Patrick and John Collison, the Tipperary brothers who sold their first company for $5m when they were teens and now run a Silicon Valley payments giant called Stripe valued at $5bn, have won this year’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Stripe was founded five years ago when Patrick was 22 and John was 19. The company has received investment from Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Sequoia Capital, Visa and American Express to name a few. Stripe enables internet sites to accept credit and debit card payments easily and without friction.
Today, the company processes billions of dollars a year for customers that include Kickstarter and Salesforce.
The brothers had already earned their entrepreneurial spurs when Patrick was 19 and John was 17 and they sold their start-up Auctomatic for US$5m (€3.2m) to a Canadian company called Live Current Media.
‘So now, having had it work out to at least some degree, it’s nice to sort of look back fondly on those really scrappy times when you were working out of the living room or whatever the case was’
– PATRICK COLLISON, STRIPE
Last night, in front of 1,500 well-to-do business types at a black-tie event, the Collison brothers edged out in front of 23 other finalists to pick up the top gong.
In a documentary series on UTV Ireland ahead of last night’s gala event, John Collison spoke about the entrepreneurial spark that exists in all start-ups. “Being curious about the world around you is a very useful trait to have. You probably won’t spot the opportunities which are masquerading as problems if you don’t have that.
“I think in all of the companies we look at or the examples that people tend to use, they’re all big or established – they have logos and offices and they are fierce fancy. In Patrick and I’s case, we didn’t set out to hire a whole of bunch of people or build this big thing. In our case it was an awful lot of late nights sitting up coding – looking like a shiny company comes much later.”
Patrick Collison added: “There is so much uncertainty as to whether it could possibly get off the ground. And so now, having had it work out to at least some degree, it’s nice to sort of look back fondly on those really scrappy times when you were working out of the living room or whatever the case was.”