21-year-old Irish millionaire to speak at DotConf

19 May 2011

John Collison, the 21-year-old tech entrepreneur who, with his brother Patrick, sold their company Auctomatic for US$5m three years ago when they were just 17 and 19 respectively, is to be the top speaker at this year’s DotConf.

John and Patrick formed a start-up called Shuppa in 2007 and it later became known as Auctomatic and attracted funding from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Y Combinator and was acquired just a year later by Canadian firm Live Current Media for $5m (€3.2m).

Both John and Patrick offer a tantalising glimpse of what is possible if more Irish students were encouraged to excel at STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). Their younger brother, Tommy, who is still at school, is an ardent tech blogger and public speaker.

From a family of tech enthusiasts, the boys learned how to code software by the age of 10 and Patrick came first at the 40th BT Young Scientist Exhibition in 2005 for a project he created on artificial intelligence.

Since selling Auctomatic, John went back to finish his Leaving Cert and got 10 A grades. At 980 points, this was the highest-ever CAO score achieved by a student sitting the Leaving Cert. He then went on to study at Harvard University. Along with his other accomplishments, John is a pilot and plays the piano.

The Collisons’ latest venture, Stripe

In recent months, the brothers Collison were in the headlines with the news that two of Silicon Valley’s top investors – Peter Thiel (PayPal and Facebook) and Elon Musk (PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX) – invested US$2m in their latest start-up, Stripe, a new payments start-up that focuses on online business-to-business payments.

The DotConf, which is a free conference held annually at the National College of Ireland in the IFSC aimed at creating a forum for Ireland’s emerging internet industries, will take place on 2 June.

Other speakers include Odhran Ginnity, COO of Distilled Media, whose brands include Daft.ie, Boards.ie and TheJournal.ie; Colm Lyon, CEO of Realex Payments; Philip Nolan, partner at Irish business law firm Mason Hayes+Curran; and Paul Rellis, MD of Microsoft Ireland.

More than 300 coders, designers, bloggers, marketers, entrepreneurs and other members of Ireland’s internet industry are expected to attend the event, which was a runaway success in its first year with a lengthy waiting list of people wanting to attend the event, and more than 800 people watching the live stream.

Below: Patrick and John Collison

Collison Brothers

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years