Patrick Collison, the co-founder of the popular online payments startup Stripe is only 25, but he is no stranger to the journey that entrepreneurs in Europe take when they start a company with ambitions to take it global. Next week, Collison will be on stage at Disrupt in Berlin to tell us about the ups and downs on that road, and also about what Stripe has in store for us next.
Collison’s career has been a notable one already and full of the kinds of turns that are the stuff of classic young founders stories. Born in 1988 in County Limerick in Ireland, he was a tech wunderkind who took his first computer course aged eight, going on to win a string of national young scientist awards as a teenager. Showing an early interest in the U.S., he enrolled at MIT, but dropped out, returning to Ireland in 2007, aged 19, to try his hand at business.
His first startup was Shuppa, focusing on online auction technology. But even with his early national accolades he couldn’t find enough backing for his idea in his home country. So he did what many do: applied for California’s Y Combinator. There, he and his co-founder brother John teamed up with Harjeet and Kulveer Taggar and renamed the company Auctomatic. That company was acquired for $5 million by Canadian company Live Current Media in 2008.
It’s telling that in 2011, when Collison took his next swing with the startup bat, it was “U.S. native”. Stripe, the payments company he now runs, was founded in and operates from San Francisco. It has a string of A-list Silicon Valley backers like Peter Thiel, Sequoia, and SV Angel that have put some $40 million into the company. And it has built its business U.S.-first. It was only this year, in fact, that it began to operate in Europe. (Ireland became its second market last month, after the UK in August.)
I hope Collison gives us the scoop on what Stripe’s going to do next, and why the PayPals, the Paymills and the rest of the payment players of the world should be shaking a little in their shoes.
Obviously, there are dozens of counter-examples to show that startups in Europe are doing very well, and that the U.S. can be a second step, or even a never-step, and they can still flourish. Collison is a great example of how to cash in by taking the other route. Please join us in hearing him tell his story.
Tickets are still available for Disrupt Europe. The show kicks off on Monday morning with a fireside chat with Marc Samwer (Global Founders Group & Global Founders Capital).