Local entrepreneurs call it Siligong Valley – and they’re onto something. With its high-speed communications, world-class university and close proximity to Sydney, Wollongong is the ideal location for businesses looking for access to highly-skilled staff.
One of these companies is Scalapay has announced it has received unicorn status, a title awarded to privately-owned companies valued at over US$1 billion. Even though Australia is home to many successful start-ups, there’s less than 10 companies that can proudly wear the unicorn status badge (out of 832 start-ups globally).
Located at the Innovation Campus within the University of Wollongong (UOW), the company was founded in 2019 by two Australians, Johnny Mitrevski and Simone Mancini, and has quickly become one of the most important payment companies in Europe. Currently, Scalapay employs 240 people across six different countries. In 2021, it was awarded the StartUp of the Year in Italy and became the major sponsor for Milan Fashion Week and X-Factor Italy.
Born and bred in Shellharbour, Mitrevski completed an engineering degree at UOW’s Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, specialising in telecommunications.
Now, in a bid to give back to the Wollongong community, Scalapay is funding a UOW scholarship to support the brightest young people in achieving their dreams. The Scalapay Next Generation Scholarship is a generous $10,000 annual stipend for a student enrolled in a relevant degree within the School of Computing and Information Technology, School of Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications Engineering, and the School of Mathematics and Applied Statistics.
The first round of applicants have been interviewed, and the recipient has been announced. It’s Wollongong-based, Darwin-born student, Arlo Stewart. At UOW, he is in his final year of a Bachelor of Computer Science (Dean’s Scholar) within the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences.
“When I was finishing high school in Darwin, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I went to Canada to work and travel. Only after coming back, did I have a more crystallised idea of how I wanted to proceed,” said Arlo.
“One of my good friends from high school moved to Wollongong to study at UOW, and he absolutely loved it. At school, we were both high-achieving, motivated students who loved the outdoors, so I trusted his judgement and applied to UOW. I wasn’t disappointed.”
Scalapay’s scholarship will help Arlo cover the costs of living far from home while also offering a chance to work for the fastest-growing company in the e-commerce sector.
“I need that financial support to see me through the final year of my studies, so I can focus on maintaining my grades to stay in the Dean’s Scholars course. I will also cherish the opportunity to learn from the best and have Johnny as a mentor,” Arlo said.
Mitrevski said that he’s very proud to be in a position to proactively support the University and its talent, and he continues to look for ways to further partner with them.
“UOW has always done an amazing job at engineering, and the quality of the education is superb. It has a great package: the campus is fantastic, the teachers are great, the courses relevant, and the opportunities that come from it are excellent – especially within the software and computer sciences realm,” Mitrevski said.