Disruptors, Dublin

Review of Disruptors Conference September 5th



Last Friday at the Marker Hotel. Another of the swish hotels to be found around the Grand Canal Plaza. It’s still striking how much this part of Dublin has changed. On a sunny morning too it seemed even nicer.

The line up of speakers was very impressive, and had continued to grow and expand as the day loomed.

A disclaimer about doing a review of what happened. It was impossible to see everything. Parallel rooms ran different speakers at the same time. While several speakers popped up at several times, it would have been tricky to near impossible to have seen everyone. In some ways this is a good thing, because it means no one account of the day could possibly be comprehensive. With that caveat it is possible to describe a slice of what went on.

First thing is to congratulate the organisers on getting so many interesting speakers. The format also had an interesting twist in that there were ‘office hours’ where participants could have 1 to 1 time with some of the speakers. Some of the participants found this very useful. One common theme across many of the speakers was that Ireland is well positioned and has a good reputation in the US among venture capitalists. Dublin in particular is seen as a good place to look for potential companies to invest in. There are many incubators and funding opportunities here in Dublin.

For the rest of this article I will just mention some of the people that I saw speak, and the resources they either provided or referred to.

One of the most requested speakers for the office hours was Claire Lee from Silicon Valley Bank.

Claire Lee Silicon Valley Bank

Claire Lee. Banking will be disrupted, (I thought it had already had been). Be fast. She mentioned those big companies that didn’t look behind them and got killed, the mantra of innovate or die. She hasn’t put the slides up on slide deck yet, which is a shame as there was an interesting one with the business icons of various companies like Nokia that failed to continue innovating and so became outmaneuvered by nimbler, smaller competitors.

She also referred to Lisa Gansky, founder of Ofoto. Gansky said that the price of starting up a new business has drastically fallen. A laptop with a broadband connection can be enough to at least get a business started.


Mark Suster’s blog was also mentioned, as an entrepreneur turned venture capitalist. There is the usual email subscription that you can sign up for. The blog posts look quite good, so I figured I’ll give it a go. http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/ @msuster

Samantha Kelly

Samantha Kelly, Ireland’s ‘Tweeting Goddess’ was also there. @Tweetinggoddess


She was friendly, positive and keen to engage and help the audience with their questions, both twitter related, and questions about how to start up a business in general. Her website has a lot of useful services, information, and a good blog. http://tweetinggoddess.com/nice-guys-finish-last/ 

Joe Haslam slideshare

Joe Haslam also gave a good talk about the challenges of scaling after starting up, and helpfully put the slides up on slideshare too.


He also mentioned an interesting article by Steve Blank about the 6 types of start ups, which sounds interesting.


The audience seemed to love Mat Morrision, @mediaczar and his wry self depreciation. He did make the important point that it’s important to look beyond just the likes and favourites to try and establish what is actually working and achieving good sales. He also helpfully put his slides up on slideshare so you can check them out for yourselves too.

The Death of Organic Social

Mat Morrison


Below is another account of the day by Aine Bermingham @UtterDigital


The Irish Independent also covered the event too.


Finally if you go through the tweets of the event account @bizdisruptors this will also help to give you an idea of what some of the other speakers covered. There was a lot going on, and a lot of really interesting people. I haven’t even covered the Crowd Funding speakers either. Though I figure you know where to look if you want to go down that route.

Summary of the day

The speakers lined up were great. Most of them seemed approachable, and open to being asked questions. This was partly also aided by the fact that there the place was not very full. I felt bad for the organisers, though perhaps the high fee for attending helped to cover their costs. I wondered why attendance was down. Coming up with some possible reasons;

? the title was perhaps not focused enough (though also good in terms of looking at the big picture)  ?

? Does the Dublin Summit loom over other events like this, hoovering up delegates that might have come?

? It may just be hard to get lots of people out to events in Dublin as it is a crowded environment.

Still it was great to be able to go. Hopefully that helps to give a flavour of it.







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