Jet lag? I'm finally over it.
Motivation? I came back with more of it.
Will I be back to Ireland soon? 3 weeks from today!
Why? Ireland's startup ecosystem is growing rapidly (and from the looks of it, with proper efficiency).
My most recent trip is as follows:
Ella, Elise, and Mikayla had spent most of the week in Des Moines, exhibiting at The World Food Prize. On Friday morning, I joined for the ending festivities, and then Elise, Mikayla, and myself Uber'd it to the airport.
A flight to Charlotte and then one to Dublin had us landing at 8 am Irish time. Upon landing, I had a quick moment of nostalgia, remembering the first time I landed in Ireland. I only knew one person (David Lappin, my very first poker coach, who helped make me feel right at home). By the end of my one year, I knew dozens of wonderful people in the poker realm. After spending over 8 weeks in Dublin last year, I expanded my network into dozens of wonderful people in the startup realm.
Saturday was spent roaming around and ending up in places like Capitol Lounge, The Bernard Shaw, and Porterhouse Central. A little jet lag and a few pints later, we called it a night. Sunday saw us move camps across town, and I ended up at Casa de Michael G to catch up on all things Dublin startups.
Before calling it a night, I made it over to my old housemates' apartment to catch up and enjoy a visit. It's always great time, and I'm thankful for having met them when I first arrived to Dublin in July of 2013, having nowhere to live.
Monday morning and afternoon were spent on final preparations for the KinoSol Kickstarter Campaign. This campaign is the opportunity for KinoSol to continue prototyping an urban-focused dehydrator unit. While we can't offer your own dehydrator through the campaign (due to not having a final design and injection mold cost), we can offer everything from custom and exclusive T-Shirts, pint glasses, art from local Ames artist Kyla Peterson, and even a "the team flies to you and helps host an event." Every $1 and share of the campaign helps extend our mission to battle food waste on a global scale.
By Monday evening, and thanks to Gene Murphy, KinoSol was able to exhibit at Dublin Beta. This was my fourth time attending, first time exhibiting. It's always a good atmosphere, full of enthusiastic and supportive startup community members from across Dublin (and in this case, almost 4,000 miles away).
Free pints, having a lot of familiar faces swing by, and plenty of exposure and connections later, we called it a night...except my next day started at 4:45 am.
Elise and Mikayla stayed in Dublin to take in the sights, and Michael, Jack the intern, and myself drove to Cork to check out Spike Island. It's the upcoming home of Startup Island. That event, unlike anything I've heard of before (and bound to be a major hit, thanks to the team behind it), will take place as the GEN Startup Nations Summit kicks off in Cork next month.
After almost 3 hours there by car, and 3 hours back to Dublin, I met up with the girls, and we trekked over to dogpatch labs for a meeting.
Dogpatch is an amazing coworking space. I imagine every startup in there knows they're a part of a wonderful community. A rising tide raises all ships seems appropriate, there in the Dublin Docklands.
Our meeting went well, and we're excited for everything moving forward early next year. More on that at a later date.
Tuesday evenings in Dublin are among my favorite, because of the little known gem that is The Ruby Sessions. It's just upstairs in Doyles, fits roughly 50 people, and a handful of acoustic acts take the stage once everyone's shuffled in. Every artist who performed that night (and every other time I've attended), was talented.
By Wednesday morning it was go time. Everything KinoSol Kickstarter had to be finished up, and I managed to meet up with good friend Eoin Costello just before the UPRISE festivities kicked off. Elise, Mikayla, and myself made it to the Netherlands Embassy shortly after the pre-party had ended (whoops), so we booked it straight downtown for the Startup Grind event and networking.
5:45 am, and my alarm is going off on a Thursday morning. It's UPRISE day, and KinoSol Kickstarter launch day. Adrenaline and a sense of urgency, like most days, jolted me up and out of bed. By 8:30 am, everything at UPRISE was set up, the girls had arrived, and we were ready to go, from exhibitor space number one.
The day ended up being one giant blur. A good kind of blur. Hundreds of people were flooding through the door, our Kickstarter campaign launched at noon Irish time, and I found myself social media storming on all fronts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn).
By 3 pm I was preparing for the "When Worlds Collide" Panel, where I'd be sharing the stage with startup ecosystem veterans from Germany, United Kingdom, and Ireland. I was happy to represent Iowa and to let the audience know of a few of our great initiatives, and how the Ames community is all about collaboration over competition.
It was a great 40 minutes, and having a handful of friends in the audience always helps.
Immediately following our panel, UPRISE wrapped up with their Pitch Battle. Unlike other pitch battles, they encourage unique structures, audience participation, trash talking, and "life is unfair" removal of participants. While I could tell some people were uncomfortable with the mayhem, I embraced it and hoped for the best for KinoSol, represented by our veteran pitcher, Mikayla.
While she fell short to a flamethrower and an attempt to light a hand on fire in the first round, it was a great experience and exposure for KinoSol as a whole.
The post-UPRISE celebrations began across the street, where a dozen of us enjoyed pints and food. And more pints and food.
Then we were off to downtown Dublin for the official UPRISE afterparty, which involved free whiskey for what ended up being hours and hours.
By 11 pm, Elise and Mikayla needed to catch their bus for the airport. They had a two-day excursion to Germany, to join the Rotaract Club Greifswald for a special event, in which they helped raise funds to sponsor KinoSol units going to partners abroad.
My Thursday ended somewhere around 5 am on Friday. After almost 24 hours of going strong, I succumbed to sleep. But, just after 8 am, I awoke with the sense of urgency to jump into making progress on all fronts once more.
A couple morning hours gave me the chance to catch up on all things YEC, Nebullam, and my various Slack channels and Trello boards.
By 10 am I was making my way back over toward dogpatch labs for a startup ecosystem tour that began at the Dublin Commissioner for Startups office. From there, a small group of us were chartered over to The Digital Hub, then over to the Guinness Storehouse for a private tour and lunch. I can't believe I had never made it over the Guinness HQ before, after having lived and spent almost 15 months in and around Dublin.
After a full meal, group pints (in which I opted out, due to a tiny hangover), we hopped back on the bus. I had the pleasure of visiting with a group of numerous individuals, all trying to better their ecosystem and scale their own ventures. A major shoutout to those who made that post-UPRISE experience happen!
Once we arrived back and just before the group made their way into dogpatch labs for a tour, I had to depart for Dún Laoghaire, a beautiful location and short train ride south from Dublin. There I was able to attend the kickoff for Coder Dojo's DojoCon, for networking and to hear Eoin speaking on Digital Dún Laoghaire.
Shortly after Eoin's speech, I took the train back to Dublin, taking care of just over 30 emails before calling it a night.
Saturday and Sunday saw everything wind down on the trip. Visits were had. Hostels were occupied. Dinners were shared. Even a posh McDonald's trip was checked off the list.
Just over 3 weeks from now, I'll be able to again enjoy the view from the picture below, all the while meeting with some of the world's top entrepreneurial minds.
At the age of 19 and while attending Indian Hills Community College, I took a spring/summer job as a caustic cleaner at the Cargill plant in Eddyville, Iowa.
I would work 5 am to 4 pm, Monday through Thursday. The 1 hour lunch was not paid.
I remember placing on the caustic suit (full bio hazard), and I would sit there wrapping duct tape around and around my wrists and ankles to prevent every drop of acid from finding its way to my skin.
The temperatures reached well over 115 degrees. It was so hot that we could only work 45 minutes of every hour. My nose adjusted to the terrible smells after a week, but my clothes and car needed thoroughly cleaned every weekend.
Here I am, 10 years later, and I still appreciate how that job helped push me to want more out of life. Every experience, bad and good, has lead me to now.
Another trip to Ireland.
Another opportunity to grow my network.
Another opportunity to grow each venture.
Another opportunity to share some of the amazing initiatives Iowa has for its growing startup ecosystem.
How will it all work out?
I don't know. That's alright.
"This is a story of how a Mooney had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected.”
STARTUPS - TRAVEL - EXPERIENCES