Scott Wylie's journey from a young entrepreneur washing cars to becoming a Shopify Partner, is a testament to determination and growth
"Growing up I was surrounded by entrepreneurs, even though my parents didn't have their own business they encouraged me from a young age to go and try different types of work that was available to me."
Even at the age of 16, Scott exhibited a strong sense of independence, determination, and a clear drive to achieve his goals.
Scott's early experiences included washing cars at a family friend's dealership during school holidays, a humble start that eventually led him to the sales floor at just 16. Looking back at those formative years, he shares, "On reflection, it was an absolutely incredible opportunity to learn how to speak to people, close a deal and sort out any problems."
Many of the jobs we undertake at the age of 16, though they may be challenging and come with low pay, offer valuable lessons about how society perceives us and how we adapt in response. There's a unique worth in immersing ourselves in such experiences and gaining insights into the world from a different vantage point, and that's exactly what Scott did.
As Scott pursued further education, the desire to own a business remained a constant. He divulges, "I knew pretty early on that I wanted to own a business in some sort of form." Originally, his sights were set on the car sales world, with a plan to purchase the dealership he had worked at.
However, as it often does, life took a different turn. "I had gotten friendly through friends with a web developer, Pete Hawkins, who owned a software development agency called Alt Labs," Scott explains. "He gave me the opportunity to come on board and be an equal owner in the company. This was my first time of proper business ownership and I was over the moon."
Scott's academic background, with a degree in Business Management and a Master's in Software Development, laid the foundation for his entry into the tech industry after the car dealership path didn't pan out.
Scott and his agency set their sights on becoming Shopify Partners, an endeavour that, back then, held promise but not the towering presence we recognise today.
They ventured through the streets of Belfast, offering free Shopify stores to local businesses, only to be met with indifference. This early struggle underscored a pivotal lesson: having a strong product or service is important, but finding the right market to appreciate it is equally crucial.
"[We chose] to use the platform Producthunt to get Payhere out there in February 2019. Quickly we onboarded customers and started making recurring revenue from it." - Scott on a pivotal moment for him and his Payhere business
Recalling those days, Scott shares, "We came to the realisation that we needed to get out of Northern Ireland to get more work." Their journey took them to a Shopify partners event in Berlin, where they forged connections with other agencies, opening doors to more significant projects. "The big learning was that you might have a good offering," says Scott, "but you have to find the right market for it."
Identifying the target market for their product or service became a transformative experience for Scott and his team. Operating as Stripe Partners and integrating solutions for businesses of all sizes, they gave birth to their first product, Payhere.
A simple yet user-friendly interface layered on top of Stripe's infrastructure, Payhere allowed non-technical individuals to create recurring payment links effortlessly. The platform's journey commenced during their time in the Ignite program at the Ormeau Baths, in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Reflecting on this pivotal phase, Scott highlights their approach: "We chose, through Chris McClelland's advice, to use the platform Producthunt to get Payhere out there in February 2019. Quickly we onboarded customers and started making recurring revenue from it."
Payhere's message was clear: "Easy payment links to help collect payments online."
Scaling and expanding a business are challenges many entrepreneurs aspire to tackle.
For Scott's team at Payhere, this journey was marked by remaining a small, dedicated trio for two years. While they contemplated VC investment, they chose to stay on the bootstrap path.
Scott's insights into this period are illuminating: "We made a focus on running experiments and doing tests on a monthly basis to see if this could grow the business further." They targeted specific industries in the US and deployed precise ad campaigns. The game-changer, however, was their investment in partnership and referral models, strategically directing users towards them.
"Chat with as many people as possible and absolutely never be afraid to ask for help or advice." - Scott on advice for aspiring founders
Notably, they found success within no-code communities, especially among individuals creating Glide apps.
On asking Scott if he faced any scepticism or resistance from others when pursuing his entrepreneurial dreams, he said, "Some individuals in my family still don't know what I do for a living/ career, which I find amusing at this stage/ a factor of motivation."
His journey, which now includes three businesses and the launch of a VC-backed company called Seven, has been marked by learning and adaptation. He acknowledges that the path doesn't necessarily get easier, but experience sharpens one's ability to focus on what truly matters.
When asked about advice for aspiring founders, Scott imparts his wisdom: "The biggest advice I would give is to chat with as many people as possible and absolutely never be afraid to ask for help or advice. I think it was Ian Browne (exited entrepreneur) who once told me more conversations lead to more opportunities, I couldn't agree more."
Mentorship plays a pivotal role in Scott's entrepreneurial odyssey too. Each stage of his journey has been enriched by key figures, from the car dealership owner who imparted fundamental business knowledge to his partner at Alt Labs, Chris McClelland, and Ian Browne at Ignite, who nurtured his global ambitions. More recently, the guidance of Ryan McAnlis has shaped his approach to sales and customer engagement.
Scott Wylie's journey as a founder exemplifies the essence of entrepreneurship - a fusion of ambition, adaptability, and a willingness to learn. His story serves as an inspiring testament to what can be achieved when we embark on the path of creating and growing a business.