Creating the First Pegasus, Candid Interview with Online Shop’s Terry McGinnis

If you’re dumbfounded by the word ‘Pegasus’ in the title, you are right to be confused.

There isn’t many-a-time where you’d read or hear the word besides an old folklore tale or an animated kids cartoon on the telly. The new word is reserved for special kind of company, one that can reach ‘Unicorn’ status without making significant losses in the process of its explosive and expansive growth.

The term was first coined by Softbank’s Masayoshi Son, who described a Pegasus corporation as one that can grow as fast as a Unicorn but without the massive losses to do so. Meaning that Pegasus’ are the ones that can fly from the ditch many startups with overblown valuations find themselves in, due to extreme burn rates to achieve hockey stick growth required by venture capitalists for a big payday upon exit.

One of these companies is none other than Britain’s very own hybrid of Amazon and Shopify, Online Shop. A marketplace platform which enables anyone to quickly and efficiently start their own shopfront and start selling to thousands of keen shoppers. Although, we may have to rescind the ‘marketplace’ moniker from now on as the company moves away from it to become more ‘open source’ and ‘community led’ as its founder and Chief Executive Officer, Terry McGinnis puts.

The young founder finds himself to be one of few founders who have managed to gain relative success in an otherwise bearish market which favors tradition and old money investments over the tactical approach of our cousins across the Atlantic. This one unique aspect of Online Shop’s success has set a precedent for other founders to seek profitability over equity dilution, loss of company control and most importantly monetary losses which come with what can be described as, insane burn rates. Another such founder is Johnny Boufarhat, founder of online conferencing and event software, Hopin who has managed to grow his startup and exceed $1 billion USD in investment.

Starting his career at a very young age of seventeen, Terry has played a key part in many different companies helping them excel and grow, from tech juggernauts such as Apple to marketing agencies such as Multiply as it’s Innovation Director alongside notable founders George Mack and Josh Kalms who help startups achieve supersonic growth.

We caught up with Terry in a one on one candid interview to ask him some of the most commonly asked questions we have from our readers and even some of the top executives across Britain who look to scale their own businesses or improve their very own way of management.

This might be a very loaded question but what inspired you to create Online Shop?

It’s hard to say, it was during the pandemic – we saw a lot of small businesses shut their doors and a lot of people be put on furlough. At the time me and my business partner Joe [Joe Todd] had several other startups that were in the e-commerce and marketing space, helping clients sell more online. My background has always been in e-commerce, at the same time my mother was just laid off from work due to the pandemic and would sell her DIY creations on different websites but it either was too difficult to garner any worthwhile sales or to promote the products. I wanted to help, and I saw a lot of other people [sellers] have the same issue, overcrowding of cheaper alternatives from abroad, difficult to use, etc. It all just clicked.

You pivoted from your original idea to a marketplace and now back to the original idea, why?

Yes, it’s pretty difficult to explain it clearly, especially over a phone in a few minutes however, we found that with the original plan, sellers wanted to make more sales, and due to our technology at the time we could quickly garner organic [SEO] traffic. We decided to slowly add in marketplace features and before we knew it, we were on the toes of Amazon and eBay. And with that we started to attract a lot of attention from big name conglomerates and suppliers.

We found ourselves having big issues of having smaller sellers, the ones we originally set out to help be crushed by the big brands – this is why we’re taking all of our learnings and pivoting back to our original solution, whilst minimizing any and all impact possible for all sellers. We’re trying to be more open source and community led, creating a solution that can work for many.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face day to day?

There’s a big misconception about us being a direct-to-consumer company, we’re also very much B2B (business-to-business). With that comes a hole heap of challenges, from fulfilment to providing the best possible solution that fits every situation.

We’ve recently interviewed your partner Michelle after her panel talk, what’s it like running a company with your partner?

It’s great! She keeps me in check. [Laughs].

Speaking of talks, what keeps you motivated?

Family, friends and of course each and every user that uses our products and services, there isn’t a greater feeling than to meet someone who uses something you developed and pushed into market, and to hear how it helped them or changed the way they do things, for the better.

You often talk about a community, what exactly is it?

One thing we can take away from Apple for one example, is the amazing ecosystem they have created and the sprawling community it has spawned. Everyone wants to be part of something and contribute to something, whether it be a piece of code or an answer on a Discord. It’s important to build trust and opportunity for all. This is why I’m so excited with our new pivot, we now have an amazing opportunity to stop being too proprietary and to focus on building something open and helpful for all.

Open source? You often times said you don’t care about money, does that still ring true?

Of course! I don’t chase avarice or what it brings, it only leads to negativity. I much prefer to create something that resonates and brings value and be rewarded from it, whatever it may be. As long as I can take care of everyone around me and pay the bills, it’s all that matters. I’m not chasing billion pound valuations.

A lot of our readers, especially those in executive positions would like to know one key thing that led to your success at such a young age. Is there one thing that stands tall compared to others?

It’s a hard one, there is not one thing but I guess it’s all about consistency. Keep doing something you’re passionate about enough, and eventually, you’ll see results.

When it comes to career choices, what made you choose a particular company?

Definitely company culture and their values.

You must get a lot of opportunities and offers your way, what made you choose something like Multiply?

George and Josh are amazing guys, they formed an all-star team full of super talented and passionate people. They are doing something amazing – this is why I decided to join, they’re ahead of the curve and are doing something others can’t do, and that’s knowing what founders in the world of startups want and need, and as a founder myself, I know it all too well. It’s a breath of fresh air to work with industry leading talent and use my own experience and expertise to solve real world problems.

With all of this going on, how do you manage to, shall we say, manage your own time?

It’s hard but its routine, I’ve worked as part of a VC firm in the past, as one of its founders and I would travel often, across different continents and time zones. When you do it enough times, your brain just programs itself to save those memos to pick up the next day. Notes are another good way. [Laughs].

There is a lot of new talent that is joining Online Shop, has your opinion of remote work changed?

Not at all. Remote is the future, or the present, and it has been for quite the time now actually. The pandemic just fast forwarded a lot of companies to shift towards the model, I don’t see much point in having offices dotted around the globe – it’s an unnecessary expense in this day and age. Unless you have dozens of clients to entertain, or have a genuine need for an office – remote will be more beneficial in the long run. Just think about the amount of money you can re-invest in marketing or sales, instead of paying for a space nobody wants to be in. And that’s the truth.

There’s some amazing talent that helps us grow everyday, that I actually would like to thank, Oliver Saxon ofTyto Law for being one of our biggest believers and most importantly one of the best solicitors here in England. My Chief Technology Officer, Siraaj Ahmed and of course my partner Michelle, alongside Ziad and Alan who will supersonic our North American growth and who have been crucial in starting the planning stages.

How are you planning to use your warehouse space in Harrogate?

We will still work with partners to deliver from our central hub, those that require the service anyway – nothing is changing. We will still store products and our headquarters will remain in Harrogate with the office space intact, ironically. Our fulfilment side will be available for medium to large scale enterprises who want to pack and dispatch products quickly.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Be consistent, be honest, be empathetic and make sure you’re working on something that you’re passionate about and that the problem you’re trying to solve really needs solving. There’s a big problem with egos in the tech space, and there’s no need for that – if you have an ego, you’ll never win. Don’t try to create a cult-like-mentality in the workplace, lead and not boss around, that’s what will make you successful in the long run.