Shane Curran has a lot of accolades under his belt. He has won BT Young Scientist, been a Forbes 30 under 30 listee, secured enough points in his Leaving Cert to study business and law at UCD and founded a tech startup that is already being tipped as the next Stripe. Oh, and did we mention that Shane did all of this while he was still a teenager?
We caught up with him to find out more about his journey to date and the lessons that he has learned along the way.
First website attempts
Shane was entrepreneurial from a young age. In fact, he started his first website while he was still at primary school. The website had plenty of flaws but it taught him a lot about design and demand.
‘‘I started a Club Penguin cheat website. Club Penguin was a very popular game in 2006/2007. It was very poorly made so I created a website to share with people the things they weren’t able to normally get. I started that business and tried to charge people for it but 6 or 7-year-olds don’t have a lot of money to be spending on that kind of thing.”
His first successful startup, Libramatic was founded when he was just 11 years old.
”My school had spent a lot of money on a new library management system. It was really terrible and awful to use. Because I was interested in technology at the time, all the teachers would come to me and ask me to help them out with it.
”I started thinking, how can I solve this using technology? I built a really simple library management system that allowed people to keep track of books by scanning the barcode on the back using their phone.”
Shane later pitched the idea on Junior Dragon’s Den. He won the bursary and Libramatic is still used by 2,000 libraries today.
On the back of that early success, he decided to use Libramatic’s technology to start another business. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.
”I repurposed the Libramatic technology to help labs keep track of their chemicals. It is a highly regulated space and it was difficult to sell to them. I was at school at the time so it was difficult to convince them that this was a stable product to use. It didn’t really work out as a business.”
BT Young Scientist
Shane entered BT Young Scientist a total of three times before eventually winning it.
His award-winning idea was Evervault (formally qCrypt). The software allows companies to process data without seeing, storing or handling it, all in three lines of code.
”The day after BT Young Scientist I had to launch it as a business because there was so much interest in it. I had hundreds of emails from companies saying this is a major concern for us you have to make it a product. That was my 17th birthday.”
Going to San Francisco
As the business grew, Shane went to the largest tech hub in the world, San Francisco, to learn more about his customers. Looking back, this decision is not one that he would recommend.
”I was 18 and trying to finish up my leaving cert. It was probably a bad idea to go over there anyway. I was on a plane back from San Francisco about 14 hours before English paper 1 for my leaving cert which was not a good idea but it worked out okay.”
Learning to be ruthless
Throughout his journey as an entrepreneur, Shane has had to learn to be more forward in his approach in order to get what he wants.
”One thing I have learned is that when you’re fundraising you just have to be really ruthless and say ‘either speed up or you’re missing out on a deal’. As a founder, you need to build a really tough skin in that sense.”
Moving the focus away from his age
While his age has been the topic of various different news articles over the years, Shane is keen to change the conversation going forward.
”That’s the biggest problem I’ve faced. Pretty much everything I do is normal for an entrepreneur but they just put 18 in front of it and apparently, that’s a news story. It’s a bit frustrating. It’s important to move away from that as soon as possible. I want to focus on what the company is doing well and not my age.”