Insight From A Young Entrepreneur Passionate About Startups
Will Billingsley is currently the co-founder and COO of ApTap.
He grew up in Aberdeen and then moved to the Washington, D.C. area until university when he moved to London. He got a degree in biology and management from Imperial College London and another biology and management degree later from Imperial College Business School.
He worked as a soccer coach, a liftie at Vail ski resort in Colorado, and as a summer research fellow at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. He was also a project manager for business development at Sanaria in Maryland.
Once back in the U.K. he launched into the startup world, taking learning roles at NatWest and London & Partners before becoming a member at FinTech Innovation Lab London. He later served as a mentor and resident expert at Uhubs and UCL Innovation & Enterprise, and also became director of Billingsley Music Services, which is back in his old home of Maryland.
Billingsley co-founded ApTap in June 2017. Based in London, ApTap calls itself “bill management made easy” and is made for both individuals and banks. The service aims to make canceling, switching, or signing up for services something that takes seconds, not hours. The company improves user awareness and offers control, saving people time and money while also driving user engagement and revenue for financial services and suppliers.
ApTap was started with two friends after a night of drinking. Billingsley had in mind something grand that would solve overarching global problems but decided that bill management was not bad, either. His wide-ranging interests mean he always has a lot on his plate and big ideas for the future.
“I’m still not exactly sure what it is I want to do when I grow up,” he told me during a recent interview for my podcast, Back Yourself.
Despite that, he is excelling at one key thing:
Part of Success Is Building Your Own Brand
Billingsley’s medium of choice is LinkedIn, and he uses that to build his brand, connect with customers and potential customers, and float ideas to see how they resonate.
While LinkedIn influencers seem to dominate the medium and the discussion around it, it’s probably a lot easier than you think to become one, Billingsley said: only an estimated 2% of LinkedIn members post content weekly — meaning that if you can make one post a week you are automatically in the top 2%! Your name is already out there!
Billingsley’s strategy for posting is simple: Put yourself out there and be consistent.
Ignore that little voice in the back of your head, he said, that voice telling you that your message is stupid, or that everyone knows it already, or that the grammar is not perfect.
“Just get stuff out there,” he said. “And if people resonate with it, double down on what people like.”
That philosophy is the same one he extends to his business. Find the features that people like and play to those. You don’t have to hide the boring things — skip them altogether.
His top five business tips are along the same lines:
- Be consistent
- Get yourself out there
- Build genuine relationships
- Be cheeky
- Have fun with it
“Ask the question you are nervous to ask,” he said.
The most important thing to realise, Billingsley says, is that most of the time, you have nothing to lose.
“Put yourself in front of these people and go for it,” he told me. “What is the worst that can happen? The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t take the opportunity when it presents itself.
Billingsley’s tip for success? Take time for yourself. No matter what, almost every night, he unplugs to unwind, relax, play video games, or read a book. Finding time to disconnect gives him the energy he needs to get going again the next day.
Part of success in business is networking, and part is building your own brand. Both are surprisingly easy to do. Millions and millions of people are on LinkedIn, with many visiting the site each day, but only an estimated 2% of those millions make at least one post a week. That means that you can become one of LinkedIn’s top posters simply by making one post a week, and doing so gives you massive exposure — and can present amazing networking opportunities. When it comes to posting, Billingsley says don’t overthink things: Be consistent, be true to yourself, be honest, find what resonates and run with it, and don’t worry about sounding stupid, stating the obvious, or not getting the words and grammar right. Just do it and start the conversation.