Breakthrough live: Carl Churchill, Netplay

British technology entrepreneur Carl Churchill is still in his twenties and has already pulled off a string of business successes. We find out what prompted Carl to attend as a speaker at a recent Breakthrough Live event in Southampton.

In 2003, British technology entrepreneur Carl Churchill was listed at the top of a rich list compiled by the Royal Bank of Scotland, which predicted he would be worth £100 million by 2020. He was 19 at the time. Since then Carl has created a string of successful technology businesses. He joined forces with connectivity provider murphx Innovative Solutions in 2003. The company grew beyond the £50 million turnover mark and employed 140 people when Carl sold it to communications business the Daisy Group in 2010.

Having joined the Daisy Group, Carl helped it achieve considerable growth in annual sales before stepping aside in 2012. “We built the business from nothing into a real market leader, the biggest player in our space,” he says. “In certain areas, such as broadband and telephony, we really began to change that space. When we started, people called us crazy for launching in such a competitive market and said we wouldn’t succeed, but we became the biggest player and the most successful.”

Having achieved all he wanted with murphx and the Daisy Group, Carl wanted the freedom to call the shots once more. The payments industry, specifically the way people make card payments, became his new target.

Latest venture

Last year Carl launched his latest venture, multi-channel payment services provider NetPay. “The card payment industry is quite mature and it’s been around for one way or another for nearly 20 years. It also delivers pretty strong year-on-year growth. We think it’s ripe for innovation and since last year we’ve been creating analytical and reporting systems that provide some critical differentiation.”

“Ana Botin, Chief Executive of Santander UK, was inspiring, especially as a former business-owner herself she knew what she was talking about.” Carl Churchill, Owner and MD, NetPay Solutions Group Ltd

Carl appeared as a guest speaker at the Breakthrough Live event in Southampton in April. Hosted by Head of Breakthrough John Williams, the event also featured talks from Santander CEO Ana Botin and Goodwood Festival of Speed creator Lord March. Carl’s interest in the Breakthrough programme stems from Santander’s innovative approach to UK entrepreneurs and its collaborative efforts to help growing businesses achieve their goals. “It was a great opportunity to go there and speak to a room full of ambitious and accomplished people,” says Carl. “I was delighted to be asked. It was interesting to meet with peers and chat to other entrepreneurs about their businesses.”

Breakthrough makes an impression

Carl was particularly impressed by the success of the Breakthrough programme so far. “It was a networking opportunity, but I was also greatly interested to hear about some of the progress being made by Breakthrough. Ana Botin, Chief Executive of Santander UK, was inspiring, especially as a former business-owner herself she knew what she was talking about.”

The feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive, and Carl reports delegates tracking him down after his presentation, to further explain some of the take-away points from the morning. “It can get quite lonely in business sometimes when you’re trying to build a great business by yourself,” he says. “It’s good to speak to people who have been through the same challenges and who have some scars to show.”

“If I can say a few things that an entrepreneur can take away and use to help them build their business or go through some of the challenges that we had to endure, then that’s a real success as far as I’m concerned.”

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