In safe hands

Conor Lyden is the founder-CEO of Trustap, a platform that acts as a safety net for those buying and selling online. The award-winning entrepreneur and UCC graduate talks to Jane Haynes.

10 Dec 2019
Conor Lyden (Photography: Clare Keogh)

I did engineering because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in college. I liked maths and I was told it was a good base degree to have for going into business afterwards. I always had more of a slant towards business and in final year I took business electives.

I’m a Liverpool supporter and throughout college, I went to matches in the UK every now and then. I’d have my flights and accommodation sorted and I’d be looking for a ticket online. And the same thing kept happening: the person selling the ticket would say, ‘pay me the money and I’ll post you the ticket afterwards’. I wasn’t comfortable doing that – I actually got scammed a few times. I looked into it and I thought, ‘there must be a better way of doing this’ – and that’s where the idea for Trustap came from.

I had a job lined up on a graduate programme, but I decided to put in an application to the IGNITE programme as I had the idea for Trustap. When I got accepted, I decided not to go forward with the graduate programme and do IGNITE instead; it was probably the best decision I ever made.

The best thing about IGNITE is that it gave me a structure so that I was doing things in the right order. It’s not like they hold your hand all the way through, but you’re held somewhat accountable and have people to show your work to.

When I was in college I was involved in sailing and during my four J1s, I ran a sailing programme in the States. That was a phenomenal experience, because you build leadership qualities and learn how to properly delegate and maintain a happy work balance for everyone; that’s actually really hard to do. Learning that in the States meant that I didn’t go into business completely inexperienced.

"We’re enabling people to transact with strangers, where they absolutely wouldn’t have before," says Conor.

I’ve adopted an attitude of ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ I was on an accelerator programme in Austin, Texas, and had been trying for a while to get in touch with a company called BigCommerce, but I wasn’t getting through to the right person. I got a taxi one night, and the driver asked me what I was doing over there. I started talking to him and, as it turns out, he was the Head of Partnerships for BigCommerce.

He had just moved to the city and was taxi-driving to get used to the place. I thought, what are the chances?! I was in there the following week, meeting with the top people. It shows that if you keep pitching, eventually you’ll be heard by the right person!

The business is going well, growing all the time. We’re lucky that I have access to great mentors and advisors, because I can plug the experience gap. We still have a very young, hungry team, but we have people to tap into if we need the guidance.

We’re enabling people to transact with strangers, where they absolutely wouldn’t have before. And that, in turn, leads to sustainability, because more people are buying and selling second-hand stuff. So, instead of it going into the bin or the landfill, someone is actually buying it and using it and recycling it.

Our goal is to try and get Trustap integrated into as many buy-and-sell marketplaces as possible. We’ve had great success over the last couple of months, signing contracts with some big marketplaces. That’s where our focus is: to try and add more models, to incorporate different kinds of transactions, and then sign up as many of those sites as we can.


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