Ireland makes start-up wakes 'a thing'


You might associate the world of start-ups with chirpy people wearing clip-on mics telling conferences about how brilliant and disruptive and innovative their ideas are - but the reality is that not all companies survive and sometimes smart ideas are not enough.

But where do start-ups go when they die? Paul Hayes, CEO and Founder of Beachhut PR has set up Wakes for failed business ventures - and the idea is catching on.


They say that failure is ofter the secret ingredient for success - these ceremonies offer entrepreneurs a chance to come to peace with the fact that their idea didn't work, surrounded by their loved ones, business partners and investors.

The events are presided over by Paul, dressed as a Catholic priest and these businesses are toasted as part of their final send-offs (wakes also feature ham sandwiches and cups of 'milky tea').


It started out as a "drunken get together" after a number of tech-heads turned away from an exclusive Web Summit event converged on a pub in Dublin's city centre and started to share their failure stories.

Paul says that "As long as you're honest" investors and potential future employers are forgiving and often they will be willing to take a punt on someone who's learned by failing - and who's made their mistakes with someone else's money.

These events have travelled from Dublin to Berlin and SXSW in Austin, with all of the Irish wake trimmings intact. He is also in the process of bringing the start-up wake to New York.

These events generally happen as a business person is getting back on their feet - Mr Hayes says that those who are seriously struggling with the fallout of their business heading south are turned away if they feel the individual is not ready to stand up in front of a crowd to address their start-ups shortcomings.

He adds that the process can have a "confessional" quality and that sharing lessons from failing can be more helpful for other businesses to hear than another success story.

Joseph Conroy, 

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