Building The Future of E-Commerce with Online Shop’s Terry McGinnis

Humanity was built on the act of buying, selling and trading. Our ancestors would barter for grain and livestock until we had progressed enough for currencies to be introduced as a way to exchange silver, gold and whatever else was deemed of equal value for goods. The current way we transact, either via cash, credit or debit is a very new concept. 

When you take a holistic view of everything and how we have evolved as a species, you start to realize how recent everything is, the internet is still in its infancy – although most have the feeling that it is ancient – I feel that view, kills a lot of creativity and ambition. You see someone trying to build something just to be shot down with statements like ‘someone else already did it’ – so what? Perhaps this person is going to do it better, bigger and more efficiently. It saddens me, that this is the world we live in, where creativity and ambition is stifled. It’s like telling Karl Benz to give up, because there is already such a thing as a horse and a carriage.” Says the young founder and CEO of Online Shop, Terry McGinnis.

The young founder joining via videolink for an exclusive talk is kind, welcoming and funny – bringing a light hearted demeanour to an otherwise serious topic. He and his team are building the future of e-commerce after all, making it more accessible and adaptable to the everyday user. 

“It is hard to predict anything, really. We just hope that what we’re building will ease life for many, and provide opportunities to those that otherwise wouldn’t be able to have them. There’s creativity and ambition in all of us, we want to foster and grow that. There’s potential in everyone. No matter how old or tech savvy. Our market is everyone not just those who are intrinsically interested in e-commerce. I feel this is the best way to connect people besides social media, through trade – and we want to make this as accessible as possible, as easy to use as possible and as affordable as it can be.” 

This belief extends to the likes of Amazon, a former competitor and now an incubator for the young founder’s company – joining it’s February cohort, Online Shop aims to be the shining star to attract other start-ups into Amazon’s ecosystem of rapid incubation, fundraising and launch, providing the much-needed ethic to showcase that anything is possible, and that the next unicorn, or rather a Pegasus, will be coming out of Amazon and not Y Combinator. 

“It’s great to know that your personal heroes see the value in what you are doing, and want to support it and see it grow and prosper – alongside the whole team at Amazon. It’s welcoming, I remember when we first launched and evolved into a marketplace – people thought we were crazy going against likes of Amazon but by doing that we learned so much, and we became super lean. I do not think other startups have this luxury of learning and adapting under fire, most spend millions figuring out what works and what doesn’t. The burn rates are catastrophic. Thanks to the team we have, and the year we had as a marketplace, we learned absolutely everything that works and doesn’t work – so we don’t need to spend copious amounts of capital to figure out a winning strategy to acquire users. Of course, I can’t thank enough people like Robin [Vauvelle] and Judy [Abad] of Abad Capital, who take their time to provide knowledge and wisdom to help us flourish, grow and succeed.” 

As Amazon dominates the western hemisphere and provides the necessary leeway for many businesses and entrepreneurs to utilize its warehouses, delivery and marketing there remains a huge market gap says the young founder.

“Over the years I learned that, especially in emerging markets, there’s a lot more individuality when it comes to trade. Mostly because most localized marketplaces are out of reach just via fees alone, so many businesses focus on selling locally only. 

One of my main goals is to make this dream of selling online, possible. When I was living in Japan, I noticed so many wonderful, individual and local businesses who had some amazing products which were only sold locally. It was quite a special feeling, knowing that what you’re buying can only be bought in few places, a very specialist feeling. A lot of these businesses however did want to sell online but marketplaces require huge commitments, large fee payments and more – so they were left out. And our current competitors who are in the space of shop builders, only focus on medium scale businesses and beyond, who already have the required capital, resource and more to start selling online. However, there’s a monolith of businesses and individual entrepreneurs who wish to do so but cannot. This is where we come in. And I feel the guys at [Amazon] also see and believe in this vision – we want to be the entry way into the world of e-commerce, and grow with our users, until they are ready to join marketplaces, making it a perfect fit for Amazon to take on, to expand their reach and business – this way, everyone wins.” 

A noble endeavour by a caring founder, providing much needed humility and reasonable thinking to create a new form of growth, that anyone can be part of. 

“At the end of the day, our job is to make everything super simple, and affordable. That’s what our aim is, we are thankful for each user, no matter how big or small. It shows that they want to create, grow and leave a mark on this world – you never know, the next billionaire fashion mogul might have his or her start via Online Shop. And to me, that’s an amazing feeling, that the idea I had had grown so much, and that people really resonated and believed in it, to make it happen. Both internal and external. It’s something only few founders can experience. I couldn’t do it without the likes of my talented team, and those who work day and night, like my CTO, Siraaj and my tech lead, Jakub. It’s all of us working towards the same goal – to deliver on promises and to create hope.” 

It is a refreshing feeling to talk to a founder who has such strong belief in his vision, and good intentions. Perhaps it is not too far-fetched to write that Terry could well be the next Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs. With a genius level intellect, a creative and philosophical outlook on life it won’t be a shocker to find Terry on the front cover of Forbes magazine or the top billionaires of this decade.

For those wanting to follow the young founder’s journey, they can follow him on Instagram and LinkedIn


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