Clint Wilson - Group Chief Executive, ParentPay
Software specialist Clint Wilson was working for a payments processing company when he met ex-teacher Lynne Taylor in 2004. She was looking for a way to help schools collect fees and money for trips and lunches. “Children were bringing cash to school in Tupperware”, says Wilson. “There were major issues around safety.” Clint spent six months building a solution. “I came home and told my wife that I wouldn’t be drawing a salary for a while,” he says. “Little did I know it would take 2.5 years.” Under his leadership, ParentPay has become the leading payments platform for UK schools, serving 5m parents nationwide.
What’s your USP?
Prior to 2004, when ParentPay launched, up to £5bn was being sent into schools each year with pupils. They were usually carrying cheques or cash. There were big issues around security and safety. We digitised the process, which has meant that £1bn was not carried to school by children last year. We were “fintech” before fintech was the cool buzzword it is now.
What’s been your biggest mistake?
In September 2011, we had a major issue with the site. Too many parents were trying to access it at once and the whole thing went down. We refer to that time as “Black September” now, but we learned from that experience. ParentPay is now much more robust and we have the technology in place to ensure that can’t happen again.
Where is future growth coming from?
We have made some acquisitions that are helping us add to the services we can offer parents and schools. A couple of years ago we bought Schoolcomms, a company that enables schools to communicate with parents electronically, and Cypad, a catering management tool for schools. We have also launched Nimbl, our digital bank account for children. We are trusted by both parents and schools, so it made sense to move into complementary products. We bought a Dutch version of ParentPay last year and we want to keep expanding into Europe. We want to be the market leader in this space.
“We are growing by 70pc a year and we’ll maintain that trajectory through organic growth and acquisitions.”
Clint Wilson, Group Chief Executive, ParentPay