Getting to know you: James Harrison

What do you currently do?

I am the CEO of the payment platform, BillHub. We’re the only payments platform for house sharers to send, spend and manage their money between housemates – like PayPal, for shared finances.

What was the inspiration behind your business? 

I was living in a nine-bed house share at university with eight other boys and one girl. She was tasked with handling all the utility payments each month and it proved an absolute nightmare and led to a few heated discussions, shall we say! I was convinced there had to be a simpler way to conduct this process and that’s when I first had the idea for BillHub. It’s very refreshing to be able to take an everyday problem, that I experienced first-hand, and do something positive about it and receive validation that it is very much a required service.  

Who do you admire? 

To be honest with you, I admire anyone who has an idea and makes sacrifices to make it become a reality. Either quitting a career to follow a dream full-time or self-financing to get a company off the ground – both are hugely admirable as they require substantial risk. There will always be a lot of people advising differently and will love to be there to say ‘I told you so’ but the minority who overcome this, along with potential adversity certainly have my respect.  

Looking back is there anything you would have done differently?

Straight after university, I started working in commodities in the city, while keeping BillHub bubbling away on the side. I eventually became disillusioned with my career and quit the city to pursue BillHub full-time, much to the surprise of those closest to me. I wish I’d had the faith to follow the courage of my convictions a bit earlier but entrepreneurialism as a career choice is not encouraged at university and it wasn’t apparent to me at that time that this was the direction which would both suit my skillset but also the path that I would enjoy the most.

What defines your way of doing business?

I would say the transparency with which we do business and the transparency we offer our users is a crucial area for us. We recognise that the public are fed up with being kept in the dark, especially when it comes to their finances, so we aim to make this process smoother, easier and more secure. We appreciate that students and young professionals don’t have it particularly easy, so we are determined to be a company that they can rely on and ultimately be their champion.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out? 

If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, then you have to learn to trust your gut. A talented team around you is crucial and of course you will seek their advice but ultimately you have got to back your decision making abilities – that’s how you will mark yourself out from the crowd. You won’t get everything right, nobody ever does, but the worst decision you can make is no decision as that indecisiveness be the thing that proves costly.