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Investors swop Silicon Valley for Achill waves


Entrepreneurs swop Silicon Valley for Achill waves

Anton McNulty

The days of business deals being completed on the golf course appear to be a thing of the past with kitesurfing the sport of choice for the latest generation of young entrepreneurs. Well that is how it appeared on Achill Island over the weekend where 50 of Silicon Valley’s top venture capitalists and tech entrepreneurs took on the Atlantic’s waves.
Some of the most influential Californian tech entrepreneurs converged on the island as part of MAITAI Global, an exclusive, invitation-only event for entrepreneurs, athletes and venture capitalists who meet to share their love of kite surfing, technology and start-ups.
MAITAI was co-founded by Charles River Ventures‘ Partner Bill Tai and professional kiteboarder Susi Mai, and this year event locations will include Hawaii, the Dominican Republic and Richard Branson’s private island in the Caribbean. According to Forbes Magazine, in previous MAITAI events, companies who have attended have seen more than $7 billion in exits.
This year the event was brought to Achill Island on the back of the Startapp competition and as well as the founders, Bill Tai and Susi Mai, the attendees also included Martin Cooper, the inventor of the mobile phone.
Galway man Philip McNamara, the curator of MAITAI Achill and founder of the Startapp competition told The Mayo News that Achill is the perfect location for a MAITAI event which he believes will open new doors for investment in the county.
“There are guys floating around here from all over the world based in Silicon Valley who are here to go surfing, enjoy the craic and it is a fantastic occasion. We bribed a few investors from Silicon Valley that if they come over for a week we will bring them to Achill to go kitesurfing and they all said yes. If you asked them to go to a regular conference they would not really go. If you want to do deals learn to kitesurf,” he laughed.
“There is no conference like this where they will go kitesurfing in the morning, sheep shearing in the afternoon in a unique location. We had an amazing reception from Mayo County Council who treated us to a truly amazing event in Mulranny. Peter Hynes [County Manager] pulled out all the stops and the investors were really impressed with what Mayo has to offer.”
Francois Collusi of Pure Magic Kitesurfing which hosted the event on Achill said the weekend was a huge success and believes it will be an annual event.
“Already it has gone beyond all our expectations. We wondered are we good enough for these people because they are VIPs but they really enjoyed themselves. Every second there was something organised from tech talks to the activities and for us it was a big success. They were tweeting picture around the world and saying this is Achill Island,” he explained.