2010 was a good year for Irish tech.
Not because of any breakthrough companies or deals (of which there were few), but because of the continuing evolution of Irish companies towards creating something meaningful and original. (This hasn't been in our DNA for at least 50 years, in which time the emphasis by parents, schools, colleges and society has been to join the professional, agricultural, marketing or developer classes rather than creative industrial activity.)
A few Irish entrepreneurs are starting to create benchmarks that, I believe, will bring Irish tech onto a new level in 2011.
Here are two companies, in particular, to watch.
1. Jerry Kennelly/Tweak.com
The Kerryman who created a stock photo service (Stockbyte) and then sold it for €110 million is back with a superb new online service. Tweak.com is a DIY marketing design service, allowing users to create their own flyers, posters, pamphlets and other sales materials. But this is no micro-business platform. Currently in beta, it's a slick, thoroughly professional job. It's the kind of standard that Apple would give you if they entered this space. Kennelly is thought to have invested over $10 million in the service and it really, really shows. This will threaten design companies and up the standard of sales and marketing design, generally.
This could be a massive year for Connor Murphy and Ray Smith, the two Irish youngfellas who came back from the US and Australia, realising they had an idea that could really tempt large professional firms. Their beta service analyses incoming and outgoing company emails, IMs, IP calls and other corporate communication. It then divines which relationships are really crucial to the company. For example, it gives strong indications of which people in which other companies are the key contacts that are associated with getting deals moving. Done right, this software is worth megabucks.
ps in yesterday's paper, I offered 10 predictions about what was going to happen in the tech world, generally, in 2011.