Booming tech sector just ripe for emerging entrepreneurs
THERE'S never been a more exciting time to be a tech entrepreneur in Northern Ireland.
There are some really hot companies – Sebastian Heinz at the music tech company Patchblocks is a great example, not to mention the guys from Cargo, makers of the beer brewing robot Brewbot.
And finally there's the team at GoPrezzo, with over 2m users on our platform and well on target to hit the 10m mark by the end of the year.
Aside from the blossoming start-up scene, other aspects of the tech eco-system are thriving. The Propel Programme, the region's premier start-up initiative, is doing great things. On the investment side, we've seen the recent announcement of a new fund being run by the VC firm Pentech Ventures. And the overall growth of confidence within the tech community is finding expression in things like the massively popular Friday Night Mashup – the grassroots meet-up for entrepreneurs.
Elsewhere, there is a huge appetite for breakthrough tech amongst the big institutional investors. Valuations are high and merger and acquisition activity is intense – in 2014 alone, Facebook has spent over $22bn (£13bn) on Whatsapp, Oculus VR, Branch and Little Eye Labs. In such a frothy environment, there are clear opportunities out there for Northern Ireland's finest to make big things happen. I would urge anyone coming out of education to look at entrepreneurship – it's one of the most exciting, challenging, yet rewarding careers they can choose.
Aaron Taylor is chief executive at GoPrezzo, which provides technology for gamers to translate points into prizes, rewards and discounts