company didn’t settle for any random office. In 2011 it bought the tallest commercial building in Dublin: the Montevetro. After a lot of refurbishing and developing, ‘Google Docks’ now houses the company’s operations headquarters for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
As you might expect, rooms here have names like ‘Funland’, ‘Bouncing Castle’ and ‘Clown College’. And fitting to the Google culture, this multi-coloured complex boasts its own gym, pool and the almost usual pool tables, sitting bags and swings. These three photos don’t do justice of course, so feel free to click on them for the Full Monty.
Coming soon: New York
Next month brings us to the Big Apple, the city that never sleeps. Which startups would you like to see featured? In New York or somewhere else? Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments!
Sources of photography:
Gaumina by David Clayton; Lucidity Digital by Lucidity Digital; Lime Canvas by Neil Sisson; BragBet by BragBet; Realex Payments by Realex Payments; Microsoft by Microsoft; Simply Zesty by Simply Zesty; Von Bismark by Von Bismark; Scale Front by Sean Blanchfield; Google by Ian Shipley; The Now Factory by The Now Factory.