CO-WORKING OUTFIT HUCKLETREE is opening a new specialised fintech co-working hub in Dublin as part of a wider plan to expand in Europe.
While Ireland may be seen as one of the “powerhouses in Europe around fintech”, according to Huckletree co-founder Andrew Lynch, it didn’t have a central space for early-stage fintech businesses to join together with international financial services firms.
“We definitely saw a gap in the market for something like this,” Lynch said.
The new Dublin space will be located in Ballsbridge and have room for about 400 people. Huckletree’s first Irish office opened in 2017 in The Academy building on Pearse Street, Dublin 2.
“We have a lot of peers in the industry that value scale and size more than close-knit community,” he said, adding that the company caps at about 500 people “because we think we can add the most amount of value with that size with the size of team we have”.
The Dublin space is part of an expansion plan that also includes new offices in Manchester and Oslo. Huckletree’s Manchester office will also be themed, focusing on digital lifestyle and immersive tech and media businesses.
“There’s a massive media scene with the decentralisation of the BBC up to the Manchester area and it’s a well-renowned space for media and digital businesses.”
For the next two years, the company is focusing on expansion outside the UK and Ireland as well.
“Oslo was the first domino to fall in that regard,” Lynch said. “Our goal over the next 12 months is to open spaces in Paris, Berlin and Barcelona.”
Brexit – a net positive
The company wants to become a leading European base for the global fintech firms, on a par with the likes of Barclays RISE, which runs a number of global programmes, and Level39 London.
“We like to say sometimes that we ride on the coat tails of the success stories of our member businesses,” Lynch said.
“We can see lots of fintech businesses, early-stage investors, all the way down to the later-stage businesses that have gone on to scale globally, but they’ve all been sporadic and spread across Ireland. Some of them have jumped ship and gone to the US or the UK in order to scale. We want to keep that home-grown talent at home and make sure that they have a place to scale, and Huckletree in Dublin 4 will hopefully be the place to do that,” he added.
As a London-based business with an Irish co-founder, Huckletree has been paying close attention to Brexit, but Lynch said the company won’t be “keeping our chequebook in our pocket”.
“We can’t let the noise drown out our growth plans and our members’ growth plans. We’ve been looking at this fintech hub for quite a while. Brexit, if anything as we’ve seen, has driven a pretty decent influx into Ireland from the UK,” Lynch said.
From that perspective it could be a net positive, he said, though he added that the main issue is how little is known about the potential outcomes.
“Investing in anything on the basis of an unknown is always a scary output. Our main message is, we back the business and the talent that’s already here so we have to invest through Brexit as opposed to being scared of it.”