If you haven’t heard of Andrew Wilkinson, then let me introduce you. Wilkinson is the founding CEO of Tiny Capital, a long-term holding company for businesses that specializes in acquiring majority or whole stakes in “profitable, simple, and often boring” internet companies. He’s the college dropout behind a multi-million-dollar success story; the man who thinks of himself as the tech equivalent of Warren Buffet. He’s the Victoria, BC, resident with the mindset of a Silicon Valley whiz kid. He’s the CEO who wants every sale, every acquisition, and every deal to be signed, sealed, and delivered in 30 days flat. He’s the businessman sat at the helm of an empire comprising of over 30 companies with a combined value of between C$600 million ($471 million) to C$1 billion. In short, he’s someone you need to know more about. Do just that with these ten things you didn’t know about Andrew Wilkinson.
1. He studied journalism
Wilkinson’s education is a world away from where he’s eventually ended up in life. After graduating from Oak Bay High School in 2004, he won a place at Ryerson University studying journalism. Whether he ever had any serious intention of working in media, who knows? On the plus side, at least he’s got something to fall back on if the bottom falls out of investing… even if he never actually got round to finishing his degree.
2. He founded MetaLab straight out of college
In 2006, Wilkinson dropped out of Ryerson and immediately launched into his first venture, MetaLab, a company that designs and builds some of the most widely used web and mobile apps around. The company experienced rapid growth: flushed with success, Wilkinson and his business partner Chris Sparling decided to plow the money into creating a portfolio of businesses that today, form the holding company Tiny Capital. In 2013, Wilkinson and Sparling shifted the focus of their activities from starting businesses to buying them – a move that proved remarkably successful.
3. He was an immediate success
Most college dropouts take time to find their feet. Not so Wilkinson. Within 2 months of launching MetaLab, he was turning over $30k in revenue. By the end of the first year, the company had generated $250k on a 50%+ profit margin. Over the following few years, MetaLab’s profits doubled. Wilkinson knew his services were good and didn’t hesitate in charging top dollar for them. He’s since recalled how Uber once asked him to design its website but walked away when he quoted $5k. “We were too expensive for them,” he says.
4. He’s a disciple of Warren Buffett
When Wilkinson started experiencing burnout from the stress of trying to run multiple businesses, he turned to the guidance of Warren Buffet. “It just kind of blew my mind that you could have someone who’s one of the wealthiest people in the world and all he does is hire CEOs, incentivize them and let them do their thing,” he tells bloomberg.com. Today, he runs Tiny along the lines of a tech Berkshire Hathaway Inc. As per Buffet, he aims to complete deals as quickly and painlessly as possible, ideally in under 30 days. Business founders are promised a hands-off ownership style completely unlike the ones usually offered by private equity investors.
5. He’s shown an interest in bitcoin
Wilkinson may be getting into bitcoin. He may not. So far, all he’s done is make a simple inquiry on Twitter asking for someone to summarize – in 3 sentences or less – why it’s logical to buy bitcoin. But already, speculation is rife. As coindesk.com notes, the tweet ignited a flurry of responses mainly intent on convincing Wilkinson that bitcoin is the future of finance and a better version of gold. Considering how quickly Wilkinson is known to move when he decides on something, the next few weeks should be very telling.
6. He’s going public
This December, Wilkinson will be taking his company, WeCommerce Holdings Ltd., public on the TSX Venture Exchange. The company is owned 80% by Tiny and 20% by millionaire investor, Bill Ackman. Ackman was enticed to invest in the company after striking up a friendship with Wilkinson at a charity lunch auction.
7. He’s only ever sold 2 businesses
Of the 20 plus companies Wilkinson has founded, he’s only ever sold 2. It’s not that he’s averse to selling, he just finds dealing with private equity groups and hedge funds a major hassle. “There have been many times I would’ve sold,” Wilkinson says to hustle.co, “but they made it too complicated.” “They were always these Wall Street” he adds. “They looked at our business like a spreadsheet.”
8. He says meeting Steve Jobs was like meeting Jesus
After moving to Victoria, British Columbia, from Vancouver as a teenager, Wilkinson longed to escape back to the big city. Instead, he found a different outlet: a tech news website called On MacTeens.com he founded with a bunch of high school buddies. On the site, he and the other writers would share news and reviews about Apple products. Wilkinson was responsible for negotiating ad deals – a responsibility he took so seriously, he almost flunked out of high school. But as he later recalled, getting to meet Steve Jobs for a 10-minute interview at an Apple event in New York made it more than worth it. “(It was) like meeting Jesus,” he’s said.
9. He owns over 70 businesses
Since launching Tiny almost 15 years ago, Wilkinson has acquired. started, or invested in over 70 companies. As per the company website, some of the biggest names in the company’s portfolio include Dribble, a show and tell for designers; MetaLab, a product design agency; Creative Market, a digital goods marketplace; Girlboss, a women’s networking site; We Work Remotely, a remote job board; Unicorn Hunt, a startup job board; Castro, a podcast player; DoubleUp, a startup growth agency; RideHome, a TLDR podcast network; Websterpeace, a NoCode development agency; and Button, a government software agency.
10. Most of his wealth comes from Tiny
Although no one knows for sure just how much money Wilkinson has in the bank at this point, we do at least know the source of it. According to interviews he given to various outlets, 80% of Wilkinson’s wealth comes from Tiny. The rest comes from real estate and shares.