Terry McGinnis: Another tech monolith or selfless savant?

  (photo credit: Nathan Amschel, Rothschild Family Archive)
(photo credit: Nathan Amschel, Rothschild Family Archive)

The shaggily rugged yet soft hair that falls in place with perfect precision, to reminisce mad scientific genius, both real and fictional; Albert Einstein or Doc Brown, perhaps in their most prime. The soft skin that adorns masculine features reserved for sculptures of mythological Greek deities. A voice that is as soft and heartfelt as it is stern and distinctively deep in tenor; commanding respect and obedience without giving up charm and affection. Clothing that is distinctively unique in texture and bold in style, the finest knight garb coming into contact with a dystopian sense of minimalist self-expression. 

A picture can say a thousand words and have extensive meaning, to be discovered for millennia to come; to be redefined with every new generation, adapted with each new political or technological movement; to provide faith and hope in an otherwise unruly world. Perhaps the meanings and definitions may change, but the dedication to inspire remains intact.

This is a vividly truthful description of one Terry McGinnis, a summary of his physical presence that I gathered only after few short meetings. One can be forgiven for mistaking this article for a heroic novel, where a protagonist manages to overcome insurmountable odds to become the victor. A savior. A white knight, desperately fighting off evil with the broad strokes of his sword. But to many, especially in the entertainment industry this is the image Terry presents; no problem too big, a solution that can always be found. From the biggest artists to the biggest film and TV production companies, he is able to solve and provide advice that benefits all. But can this strong image and the reputation that comes with it, be transferred to the fields of technology, where ego’s run rampant and everyone looks out only for themselves? Terry seems to be hopeful that his new venture will help make e-commerce, which has always been gate kept by big corporations, more accessible and affordable than ever. 

If you study Terry’s profile you would be forgiven to think that he has had a helping hand to do so much in such little time but Terry insists that all of his accolades are self-earned, through hard work, strong work ethic and dedication. 

“I have never had a hand out, ever since leaving education I have did it all myself. I don’t believe in using family or their connections to build something of your own, because then it’s not your own. My father left my mother with barely anything when I was born, many people are quick to jump to conclusions and immediately judge me, telling me it’s impossible to do so much, or achieve this and that without help from others. The problem is, this presents a very negative outlook from the get go, I worked tirelessly to get to where I am. Earning everything by myself, every project, every connection and every business, that both failed and succeeded, was all done by myself. I never asked for help, and never will. It’s not who I am. Or ever will be. I will insist the same for my children one day, it is far more rewarding to build your own legacy than follow someone else’s footsteps. I live by the mantra of a life well lived. I used the motivation to provide a better life for my mother and means, to do the best I can in life.” 

Terry who grew up in California moved to Britain at age of twelve, and had to endure extreme levels of bullying, but considers his mother to be his greatest hero and inspiration for what he does. A mother who worked tirelessly at two jobs to make ends meet and provide Terry with a better level of education to instil and develop a passion for entrepreneurship within Terry.

“The fact is, my mother had to face xenophobia and racism daily, both at work and in general when we moved to Britain. As someone who had an American accent, I’d always be mocked and made fun of. Due to my intellect I also had to deal with constant bullying due to being a ‘nerd’, a lot of people immediately assume ‘privilege’, when I had none growing up. Whether it’s due to my religion, or my background – at one point I just stopped caring, and this allowed me to have my own unique authenticity. I failed school on purpose because I was sick of the constant bullying, and the lack of support from teachers. I always said to myself that I would never be like my father, I saw how hard my mother was working just so I could have a better life after my father had left her with absolutely nothing. 

I began taking life more seriously, I started looking at everything through a business lens. Those websites I would make as a hobby, I started to look at as business ventures. Thankfully my mother always believed in me and encouraged me to pursue the best. This is why she is my hero, and one of the reasons I continue to do what I do. I want to help people. I don’t care about money, nor fame. I just want to create my very own legacy, that’s based on compassion, understanding and problem solving. I always try to give my expertise and knowledge to whoever asks for it, without expecting anything in return, this is why I built up a strong network of people, because they can trust whatever I say is in their best interest, and if I can’t provide the help or knowledge, then I say so. I’m not trying to sell some course or whatever, I want everyone to be as successful as they can be.” 

Terry had begun taking his studies seriously and it was around the same time he had sold one of his websites, providing him with the means to support his mother, and attend higher education. However, as any future billionaire knows, higher education is only for those that still have not figured out what they want from life, unless they are pursuing a degree in law, medicine or another very specialized field. 

“My mother always said study something like medicine or law, the usual. They are safe careers. I began doing some paralegal work at the same time as doing law, to better understand the actualities of being a solicitor or a barrister. Safe to say, I did not enjoy it. However, what I did find out is that practicality beats theory. Studying you’re taught about all of these great men and women who did so many great things in whatever subject you’re studying, but then when it comes to doing the real work; it’s not as it seems. I decided to drop out and started taking on as many projects, working for interesting companies and developing my skills in different areas. 

Going from company to company, gaining real life insight and knowledge from experts. Switching from law to digital. At the same time undertaking my very own projects, from physical to digital. It allowed me to meet a lot of fascinating and interesting people, some of which I do business even to this day. Most importantly it allowed me to travel, and to experience different cultures – the way they think, how they operate and how they live.” 

For someone who is related to the Rothschild family, hearing about Terry’s life more and more you cannot help but to root for him, and his endeavours, the latest one being the most difficult of all. 

Terry is taking on publicly traded giants such as Shopify who are the dominant force when it comes to readily available e-commerce solutions, fighting adversity and negativity along the way, he is persistent and hopeful that people will believe the vision same as he and his team do through his venture Online Shop Inc.

“We’re trying to make e-commerce and the act of starting your very own independent shop online as accessible and as affordable as possible. Many founders misuse the term of trying to innovate as Apple did, getting nothing but eyerolls in return.

Just as Apple introduced better user experience and even the mouse to make personal computers more accessible and approachable to the general consumer market, we’re doing with e-commerce. It’s something me and my co-founder Siraaj are extremely passionate about. We want to help those who never had the opportunity or chance to have something of their own, or the time necessary to learn but have the tenacity and rigor to go for it, as any entrepreneur would. 

We’re always met with resistance telling us of our competitor’s existence, or that it won’t work – it reminds me of when I was younger and everybody told me I would never work on big Hollywood projects, fast forward couple of years, and they are asking me how I did it, and if I need any help. It’s ridiculous and annoying but I feel everyone should have a healthy level of scepticism, it allows people like me to leave others speechless and to motivate other young entrepreneurs, that anything is possible, just as my personal heroes Jeff and Mark Bezos did. I genuinely do not care for avarice, I had the Lamborghini and the Rolls Royce, I gave it all up to invest in my company. I don’t care for them. I experienced it, it did not bring me happiness as much as helping those in need, or providing opportunities for others, like my mother who was dealt a bad hand in life. They’re the most important. And I will make her, and those who care, proud.” 

Having met many founders who went from nothing to having more wealth than they know what to do with, Terry reminds me of a good, and kind hearted soul, perhaps misunderstood by many, but by the few that matter he truly is seen as a visionary and revolutionary. A true renaissance man, who will be remembered for his selflessness and good demeanour – changing our world through technology for the better. And as a closing note, I can safely write that Terry truly is a unique, and a selfless savant. One that I am rooting for. 

This article was written in cooperation with Craig Lebrau