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Carrick man wins £1m in funding for self-start business

By Margaret Canning

A former Ulster University student from Carrickfergus has won $1.5m (£1m) in funding from PayPal founder Peter Thiel for his company.

Peter Johnstone (26), a past-pupil of Carrickfergus Grammar School, studied PR and multi-media at Ulster University, going on to set up Lystable, a company which allows businesses to connect with external parties including freelancers, agencies and services.

Now his London-based business has attracted $1.5m funding from Peter Thiel's venture capital fund Valar Ventures.

Mr Thiel was the first outside backer of social media giant Facebook, and still sits on its board of directors.

Lystable is only the second London investment Valar has made after it ploughed $6m into TransferWise.

A spokesman for Lystable said the funding will enable it to "speed up its ambitious growth plans and add even more depth to the already heavy-hitting product team, currently comprised of ex-Google, Salesforce, Huddle and Onefinestay designers and engineers".

Peter Johnstone previously worked at Google and said being employed there had inspired him to set up his own business.

"While at Google, I experienced on a global level the pain of handling hundreds of relationships and interactions with freelancers, agencies and services.

"The navigation of this workflow for both enterprises and external parties is currently a mess.

"Our solution aims to solve this by centralising the data companies need in order to find, manage and evaluate the right partners."

His LinkedIn profile states that he manages an "unruly bunch of game changers at the company. We are having a blast tackling big problems for big enterprises".

And in his personal summary, he writes: "Designer who worked in a few big companies for the last six years, now trying my hand at entrepreneuring - like mountaineering and pioneering, right?"

Mr Johnstone is also a former creative manager at advertising giant M&C Saatchi, and worked as a senior designer for PR firm Weber Shandwick.

He graduated from Ulster University with a first in PR in 2011 and also spent a year studying inter-active multi-media and design.

Peter Thiel is best known for co-founding PayPal with Max Levchin and Elon Musk. He was chief executive of the company until it was bought by eBay in 2002.

James Fitzgerald, a founding partner of Valar Ventures, said: "We are delighted to be supporting Peter and his team.

"Their approach to solving this problem by capitalising on pre-existing intelligence inside enterprises makes them a much more efficient and scalable option than the traditional marketplaces that currently exist. We are super excited by what they are building."

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