Text Me A Drink logo

(Strategies no N°1657 Paru le 9 décembre 2011: Stratégies en version numérique) - English translation with Google

Strategies talks about Text Me A Drink

Beside the 3 pictures: Among the 15 projects of 175, selected by Enterprise Ireland, agency supporting new entrepreneurs, the ‘Text Me A Drink’ start-up, created by three French entrepreneurs (from left to right: Aude Loyer, David Loyer and Fabien Morvan) and hosted in the Digital Hub in the former headquarters of Guinness (above). On the other hand, the global giants of the Internet, such as Google (see opposite) are present on Irish soil, especially in Dublin due to particularly attractive corporate tax.

Ireland, heavenly destination for Internet companies

Google, Facebook and Twitter, among others, have established their European headquarters in Ireland, making Dublin the capital of the Internet companies in Europe. Focus on a high-tech island in a country in recession.

In the west of Dublin, the Guinness brewery, built in 1759, now hosts dozens of startups in the Digital Hub and Guinness Enterprise Center in partnership with the Irish capital and the state. Beers are not poured as much as before but developers and entrepreneurs are getting drunk out of lines of code, contracts, new ideas, partnerships, projects that punctuate their days so unbridled. Three French entrepreneurs in their thirties, Aude Loyer, David Loyer and Fabien Morvan, however, have sought to marry chope (Old French for glass of alcohol, used for the rhyme) and e-shopping. They settled in late November 2011 at the Guinness Enterprise Center, three months after seeing their project startup selected by Enterprise Ireland, the highly effective agency supporting new entrepreneurs.

Text me a Drink - an application allowing to send a text voucher for a pint of beer to a Facebook friend - was one of fifteen selected ideas on 175 projects. Condition of acceptance of your application: an export-oriented business plan, 1 million in revenue and at least ten employees in three years. ‘Originally, I was not interested in applying for help, says Fabien Morvan. In Paris, where I created my business before coming to Dublin, I have often seen projects fail because of help that never came. Here, everything was much faster.’ The reason? ‘Easier to network’, said his partner David Loyer. ‘The fact that Dublin is a smaller city allows to see the same people often which build richer relationships. I do not know if there are more events than in Paris or another European city, but information flows much better and there is a much more dynamic networking and it's easy as Facebook is next door.’

It is indeed here that Dublin and other major cities (like Cork, where Apple is installed) make the difference. Almost all of the multinationals of the Internet and high-tech have their European headquarters established in this country, which was dubbed the Celtic Tiger in the 1990s and 2000s, and continues to be the European leader in attracting large firms on the Web. The list speaks for itself: Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Ebay, Paypal, Twitter, LinkedIn, Symantec, Oracle and IBM for administrative offices, as well as Microsoft, Yahoo, Intel ... for companies that have transferred part of their creative activities.

Access to all relevant stakeholders

It's no secret that the main reason is a corporate tax of 12.5%​​, which is growling neighboring countries of the European Union, at a rate two to three times higher (34.4% in global in France). ‘It was even 10% in the 1990s. It is low historically since the 1950s’, notes Pat Howlin, the ‘ IT’ (Information Technology) director of the Irish Development Agency, the body responsible for attracting multinationals. ‘But you know, all these companies would not be there if there were not many other attractions unique to Ireland. Google for example, has since 2003 been able to find a pool of two thousand employees of all nationalities, providing a basis of fifty languages​​! The search engine has been slow to really be part of the landscape. According to Connor O'Neill, the executive director of Louder Voice, a typical Web 2.0 company that provides management solutions for the comments on e-commerce sites, ‘we have long been criticized vis-à-vis Google. The group was not involved in the tech city, did not organize any events, nor sponsor any initiative. A sign of arrogance? It was a bit logical ‘We're Google, they will come to us.’ But I must say that much has changed in the past eighteen months. Clearly, Google needed a competition, a group with a similar profile, and the arrival of Facebook and Twitter, has led him to show more interest to the community of Dublin. In comparison, in much less time, Facebook has done a fantastic job, especially with the Facebook Garage.’

Organizer himself of these free networking events - copied and pasted of those in Palo Alto, Californian Silicon Valley, Connor O'Neill describes these networking evenings as the best way to know what is happening on the platform... Between five and ten such events are held each week. In late November, developers and businessmen had a choice between the parties Blackberry, Java Script, IBM, Google, Altnet or Wordpress, which now hosts its own exhibitions.

An american approach

The head of media and Internet Enterprise Ireland, Tom Cusack, believes that a start-up established in his country may have access to Google, Facebook or Linkedin much faster than elsewhere in Europe. Enterprise Ireland gives them access to an e-cosystem to access all relevant stakeholders to grow their project intemationally, including investment, since the Enterprise Ireland makes an initial funding from 200,000 to 500,000 euros, with an important book of investors.

‘The Irish do not ask for your nationality as long as your project is established in Ireland and destined to be exported’ notes Fabien Morvan. ‘The financial support of government remained significant even in the hard phase of the recession [a decrease of 9% of the GDP]’, Connor O'Neill continues. Indeed, Ireland has completely changed its approach to business for twenty years. We know that Irish company that remains in the ‘homemade’ logic can not thrive, it needs to export. In the years 1970 - 1980, entrepreneurs whose business stoped, were labeled as people who had failed. Today, we consider that they have tried their luck, but they have not had success or poor timing. Often they are too early, and find four or five years later that their idea was good.‘
An U.S. approach on the borders of the European Union, which is leading a rescue plan of Ireland International Monetary Fund (85 billion euros). A plan which lower labor costs by 20% in ‘IT’ areas since 2008. And for Irish households, by wage cuts and ... large increases in taxes.

Johann Harscoët, special envoy to Dublin