Successful Irish Entrepreneurs & Startups

Contributions of Irish and Irish-American business owners have impacted the economy and society while keeping their identity under the radar. Let’s take a look at which startups from Ireland and North American entrepreneurs of Irish heritage.

Irish Startups


Vizlegal is a startup that’s focused on designing structure for legal data, and tools for attorneys and the legal industry. Based in Dublin, Ireland


Stripe provides a platform for international, digital payments. The founder is from Ireland, but the startup is based in San Francisco, California.

Web Summit

WebSummit is the company behind some rather influential tech-industry conferences, including it’s self-titled convention in Lisbon, Portugal (formerly held annually in Dublin, Ireland), Collision in New Orleans, Louisiana, RISE in Hong Kong, and more. It was founded in and still operates out of Ireland.


Hostelworld was founded by Irish native, Ray Nolan, and has become the world’s preeminent platform for finding and booking hostels and other budget accommodations globally.


OpenBack is a startup focused on changing the way mobile push notifications occur, which is said to increase engagement rates. It was founded by Ireland native, David Shackleton.


Invizbox, based in Dublin, Ireland, is a company that’s created a portable VPN (virtual private network) that is meant to allow you to always have a more private, secure connection wherever you go.


Firmwave is an Irish hardware company on the mission to create smarter digitally-connected devices.


Popdeem is a platform that allows companies to develop a more comprehensive social loyalty program, thereby better engaging with and growing their brand community online. It is based in Ireland’s capital city.


Glistrr is based out of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and is designed as a platform to promote evens through social media.

Ireland is moving and shaking up the tech world. Which are some of your favorite Irish startups?

Irish-Canadian & Irish-American Entrepreneurs

Kevin O’Leary

Mr. O’Leary is best known in the US as an investor on The Shark Tank, but he earned his wealth through hard work all along way. He started out at an intern at Nabisco, went on to co-found production company Special Event Television, founded Softkey – a publisher and distributor of mostly educational software (in the old days, when we still used CDs). After Softkey was bought out by TLC, O’Leary remained on, even through the acquisition of Broderbund software and the acquisition by Mattel. Following his departure from Mattel, he began his lucrative investment career and also went on to found a self-titled venture capital company, mortgage company, publication company, and a brand of wines.

Tom Monaghan

Mr. Monaghan founded the global delivery chain Domino’s Pizza. After nearly four decades of running the business, he sold the vast majority of the company to Bain Capital for a cool $1 billion. Following his departure from the day-to-day, he started Gyrene Burger Company, a fast food restaurant with a military theme. He was also owner of the Detroit Tigers from 1983-1992.

Paul Galvin

Mr. Galvin was a co-founder of Motorola, with one of his major contributions being the mass production of the car radio. His time there also saw him spearhead the development of a few key industrial manufacturing processes. Motorola was originally started as Galvin Manufacturing Corporation, and didn’t take on it’s modern name until two years later.

Walt Disney

Mr. Disney has his name immortalized in the multi-billion dollar conglomerate, Walt Disney Company. He started out working a newspaper route as a child, bought stock in a local company that produced jelly, and all the while attended night and weekend art courses on top of his regular schooling. This was all by the age of 16. He worked as an apprentice at a commercial art studio, and after being laid off, he and his coworker started Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists. Following some new found success in the business, Disney moved to Los Angeles and started Disney Brothers Studio with Roy Disney. This later became The Walt Disney Company that we know and love today.

Eugene O’Keefe

Mr. O’Keefe founded his namesake brewery company in the late 1800s. Prior to that, he worked at the Toronto Savings Bank, then at the Home Bank of Canada. He had purchased a Canadian brewery company, and then made his way into his own success business. His name lives on as a philanthropist, and many charitable organizations bear the moniker O’Keefe.

John Draper Perrin

Mr. Perrin started out as an employee for the Canadian Pacific Railway, which led him to a career in mining. He founded he San Antonio Gold Mine (in Canada), and financed the town of Bissett, Manitoba, a mining community. His later ventures including an aviation charter service, becoming president of the Winnipeg Warriors Hockey Club, and serving as the national Vice Chairman of a Canadian Red Cross committee. He was also chairman of a Winnipeg children’s hospital and the Manitoba Club.

Bill Murray

Mr. Murray is best known as a successful comedian and film actor. Outside of the entertainment industry, he’s partnered with his family to open up a restaurant in Florida, aptly named Murray Bros. Caddy Shack. He’s also co-owner of the baseball teams St. Paul Saints, Charleston RiverDogs, Hudson Valley Renegades, and the Brockton Rox.

Chuck Feeney

Mr. Feeney had his hand in the world of Duty-Free shopping, founding the Duty Free Shoppers Group, which had profits as much as $300 million each year. He is perhaps best known, however, for creating The Atlantic Philanthropies, through witch he’s donated a purported $1 billion to educational institutions in Ireland, and significant funding of peace efforts in Northern Ireland. He also has contributed to Cornell University in New York state, to the tune of around $1 billion as well.

Henry Ford

Mr. Ford is synonymous with the automotive industry as a pioneer, but he started his career as an engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company. Eventually, he spent more time on experiments with the power of gasoline engines, and his first completed project was the Ford Quadricycle. In the final year of the 19th Century, he founded the Detroit Automobile Company, and later on the Henry Ford Company. He was also one of the first to offer his assembly workers a living wage.

Richard Egan

Mr. Egan was an engineer at heart, and began his career by working on a team at NASA. He later co-founded EMC, a technology company, during which time he earned many accolades. Later in life, he was appointed the US ambassador to Ireland, and was quite a philanthropist, donating to many worthy causes, and starting an engineering center in Israel.

Edward Doheny

Mr. Doheny was the first successful oil tycoon of Southern California, having drilled successfully an oil well in Los Angeles. He also founded oil operations in Tampico, Mexico. To counter-balance any of the claims of impropriety in his business dealings, he funded St. Vincent de Paul Church, donated a small fortune to the University of Southern California, and more.

Some immigrants, some the children of immigrants, these Irish-blooded entrepreneurs have contributed in many ways to the economy and society we know here in North America today. So, to them and all of the other green-hearted small business people and entrepreneurs, we wish you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Written by

Marlene Cosain

Marlene Cosain

Marlene started with Abby Connect 7 years ago as a receptionist and was won over by the culture and care the company has for its employees. The minute she took her first phone call, she fell in love with helping people. Since then, Marlene has been a pivotal piece of growing Abby Connect – having been a long-time leader in hiring, training, developing, and managing the receptionist floor. Outside of work, Marlene and her husband also run an online retail business. Marlene’s personal mission as a certified Life Coach and as an Abby Way Co-Director is to inspire, empower and educate others in the Abby Way.

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