So give us a bit of background about you and what you do:
I am a 23 year old serial entrepreneur, currently running businesses within the Entertainment industry.
I started off in the city when I had just turned 17 working for Swiss Re / GE Insurance within IT, I was their youngest ever employee in the world across the brand of over 10,000 + people. I went on to become operations manager by 19 a SME I.T outsourcing business which I doubled the growth of within 9 months.
Our businesses presently include a ticket and hospitality company with growth of over 200% last year and an events showcase business which runs a show called Showcase:LIVE, Showcase Live is one of the most reputable unsigned music showcases in Europe, since the launch in 2007 we have had many then unsigned acts including Jessie J and JLS with coverage in everything from the Mirror to Music Week and some amazing supporters. We are just completing a rebrand across the board to push it out across Europe and America within the coming 12 months.
As well as this, I also do consultancy work and presently I am consulting for one of the largest e-commerce businesses in the world on business strategy within the European market.
Over the last few years I have also begun to get quite heavily involved with the development of our 25 year old Family business in food and wine. My focus here has been in implementing a Re-brand and bringing the logistics and sales models up to speed with the continuous development of technology and media tools.
How do you manage many different projects at once?
I think having great people around you and a great team helps significantly. I have always been of the mind set that you should enjoy what you do so it never feels like work!
With this in mind I try to structure our business models to be flexible around the everyday challenges of change. My theory is that everyone in the company needs to be happy and feel appreciated in order to get the most out of them. Due to the often erratic nature of the time schedules involved with an entertainment business, we are of the mind set that if we are flexible with hours (start and finish) then our team will be too.
I am also fortunate enough to have a great other half which supports me in everything I do and with whom I have a great working partnership with as well.
For me it’s so important to have that other person with whom I can go over things with and that understands exactly how I work. We have very similar aims and goals in life (although in totally different fields) and I know that I can always run something over with her even if its in the middle of the night when an idea springs to mind or understand when I am on a 5 hour conference call on the beach in Thailand. (Although I’m sure she would disagree!)
As a young entrepreneur, how have you found trying to build credibility and bridge the generation gap?
This has been difficult over the years, I really feel credibility and respect doesn’t come straight away from anyone but when you work hard and give a lot of substance you can really prove people wrong.
Fortunately I got firsthand experience starting my career in the City and being the youngest person out of 10,000. Of course this was challenging, but what I very quickly learnt was to work with everyone and understand the issues with the generation gap instead of working against it. For me, working with team with members that could double or triple your age was motivating and intimidating to start with, however this quickly built my confidence with the realisation that although there was an age gap I was doing the same as them. I worked really hard to prove myself and after no time at all, they began to realise that they could infact also learn from me and that it was a unique and beneficial advantage to have such a young member of the team.
Those days seems like such a long time ago now and I have since gained many close friends in their 50’s + (CEO’s of the large businesses) with whom I regularly go for dinner with and share our different experiences. I feel you can always learn from everyone and this excites me.
Did you ever feel university was right for you? If not why?
For me it would never have worked, I came out of School with hardly any GCSE’s but one thing I did know was how to build computers, and to sell. I would sell sweets and drinks to every kid and teacher at School despite being told by the canteen it was a conflict of interests. It was this which led me on further to do what I really wanted to do, which was to set goals that I knew no one had ever achieved. I like to take risks. Without risk there can be no gain.
My Passions were about ‘doing business’ not in learning about how to do business. I feel experience is everything and this is something I look at when I am employing myself. For me I feel that formal education will make you a living but self education will make you a fortune.
Who is your biggest inspiration in business?
I wouldn’t say there is just one person that I look upto. I don’t think its healthy to look up to just one person, but instead I try to take the ‘best bits’ of many different entrepreneurs and leaders including Sir Alan Sugar and Sir John Madjeski and put these into practise with what I do myself. I have real respect for anyone who has built themselves up from nowhere and those who lost everything and made it all back.
What advice can you give to other aspiring young entrepreneurs?
What I will definitely say is the difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will. If you put your mind to it and set goals and targets you will get anywhere you want to be just don’t give up!