How do you build a Unicorn Company! Meet the Co-founder of Square Jim McKelvey author of “The Innovation Stack”

Date: January 28, 2022

Platform: Zoom

Start Time: 12 p.m.

End Time: 1 p.m.

Questions: Chat

Click Ticket: Jim McKelvey

From the cofounder of Square, an inspiring and entertaining account of what it means to be a true entrepreneur and what it takes to build a resilient, world-changing company

In 2009, a St. Louis glassblowing artist and recovering computer scientist named Jim McKelvey lost a sale because he couldn’t accept American Express cards. Frustrated by the high costs and difficulty of accepting credit card payments, McKelvey joined his friend Jack Dorsey (the cofounder of Twitter) to launch Square, a startup that would enable small merchants to accept credit card payments on their mobile phones. With no expertise or experience in the world of payments, they approached the problem of credit cards with a new perspective, questioning the industry’s assumptions, experimenting and innovating their way through early challenges, and achieving widespread adoption from merchants small and large.


James Morgan McKelvey Jr. (born 1965) is an American billionaire businessman, who is the co-founder of Square, Inc., a financial payments company. McKelvey was appointed as an independent director of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in January 2017. As of November 2021, his net worth was estimated at US$4 billion.n 2009, McKelvey co-founded Square with Jack Dorsey. Professor Robert Morley designed the hardware used by Square in 2009, while McKelvey and Jack Dorsey later created a separate entity leaving Morley out of this entity’s ownership. McKelvey then served as Square’s chairman until 2010. Today, McKelvey sits on the Board of Directors at Square.

But just as Square was taking off, Amazon launched a similar product, marketed it aggressively, and undercut Square on price. For most ordinary startups, this would have spelled the end. Instead, less than a year later, Amazon was in retreat and soon discontinued its service. How did Square beat the most dangerous company on the planet? Was it just luck? These questions motivated McKelvey to study what Square had done differently from all the other companies Amazon had killed. He eventually found the key: a strategy he calls the Innovation Stack.

McKelvey’s fascinating and humorous stories of Square’s early days are blended with historical examples of other world-changing companies built on the Innovation Stack to reveal a pattern of ground-breaking, competition-proof entrepreneurship that is rare but repeatable.

The Innovation Stack is a thrilling business narrative that’s much bigger than the story of Square. It is an irreverent first-person look inside the world of entrepreneurship, and a call to action for all of us to find the entrepreneur within ourselves and identify and fix unsolved problems–one crazy idea at a time.


Updated: Jan 24, 2022

About the author
Marc Kramer of Stress Free Family Business is a member of XPX Philadelphia

When the parents want to prepare their children to take over the business and/or when the parents and kids are fighting with each other and a cooler experienced head is needed.