Meet the Mumpreneurs: Mum-of-three, Denise O'Grady is founder and CEO of tech company Way2Pay 6 years ago

Meet the Mumpreneurs: Mum-of-three, Denise O'Grady is founder and CEO of tech company Way2Pay

Denise O’Grady is a mother-of-three and the founder and CEO of Way2Pay, an income collection App for schools that makes life easier for both schools and parents. The Dublin-native completed a degree in Commerce from UCD and worked as a teacher before setting up her own companies, Schoolspace, in 2005 and later Way2Pay.

What is Way2Pay?

It’s the first App in Ireland and the UK that allows parents to pay school-related fees from their Smartphone. It is also the first payment system that enables teachers to request payment from parents via a group text, which the parent can simply click on to pay there and then.

Basically, it’s a product designed for parents like me, who discovered too late that being an organised parent is much more difficult than expected. Paying for kids’ activities in school is something that I could never keep on top of. The Way2Pay App helps me to pay my children’s school-related payments on time, as well as keeping track of them all.

How did your idea evolve?

I worked for some years as a teacher and then when my own children started school, I realised that perhaps technology could be used to make the lives of parents and schools so much easier. I thought, there has to be a solution to the bedlam of teachers trying to collect money from thirty kids at a go.

At the time, we were in and out of schools with Schoolspace, my company that supplies instant communication to parents via text message, school websites and apps. The same question was always asked, “How can we get the cash out of the classroom?” The solution I came up with was Way2Pay.

What was the tipping point?

In February 2013, we applied for the prestigious launchpad program in the NDRC – a business incubation program for tech startups – and we were delighted to be awarded a place. We had developed our very first version of Way2Pay in 2012, which, looking back needed a lot of work, but we knew we had a really good idea.

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What’s the one thing you wish you’d known?

Securing funding to get your business off the ground is only the beginning of a long process and a lot of work.

What are the benefits of working for yourself?

I’m from a family of entrepreneurs, so I think it’s in my nature to work for myself. It was an unconscious career path for me.

I work as part of a team now as the company has grown so much which I really enjoy. I still have my own specific responsibilities though and a degree of independence which is nice.

And the drawbacks?

At the moment, we are building the business and growing in the UK, so I’m working very long hours. However, I’m not unique in that regard, many of my entrepreneur friends work endless hours into the night. In fact, most of the people I know behind tech startups do.

How do you balance such a busy schedule?

Since I had children, I find my life is a constant balancing act. I often fail miserably at this, but I always try to get a balance between family, friends and work. My rule is to set a low bar and stop feeling guilty. I do things to the best of my ability.

What advice would you give to a wannabe entrepreneur?

Think about what you really want in life and go for it. Believe in yourself and your ability to deliver. Ask for advice and talk to experts in your area. Remember that entrepreneurial life is a bit of a rollercoaster so expect good and bad days. Remember that this is your dream, and be proud of every step and every achievement.

What’s next for you?

I am working closely with a great team to grow Way2Pay across Ireland and the UK. That will be my focus for the next while. It’s busy, but being able to take a personal project from an idea to an actual product and seeing it grow is extremely exciting and rewarding.
The uptake in Ireland and the UK has been fantastic.

Visit Way2Pay for more information.