Ludgate Hub celebrates a successful first year of operation, and welcomes new company Xsellco to West Cork

Picture: Emma Jervis Photography

THE Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen celebrates it’s first birthday on Friday, July 28th, which marks a successful 12 months of job creation for the community led project.

It has been an eventful and interesting year for the vibrant, growing rural community in a state-of-the-art digital hub in the heart of West Cork.

With it’s 1Gb fibre-optic connection, the Ludgate Hub was launched in 2016 as a beacon for job creation and innovation. During its first 12-months, The Hub has shone a light for progressive, digital entrepreneurs and enterprises alike – those who dare to think outside the box and have taken a leap of faith to locate their businesses in the rural heartland that is West Cork.

Board member of Ludgate and President of the Glen Dimplex Group Seán O’Driscoll stated: “The progress which has been made by the Skibbereen and Ludgate Community in its first year of operation has been exceptionally remarkable and is the role model for what can be achieved in rural Ireland in today’s digital world.”

John Field, Chairman of the Ludgate Hub said “To see the level of confidence instilled in the people of Skibbereen is the most satisfying part of the project, it is rewarding to see young people back in Skibbereen, working in Skibbereen which is highly important for our community”.

The Ludgate team has proven it is no longer a ‘leap of faith’ to locate your business or employees in a rural area. XSellco are the first Dublin company to set up a satellite office in the Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen, with serial entrepreneur Ray Nolan (who set up Hostelworld) at the helm, they have taken the bold and exciting step to locate their satellite office in The Ludgate Hub. Xsellco CEO Ray Nolan said that his company were ‘delighted’ to locate in the Ludgate Hub.  Xsellco helps online sellers manage their sales, support and reputation all in one place.

“We’ve long held the belief that connectivity holds the key for Ireland, allowing for a distributed workforce that can live locally and support local economies. This privately funded, community led initiative means our newest staff members get to live in glorious West Cork rather than relocate to high-rent cities or face long commutes. It’s a win for for us, a win for them, and a win for the town of Skibbereen.  

“We hope that others will follow us south, and that soon the Ludgate Hub becomes a blueprint that other towns across Ireland can follow. A deep well of locally available talent is opened up, and Irish companies should be first dive in to take advantage!”

The hub has attracted both mobile workers from large corporates including workers from Google, Facebook, National Geographic, BBC, and IBM, researchers and professors from some of the world’s leading Universities and start-up companies who are looking for a focused lifestyle to start their business.

The Ludgate Hub has funded over four seed companies, and will currently evaluate the next round of applicants to the fund, potentially creating an additional 10-15 jobs in Skibbereen.

Seed Companies moving from afar:

Stori, a  Video Production and Content Creation company for brands, was founded by current Ludgate CEO Grainne Dwyer and Fiona Dwyer and Joseph O’ Sullivan, who previously emigrated to New York and Vancouver respectively.

They say the Ludgate Hub has given them a ‘massive opportunity’ to work from their hometown rather than locating in a large city.

“From the support, encouragement and mentorship of the Ludgate Hub we have been given the best start any start up company could dream of. And we also get to call the beautiful landscape of West Cork home. I think that’s a pretty amazing opportunity,

“Since we have started up, we have met some amazingly talented individuals around West Cork, there is an unbelievable talent pool readily available to businesses here and we really want to solidify that yes you can run a successful business from a small town in West Cork – and still compete on the national and international business stage.”

Staypal, a travel tech company founded by Gerry Hanratty and Charles Maltha, say they see no difficulty in attracting top talent to Skibbereen.

“We committed to Ludgate after finding that we had access to plenty of talent. The lifestyle in the area makes attracting qualified talent a much easier proposition.

“For Staypal it makes sense for us to be based in West Cork. We work with people in tourism and hospitality so working in a tourist destination has kept us more in tune with the purpose of what we do”

Ireland Luxury Travel was co-founded by Husband and Wife Naomi and John Sheehy and specialise in travel within Ireland. Their plans for the future include expanding into new markets including China, attracting Irish-based corporates into the West Cork area, and creating jobs.

“Skilled, passionate and energetic people will be required by us to work as client relationship managers.

“Tourism courses prepare students for this type of work and getting out and working in a company such as ourselves, were they will have to think on their feet will be a rewarding and challenging for graduates looking to jump right in.”

Digedu, an online education platform co-founded by Bryan Hurley, a technology graduate from Waterford Institute of Technology, say that locating in the Ludgate Hub was an ‘obvious move’.

“Being surrounded by like-minded people who are willing to share ideas, experiences, their network; it’s amazing.

“The way business is conducted in West Cork has lead to a community larger than Ludgate. Working with people in other districts, working with EI and the LEO, it’s all more personal. You get to see the whites of everyone’s eyes and people are willing to help you. The support we’ve got so far out of West Cork is great; people really want to see new businesses succeed.

“For Digedu to succeed here Ludgate itself needs to succeed. I’d like to see more businesses coming down here attracting young intelligent people to the community; a rising tide raises all ships.”

It has been a busy year for departing CEO Gráinne Dwyer who has been with the company since its inception in 2015 and said “the Ludgate project has been the most rewarding and challenging role to date, the biggest win is to help a town like Skibbereen deliver ambitious plans and inspire other towns to do the same. We have some of Ireland’s most talented entrepreneurs here in Ludgate, supported by funding, mentoring and our 1Gb connection, opportunities are only global now that we have set the benchmark that you can scale and succeed in a place as beautiful as West Cork”.