ALDWYN Wayne, the founder and CEO of WiPay, the region’s largest payment company, started his first business venture as a six-year-old attending a private primary school in Point Fortin.
In Standard 2, at St Catherine’s Prep School, located in upscale Clifton Hill, Wayne made his first money by taking the blade from a pencil sharpener, shaving off the yellow coating of the pencils of his classmates and replacing the paint on the shaved pencils with a rainbow of colors from markers.
“My classmates would bring their pencils in at the morning break time and come back for them at lunchtime. My cousin, Kirn Wayne, was my business partner. He would collect the pencils and the money. I would shave the pencils and color them. We used to charge $0.25 a pencil,” said Wayne, who turns 40 in November.
“We ran that business for a whole term, until my parents got called into the school because one classmate reported us. He was upset that the colors of his pencil were not as bright as others. He went home and complained to his mother,” he told Express Business in an interview on Monday.
It was only then that the school authorities learned that the Wayne cousins were running a business from the back of their classroom.
From that first venture, Wayne learned several life lessons, including the ability to spot unmet market demand, working in collaboration with a business partner, not showing his potential customers the process of transforming the pencils and being able to execute business ideas to meet the desires. of (most) customers.
“I was born into a business family. My dad had Wayne’s Electronics before he had me.”
The sound grounding in business came by working in his father’s first business, located on the main road in Point Fortin, which was downstairs from the family’s residence.
“Growing up, literally, my fun time or spare time was downstairs in the business. As a result of that experience, I developed a special appreciation for, and understanding of, the management of money, as the key to having a successful business or not.
“I heard my father drive that home on numerous occasions growing up: you can’t take money out of the business. The business might make $10,000 today, but the family did not make $10,000. The business is its own entity.”
Working in the family business meant spending the long “summer” vacations and the Christmas break in the store.
He said the separation of the family’s business from the family was hammered home to him from a young age. He pointed out that many small businesses struggle because they see their money and the money of the business as the same.
“This is one of the things with me right now. My whole purpose for WiPay is inclusion, and I am not saying that as a buzzword. If everyone had the same opportunity that I had growing up in my father’s business, I think we would have a more equitable business society. But the thing is that people who have those opportunities are the people who already have businesses,” said Wayne.
His father, whose name is also Aldwyn, used to discuss business with the family “all the time.”
He and his two siblings—an elder brother, Aaron, who died recently, and a younger sister, Stacey-Ann, who is a child psychiatrist in New Jersey—would congregate in his parents’ bedroom and the conversations would often be about the business. . The three Wayne children were part of those conversations from a very young age.
“I remember aged ten or 11, daddy would leave to go on business trips abroad to order inventory for the business. He would leave my brother and I to run the business. “He would always say that there must always be a Wayne in the business at every point in time. At that age, I remember being angry that someone who was twice or three times my age, was not at work on time,” said the serial entrepreneur.
Asked if Wayne’s Electronics was a successful business, Wayne said: “It is still around today. It’s the number one electronics store in the south.
“That electronics business paid for three children to go to university; My sister and I went to school in the US and she went to medical school.
“We never had to worry about tuition or meals. We did not have to work part-time while at university to defray the costs of university abroad. We always knew work would have been at Wayne’s Electronics,” he said.
“My father would never allow us to think of ourselves as anything more than middle class,” Wayne said, in response to a question on whether he would describe his upbringing as upper class. “It is only after I got into college and was reminiscing on my upbringing that I realized that I went to a private prep school. We always had drivers to take us to and from school and lessons. And my mother gave me her Mazda 3 car when I was 16.”
After Point Fortin College, Wayne left his father’s business, age 17, to attend Georgia College and State University to do his undergraduate degree in computer sciences. He did a graduate degree in computer and information sciences and support services at the Georgia Institute of Technology, a technology-focused college in Atlanta, Georgia, which is considered to be one of the top research universities in the US.
After university, Wayne returned to live at home with his parents and worked for a year as a systems administrator at Petrotrin.
“I got a lot of lazy habits there. My need for being creative and doing new things was not being met, so I wanted to leave after the first week. But I honored my contract and stayed for the year,” said Wayne of his work experience at Petrotrin.
After Petrotrin, he started a three-man company called Powerline Communications T&T, which among other things, sent broadband interconnectivity through electricity lines. The company also sent live video feeds and one of its first contracts was with Petrotrin, monitoring its Trinmar offshore platform remotely.
Powerline Communications also got contracts with the San Fernando City Corporation, the Arima Borough Council and Angostura. Powerline Communications, as well, got a contract in 2008 with the Ministry of Works and Transport, then headed by the current Minister of Finance Colm Imbert, to install among the first CCTV cameras in the country at the intersection of the Churchill/Roosevelt and Solomon/ Hochoy.
One day, on that job, someone asked him who was the owner of Powerline Communications. Wayne said he would never admit that he was the owner of the business.
“I was never the CEO, I was never the owner. I was always in charge of business development in every company I had until I was big enough to call myself CEO.”
This reluctance to admit to owning companies, until very recently, was due to the fact that he is from South Trinidad, he said.
It is very difficult for southern businesses to break into business in the north, because you don’t belong to the same old boy’s club that they have. You did not go to QRC or Fatima. “I am not going to give you that break because I have a brother who can do the same.”
He went to explain that back then it was not commonplace for someone at 23 or 24 to be putting down cameras for the government.
Wayne went on to found Cedros Cable Company, Sky Devices and Coldwater Ltd before he turned 30.