‘We have people working around the world who we’ve never met’

West Hollywood is the epicentre of funky clothes shops, old world glamour and celebrity hideaways. The neighbourhood is bustling with markets, comedy clubs and trendy restaurants, and has been home to Irish entrepreneur Ronan Wall since 2016.

“We live close to historic places like Chateau Marmont and Laurel Canyon. There’s so much going on here. You pay a sunshine tax, but it’s worth it,” he says.

Wall, originally from Inniscarra in Co Cork, studied maths and statistics at University College Cork in 2000. “Straight after getting my degree, I was hired by two professional gamblers who had moved to Cork from the US. They brought five graduates on board to set up Matchbook, the peer-to-peer betting exchange.”

“We spent four years building the online marketplace, turning over a billion dollars per year. It involved a lot of learning, but it was fun.”

Focusing on the US market, it provided a platform for sports gamblers to bet directly with one another. “When I started in 2004, online gaming was still in its infancy. We were a 24-hour company, but remote working wasn’t a global thing yet. So when I moved to Australia for a year to build the mobile business, I had to use rented equipment and dial-up internet.

“Often the connection would be lost and I would run to the nearest internet cafe. This was even before smartphones. Because we were trading all the time, it was pretty stressful. Business centres and hotel computers were also a mainstay, as we rotated our shifts.”

Paddy Power

In 2008, Wall joined Paddy Power Betfair to work in the online division.

“It was an exciting time to join the company. Online was so embryonic that we were called the ‘non-retail’ division. I ran operations for the online business and, despite growing from 200 to 5,000 employees in my time there, it never stopped feeling like a start-up.”

After eight years at Paddy Power, Wall and his wife got itchy feet. “We didn’t want to settle in Ireland for good just yet, so in 2016 we came to Los Angeles. We had no connections in the US and really enjoyed the idea of going somewhere and getting lost.”

What attracted the pair to LA was the diversity of the city and the fact that both would find ample opportunities in their chosen careers.

“LA supports multiple growing industries. My wife is a stylist and interior designer, and she has as many opportunities here as I do.”

The couple had no jobs when they landed on a 90-day holiday visa. “We enjoy a bit of a hustle and, on day 87, I got the offer letter for my O1 visa. I originally thought it was just for Olympic athletes and Nobel prize winners.”

The non-immigrant visa for the “individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics” ended up being the ticket to their brave new world.

“I took on an executive position in Ticketmaster, launching the industry’s first digital ticket. People always think Ticketmaster is Irish. Because the company markets each country so well, [people] assume it is from that country.”

Work from home

After three years at Ticketmaster, Wall started his own venture. It was born from a conversation with a friend, his now business partner.

“We set up dosen.io in January 2020. It’s the first all-in-one platform, built specifically for mentoring and consulting programmes. We are close to taking our next round of investment.”

As the pandemic happened since the launch, Wall says remote working has been a real benefit to his company.

“We always found the LA commute a huge issue, and now people are more likely to work flexible hours. It means office rents are lower, and we haven’t seen a drop in productivity as a result of it either.

“We have people working around the world, who we’ve never met, but that’s the work culture now. People are dispersed. You can work from home.

“I generally cycle to work, as my offices are not far from my house, which is a real luxury in LA. I think Covid-19 really made people reflect on how they like to spend their time, and sitting in the car for three hours a day is no longer acceptable.”

Wall says, in his spare time, he and his family like to enjoy all LA has to offer. “We’re just three hours drive from Mexico. You can ski in the mountains in the morning and chill out on the beach by sunset. People are hyper healthy and like to do things, but it doesn’t come cheap.”

You have to be willing to work very hard, but Wall says the local GAA club, the LA Cougars, and the Irish community keep him grounded.

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