I really enjoy getting involved with businesses very early – often before there is even a powerpoint presentation.
It’s risky, of course, but lots of fun.
When I left my proper job at Deutsche Bank in 2003 with a vague notion of setting up my own company I kept on telling myself that it wasn’t risky because I was in control – and I trusted myself to make things work (although of course I’m not really expecting everything to work out the whole time).
I joined Lingo24 as a Director and only the 5th member of the team alongside founder Christian Arno, who was a tennis friend from Oxford. Lingo24 wasn’t really a startup in the sense that it had been going for a couple of years already, but it had a startup mentality in the sense that it was small with ambitions to become big quickly. And even 10 years later the company has a very entrepreneurial spirit which grew from those early days. In fact half-a-dozen businesses have been formed by ex-employees of Lingo24 (most of whom left after a good stint at the company and on good terms!), which I’d like to think had something to do with the culture we fostered.
You can read a bit more about QuizQuizQuiz on the World of Quiz page – this is really the only company that I started completely by myself, my idea exclusively etc. It grew very quickly to its current size, and although still a very small business it pays some bills for me, and (I hope) all the bills for the full-time staff who do the day-to-day stuff, and the occasional modest dividend for me and my quiz loving friends who helped me out in the early days, all of which is nice. One day I’ll spend more time on it – as I love it – and we’ll grow it to be a bit less small!
Property Detective evolved from a lunch with my co-founder Barry Bridges. Feedback on the concept was always very enthusiastic, but we couldn’t quite make it work, and both Barry and I stood down as Directors and gave up our shares as the lead investor was looking to get more involved.
This is the big one really…and it moved very quickly in the early days – and ever since. The nitial approach from what3words co-founder Chris Sheldrick with core concept was in January 2013, company formed in March 2013 and we went live with mainstream and tech press coverage in the UK and US on July 2nd 2013. It is (literally) a world-changing idea, now (2020 when I’m writing this) used by emergency services across the UK to save lives every day (and in several other countries around the world), and being used by millions of people and thousands of businesses, including the like of Mercedes and Lonely Planet. My role has evolved over time as we’ve taken on a brilliant team of people to drive the business forward.
And yes, I like working hard. As long as its fun, success or failure, then I’m happy.