Getting right down to business in TY


If climbing one of the highest mountains in the world isn't your thing, how about setting up a company in TY and then selling it on for millions? That is precisely what John Collison of Castletroy College in Limerick did in his transition year

JOHN COLLISON (17) and his older brother Patrick (19) are two of the four main shareholders in the newly US-registered company, Auctomatic.

It was set up to make trading through eBay more straightforward for large sellers.

It has proven to be a great success and was recently bought by a huge Canadian technology firm for $5 million (€3.19 million).

After a deluge of media coverage including interviews with the BBC, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian and The Irish Times, fifth-year student John Collison takes time out from his hectic schedule to tell Transition Times about the whole experience.

"We started the company in February 2007 when I was in transition year," he explains.

"It was important that I was in TY because I wouldn't have had the time to take part in the project had I been in fifth or sixth year. It couldn't have happened any other way.

"Many people say I was very young at 16 to be setting up a company, but I if I was older I wouldn't have been able to do it.

"Originally my brother Patrick and I had been looking at ways to make it easier to trade online. We worked on a number of prototypes. Then we got involved with Y-Combinator - an early stage investment provider.

"They liked the idea and gave us $10,000 (€6,395) to help get us get started as well as mentoring and providing all the necessary legal advice in exchange for a percentage. They then introduced us to a couple of guys from the UK who were doing something similar.

"My brother and I were already both experienced eBay traders. At the time we were trying to make the buying experience better.

"The two UK guys we had been introduced to by Y-Combinator were interested in making the seller's experience better. So, in the end we all decided to work together," he explains.

"It was at this point we named the company Auctomatic. When we merged with the UK guys, we all agreed to move out to San Francisco, close to Silicon Valley because that is where are the big players are based - Google, Facebook, Adobe.

"I went for three months last summer and it was fantastic.

"San Francisco is absolutely beautiful and so much can happen there in the industry," he explains.

"We actually ran into one of our investors in a cafe there by chance, something that would never happen here in Ireland," he says.