Secret Leaders

Secret Leaders

By Kindling Media

Learn how to become a better business leader. We talk to the Founders of startups like Monzo, BrewDog, Slack and Jo Malone who tell us about their biggest challenges, key decisions and life-defining moments. How would you respond if you arrived in the UK as a penniless refugee? Or had to fire your Mum? Or had a billion dollar deal fall through your hands at the last minute? Learn how to build and lead businesses from the best.


How I Failed: I walked into a room and fired 30 of the 38 people in the company - Founder Adam Robinson

Adam Robinson is the Founder and CEO of, a SAAS business which is on an insane growth trajectory. But, before, Adam failed. In fact, like most successful people, he had a bunch of failures.  The one that sticks out most to him is what we’re talking about today, when he walked into a room and fired most of the people at his company. What happened? -- If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  -- Sponsor links:
30/03/23·14m 8s

The secret to hiring the best - and getting hired - with Otta Co-founder, Sam Franklin

Do you want to get better at hiring, or being hired?  Sam Franklin is the Co-Founder and CEO of Otta, a job search platform that wants to make the experience of job seekers in the tech industry way, way better. Recruitment and jobs boards might not seem the most exciting areas to disrupt but the subject of hiring is so important and can be very nuanced. All businesses succeed because of their people. At Otta, they’re really leaning into the power of the job seeker. And in the fast-growing tech industry, where demand for the best talent is very high, that has turned out to be a strong strategy. Sam got a taste of what it takes to build a fast growing startup when working at the prop-tech Nested. It was at Nested, as Head of People, and doing over 30 hours of interviews a week, that he realised how soul-destroying the recruitment process can be for many people. That was the start of Otta.  If you want to get better at recruitment, either as an employer or job hunter, then there are some gems in this episode. Sam shares his tips for hiring, including stuff we’ve never thought of before. Why does he say that companies should avoid trying to be the best? What are the biggest mistakes companies make? And, what is his advice to founders trying to disrupt a stuffy industry? Listen to find out.  We'd love your feedback Sponsor links:
28/03/23·50m 4s

How I Failed: Multi-gold winning Paralympian Natasha Baker - having the most embarrassing fail you can imagine

Natasha Baker is a British dressage rider with 5 Paralympic golds to her name and a load of other top medals. She experienced a very public failure which left her in tears. And then, a few years later, the thing she was most scared of happening in the world, happened.  What’s it like when you fall off the literal horse on the big stage? And what did it teach her about failure that we can all learn from? -- If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  -- Sponsor links:
23/03/23·13m 8s

War Paint Founder: I used to steal women’s makeup because of shame, hell of body dysmorphia & turning down all 5 Dragons - Danny Gray

This conversation with Danny Gray is one of our all-time favourites. Danny had a childhood filled with bullying, trauma and mental disorders. It left him with scars that no one else could see, and eventually led him to starting War Paint, a men’s makeup brand that is on an unbelievable growth path. They’re creating a new category. In fact, they’ve already created it and are fast becoming an iconic brand. Plus, Danny went on Dragons Den, got offers from all 5 Dragons and then ultimately turned them down. Madness. In this episode, we find out what really happened, behind the cameras. Danny is also the Founder of Jaaq, a mental health platform which covers everything from depression to addiction, hair loss to periods. They’ve managed to get A-listers like Alastair Campbell to bare their souls, explaining the toughest things they’ve been through. The theory is that hearing from people with lived experience is a key part of feeling understood and ultimately being able to tackle your demons. Danny looks and sounds like a 'Jack The Lad'. He says that was his image - but it really was all an image. So what happened in his childhood that crushed his confidence? We'd love your feedback Sponsor links:
21/03/23·42m 29s

Startup armageddon: Bank of England was going to allow SVB failure to kill UK startup industry until Founders & VCs stepped in

You probably heard SVB collapsed, but what you probably don’t know is how close the UK startup ecosystem came to collapsing all together. This is the inside story of how a small group of Founders and VCs fought to save the industry. How do we know? Because our host Dan was a small part of it. If the story we’re telling today hadn’t happened, then Dan would be sitting here without a company. This is how the crisis really played out. -- If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  -- Sponsor links:
16/03/23·24m 20s

Wise Co-Founder: Being Skype's first employee and the difference between winners and losers

Taavet Hinrikus is the Co-Founder and former Chairman of Wise, the unicorn fintech which used to be called TransferWise. He’s now the Co-Founder of Plural, an investment platform for early stage capital built by founders and real operators like Taavet. Oh, and he was also the first ever employee at Skype. Basically, he’s one of the top startup dogs in Europe so we had to get him on to learn what the difference is between great companies and the rest. It’s always amazing hearing about the early days of companies which become absolutely massive like Wise, or Skype. These are the days when they’re signing up tens of users, rather than tens of thousands - and they’re wondering if they’re barking up the wrong tree. All startups begin with 0 real users and it’s fascinating how the best navigate their way from there to the top. Taavet is part of the group of Estonian entrepreneurs who’ve had a GDP level impact on the country.  Let's find out why he's been so successful. We'd love your feedback Sponsor links:
14/03/23·37m 41s

How I Failed: Pasta Evangelists Founder - previous luxury smartphone company was just too big a mountain to climb

Alessandro, or 'Alex' Savelli, is the Co-Founder of Pasta Evangelists - a brand you’ve probably come across. Their pasta is delicious and everywhere. But, before he was getting his hands in the proverbial pasta dough, he tried to climb a much tougher mountain - building a luxury smartphone brand. We’re talking hardware and software to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung but bedecked in precious metals and jewels. They had some big wins, but it didn’t work out - and we’re here to find out why.  -- If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  -- Sponsor links:
09/03/23·11m 33s

Teenage prodigy who turned down Facebook as a 15 YO to take them on in VR - Unai Founder Maxim Perumal

Maxim Perumal is the Founder of Unai and we think he’s a certifiable genius. He’s certainly one of the most exciting Founders we’ve ever spoken to - he built the world’s most popular open source VR headset when he was 15 years old, and turned down working at Meta. His company Unai is building a VR headset and virtual world to make human expression in VR feel magical, which is a bold claim but he’s got the people to do it.  Maxim has managed to bring together a crack team of ridiculously qualified VR talent who believe in him, a young man who’s only just able to drink in the States. We think you’ll find him compelling too. He’s got a great explanation for why the likes of Meta have been failing with VR and their version of the metaverse. But he also hints at a more exciting alternative. Listen to find out.  We'd love your feedback Sponsor links:
07/03/23·46m 9s

How I Failed: forced to walk away with £5k in the bank and no shares - Matteo Grassi

That’s Matteo Grassi, the Co-Founder of Pop-Up, a thriving no code eCommerce platform. But before all this, there was another period in his life - a much darker period.  He left Shopify in 2016 to become a partner in a company, which Matteo has asked to keep anonymous. The idea was they would quickly spin up dozens of D2C ecommerce shops, connecting customers with cool products.   They would be the middleman and they absolutely exploded. It was a paid marketing masterclass. One of their shops got to 12 million in revenue in months.  But as you know, that’s not how things ended because we’re not here to talk about success stories. We’re here to learn from Founders’ toughest moments.  What happened? If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  -- Sponsor links:
02/03/23·15m 11s

How I Failed: death threats and journalists knocking on the door after growing too fast, with Matt Kelly

Matt Kelly, the Founder of Spacegoods (really cool company btw) experienced one of the fastest rises and falls with a bootstrapped business we’ve ever seen. He grew Neon Beach, a DTC neon sign brand, to £7m in revenue in a year. He got to £10m in 18 months - from his bedroom, in lockdown - basically just him, his laptop and freelancers. But then he made one big mistake which cost him more than this business.  What the hell happened?  -- If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  -- Sponsor links:
23/02/23·13m 53s

Former Welsh rugby captain Sam Warburton learns from golfing legend Paul McGinley - Secret Leaders X Captains

We're linking up with our mates at Crowd Network to introduce you to one of their new podcasts, Captains with Sam Warburton. Whether you’re big into your sports or not, this show has plenty of leadership gems to be taken into your life and career. Sam is joined weekly by a successful sporting leader, who explain what it takes to be the very best. To listen to the rest of this chat, search for ‘Captains with Sam Warburton’ in your favourite podcast app, or hit this link:
21/02/23·25m 37s

How I Failed: dumped two weeks before my dream wedding, with MBA Professor Cassie Holmes

Cassie Holmes is a professor at UCLA's Anderson School of Management, where she teaches the immensely popular MBA course, Applying the Science of Happiness to Life Design. She’s also the author of Happier Hour, a new book that gives us the tools to be happier, some of which we’ll dive into later today.  Cassie’s understanding of happiness was born out of a deeply unhappy period, sparked by an intensely personal failure. The failure of her impending marriage to her childhood sweetheart. What happened? -- If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  -- Sponsor links:
16/02/23·15m 23s

Childs Farm: Beating Johnson & Johnson with a skincare brand started in a kitchen - Founder Joanna Jensen

Joanna Jensen is the Founder and former CEO of Childs Farm, a baby & child skincare brand.   The company began at home after Joanna grew frustrated with the lack of choice for her young daughter’s sensitive, eczema-prone skin, so she started to make her own products. When those worked she got a thousand bottles made and went up and down the country selling them at trade fairs, country shows, anywhere she thought potential customers might be. It was the start of something magical. They got their first listings in Boots in 2014 and then two years later the brand blew up. They went viral after customers started posting ‘before and after’ photos of their children’s sensitive skin. They went viral again the year after, and by 2019, their sales exceeded Johnson & Johnson in the UK. Quite an incredible thing for someone who started out making body lotion in a freezing cold barn. In March 2022, the company was sold for 40 million pounds to PZ Cussons Plc. How did she do it? -- We'd love your feedback -- Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
14/02/23·1h 1m

How I Failed: “He is a cancer on what could be a great organisation” - Teach First Founder Brett Wigdortz on the worst feedback he’s ever received.

Brett Wigdortz is the Co-Founder of Teach First. He started the business in 2002 after seeing how the UK education system was failing miserably. The company has gone on to be a massive success but it was incredibly close to imploding because of how he operated in the early days.  When Brett asked for feedback from his staff, a small moment turned into a big moment that would change the course of Teach First, the lives of its employees and its thousands of future teachers and students. What happened? Listen to find out. -- If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  -- Sponsor links:
09/02/23·11m 38s

Why 50% of A&E visits are avoidable and how to solve the social care crisis - Cera Co-Founder Dr Ben Maruthappu

Dr Ben Maruthappu is the CEO and Co-Founder of Cera, a digital-first home healthcare company. In just over six years, Cera has established itself as one of the biggest providers of healthcare at home in the UK, as well as one of the fastest-growing companies in Europe.  Cera currently makes almost 50,000 visits a day to people’s homes in the UK. That’s the equivalent capacity of around 50 hospitals.  After launching in 2016, they have raised over $400 million and are generating over £250 million of annualised revenue. They’ve scaled, expanding to Germany, where they are growing over a hundred percent year on year. The care sector and healthcare in general were in a state of crisis even before the pandemic. Normally, if a sector needs change, entrepreneurs step in, disrupting the norm. But doing this in the care sector in the UK is notoriously difficult, even for well funded companies.  Ben is well aware of the issues having worked in A&E and then spending three years advising the CEO of NHS England. He’s not just jumping on the hot medtech trends. And that’s allowed him to avoid the implosion in healthcare that has seen once lauded startups fall. That takes a lot of resilience and conviction. He is the first person from British healthcare to ever be included in Forbes' 30 under 30.  What is it like to scale at that speed with no experience ever managing anyone before? And how do they use data to keep people out of hospital? Listen to find out.  We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
07/02/23·55m 25s

How I Failed: huge traction but held hostage by the business, with Christie Ellis

Christie Ellis founded one of the first human quality pet food companies, The Healthy Pet Gourmet. Her aim was to revolutionise how we feed our pets by helping them live longer and happier. She was going to build the next IAMS.  The press went mad, customers loved it. She was on World News Tonight, the Today show, and top-end magazines. She had high profile clients, one who designed her kitchen for all her pet food. On paper, the business was doing well. The product was selling, and then Whole Foods expressed interest in stocking it.  But the business failed… Why? Listen to find out. If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
02/02/23·14m 54s

How I Failed: From $250 million to 0, with Shyp Founder Kevin Gibbon

Shyp started in 2013 when Kevin Gibbon had the idea of taking the Uber model and using it for shipping. He created an on-demand service where customers would take a picture of what they wanted to send, a courier would come pick it up and then take it to a warehouse to be packaged and delivered using major shipping companies.   There was huge excitement when they launched. They were featured on the front pages of newspapers and Kevin was hailed as the ‘next Steve Jobs’. They were a hit with investors, raising their seed round within three months, their Series A the following year and their Series B the year after that. At their peak they were valued at $250 million dollars. But the company failed.  So, what went wrong?  Listen to find out. If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
26/01/23·12m 23s

How to improve your performance by looking after your brain and gut, with UK's top dietitian Sophie Medlin and leading neuroscientist Dr Tara Swart

Did you know that looking after your brain is one of the best ways to be more productive? And your gut is central to the decisions you make?  This episode brings insights from two professionals at the cutting edge of their fields, to give actionable steps on how to be more effective, improving your life at work and at home.  Dr Tara is a world-leading neuroscientist and best selling author of ‘The Source’. She has a PhD in neuropharmacology, was a medical doctor and child psychologist, having trained at Oxford University. She has spent the last decade coaching leaders and CEOs from across the world and is also a senior lecturer at MIT Sloan, where she teaches classes on how understanding the brain and neuroscience can lead to better business performance. She doesn’t just understand the brain inside out, she knows how to communicate what you need to know about it - to help you build better habits and have a bigger impact. Sophie Medlin is one of the UK’s most respected gut experts. She’s a medically trained nutrition professional, a senior lecturer at King's College, the Chair of the British Dietietic Association for London and star of Channel 4s new show ‘Know your Shit’. She explains how looking after your gut can enable you to be the best leader you can be. They are both colleagues of our host Dan at his company Heights.  We talk about:  How you know when your brain isn’t being looked after What is neuroplasticity? How our brains actually work. The best habits for your brain to start doing The non-negotiable priorities for looking after your brain What is the gut microbiome and why is it so important? Why looking after your gut can keep your immune system healthier and stop you getting sick How, cell for cell, we are more bacteria than human How drinking diet sodas might mean you actually consume more calories Their tips for optimising the brain and gut for peak performance. We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
24/01/23·1h 5m

How I Failed: Drinking to forget what was going on - Dom McGregor, Social Chain Co-Founder

Dom McGregor co-founded Social Chain with Steven Bartlett, host of the hit podcast Diary of a CEO. Their business didn’t fail, in fact, it sky-rocketed. When they exited the company after six years in 2020, they’d built it to hundreds of employees, with clients like Apple, McDonald's, the BBC, and Boohoo, and taken it public the year before with a value of about £250 million.  But the pressure on Dom was immense, and the way he coped left him feeling like he’d failed. He had turned to alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with both the highs and lows of being a young founder in a fast-growing business. Exacerbated by his feeling of imposter syndrome, this toxic relationship with alcohol ended up nearly costing him his role in the business.  Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. If you're worried about your own or someone else's drinking, you can call this free helpline in complete confidence. Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm). You can find more information on alcohol support on the NHS website.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
19/01/23·15m 17s

What do you do when you get $300m? Start tackling the real problems facing humanity - Kernel Founder & CEO, Bryan Johnson

What do you want to do with your life? Do you have a plan? Bryan Johnson knew from a young age he wanted to have a big impact on the world and set out to do it. His plan was simple, he wanted to make enough money so that he could focus on really making a difference to the world.  And he did it. Not by doing anything flashy but by building a payments platform, bootstrapping it for years, and through understanding a hell of a lot about human psychology he got it to the point where he sold his company, Braintree Venmo , for $800 million to Paypal. He personally got $300 million. With that money he went on to found Kernel, a company that designs and manufactures brain-scanning technology with the aim to improve life expectancy by combating age-related issues, in 2016. Since then, Bryan has continued to look at how human beings can be and do better, including himself. In 2021 he started Project Blueprint, where he is working to reverse his body’s ageing. It involves measuring his seventy plus organs and then using that data to try to reverse the biological age of each as much as possible. He follows a strict diet and gives up all of the decisions around what he eats to this algorithm. As well as diet the regime also involves taking 25 supplements a day, and a strict exercise, skincare and sleep routine. We talk about: What it was like growing up in a Mormon community  Why learning about compounding at 7 years old was key to his success What he felt the day he sold Braintree Venmo to Paypal for $800 million How being rich has changed how he parents What he is doing to reverse his body’s ageing  Why he believes we must improve human intelligence His advice to entrepreneurs We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
17/01/23·1h 3m

Key habits for growing your wealth, why finance should be as easy as learning to drive, and choosing renting over buying - author of bestseller 'How to Own the World' and Founder, Andrew Craig

What are your new year’s resolutions? Is money on your mind?  Being an entrepreneur can be a bit of an all or nothing game when it comes to money. You're into the creation process and are willing to sacrifice a lot. It can cost you much more than you earn, especially at the beginning, and often you have nothing for a long time. But, admitting that you want money and understanding how to take control of it can be difficult, it can feel like a taboo.  That’s why this episode features bestselling author of 'How to Own the World' and Founder of Plain English Finance, Andrew Craig. 'How to Own the World' is in its third edition and rarely out of the top books for personal finance on Amazon. Andrew originally self-published the book after becoming frustrated with the fact that so many people don’t understand the nuts and bolts of personal finance. He says we can all grow wealthier by developing some simple habits over the long term. A founder himself, Andrew understands the pressures entrepreneurs face but believes that everyone can better control their finances.  What does it mean to ‘own the world’? What is the ‘100 minus your age’ rule? And why does Andrew think it's better to rent rather than buy? Listen to find out. We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
10/01/23·1h 4m

Deliciously Ella: making new year habits stick, the issues of #girlboss culture and why she doesn’t see herself as an influencer - with Founder Ella Mills

Ella Mills started a plant-based food blog, Deliciously Ella, in 2012 after chronic illness left her physically and mentally depleted. The blog blew up and its popularity led to her first recipe book, which was released in January 2015. It became the fastest-selling debut cookbook of all time in the UK and spent eight weeks at number one on Amazon, across all categories.  Deliciously Ella now has 40 plant-based food products, stocked in more than 6,000 stores across the UK, an app, more bestselling cookbooks, a deli, and in 2022 had an expected turnover of 20 million pounds. It hasn’t always been a smooth ride though…which we’ll get into.  Ella has over 2 million followers on Instagram. Social media has played a big role in the growth of the business, but even though many would describe her as one of the original UK influencers, she doesn’t see herself that way.  How did she handle that fame along with the growth of the business brand? What advice would she give to other entrepreneurs building a disruptive consumer brand? And, what does she think about the wellness industry and the desire for quick fixes?  Listen to find out. We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
03/01/23·1h 6m

How I Failed: Trying to please the wrong people, with Founder Rob Fitzpatrick

How do you know what to do when you’re just starting out?  In 2007, Rob Fitzpatrick and his two co-founders, were in their early twenties. They were programmers just out of academia and had an idea for a business. They were accepted to YCombinator in the same cohort as teams like Dropbox and Songkick. They got deals with big companies like Sony Music, MTV, and the BBC, were on national talk shows, got great press coverage and moved to London to be in the centre of their industry. But they died in their fourth year… What went wrong? Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
15/12/22·17m 17s

Who Gives A Crap: Going viral on a toilet and selling 300 million rolls of toilet paper, with Co-Founder Simon Griffiths

Where were you when you came up with the idea for your business? Simon Griffiths was sitting on a toilet when he had the idea for Who Gives A Crap, a subscription-based toilet paper brand that donates 50% of its profits to help build toilets in the developing world. Since they launched in 2012, they’ve sold more than 300 million rolls of toilet paper and donated more than 11 million Australian dollars - just over £6 million - to charity. They now have more than 200 employees spread across 7 countries selling into the USA, Europe and Australia. In September 2021 they raised over $40 million in their first fundraising round.  It’s taken a lot to get to this point. They bootstrapped for the first 9 years and spent 3 years before that working on the product before launching. Simon didn’t get paid for the first 18 months of trading.  What does it take to build a brand that actually tries to change the world? Is entrepreneurship really for everyone? And does Simon fold or scrunch his toilet paper?  Listen to find out. We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
13/12/22·58m 57s

How I Failed: “We were like a cockroach company, we wouldn’t die”, with Founder Steven Renwick

What happens when your business pivots so much you end up in a completely different industry? Steven Renwick founded Satago, a platform that helps businesses get paid faster, in 2012. It was actually one of the first companies to raise money on the equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs.  Whilst it started out as a way to crowdsource data about when companies were getting paid and use that to make real time credit reports, Steven had to pivot the business multiple times, meaning it went from a technology to a finance business.  The more the company grew, the more they needed investment, plus Steven was now in an industry he had no experience in. They raised nearly £3 million in total. But, in 2017, Steven had to try to sell Satago after it became insolvent.  What went wrong? Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
08/12/22·16m 41s

The Black Farmer: managing your fear is the key to success, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones grew up in poverty in Birmingham, having come with his parents from Jamaica as part of the Windrush generation. One of nine children, and as the oldest boy, it was his job to help his father on their allotment, which they used to supplement the family income. And it was on that allotment he first dreamt of owning his own farm.  His drive to change his circumstances was relentless, which was needed, because he had to excel at several different career stages just to give himself the chance of building his company. Wilfred gave Gordon Ramsey his big break in television, having been given his own break in TV, thanks to his raw persistence. Then after finally buying his farm, he set up The Black Farmer, a name coined by neighbours of his farm in Devon.  He’s written a book, called ‘Jeopardy - The Dangers of Playing it Safe’, so has really thought about the things that have made him successful - the stuff we want to know about.  How did he hone his mindset and achieve his lifelong dream? Why does he celebrate being an outsider? And why is fear so important for entrepreneurs?  Listen to find out. We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
06/12/22·45m 37s

How I Failed: 250 VCs and not a single yes, with Pluto Co-Founder Alex Rainey

Do you want to learn about raising capital from someone who has been through the wringer and reflected on his mistakes? Alex Rainey is the Co-Founder of travel insurer and planning app Pluto, which he founded in 2018. They raised a total of £1.3 million, and grew to be the UK’s second highest rated travel insurer and one of the top-3 travel planning apps on the app store.  But in September 2022, just a couple of months before we recorded this episode, Alex and his Co-Founder sold the company after failing to raise in a brutal fundraise.  What went wrong? Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
01/12/22·14m 6s

Back Market: From middle manager to $5b Founder, with Co-Founder & CEO Thibaud Hug de Larauze.

Do you risk it all when the odds are stacked against you? As a founder it’s very hard to take that first leap into the unknown and even more so when you’re in a job you love.The stakes are rarely higher and it’s so difficult to do it well.  But that’s exactly what Thibaud Hug de Larauze did when he left his job to found Back Market, a marketplace for refurbished devices, in 2014. They have grown massively since then, raising over a billion dollars, including $335 million in May 2022 - at a valuation of $5.7 billion. They are now the most valuable startup in French history!  And despite being the head of such a successful company he has managed to stay humble. How do you go from being a middle manager to one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the whole of Europe, pitching to former Vice President of the United States Al Gore AND not get too big for your boots?  Listen to find out.  We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
29/11/22·44m 55s

How I Failed: Losing $1.5 million on someone else’s dream, with entrepreneur Simon Squibb

Simon Squibb is a multi-millionaire entrepreneur and angel investor. After being homeless at 15, he has gone on to found 19 businesses and invest in 76 companies to date. After selling his business to PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) he retired at 40 and is now on a mission to help 10 million people start their own businesses through the Purposeful Project. But it wasn’t a straight line to success, and one of those businesses, a comic book business, failed, losing $1.5 million. What went wrong? Listen to find out. If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
24/11/22·15m 49s

How 7 interviews changed my life - our 200th episode, with Dan Murray-Serter

This is Secret Leader’s 200th episode! Over the last 5 years we've featured over 50 unicorn leaders and household names such as Monzo, Slack, Duolingo, Brewdog, In today’s episode host Dan Murray-Serter takes listeners through the interviews that have had the biggest impact on him. Guests include host of Diary of a CEO, entrepreneur, and angel investor, Steven Bartlett; Co-Founder of Little Moons Vivien Wong on how they went viral during the pandemic; Eve Sleep Kuba Wieczorek on what it cost being one of the fastest UK companies to IPO ever; and Jo Malone talking about how leaving her company after her recovery from cancer was the biggest mistake of her life.  Listen to the full episodes here: Steven Bartlett, host of ‘Diary of a CEO’ and entrepreneur  Lemonade Co-Founder Daniel Schreiber  Little Moons Co-Founder Vivien Wong Eve Sleep Co-Founder Kuba Wieczorek Fiverr Co-Founder Micha Kauffman  Trinny Woodall, Founder of Trinny London Jo Malone, Founder of Jo Malone innit :P Dan reflects on what those interviews have taught him: How to stay consistently true to your path and mission statement whilst not believing your own bullshit with Founder and Host of ‘Diary of a CEO’ Steven Bartlett How to redefine an archaic industry by tapping into consumer psychology with Lemonade Founder Daniel Schreiber  How to handle the challenges of surprise growth in hard times with Vivien Wong from Little Moons The pitfalls of hypergrowth when you put the scaling your business ahead of your mental health (everything can fall like a house of cards),with Eve Sleep’s Kuba Wieczorek How to avoid obsessing over the wrong things, with Fiverr Co-Founder Micha Kauffman  How to stay humble, be vulnerable and start again with Trinny Woodall How to build resilience and not be a victim of your greatest regrets, with Jo Malone    We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
22/11/22·58m 6s

How I failed: So close to achieving my dream and then walking away, with Emma Sexton

In 2013 Emma set up strategic brand agency Hands Down in her spare bedroom, on her laptop, with just £1,000 in savings. She’d never run a business before and had been an employee for the past twenty years, since she was 18. Learning on the job, she put all her energy into growing the business over the next ten years. She had one goal in mind, to make £1 million a year. Despite the pandemic, the business was on set to reach this goal in 2022…but in July she decided to close Hands Down down.  What went wrong? Listen to find out what.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
17/11/22·15m 23s

The biggest problem in business - property legend and Yoo Co-Founder John Hitchcox

John Hitchcox is the Chairman and Founder of Yoo Group, the property company behind the £1.3 billion pound regeneration of Olympia London and considered by many the global leader in the branded residence space.  John founded Yoo in 1999 with one of the world’s most famous designers, Philippe Starck. Together they have grown Yoo to where it is today, operating in over fifty cities and thirty countries worldwide.  John has been in the property market since the early eighties, when he was just 17. He’s had to bring a lot of confidence to be so successful but is honest about the challenges of being an entrepreneur. He has also ridden through multiple financial crises. With the market going bananas and uncertainty over interest rates and inflation going through the roof, it’s a good time to talk to someone who knows more than most.  What does he see in his crystal ball? And what happened when he tried to do his first property deal at the age of 14? Listen to find out. We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
15/11/22·37m 22s

An Uncommon Criminal - Bad Money X Secret Leaders

This a new one for us - we've just launched our first true crime show at Kindling Media (we make Secret Leaders). It's called Bad Money and it's about the Hong Kong gangster, Big Spender. Obsessed with money, he went further than anyone before to get rich. In fact, he became so wealthy he could've had his own episode on Secret Leaders. This is a story of how money and power really work - and this is the first episode. You can listen to the rest of the show here: Or search for Bad Money wherever you listen to your pods. Hope you enjoy!
14/11/22·27m 15s

How I failed: Half a million in debt and living in my car, with Founder Konrad Bergström

Konrad Bergström is the founder of Swedish electric boat manufacturer X Shore and Zound Industries, the Swedish tech giant that sells consumer electronics for Marshall Amplification and Adidas.  But before that, he was half a million euros in debt and living out of his car after his previous business, Megascine Agency, failed. Konrad set up the business which distributed brands like Quicksilver and Burton in Sweden in the late 90s. The company grew quickly and made a name for themselves, organising events such as the world’s largest indoor snowboarding competition and the first European edition of the World Cup in wakeboarding.  So what went wrong? Listen to find out what.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
10/11/22·13m 18s

'I was 5 the first time I heard the word drugs': Nikki Wicks, CEO of The Body Coach and brother of Joe Wicks.

Nikki Wicks is the CEO of The Body Coach and the older brother of Joe Wicks. Joe, aka The Body Coach, is a household name. He’s a fitness coach with a massive online following and the author of one of the best selling cookbooks of all time ‘Lean In 15’, having sold over a million copies in its first year alone.  During the pandemic Joe became known as the ‘Nation’s PE teacher’, delivering exercise sessions on YouTube for children every week. One class of PE with Joe was live-streamed by nearly a million people, earning him a place in the Guinness World Records.  Joe has his own personal brand, but The Body Coach is also a fast-growing business that Nikki has built, along with Joe, over the past seven years. Their YouTube channel has over 2.5 two and a half million subscribers and they hit over a million downloads on their app in their first year. They are booming. Nikki and Joe have a strong bond, formed during a difficult childhood during which their father struggled with a drug addiction. Nikki says he first heard the word ‘drugs’ when he was just five years old and tried to hide his father’s drug’s use from the rest of the family. When Joe asked Nikki to come back from working abroad in 2015 to help him build his business, Nikki says he was worried about working with his brother because of the warnings he’d heard about working with family but doesn’t regret his decision.  What is his advice for those that want to work with someone they are close to and how do they cope with such a fast-growing global business? Listen to find out.  We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
08/11/22·44m 36s

How I failed: ‘Never go in with the idea of money first’, with Founder Kurt Davis.

Kurt Davis has spent twenty years in Silicon Valley and Asia, working in venture capital and business development for technology startups, focusing on deals with companies like Apple, Microsoft, Spotify, and Sony.  But he experienced failure, with his very first business, a mobile game company. Kurt was living in Hong Kong in the early 2000s and from there he witnessed the beginning of a wave of innovation in China, especially in tech. Alibaba, Tencent, Baibu, all of them were launched around that time and were beginning to grow.  It was exciting and Kurt couldn’t resist the opportunity. He left his job and moved to Shanghai in 2003 to make it as an entrepreneur. He was really into football and hit upon the idea of starting an online fantasy football game app. At first it was going to be a website but, after realising they weren’t going to be able to monetise it very well, they then turned their attention to mobile phones. Remember this was 2003, so the early days of smartphones, before the iPhone. All of this was really new, but they did it! They got mobile phone carriers, like China Unicom, to sell their product and also spread into other countries in Asia.  So what went wrong? Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
03/11/22·11m 49s

Ignore the press, why you should be excited about the world - billionaire psychedelic investor Christian Angermayer

Christian Angermayer is a German-born billionaire. He’s on the Sunday Times rich list, and has accumulated a lot of wealth from his work as an investor, film producer and founder. But Christian is about much more than money… From his family office, Apeiron Investment Group, he invests and starts companies in areas from psychedelics to fintech, cryptocurrency, biotech, and artificial intelligence. In fact, he’s been called the world’s first ‘psychedelic billionaire’. That might seem a bit strange given the fact he is basically a tee-totaler. He doesn’t smoke. He’s a Bavarian who’s never drunk beer! His biggest vice is tea and coffee.  He’s also really into longevity. He believes that within his lifetime, we will extend human lifespan to such an extent that we will voluntarily decide when we exit this life. And he’s committing some of his vast fortune to making that a reality.  He thinks deeply about how he has got to where he has and works hard to master his ego. Why does he think this is key to being a successful founder and investor?  Listen to find out. We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
01/11/22·1h 2m

How I failed: We were playing the wrong game, with Jonathan Anderson

Jonathan Anderson is the co-founder and CEO of Candu, a no-code platform that helps people build their own products. They are used by companies likeAdobe, Thought Industries, and Gorgias and have raised over five million dollars. But his first business wasn’t such a success. In 2011, when Jonathan was a student at Stanford University in a CleanTech programme, he came up with the idea for a smart thermostat controlled by your smartphone with a couple of his fellow students. The problem they’d identified was that programmable thermostats at the time were really hard to use meaning customers just didn’t do it.  It was early days for the smartphone but also exciting times. They realised they could use the GPS on customer’s smartphones to say when they were coming in and out of their homes, making heating much more efficient. After securing twenty thousand pounds with convertible note financing, they worked with a Chinese supplier to build a prototype. They were pumped to be at the forefront of the revolution in household technology But they’d made a fundamental mistake. Listen to find out what.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
27/10/22·13m 9s

Duolingo Founder: Being a genius, inventing CAPTCHA & getting 500m users - Luis Von Ahn

If you’re not one of their 500 million users, Duolingo is a phenomenally successful app where you practise a language in small chunks every day. Launched in 2012, it has become the number one language learning app and the most downloaded education app in the world. The company floated in 2021 and currently has a market cap of just under 4 billion dollars.  It’s rare for a founder to be brilliant at both invention and business but Luis Von Ahn, the Co-Founder and CEO of Duolingo, is one of them. Before Duolingo, he invented Captcha - those squiggly letters you have to write out to prove you’re not a computer. The guy’s a genius, and that’s a fact. He actually won an award for being one in 2006, the prestigious Macarthur Fellows Program award. It’s colloquially known as the genius grant, because it’s said you have to be one to get it.  Luis grew up in a single parent household in Guatemala. His mother spent all the money she could sending him to the best school she could afford. This experience, of seeing the difference between those who receive a good education and those who don’t, would later form the basis of Duolingo. But when Luis and his Co-Founder Severin started Duolingo in 2012 they had a big problem - how could they keep their users coming back? Listen to find out.  Show notes: (01:50) - The beginning of Duolingo (08:40) - Getting first interested in computers at 8 years old.  (11:15) - Inventing CAPTCHA (16:00) - Selling reCAPTCHA to Google  (19:45) - How he handled suddenly becoming very rich  (23:30) - The key things they did right with Duolingo in the early days (25:25) - How they got their users to stay motivated (29:00) - Working out how to teach Gen Z (33:00) - Why he doesn’t see Google Translate as a competitor (35:40) - Using crowdsourcing as a tool to grow the business (40:35) - His advice for other entrepreneurs We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
25/10/22·48m 17s

How I failed: Leaving my high paying job for my doomed startup with Jay Radia

Jay Radia has built three businesses worth over half a billion pounds and currently runs an accelerator focusing on increasing happiness in the workplace.  But before all that, he founded a company called Mobi RF, which failed. The idea behind the company was to allow anyone with a smartphone to start selling their photos to businesses, like iStock or Getty Images for your smartphone.  Jay had this spark of inspiration back in 2012 when Instagram was taking off and everyone was taking more and more photos on their phone. His confidence skyrocketed when he spoke to the Founder of iStock who told him the idea was incredible and that he wished he’d thought of it. He quit his six-figure job in finance and bootstrapped the company with his brother. What went wrong? Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links: If you want to hear more from Jay, he's got his own podcast 'Happy Millionaire'.
20/10/22·11m 25s

How I failed: Not knowing when to accept defeat, with Mark Joseph

Before Mark Joseph founded his current marketing agency, Vouch Global, he experienced failure with another agency called Testify Digital. Their clients included brands like Universal, Wonderbra, Shock Absorber and Lenovo. He loved the projects they came up with, including the world’s first award judged on social media for the Mobo Awards. They got to £1m in revenue and Mark ran the company for five years before he reached the point where he felt he had to walk away.  So, what went wrong? Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
13/10/22·11m 56s

How I failed: Good options but not enough focus, with Yorkshire Meatball Co Founder Gareth Atkinson

Gareth Atkinson launched the Yorkshire Meatball Company in 2014 with his father after they recognised a gap in the market for a premium meatball product. They opened a restaurant in Harrogate, won awards, were listed as one of the UK’s top 100 startups, and ended up being stocked in 300 supermarkets across the country. Like all good entrepreneurs, they’d even built a brand that had the potential and scope to stretch into other markets. So what went wrong? Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
06/10/22·14m 38s

Improbable: Inside the UK’s most secretive unicorn, with Co-Founder Herman Narula

How do you build a metaverse?  Long before Facebook changed to Meta, Improbable, a British game and technology company, was working on the idea of a kind of metaverse, even if they didn’t call it that. Now, they are at the forefront of making virtual worlds (where you can go to work, socialise, have experiences) a reality.  Improbable was born in 2012 after Herman Narula met Co-Founder Rob Whitehead whilst they were both studying computer science at Cambridge University. They had a dream: they loved computer games and wanted to go live there. They spent over a decade working on how to do that and became a unicorn without anyone really knowing what they did. But it’s not all about entertainment, they also have another side of their business that has applications in defence and public policy. They build models of real world countries which can be used to solve a whole host of problems; from what would happen if a particular response to coronavirus is implemented, to how climate change might require the electrification of a grid.  Herman is obviously a key part of the company’s success but he doesn’t want it to be all about him and warns against falling into the trap of the cult of personality such as that of Elon Musk. Instead, he says, if you are building an ambitious company, you need to be able to be open to failure and understand your limitations. And, he says, they have made many mistakes over the past decade but they were lucky because they were funded at a time when people could invest in technology companies that didn’t have a business model.  Listen to find out why young tech companies that are looking to grow now shouldn’t expect the same luck; how virtual worlds will change the way we live our lives entirely; and why he says that the era of consolidated monopolies, such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, may be coming to an end.  We'd love your feedback Sponsor links:
04/10/22·54m 19s

How I failed: On the cusp of greatness when everything falls apart with Flash Pack Founder Radha Vyas

Would you fight for your business even after you’d put it into administration?  Radha Vyas co-founded Flash Pack, an adventure holiday company, with her husband Lee, after realising there was an untapped market for solo entrepreneurs in their thirties and forties. They slowly built their company and were just entering an exciting first fundraising round when the pandemic hit, decimating their company and the entire travel industry. They had to put the company into administration but then were offered a ray of hope which meant they might be able to get their business back. What happened next? Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
29/09/22·17m 8s

Dan Murray-Serter, Chapter 4: How to cross the chasm from idea to product

You want to launch a new product. But how do you decide on exactly what you’re going to develop? How do you build a community when you don’t have anything to sell them? How do you test demand? These are important questions that Dan Murray-Serter, the usual host of Secret Leaders, will be answering this week. This is the fourth chapter in our semi-regular series with Dan where we put him in the hot seat. If you haven’t listened to the previous three it’s worth doing that now because you’ll understand more about what he talks about in this episode.  Dan is a founder himself. His day job is running his VC-backed company Heights. For this episode we are going back to the beginning of Heights. Well, actually, before the beginning, because whilst Heights is now a braincare supplement company, it didn’t start out as one.  After the failure of their previous company in 2018, Dan and his co-founder Joel decided they wanted to focus on building a consumer goods company in the mental health field. They knew where they were pointing roughly and they were in the rare situation where they had money left over from their previous business, essentially their seed money. But how do you get from there to a product that people love? Listen to find out. Here are all of Dan’s episodes so far: Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 We'd love your feedback Sponsor links:
27/09/22·46m 24s

How I Failed: Unable to keep staff, with Founder Hayden Bloomfield

Do you struggle to maintain good relationships with your employees?  Hayden Bloomfield managed to grow his grounds maintenance company during the pandemic. At its height, it had a team of ten and was turning over £25,000 - £30,000 a month. But during a period of two years, Hayden went through thirty members of staff. He couldn’t focus on building the big picture because he regularly had to cover some staff not turning up for work. Why couldn’t he stop his staff from leaving?  Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links: If you want to know more about Hayden's failures, check out his podcast, Benevolent Business.
22/09/22·12m 33s

Fiverr: “Stop focusing on f*cking valuations, they mean nothing!” says Co-Founder Micha Kaufman

Micha Kaufman is the Co-Founder and CEO of Fiverr, the global online marketplace for freelancers. Let’s say you’re a designer. You can list your services and display your portfolio. And then companies who want stuff designed like a new website can find you and hire you to do the work. It's called Fiverr because at the beginning all the tasks cost 5 dollars. Though the pricing has changed, the name has stayed and the platform is currently used by 4.2 million customers in 160 countries worldwide. The company launched in 2010 but Micha was committed to growing it organically so spent nothing on marketing for the first five or six years.  And that is even more incredible when you think that Fiverr, which went public in 2019, has a current market cap of just under 1.4 billion dollars and revenue of over 160 million dollars this year so far. Micha says it’s three times larger than it was when it floated. But during the pandemic, they skyrocketed to a market cap of 11 billion dollars….yeah, we get into that period! As well as that, Micha tells me how being featured on Yahoo nearly ended Fiverr when it first launched; why he says their success is down to luck, and much more. We'd love your feedback Sponsor links:
20/09/22·51m 35s

How I failed: The danger of doing business with friends, with Footlights Founder Jo Fisher

Would you go into business with a friend?  Jo Fisher is the Founder and CEO of Footlights, a performing arts company, which has 17 franchises and works with schools across the north of England.  She got into business at a ridiculously young age. As a young child she used to sit in the entrance to her house and sell items her neighbours no longer wanted to make money for sweets. She left school at 14 to work full-time and launched her first business, an underwear business, when she was just 18. When it started to grow she decided to bring in her best friend as a partner…and that’s when things started to go wrong.  What happened? Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
15/09/22·12m 56s

The Newsette's Daniella Pierson on how to prove your haters wrong

Daniella Pierson is the CEO and Founder of the Newsette, a women-focused newsletter which she started when she was at university at just 19 years old. Now 27, she was recently named by Forbes as one of the wealthiest women of colour in the United States.  The newsletter now has more than 500,000 subscribers, whilst revenue grew from $1million in 2019 to $40 million in 2021. Within the company she also started a creative agency, Newland, which works with Fortune 500 brands. According to Inc., the Newsette is the16th most successful company in America, based on its growth over the last three years of over 16,000%.  Last year, Daniella, who has ADHD, OCD, and depression, co-founded mental health company Wondermind with Selena Gomez and Selena’s mother Mandy Teefey. It was recently valued at 100 million dollars.  But Daniella did not grow up believing she could make it as an entrepreneur. She used all the ways people brought her down to fuel her desire to make her business a success but says there were many times she nearly didn’t make it.  Find out how she did it.  *This episode contains references to suicidal thoughts. If you or someone you know is affected by these or other issues Daniella speaks about you can get help in the UK by visiting* We'd love your feedback Sponsor links:
13/09/22·56m 6s

How I failed: “When people try to take things off you, you gotta fight back!” with Natterjack Whisky Founder Aidan Mehigan

For this episode of ‘How I Failed’ we follow the story of Aidan Mehigan’s fight to save his business, as it happened. We first spoke to Aidan earlier this year when he was in the middle of a fundraise and court battle to keep control of his whisky business. When growing his company in 2018, Natterjack Whisky, Aidan had taken out a convertible loan note to fund his business. Then Covid hit, by the end of 2021, cash was low, their sales were almost non-existent on the international market and the Irish market just wasn’t big enough to support them.  The convertible loan note holder wanted their money, and Aidan couldn’t pay it back… What happened? Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
08/09/22·16m 7s

THIS Co-Founder shares secret to making plant-based food that doesn’t suck - Andy Shovel

THIS is currently the fastest-growing meat alternative brand in the UK. After launching in 2019, it was recently valued at £150 million. But Co-Founders Andy Shovel and Pete Sharman didn’t always want to help people eat less meat. In fact, before THIS they ran a successful beef burger company.  Andy knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur from a young age and sold his first business at 21. But far from feeling proud of himself, he really struggled. He hardly left his room for three weeks. Surrounded by friends in stable jobs, he felt lonely, scared that he didn’t know what to do next. A chance visit to a new restaurant startup gave him the direction he needed, he would go into the “rock and roll” world of food. THIS definitely pushes the boundaries. Their early traction, says Andy, came from their PR stunts. In 2021, they did a takeover of the town of Quorn, rumoured to be where the meat-free brand, their main competitor, got its name from. THIS sponsored the football team, the pubs, the bingo hall…even the branded paper in the fish and chip shop. They’ve done a deep-fake of the Queen’s speech and got an Ed Sheeran look-alike to hand out chicken nuggets. But not all campaigns have gone to plan…one stunt saw Special Branch raid their offices and Andy almost taken away! Find out why and what Andy has learnt as a people leader taking a business from £0 to £17 million in revenue in three years.  We'd love your feedback Sponsor links:
06/09/22·58m 54s

What it was really like building Apple with Steve Jobs, with Founder & CEO of FNDR James Vincent

James Vincent has helped develop brands for some of the biggest companies in the world. For 11 years he met Steve Jobs every week to come up with some of the iconic campaigns for Apple’s products. And then to launch the very first iPhone, James started Media Arts Lab, Apple’s exclusive brand agency, along with Lee Clow and other co-founders, which he ran for over eight years. For someone who had a big part to play in constructing Apple’s narrative, James Vincent is a relatively unknown figure. Maybe because he hasn't ever really put himself in the spotlight. He can be pretty self-deprecating about his career but he’s helped some absolute icons. As well as Steve Jobs, he’s worked with Brian Chesky at AirBnB and in his most recent company FNDR he’s working with the next generation of unicorns. Clients have included Evan Spiegal at Snapchap and José Neves at Farfetch.  Find out how a young boy from Sheffield ended up in the inner circle of some of the world's most iconic brands.  We'd love your feedback Sponsor links:
30/08/22·1h 11m

SumUp: how to stumble into building an €8b company, with Co-Founder Marc-Alexander Christ

How much of your success is down to luck?  Marc-Alexander Christ is the Co-Founder of SumUp, which was recently valued at €8b. He says being in the right place at the right time was a big factor in him starting the company.  SumUp is a fintech best known for supplying card readers to small businesses so they can take payments. You may have seen them, and have probably used them because they work with over four million merchants worldwide.  It hasn’t always gone their way though. As well as some early mistakes that could have proved fatal, they were initially hit hard by the pandemic, which saw their revenue drop around 80% almost overnight. Find out how they managed to adapt and how Marc says you can make the most of the luck you get dealt in life.  We'd love your feedback Sponsor links:
23/08/22·51m 53s

Octopus Energy: how to run a massive company with no HR function, with Founder and CEO Greg Jackson

Greg Jackson started Octopus Energy, a green energy supplier, in 2015. Since then it has enjoyed huge growth. It is now the fourth largest energy retailer in the UK, supplying over 3 million homes in the country, as well as homes in Germany, the USA, Japan, Spain, Italy, France and New Zealand. They were valued at nearly 5 billion dollars at the end of 2021.  Greg is clearly passionate about climate change and says he went into business to drive change. Octopus Energy is a fascinating business, not only because of its growth in a highly competitive industry but also because Greg has rejected traditional business structures. Despite having three and a half thousand staff, Octopus Energy has no HR department.  Listen to find out why he wanted to create a completely new organisational structure; how that system coped when an unprecedented event like the pandemic happened; and what is it like being the CEO of an energy supplier during an energy crisis.  We'd love your feedback Sponsor links:
16/08/22·47m 56s

Little Moons: how to become an overnight success - in 12 years, with Co-Founder Vivien Wong

Going viral is something many businesses would kill for but having to scale up your business to meet rocketing demand is not easy.  Little Moons makes mochi ice cream, a type of Japanese rice cake with an ice cream filling. Vivien Wong co-founded the business with her brother in 2010 after spending two years developing the product with her father in her parents' bakery. Over the next decade the company grew steadily and surely, until the company went viral on TikTok during the pandemic and sales suddenly rocketed. However, after being hit by supply chain woes and Brexit, they had hardly any stock left to meet the demand.  Listen to find out how they got through it and grew their revenue from 7 to 27 million in just two years.  We'd love your feedback: Sponsor links:
09/08/22·48m 37s

How I failed: Launching a website no one visited with Founder Chris Donnelly

Last year Chris sold a creative marketing agency he’d founded called Verb and he’s now the Co-Founder of Lottie, which just raised £6 million on a £45 million valuation. But before these successes, he experienced failure with his website the Real Uni Guide, which aimed to match students with the right universities for them. Along with his co-founder brother, he spent over a year building the website but when they launched, hardly anyone visited.  Find out what happened and what Chris learnt from this failure that defined his career.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
04/08/22·13m 10s

Sweatcoin: how to turn your worst moments into your best, with Co-Founder Oleg Fomenko

What makes you want to exercise? Would you do it more if you were paid to do it? Oleg Fomenko thinks we aren’t naturally disposed to want to exercise, that we have evolved to preserve our store of calories rather than spend them. So, he built Sweatcoin, along with his Co-Founder Anton Derlyatka, an app that will literally pay you for taking steps outside. Specifically it will pay you a certain amount of ‘sweatcoin’ for every thousand steps you take. This digital currency can then be switched for products, as well as their new cryptocurrency, SWEAT. Oleg came up with Sweatcoin in 2015 when he was struggling to find the motivation to exercise after his startup, a music streaming service called, suddenly went under. Recovering from the end of that company also led him to a key realisation that he says is important for every entrepreneur to know. And it must work, because Sweatcoin is growing fast. It currently has over 100 millions users, and has no signs of slowing down.  Listen to find out: how the current war in Ukraine is affecting him as a Russian-born entrepreneur; why cryptocurrencies are going to change the face of Sweatcoin; and what advice he would give to other entrepreneurs that want to replicate his success. Listen to our episode on Web3 with The Sandbox Founder here. We'd love your feedback: Sponsor links:
02/08/22·58m 24s

How I failed: the gym business which went under, with Shares Co-Founder Benjamin Chemla

Benjamin Chemla has been an entrepreneur for over a decade. He co-founded the massive on-demand delivery service Stuart in 2015 and currently he is the Co-Founder and CEO of Shares, a just-launched app which makes investing a social experience.  But between his successes, there was a high profile failure. Benjamin founded a group of gyms in New York City called Fithouse in 2017. Everything started great, classes running on everything from yoga to boxing. Investors had put up $10 million and he was turning a profit. But then came the pandemic… Find out what happened next and why Benjamin decided it was better to walk away than stay and fight.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
28/07/22·13m 30s

Fanbytes: from growing up poor to selling for millions at 27, with Co-Founder Timothy Armoo

What were you doing at 17? When he was that age, Timothy Armoo had already sold his first startup. Now 27, he has just sold his second startup, Fanbytes, a social media and influencer marketing agency, to digital advertising company, Brainlabs, for eight figures. Timothy, or Timo as he is known, grew up on a council estate in Hackney and it was the realisation that he was poor when he was a teenager that motivated him to become an entrepreneur. He started Fanbytes with his co-founders in 2017 and the company, which connects social media influencers to big brands, has gone on to employ 65 people.  Part of the work Fanbytes does, finding up-and-coming influencers, is done by its algorithm, built by Co-Founder Ambrose Cooke - meaning that Fanbytes can sign potential talent before anyone else.  We talked about: What happened after he lost almost half the money he got selling his first business in just three months What a lead gangster told him that helped him as an entrepreneur How the death of his father in his early twenties was a pivotal moment in deciding how he was going to grow Fanbytes How he doesn’t feel his next business has to be bigger than his previous one What advice he has for other young entrepreneurs…you might be surprised by what he says! We'd love your feedback: Sponsor links:
26/07/22·56m 31s

How I failed: not able to pay suppliers, staff or my mortgage with Founder Matt Jones

Finding investment is a necessity for many entrepreneurs, but things don’t always work out the way they're supposed to.  Matt Jones started his business Rubix Advertising in 2009, with the help of an investor. It started well and the business, a full service media advertising company, grew quickly. But only two years later, Matt had to close his business down. What happened? And how did he turn that failure into a seven figure success story?  Listen to find out. If you have any feedback, we want to hear it. What would make the show better? Email us at  Sponsor links:
21/07/22·13m 23s

The man who predicted the rise of the influencer, with Gleam Futures Founder Dom Smales

Dom Smales is the exited Founder of Gleam Futures, which was one of the first social media talent agencies in the world - and the first in the UK.  When Gleam was founded back in 2010, influencers weren’t even a thing, but Dom saw the potential power bloggers could have. He went on to play a big part in the rise of the first Youtube stars, like Zoe Sugg, better known as Zoella; Tanya Burr; and the Pixiwoo sisters, Sam and Nicola Chapman.  Dom exited in 2020 but it wasn't what he thought it would be. We talk about: What it was like being the agent for the UK’s biggest social media stars His tips on how to manage a successful exit, Dom left the company in 2021 Why selling your company might not be all you hope for What he really thinks of the influencer industry today We'd love your feedback:  Sponsor links:
19/07/22·47m 10s

How I failed: “I didn’t actually believe in the business, I just wanted to work for myself”, with Founder Amelia Sordell

Today, Amelia Sordell runs a booming personal branding agency called Klowt, but back in 2015, aged 21, she had just founded Eitherside, a fashion brand for women who wanted to dress up for a night out - but without the luxury price tag.  Only eight months after starting the company, Amelia was faced with taking out a loan she would have to personally guarantee, or shutting it down. She chose the latter.  Listen to find out what went wrong, and how she finally overcame that failure after nearly ten years.   ... We'd love your feedback:  Check out Yotpo, our exclusive sponsor - to grow your ecommerce business:
14/07/22·13m 11s

Dan Murray-Serter, Chapter 3: ‘I’d decided life was meaningless’ - my battle with bulimia, anxiety, depression and insomnia

You wouldn’t sign up for a terrible experience but they’re a breeding ground for the best stories, and the most personal growth. It’s no different for today’s guest and the usual host of Secret Leaders, Dan Murray-Serter, who opens up about his biggest traumas… which became the biggest turning points in his life. This is the third chapter in our semi-regular series with Dan. If you haven’t listened to the first or second it’s worth doing that now because you’ll understand the periods he’s talking about in this episode.  Dan today has become pretty synonymous with the mental health space. His VC backed startup Heights is trying to create a new category of braincare - but he wasn’t always like this. In fact, he didn’t even think he had mental health issues despite having had a shopping list of problems over the years. When the penny dropped for Dan, it dropped hard. Find out what Dan went through - and what he learnt about how to spend your time on this earth. If you have any feedback (what would make the show better?) we'd love to hear it:  Our wonderful sponsors:
12/07/22·52m 28s

How I failed: “We were so convinced that we were among the few that would make it to IPO”, with multi-exit entrepreneur Touraj Parang

Touraj Parang today has multiple exits under his belt, has sat on both sides of the deal table - and has written a book literally called "Exit Path: How to Win the Startup End Game". But the reason he’s become such an authority on exits is what we’re discussing today - his failed startup Jaxtr. Jaxtr was a way to make phone calls over the internet in the period 2005 - 2009, before stuff like Whatsapp calling was really a thing. They’d done really well according to some metrics - they had 10 million users but then their world collapsed. Find out what happened and what Touraj learnt from it. ... We'd love your feedback:  Check out Yotpo, our exclusive sponsor - to grow your ecommerce business:
07/07/22·13m 23s

GoHenry: Creating a new category with other parents after kids racked up bills, with Co-Founder & COO Louise Hill

Louise Hill is the Co-Founder and COO of GoHenry, a debit card and financial education app for children which has two million users. The starting point for Louise was noticing her kids buying stuff on iTunes without her permission. She then found out other children were spending money on all sorts of things without them or their parents realising it. So, after chatting with two dads whose kids went to the same school, they decided to do something about it.  This is the story of how Louise turned GoHenry into a category creator - and they’re now taking on the US. We talk about: The difference between an entrepreneur and not The problem with children and money The origin story of GoHenry What she learnt from her first startup failure  How she met her two co-founders The last woman standing Handling pressure Feedback:  Sponsor links:
05/07/22·47m 33s

How I failed: “I didn’t want to tell them I’ve reached the end of my rope”, with journalist Emma Gunavardhana

Emma Gunavardhana, or Emma Guns as she’s often known started her career with a bang. She landed her dream job early doors - editing OK Magazine back when that was a really big deal. But when she left the comfort of that job to make it as a solopreneur, everything went to pot.  Wind forward four years and Emma was at her lowest ebb, considering selling her car and moving back in with her parents at the age of 38 - a has-been who couldn’t make it in London. Find out what happened and what she learnt is the key to pulling yourself out of the abyss. ... We'd love your feedback:  Check out Yotpo, our exclusive sponsor - to grow your ecommerce business:
30/06/22·12m 52s

What3Words: Why an injury can be the best thing to happen to you, with Co-Founder & CEO Chris Sheldrick

We normally can’t see it at the time but bad things often play a critical role in good things happening. As Steve Jobs famously said, it’ll make sense looking backwards. This is exactly what happened to Chris Sheldrick who had plans to be a professional bassoonist but a freak injury changed the course of life. Chris is now the Co-Founder and CEO of What3Words, an alarmingly simple solution to a complex problem you didn’t know we had - addresses. Lots of places don’t have addresses - like a barge on a canal, or a spot on a mountainside. This makes it difficult to deliver or do things at those addresses so Chris’s solution was to turn the world into 57 trillion 3-metre squares and give each of those squares a three word name, e.g. house, dog, car. But it’s one thing haven’t a genius idea. It’s another thing executing on it. Find out how Chris has done it. We talk about: Why a young kid would play the bassoon  How sleepwalking can go wrong Why being polarising is good  How to raise funds Using What3Words to help in disasters The business model Feedback:  Sponsor links: What3Words The what3words app, available for iOS and Android, and the online map enables people to find, share and navigate to what3words addresses in 51 languages to date.
28/06/22·46m 38s

How I failed: short-form video platform that got crushed by TikTok, with Jess Butcher MBE

Ok, ok - it’s not all about your name or your competitors - but Jess Butcher was kicking herself when she came across TikTok shortly after launching Tick.Done. with her Co-Founders in 2018.  Tick.Done. was also a short form video platform which made things confusing. Jess’s friends regularly congratulated her on her success, only for Jess to admit that TikTok, the thing they were hearing about everywhere, wasn’t her business. And pretty quickly it was the end for them. Jess is a legend - you just want to talk to her - and she’s a top entrepreneur. But this is her failure story. Find out what happened and what she learnt from it.   Feedback:  Sponsor links:
23/06/22·13m 11s

How I failed: the non-alcoholic drink which got pulled from the shelves, with Richard Clark, Founder of Drynks

Richard Clark is now the Founder and MD of Drynks, a non-alcoholic drinks business which raised money on Dragons Den and is growing strongly. But a few years ago he launched another non alcoholic drink, Iron Press, which had a very different outcome.  Having enjoyed huge success at Halewood International with Crabbie’s Ginger Beer, Richard and his team found it easy to get into retailers, but it was then the problems started. Find out what went wrong and what he learnt from it.  ... We'd love your feedback:  Check out Yotpo, our exclusive sponsor - to grow your ecommerce business:
16/06/22·11m 58s

How I failed: 37 jobs by the age of 24, with Krisi Smith, Founder of Bird & Blend

We’ve all made mistakes. Many of us have had short-lived jobs. And many of us have been fired. But getting through 37 jobs by the time you’re 24 is quite a haul.  That’s what happened to Krisi Smith, the Founder of Bird & Blend, a booming tea company. But before she found her groove, she found she couldn’t hold down a job. This is the story of what happened and what she learnt from it. ... We'd love your feedback:  Check out Yotpo, our exclusive sponsor - to grow your ecommerce business:
09/06/22·11m 7s

Beyond: shorting your rival’s stock for $700m but losing the war, with Founder & CEO Ian Strang

80% to 90% of startups fail. But what those stats don't tell you is how you can do loads of things right and still fail. This is what happened to Ian Strang and the company he founded, Beyond, who tried to shake up the death industry - offering price comparisons, wills, funerals, probate - those kinds of things. They certainly managed to do that. They landed some blows, but ultimately they lost the war. This is Ian’s story, told a few months after his company failed.  He and his team came up with some ingenious ideas which led to press, shorting stocks and ultimately the regulation of the death industry itself. But that’s not how things ended. We talk about: The demanding childhood which shaped his life His first startup Meeting Alan Sugar’s son Quitting Pollen because it was too much fun The bizarre circumstance for first pitching Beyond The problem with monetising death How to grow through SEO The April fool’s joke that yielded big publicity Shorting Dignity for $700m How to get the CMA on your side What is a bad advert anyway Auctioning your company The reality of being an entrepreneur  Feedback:  Sponsor links:
07/06/22·57m 42s

How I failed: Chris Cabrera on getting fired, getting pissed, and getting even

By the time he was 37, Chris Cabrera had managed his career very well. He was a leader in a public company - and he knew what strategy the company should take to seize the future. But then he got fired.  This is the story of what happened and what he did next.  ... We'd love your feedback:  Check out Yotpo, our exclusive sponsor - if you want to grow your ecommerce business:
02/06/22·12m 37s

How the fat kid did it: Vikas Shah MBE on getting over obesity shame and suicide attempts - and what people get wrong about entrepreneurship

Vikas Shah MBE looks like the picture of success today. He’s got an MBE. He advises the government on business matters. He’s an NED, investor - he’s someone you look up to. But it wasn’t always like this.  He was a fat kid at school, and when he realised he was obese - was disgusted by himself. He lost his identity when his first business failed.  He tried to commit suicide four times. The last one got very close to succeeding. But we’re here talking with Vikas-the-success today, and that’s because his story is ultimately about resilience. Find out how you can develop your own mental strength, because, as Vikas explains, it’s really on you. We talk about: Growing up as a fat kid Starting his first business at 14 What you really learn from failure Suicide attempts Where resilience comes from Delegating responsibility for mental health Common traits in successful people Give us feedback:  Sponsor links:
31/05/22·49m 20s

How I failed: Alex Farrell on winding down her startup after taking on a new industry

Alex Farrell is a successful entrepreneur, NED and investor but amongst the successes, there have also been some losses.  Alex founded Gift Wink in 2015, a platform where users could get timely and excellent gift ideas. So when your Mum’s birthday was coming up, you’d actually get her something awesome which arrived on time. That was the idea anyway, but four years later, after pushing against headwinds, Alex was forced to let the staff go and close the business. Find out what happened… ... We'd love your feedback:  Check out Yotpo, our exclusive sponsor - if you want to grow your ecommerce business:
26/05/22·13m 27s

Tackling a problem that will affect half the planet as a first-time Founder, with Vira Health Co-Founder Andrea Berchowitz

Andrea Berchowitz is the Co-Founder of Vira Health, a tech startup taking on problems in women’s health, starting with menopause. Andrea worked at McKinsey and then the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation but this is her first time as a Founder. What’s tougher than she expected? What’s surprised her about the switch? And what would she advise others thinking of making the move? Plus we discuss: How to pick what to do with your career   The reality of menopause Stereotypes of engineers  The kind of work that’s difficult to do remotely How to manage people Feedback isn’t what people think it is  Give us feedback on the show:  Sponsor links:
24/05/22·51m 13s

How I failed: Giles Harrison quit his job to start his own thing but hit a big reality check

Giles Harrison, the Co-Founder of Sculpd, is riding high now but his first startup ground to a painful halt.  Having quit his job in a bullish mood to found a matcha tea business, he soon found out how difficult startups are - and how much more difficult physical goods businesses are compared to digital ones. Find out how he failed - what went wrong - and what he learnt from it.  ... We'd love your feedback:  Check out Yotpo, our exclusive sponsor - if you want to grow your ecommerce business:
19/05/22·13m 8s

The Sandbox: wtf is the metaverse and how will it change the world, with Co-Founder and COO Sebastien Borget

So you’ve heard people talking about the metaverse and have been wondering what they’re on about? You think you get it one minute but then someone else says something and you’re none the wiser? Yeah, sounds about right. This is why we’re pumped to be interviewing Sebastien Borger, the Co-Founder and COO of The Sandbox, who are a market leader in the metaverse. The Sandbox is the place where brands like Starbucks, Gucci and Nike have been buying virtual land so they can deliver experiences to their fans.  Sebastien is a serial entrepreneur who’s always been obsessed with the idea of making his own games and turning players into owners. After three successful startups, he’s on the brink of greatness with The Sandbox, but the chances of them ending up one of the ultimate winners of the metaverse is still very small. How many of the early internet businesses are around today? It didn’t work out for the likes of Napster, Yahoo and MySpace. Will it work out for The Sandbox?  We talk about: What you learn as a serial Founder Why meta isn’t a threat Why don’t we take digital ownership seriously Turning players into owners When will The Sandbox go mainstream? Feedback:  Sponsor links:
17/05/22·27m 44s

How I failed: Amanda Perry went bankrupt after losing her baking business

Amanda Perry tells us what it’s like to go bankrupt after flying high with her baking business. She’d been featured in Vogue; her cupcakes were flying off the shelves - she thought business was easy. Until it wasn’t, and it was her who was personally on the hook… How do you even go bankrupt from starting a company? What impact does it have on you? And how do you recover from something like that?  Amanda’s now the successful Founder of Soup Agency but this is a cautionary tale for anyone thinking about starting a business. ... We'd love your feedback:  Check out Yotpo, our exclusive sponsor - if you want to grow your ecommerce business:
12/05/22·15m 15s

Outbrain: closing a funding round with gunfire in the background -Co-Founder & Co-CEO Yaron Galai

It’s pretty rare that investors have to ask the Founder they’re speaking to if they’re in a warzone, or insist they have to leave their country for somewhere a little more ‘peaceful’ but that’s exactly what happened to Yaron Galai, the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Outbrain. Yaron was a captain in the Israeli Navy before smashing it out the park with a few startups he founded.  Yaron’s latest company Outbrain (founded in 2006) is one you may not have heard of but you’ve probably used - they power recommended articles on loads of the world’s top news sites.  They nearly merged with their biggest competitor (Taboola) a year ago only for that deal to not work out and float instead on the Nasdaq for $1.25 billion.  As Yaron says, an exit is a great outcome but a terrible plan, so what was his plan? How has he got multiple exits under his belt? What are the secrets to his success?  We talk about: The struggle for funding Israeli military/life/work balance Parents investing to make sure their children got paid Exiting for $400m  Why it’s easier to make acquisitions when you’re public Feedback:  Sponsor links:
10/05/22·56m 50s

How I failed: Steve Witt on losing everything… twice

Steve Witt knows what it’s like to make a lot of money… and lose it all. He knows what it’s like to go from sipping mai tais on the proverbial Caribbean island to sleeping on your mate’s sofa because you’ve got nowhere else to go. And he’s gone through that twice. Find out what happened and how he picked himself up again. ... We'd love your feedback:  Check out Yotpo, our exclusive sponsor - if you want to grow your ecommerce business:
05/05/22·12m 18s

BorrowMyDoggy: how to get people to trust strangers, with Founder and CEO Rikke Rosenlund

BorrowMyDoggy is the kind of brand that just sticks in your brain. Once you’ve heard it you can’t unhear it.  Today we’re talking with its Founder and CEO Rikke Rosenlund who had an idyllic Danish childhood but still doesn’t own a dog. Find out how she built the company bit by bit - and how they're helping the 25% of dogs who are depressed. We talk about: What your parents say behind your back The issues with dog care in the UK People finding love through pet sitting Real reason women founders get less funding Feedback:  Sponsor links:
03/05/22·41m 36s

How I failed: Trinny Woodall on the fall of her first internet startup

This is the first episode in our new bitesize series (10/15-minute episodes) dedicated to failure. Trinny Woodall’s an A-lister now, and the Founder of Trinny London, but before all the success she experienced a soul-crushing failure around the dotcom boom. Find out what happened, what she learnt from it - and how you should think about failure. ... We'd love your feedback:  Check out Yotpo, our exclusive sponsor:
28/04/22·12m 56s

Finimize: what you should’ve been taught in school about personal finance, with the FTSE 100’s youngest Exec and Founder/CEO Max Rofagha

What we’re taught at schools is a real pet peeve here at Secret Leaders. Why are we mucking about learning Latin when we could be learning about stuff like nutrition and personal finance - genuinely useful subjects that will help us lead happier, more fulfilling lives? That’s what Max Rofagha thought when, after exiting his previous startup, he didn’t know what to do with his new found wealth. The content on the internet, the advice he was getting, just didn’t cut it - so he founded Finimize. Their idea is to help more ‘ordinary people’, i.e. retail investors (not professional investors) do more with their money, and the company has done pretty well. They were bought last year by Aberdeen (abrdn), making Max the youngest Exec of a FTSE 100 company.  How has he done it? What has he learnt about business building that’s delivered two exits from two companies? Let’s dive in… We talk about: What Berlin used to be like Why you should grow up with computers What you should do with your savings Why people don’t understand finance Considering VC funding or bootstrapping How they exited - like, really Feedback:  Sponsor links:
26/04/22·1h 1m

Tripadvisor: how to lead a company for 22 years, with Founder and CEO Steve Kaufer

If you’ve been on holiday - if you’ve been anywhere you’ve Googled - you’ve probably used Tripadvisor. It’s just one of those names synonymous with the internet, and it’s not just because their SEO has been amazing - they’ve been going for 22 years.  Extraordinarily it’s had the same person leading it all this time - Steve Kaufer, who’s finally stepping down this year.  Tripadvisor has been through a variety of management changes along the way, which have forced Steve to adapt but he’s still here, although not for much longer. Find out why now’s the time he’s leaving. We talk about: The unlikely birth of Tripadvisor The difference between hindsight and wisdom How to handle a business which loses 90% of its revenue  The most renewed thing on Tripadvisor How to manage change in company ownership  Feedback:  Sponsor links:
19/04/22·1h 0m

MasterClass: how to get over a stutter and attract A-listers like Anna Wintour and Martin Scorsese, with Founder & CEO David Rogier

When you’re first dreaming up a business idea, you imagine it at its best - as if your execution was perfect and your resources unlimited. When your friends ask at a dinner party, you say you’ll have Gordon Ramsey teaching cooking and Christina Aguilera teaching singing. Your friends laugh, you cheers each other - and carry on with your meal. But in the case of today’s guest, David Rogier, he’s turned that dream into a reality. Everyone thought he was mad, and pointed it out to him at various stages, but here we are with MasterClass, valued at $2.75b last year according to CNBC - and with the craziest line up of teachers you’ll ever see in one place.  How has David pulled it off?  And all this from a man who was bullied as a child over his stutter.  We talk about: His grandparents meeting in Auschwitz Getting over his stutter How to choose which business to launch How he started Masterclass The real art of storytelling The hardest things he’s ever done Why he kept going when everybody told him to stop Feedback:  Sponsor links:
12/04/22·57m 42s

Summit: how to pull off insane ideas like buying a ski resort - with Co-Founder Elliott Bisnow

How do you buy a ski mountain? How much does it cost? And how do you turn it into the biggest ski resort in North America - Powder Mountain? That’s the kind of thing we wanted to know when we sat down with Elliott Bisnow, who shot to startup fame as Co-Founder of Summit, a now legendary events series which attracted speakers like Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Jessica Alba. He’s now the proud Co-Founder of Powder Mountain which is insanely cool. And not bad for a college dropout, although, to be fair, that’s now a pretty common trend on this podcast: drop out of university to start something and make it big. We have a lot of dreamers on this show but Elliott’s dreams are legitimately crazy. Find out how he turns them into a reality and: The book that changed his life Homeschool Building a business with your Dad The tiny first Summit event The real value of co-founders Buying Powder Mountain The most difficult feedback to hear Feedback:  Sponsor links:
05/04/22·1h 1m

“He offered me $1m and I was much more interested in that than being sued again” - Kieran O'Neill, Co-Founder and CEO of Thread

It’s not often you meet real life prodigies but Kieran O’Neill might just be one. By the time he was 19 he’d been sued by Disney and his company had been bought by Carl Page, the brother of Google Co-Founder Larry Page. And then he dropped out of university to start another successful business, because, why not? “At that point I discovered what I want to do for the rest of my life - build things. And I began building a tool that would track which of my housemates was best at a particular game.” Today Kieran is the Co-Founder and CEO of, a place where you can get clothes that actually suit and fit you - a reaction to the typical online shopping experience which often results in loads of returns. Plus, plenty of people don’t back their own style - including Kieran.  “I keep a text file with various ideas in. And at this point had about 10 that were on not a shortlist, but a medium shortlist. Nine of them were for other people, problems they had but problems I didn't have personally. The problem I had myself was that I wanted to dress well and have good clothes, but found shopping to be really frustrating.” Find out how he took this personal problem and turned it into high growth business.  Feedback:  Sponsor links:
29/03/22·57m 36s

How to come up with the right business idea - Dan Murray-Serter, Chapter 2

Building a successful startup is about lots of things but a tonne of people get the first step wrong - picking the right business to launch. So how do you pick the right one? Well, our host and the Co-Founder of Heights Dan Murray-Serter is in the hot seat today answering that very question.  This is the second episode in our semi-regular series with Dan, showing what it’s really like to be a Founder, warts and all. The first episode was released on January 18 and we left things at a critical point for Dan and his Co-Founder Joel. Dan wasn’t motivated by what his company had pivoted into. They wanted to give the money back to investors. But things didn’t go the way they planned… Feedback:  Sponsor links:
22/03/22·1h 1m

Motorway: How to combine the best of bootstrapped and VC-backed thinking in one startup, with Co-Founder & CEO Tom Leathes

One of the extraordinary things about the startup ecosystem is the kind of company that gets celebrated. Most of the time, they don’t make money. They bounce from one funding round to the next, and only a tiny % eventually make it. They’re the kinds of businesses that would’ve made our grandparents shake their heads. Today’s guest, Tom Leathes, the Co-Founder and CEO of used car marketplace Motorway, is different. The first few companies he built were bootstrapped, profitable and he sold them for more money. Which is basically how business worked for centuries. But then Tom found himself leading a VC-backed startup and things didn’t go so well. It was the first time he and his Co-Founders had failed. So after that experience they re-set and they’ve come back fighting with another VC-backed business, Motorway, which was just valued at over a billion pounds. Find out about the key learnings that have made him successful - and lead to a different outcome for Motorway. Feedback:  Sponsor links:
15/03/22·1h 1m

Pip & Nut: How to take your business from your kitchen table to most major supermarkets, with Founder & CEO Pip Murray

If you’re in the UK and you like your peanut butter, you’ve probably come across Pip & Nut, the brand named after its Founder and today’s guest, Pip Murray. Pip started the business when she was 24, at her kitchen table, with a blender and some nuts.  But plenty of people start businesses like that so what makes her special? How has she managed it?  Oh, and we’ve also got the return of the king, Rich Martell, Co-Founder of Secret Leaders, who went to university with Pip and was one of her early investors. He couldn’t resist the chance to join Dan in the interview chair - and so he could ask Pip the difficult questions. Like how do you actually get your product listed at Tescos?  Sponsor links:
08/03/22·49m 28s

Ukrainian Founder Aleksandr Volodarsky on running a company in wartime

It’s amazing how important business seems until something really important happens, like a war breaks out. For Aleksandr Volodarsky, Founder of, which connects companies with software engineers, although he and his colleagues had gotten used to operating in a conflict situation since 2014, he was still stunned when Russia invaded. And the most useful thing he can do now is to keep the business going so it can support the war effort - including his employees who’ve gone off to fight.  Find out what it’s like in his shoes right now. What’s going on with his team. What’s it like on the ground. Donation links to Ukrainian Army: Sponsor links:
04/03/22·47m 46s

MedMen: what went wrong at the cannabis industry’s first unicorn, with Founder and former CEO Adam Bierman

Look, we’re going to tell you straight - this is a blinding episode - and that’s because we’re talking to a man who is unflinchingly honest about his Founder experience. On the outside it looked like Adam Bierman had it all. He was the Co-Founder and CEO of MedMen, a cult phenomenon and the world’s first cannabis unicorn. They were seen as the Apple of weed and they looked unstoppable.  But in 2019, a year after hitting its all time high on the Canadian stock market, the company had lost 95% of its value. Adam’s personal wealth was also up in smoke because he hadn’t listened to his advisors - instead of diversifying his assets, he’d bought even more MedMen stock. And then came the lawsuits. Adam is no longer with the company and was in a reflective mood when he sat down with Dan. So what on earth happened? Why did he leave the company? And what has he learnt from all of this?  Sponsor links:
01/03/22·55m 4s

DesignMyNight Co-Founder Nick Telson on gay shame and taking the business to exit… exactly as they planned

What’s particularly shocking about Nick Telson’s success with DesignMyNight is how deliberate it all seemed. They set themselves a target each year, achieved it and moved onto the next one until they’d hit the numbers they needed for the exit they wanted. How many businesses do that? And it was the first startup he’d ever founded… Nick explains how they sold the business - the actual steps they took - which isn’t a process that most people know about unless they’ve been lucky enough to go through an exit themselves. And in classic startup style, it looked like the whole deal was going to collapse on the day of signing until an unlikely hero stepped up. Since exiting DesignMyNight, Nick has founded Horseplay Ventures, and more recently Trumpet, a mixture of Squarespace and Canva and Slack for sales decks. It sounds like something I would use, tbf. Despite his success, throughout his time leading DesignMyNight, Nick kept one aspect of himself relatively hidden - his sexuality. Find out why and what he’s doing about it now.  Sponsor links:
08/02/22·49m 29s

How to go from a side hustle to a multi-billion market leader, with Houzz CEO & Co-Founder Adi Tatarko

It’s the stuff entrepreneurs dream of. Houzz, a marketplace for home renovations, evolved from an evenings and weekends passion project into a multi-billion dollar company with investors queuing up to get a slice of their proverbial pie. So how did the two Co-Founders, husband and wife Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen, do it? “I think, in retrospect, delaying it and bootstrapping it, the way we bootstrapped it without even understanding that this is what it is back then helped us tremendously down the road.” “Go invest the first six months and validate and see that this idea can really scale, people will really use it, you're really invested in it, and you really love it. And then you will not need to prove these things to investors.” Find out how they secured an investment from legendary investor Mike Moritz in a matter of days - and what they did next to dominate their category. Sponsor links:
01/02/22·48m 25s

When your mental health forces you to leave the company you’ve just started - with Faire Co-Founder & COO Jeffrey Kolovson

Life is the sum of your choices, says Jeffrey Kolovson, COO and Co-Founder of Faire, an online wholesale marketplace for retailers and brands. At the end of the day, it’s not what you say, it's what you do and the choices you make and the accumulation of those over time that matters.  “I once had a mentor tell me that the prize for winning the donut eating competition is more donuts. And that kind of stuck with me, as things don't necessarily get easier. And the more you do, the more you have to do.” Jeff isn’t one for taking the easy route. He’s made quite a few interesting choices over the years. Like the time he had to build 60 futons in 36 hours, or the time he left Square to start Faire only to have to leave Faire in its infancy, before returning once more to Faire a few years later.  Now, having just raised $400 million in their last funding round off the back of a $12.4 billion valuation, why did Jeff have to leave Faire in the first place? Well, for very good reason - to protect his mental health. “And so you both have to one: figure out how to be at peace with the unrelenting nature of it and two: how you don't let it overwhelm you at any given time. One of the tricks I do is that I like to think about the problems from a year ago or two years ago, how quaint they seem to me now.” The thing is, says Jeff, when you put your head down and work hard, you have to be able to enjoy it. There has to be enough about what you’re doing and the people you’re doing it with, that you derive enjoyment from what you’re doing, otherwise, what’s the point? Sponsor links:
25/01/22·47m 58s

“He threatened to kill my parents and I had to get a restraining order” - the real Dan Murray-Serter, Chapter 1

Cocaine, £1,000 on roulette, sleeping with the client, a boss demanding bail out of a Malaysian prison, a restraining order - and that’s just one of the stories in this special episode where we turn the microphone on our host, Dan Murray-Serter. This is the start of a semi-regular series where we interview Dan roughly every three months because:  If you listen to the podcast regularly we thought you might want to get to know him better. Who is this guy in your ears every week? Dan is the Founder of braincare startup Heights so we thought we could grill him every 3 months so you can find out what it’s really like in the Founder hot seat - warts and all. This episode is focused on the early part of Dan’s career - a period when Dan learned how he wanted to lead - from bad bosses. Dan grew up with an entrepreneur of a father - and saw the toll it took on him. It wasn’t a life Dan wanted, so what eventually convinced him to take the plunge into entrepreneurship? “Entrepreneurship is a bit of a drug. And the scariest part of it always is and always has been leaving my job to do this full time, that was always the scariest part, because there's no, you know, there was no safety net.” What was Grabble, Dan’s previous startup? Why did it fail? How did he get invited to Buckingham Palace? Who did he joke about to make the Queen laugh? And why did Brexit kill Grabble? “I mean, the thing is, it is quite a long story, because sadly, what we should have done is pull the cord. And we didn't do that, we did death by 1,000 paper cuts.” Sponsor links:
18/01/22·47m 16s

“By the end of 2015 we were just about out of money” - and now they’re worth $4B. How did Vuori do it, with CEO & Founder Joe Kudla

Having grown up poor, Founder and CEO of Vuori Joe Kudla always wondered what it would be like to have money and go on holiday, so he spent the first chapter of his career proving to himself that he could make money. But then he started to make life decisions differently. “I see myself on my deathbed. And I am coming to terms with that moment, am I going to look back and feel like I went for it, like I seized the day? Did I live a life in alignment with my passions, my heart, my interests? Or did I take the safe path?” In 2013 he founded Vuori, an activewear brand initially aimed at men. They nearly ran out of money in 2015, but a few pivots and several years later Vuori is worth $4b and launching in the UK this spring.  How has Joe done it in such a competitive industry? How has he done it having raised a pittance compared to his rivals? And why is clarity the ultimate currency? Sponsor links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
11/01/22·42m 53s

Curve: Building an $800m FinTech after being laughed out of the room by Mastercard, with CEO & Founder, Shachar Bialick

Curve CEO and founder Shachar Bialick is a multi-exit entrepreneur with a background in the Israeli Defense Force special forces. “There's a joke in Israel: how do you win a competition in racing? You start as fast as you can, and you slowly increase the pace.” Curve brings all your credit cards and debit cards into one app and card. The idea first came to Shachar in 2006, but he knew that launching a business is all about timing.  And so he waited until 2014 to pick it back up, when he knew the world was ready. After creating a proof of concept in 2015, and raising the first series seed funding of £1.2m in 2015, Shachar launched Curve in 2016. “When we [first] went to MasterCard and told them about what we’re trying to do and the vision we have, we were laughed out of the room, literally they said, ‘Have you opened the MasterCard rules?’” So how did he rack up 4 exits? How big can Curve really be? And why is he using Amazon, Netflix and Spotify to validate his mission? Sponsor links:
04/01/22·48m 17s

NetSuite: How Evan Goldberg scaled one of the world’s first cloud companies to a $9.3 billion exit

How did NetSuite grow from its humble beginnings above a hairdressers in 1998 to almost 20,000 employees 23 years later, and selling to Oracle for $9.3 billion dollars?  Today we’re speaking to Evan Goldberg, founder and EVP of NetSuite who make software which helps businesses with stuff like accountancy and inventory management.  “We provide [services] for businesses that are fast growing, that have increasing complexity, they've outgrown the simple systems that they were using to help them track their business when they had just a couple people. And we provide a business application and one system that really helps you grow your business more effectively.” None of it would’ve been possible if tech giant Larry Ellison (Founder of Oracle), worth $124b at the last count, hadn’t taken Evan under his wing and invested in the company. So how did they do it? What makes Larry special? And what was it like meeting Steve Jobs? Sponsor links:
21/12/21·34m 39s

Welcome to the death industry, with Farewill’s Co-Founder and CEO, Dan Garrett

The only certainty in life is death (and taxes!) And yet the industry of death had remained largely unmodernised by the time Farewill was co-founded by Dan Garrett in 2015. “Out of 100, losing a spouse, or a parent or a best friend, is the 100 out of 100 worst thing you ever go through. And what a great funeral can do is bring back some of that connection that you have with someone.” Dan says that despite death affecting every single one of us it’s also historically lacked the kind of customer-centricity you see in great tech companies the world over. And that’s simply because we have a profoundly human aversion to talking about and thinking about death.  “When you're grieving, your amygdala, your hippocampus basically shuts down. It's really difficult for you to make decisions when you're dealing with grief. And you will just go to a high street funeral director and end up paying loads of money for something that you don't necessarily want.” Find out what innovation in the death industry actually looks like and the beautiful, personal things that people are doing with their wills and funerals. You might even get some inspo, if you can bear to think about it… Sponsor links:
14/12/21·49m 27s

I went to sleep one day... and woke up gasping for air - Morning Brew Co-Founder Alex Lieberman

Being a Founder takes its toll on you - even if it looks like everything is rosy from the outside. Today we’re learning from Alex Lieberman, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Morning Brew, which became a darling in the media industry because it actually became commercially successful. But whilst everyone else was applauding the company’s success, for Alex at least, he was trying to cope with anxiety and panic attacks.  The company sold late last year to Insider Inc (of Business Insider) for $75 million which means Alex doesn’t need to worry about money any more. But he does need to worry about the best way to use his time and freedom. He used to think chasing your passions was bullshit, but now he’s not so sure. Find out why Alex wants to be more like Benjamin Button and how you can make your life more meaningful. Sponsor links:
07/12/21·46m 49s

Vivino - how to disrupt a $400 billion industry that no one had really cracked, with Co-Founder Heini Zachariassen

How many times have you stood in front of a wall of wine in a supermarket and taken a punt on one because the bottle looked nicer than the others? We’ve all done it… and often been disappointed by results. So, in 2009 Heini Zachariassen, Co-Founder, Former CEO and current board member of Vivino, decided to fix the problem. “Why is wine something that nobody has disrupted? And why is wine something where the only thing I can base my decision on is looking at a label.” Vivino’s mission is to help people find better wine and they’ve been doing it primarily through their mobile app which lets you scan bottles to find reviews, ratings etc. - and ultimately make better wine buying decisions. Vivino isn’t Heini’s first rodeo. His first foray into entrepreneurialism was with BullGuard, a company delivering cybersecurity and VPN solutions. “The real success for me in doing your first startup is learning. It's just incredible how much you learn, what kind of mistakes you do, and that just comes back at you later. That's why second time founders are just better than first time founders.” You don’t build a startup alone, says Heini, you aren’t the only one doing the work. Your family has to make sacrifices, your spouse, your children. And when things go wrong, you feel them in your body.  Find out what he means…   Sponsor links:
30/11/21·46m 55s

They had two weeks of runway left and are now worth $1.5b - Loom Co-Founder and CTO Vinay Hiremath

Growing a company to 14 million users and a valuation of $1.5 billion should be cause for celebration, but, like so many founders, for Vinay Hiremath, Co-Founder and CTO of Loom, it’s difficult to enjoy your successes. In fact it’s the failures that tend to stick with you. Loom, a video communication tool for businesses, wouldn’t be here today if Vinay and his Co-Founders hadn’t had their ‘sliding doors’ moment which revealed what they should be building right before they were going to have to give up.  “Half the battle is figuring out what the fuck the problem even is, right? What pain points do people actually have? As you're pivoting, you end up finding something that works, and maybe it doesn't line up with your hypothesis perfectly, and usually it doesn't make any sense. And if you see traction, that's the point where you hop on and say, Okay, I'm here for the ride.” And what a ride it’s been. Most founders would be ecstatic if they hit one macroeconomic trend - Loom hit four or five, back to back. But the problem with phenomenal growth is the human cost: the toll it’s taken on the team, on the engineers, on Vinay’s mental health. Is it worth it?  “Every year or two years, you're faced with some situation where you're like, is this worth it? Like, am I the right person? I wish I could say that it gets easier. But for me, it really hasn't.” Sponsor links:
23/11/21·47m 8s

When you think Google might sue you but instead they hire you as a 17 YO - Larry Gadea, CEO & Founder of Envoy

Larry Gadea built the world's biggest Pikachu pictures website at 12 years old, was recruited by Google at 17, joined Twitter after college and then left to found Envoy in 2013.  He did all this after getting smuggled out of Romania as a young child in the late 1980s and watching his parents have to restart their lives several times. Normally childhoods filled with upheaval breed an aversion to risk - but not in Larry. Envoy is a workplace management tool that helps with things like letting you know when visitors have arrived at your office and booking meeting rooms.  16,000 workplaces were using Envoy, so on paper it looked like Larry had the dream career. But then Covid hit. “So here we are with our products almost exclusively built for these workplaces that you can't go in. At first it was a little bit crazy. It was very scary, like what do you do?” Find out how Larry and Envoy have got past this genuine iceberg.  Sponsor links:
16/11/21·46m 59s

You don't start your company to end up in court, with Michelle You, Co-Founder and CEO of Supercritical and former Co-Founder of Songkick

After exiting Songkick, Michelle You was burnt out. It felt like failure and grief (her words). She spent a year backpacking around the world, living on $2 per day, trying to figure out what it took to make her happy, to figure out what mattered to her and what her next business move was. “I went camping and hiking and surfing and climbing for the first time. And it was that that made me fall in love with nature. And that was my gateway drug into the climate change crisis.” Michelle is determined not to repeat the same mistakes she made at Songkick at Supercritical, the climate tech startup helping businesses actually achieve net zero. “It took me personally lots of coaching and conversations to feel like okay, I really feel ready now to dive in again, because I was scared, you know, I was really scared of failing, I was scared of having a bad idea, scared of replicating terrible decisions, terrible experiences.” Find out how Michelle found herself again after feeling like a massive failure from her first startup, and why she’s built a climate tech software platform that isn't all just planting trees.  “We measure the carbon footprint end to end. This typically takes somebody six months of working with a consultant charging five figures. And that's what I learned [during] my time at LocalGlobe. This can be done with software.” We chat about: Why the end of Songkick felt like grief The importance of a good product discovery process  Why climate is the next diversity and inclusion Sponsor links:
09/11/21·41m 34s

Why do we clean our bottoms with toilet paper? With serial entrepreneur and Founder of Tushy Miki Agrawal

Miki Agrawal was forced to become an entrepreneur having started her career, in her own words, as an awful employee: “I got fired from pretty much all of my jobs growing up, because I just wasn't listening, or I was questioning or I was talking back or I was running in the hall or I was eating while on the job or giving away smoothies to friends. Whatever job I had, I did something wrong.” The daughter of an immigrant who came to the US with $5 in his pocket, Miki learned early that if you see something you don’t like, question it and fix it even if you don’t have resources - even if you have no money.  Miki nearly didn’t become an entrepreneur - she was going to be a professional footballer before fate decided otherwise. But now she’s the founder of Tushy, one of the most unusual startups we’ve had on the show.  Tushy makes a collection of bidets and other accessories for the bathroom to help you become more hygienic, less wasteful - and kinder to your bottom.  “My boyfriend, now husband, got me this really crappy birthday product that he found in some Asian place and he installed it for Valentine's Day and he was like, ‘Look, these will help your butt’ and then it truly changed my life.” Find out how Miki dealt with theft in her first startup and poisonous politics in her second venture making period pants before she realised how much our bottoms need saving.  We chat about: Why entrepreneurs have to be naive The best interview question ever Conscious businesses outperform non-conscious by up to 13 times Sponsor links:
02/11/21·45m 0s

Kraken - from growing up poor to founding Europe’s largest crypto exchange, with Co-Founder & CEO Jesse Powell

Jesse Powell grew up poor and hustling from a young age. First, he sold physical gaming cards, then he sold virtual ‘gold’ in the game World of Warcraft - and now he’s the Co-Founder and CEO of Kraken, Europe’s largest crypto exchange - with talk of going public for $20 billion. How did he make the jump?  “Bitcoin, when I read about it, I thought it was interesting. I first saw it and just thought it was like another World of Warcraft gold that we can sell on the website.” Jesse has been in crypto pretty much since the beginning, helping out in the aftermath of the infamous Mt. Gox hack when $460 million got stolen from the world’s biggest exchange. It taught him a lot about security but today it’s NFTs that have got him excited. “I think NFTs are going to be a much bigger thing. I think you'll see the tokenization of basically everything. We're already starting to see tokenized securities, stocks becoming tokenized, art is becoming tokenized.” Find out how he found the world’s best hacker and the biggest mistakes he’s made in building a multi billion pound company. “If I could go back again, what I would do is, even if I didn't need the money, I would go through one of the major Silicon Valley accelerators, I would apply for Y Combinator, and I would do it for the network. Because, you know, it's basically like your entrance fee into this elite club.” We chat about: What you learn from being poor How NFTs and DAOs will change the world Why lawmakers need to rewrite legislation for cryptocurrency What he’d do differently next time
26/10/21·46m 12s

Killing Kittens - the world famous sex party turning into a tech business, with Founder & CEO Emma Sayle

“Every time you masturbate, God kills a kitten, and I went ‘right, that's it, that's what I'm calling my business.’” This is the story of Killing Kittens, the cult-like sex party, founded by Emma Sayle.  “Everyone starts talking to each other and mingling and then you'll see maybe a few couples disappear off into a room, or you know a group of girls go off. One minute you've got a packed bar and the next minute it's only 10 people in the bar and everyone's gone off into different rooms, getting naked, having sex, doing whatever. It’s like Dante's Inferno, limbs everywhere.” Killing Kittens begun life in 2005 as a series of monthly hedonistic parties led by empowered women in London, but it has since grown into a global movement including apps like the most private of private messaging platforms.  In this latest episode, Emma shares where the idea for Killing Kittens came from, why women today are much better at owning their sexuality, sexual double standards, what to expect at a KK party, and how to turn something like this into a big business.  “I need to raise money because we need to go big or go home on the whole platform side of it. And to make it fly before some Silicon Valley upstart with millions in the bank comes in claiming to own the female digital sex space.” Sponsor links:
19/10/21·48m 0s

When and why to pivot your life, with doctor-turned-YouTuber Ali Abdaal

How do you live a happier, healthier, more productive life? This is the question that doctor-turned-YouTuber Ali Abdaal is obsessed with. “Most of my childhood was spent chasing this dream of making magical internet money that mostly didn't work out. And it was like a string of failures. But when I did end up making magical internet money, I felt that a lot of the failures from childhood had been worth it.” Ali’s first business, 6Med, which he started in university in 2013, helps people get into medical schools and has been used by over 10,000 prospective doctors. But recently his career took an interesting turn when, having paused being a doctor to focus on becoming a YouTuber, he realised that his real love was teaching. With over two million subscribers and videos that have racked up over 145 million views, Ali has definitely found his niche. “I started seriously asking myself the question like, what the hell do I want to do with my life? One exercise I found really helpful was thinking about what do I want written on my gravestone? I ended up landing on some combination of good dad, good husband, and inspirational teacher.” Find out how to be more productive, why having fun with your work is so important, and how to tell your mum that you’re packing in medicine for a career on YouTube (eek). Links: Ali Abdaal Dr. Grace Lordan - Think Big Daniel Pink - Drive Tim Ferriss - 4 Hour Work Week Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
05/10/21·45m 38s

The startup that all other startups will want to succeed - MicroAcquire, with Founder & CEO Andrew Gazdecki

“It’s really hard for companies to get acquired. I was shocked at how many entrepreneurs reached out to me after we announced the acquisition [of Bizness Apps], like ‘how did you get acquired?’” With a couple of exits already under his belt, Andrew Gazdecki saw first-hand how broken the process of selling a company was. He used that experience to start MicroAcquire in January 2020, a platform that helps startups get acquired by connecting them with buyers within 30 days. The goal is to give startups an alternative to brokers that’s easier, cheaper and more likely to succeed - and it’s working.  In this episode, Andrew discusses the cut-throat world of clarinet playing, graduating Chico State with 2.07 - the lowest GPA of any student in their history; starting and exiting Bizness Apps and; diagnosing the problems between private equity and entrepreneurs, and why he would support any of his employees who quit MicroAcquire to start their own company.  “Entrepreneurship isn't for everyone. It's about understanding who you are as a person. But what I think about a lot is just, the fear of regret is so much heavier than the fear of failure.” Download and listen today.
28/09/21·46m 13s

Lora DiCarlo - the sex tech startup that made Cara Delevingne orgasm three times in six minutes and got banned for being ‘obscene’ at CES 2019

“When I was about 28 or 29 I had a squirting orgasm, I completely lost my mind. I couldn't tell if I was having a religious moment or a seizure, or maybe both or neither. As I lay there on the cold tile floor staring at the ceiling, all I could think was, oh my god, how do I do that again? And more importantly, how do I do that again by myself?” Lora DiCarlo is the founder of the sex tech startup also called Lora DiCarlo, and is determined to change the face of sex products. Having won an award for their first prototype at the world famous Consumer Electronics Show in 2019, the award was subsequently revoked for being ‘obsence, profane and immoral’, prompting outrage over the double-standards on women’s sexuality. Lora’s is a story of orgasms, scandals, celebrity power, the patriarchy, and a sprinkling of robotics engineering. Oh and find out how to bring on board Cara Delevingne as a co-owner…
21/09/21·47m 17s

Saved from the Nazis, she started a unicorn software company in the 1960s staffed with only women and just £6 - Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley

Dame Stephanie Shirley, known as ‘Steve’ for reasons explained in the podcast, escaped Nazi persecution before founding a software startup in 1962 with just £6 which provided employment to hundreds of women when they weren’t taken seriously in the workplace. “I remember selling a six figure software project to a junior minister, and he was trying to pinch my bottom. It was very hard to maintain a sort of professionalism.”  Steve’s story is one that reminds us both how much the world has moved on since the early days of her startup, and sadly how little has changed. “I can't believe how today we're still talking about the same sorts of things that I was talking about 50 years ago: feeling undervalued, women’s ideas taken and presented by men as their own, women being talked over, women being patronised, women being sexually assaulted.” From coming to England on the Kindertransport in 1939, to falling in love with mathematics, being appalled at pay inequality, founding her own company (Xansa plc, now part of the Sopra Group) in 1962, and navigating the 1975 equal opportunities legislation: “We tried to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. But all in all, we realised that that was the way the world was going. And now of course, all of business is much more inclusive. But it was a struggle. In the early days, women were second class citizens.” Having retired from the business aged 60 (she’s now 88), Steve is now a full time philanthropist, focusing on things she knows and cares about, treating her various charities as businesses. Her advice to listeners? “All the important things that I've done have been either disruptive or long term. Sticking with 11 years for this, 17 years for that, five years [there]. These are not things that are done overnight with a burst of energy.” We chat about: From refugee to entrepreneur Why she had to become Steve to get traction Surviving a nervous breakdown Becoming a good philanthropist Links: Book - Let It Go Book - So To Speak Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
14/09/21·48m 43s

How exponential technologies will change the world - with founder, journalist and author, Azeem Azhar

“​​Technology does not appear from nowhere, it is closely allied to the shape of society. And if you have exponentially changing technologies, they will force changes on society, or create a gap.” Humans coming second best to technology isn’t a new subject but our guest today, Azeem Azhar, has a new, thoroughly researched take on it which goes further than anything we’ve seen before.  Azeem is a founder, journalist, speaker and now author of the book ‘Exponential: How Accelerating Technology Is Leaving Us Behind and What to Do About It’, which is being released right now. His book, and our conversation, is about the expanding gap between technology and society - not just computing power, but energy, market control, and even how our countries are run. He presents the immense problems and opportunities this creates for us as a species. When’s the precise start date of the exponential wave? Will the growing gap between tech and society inevitably lead to conflict? Why are cities important in the exponential age? What are the major problems accelerating tech can solve? Yes, it can be a huge force for good. Find out what the future holds for our civilisation.
07/09/21·47m 3s

Ethereum fallout - how the second biggest cryptocurrency in the world nearly didn’t happen, with Anthony Di Iorio, Co-Founder of Ethereum and Decentral

How many of us are kicking ourselves for not investing $100 in Bitcoin in 2010 - it would be worth almost $48 million today. Anthony Di Iorio, one of the co-founders of Ethereum, the massive open-source blockchain, which is home to Ether, the second biggest cryptocurrency in the world after Bitcoin, is not kicking himself. Anthony was an early investor in Bitcoin putting in $8,000 back in 2012. With the proceeds of his first sale of Bitcoin, Anthony was able to initially fund Ethereum with the few million dollars he made. Anthony stepped away from Ethereum in 2015, and is currently the founder and CEO of the blockchain company Decentral - a software development company he founded that focuses on blockchain tech.  Anthony’s story is wild - not your average entrepreneur tale. He needs round the clock bodyguards and for a man who’s spent his working life seeking freedom, that doesn’t sit well.  “I always search for freedom, to be empowered, where I can be in control of my life utilising technology to do that. A big turning point for me [was] when I'm surrounded by security guards and thinking, is this really the life that I want? And the answer is no. The more I search for freedom, the less freedom I actually get.” Links: Decentral Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
31/08/21·48m 32s

The other way to build a massive tech company - doing it slowly, with Airtable Co-Founder and CEO Howie Liu

Most investors didn’t understand the concept. Most non-technical entrepreneurs at the time didn’t get it either. But Howie Liu, Co-Founder and CEO of multi-billion dollar tech juggernaut Airtable, had the conviction to bet the next 10 years of his life on it. “I didn't come up with Airtable as an idea, on a lark, it was informed by a lot of the research I did, a lot of the observations I had of the enterprise software landscape, of looking back at other companies that did similar things. I then came to this gut decision that this was a big opportunity.” Airtable is a low-code relational database, a highly versatile platform that’s grown massively since its founding almost 10 years ago. In the interim, Howie has learnt how to articulate a unique product to a huge customer base, and grow it from the ground up to become a category defining piece of software.  But how did a home-brew startup become a Silicon Valley darling? Howie shares his story from lifeguarding, ghosting Accenture on the first day of his new job, joining the Y Combinator, founding Etacts and his subsequent decision to sell it to Salesforce less than a year later: “We felt woefully ill prepared to go and try to build a larger and more ambitious company from the starting point that we had set out with. And a few acquisition offers did come around, including Salesforce, we felt like they would be great learning opportunities.” Find out what Howie did next on his way to a near $6b valuation.
23/08/21·49m 40s

How to build a business at 16, recover from a $1b dollar deal collapsing, and walk on hot coals, with multi-exit entrepreneur Norman Crowley

What would you do if you sold your business and effectively retired at the ripe, old age of 28? Phenomenally successful serial entrepreneur Norman Crowley took just three weeks before jumping back into business.  “A business isn't just a vehicle to make money. A vehicle is an expression of your creativity, it's working with friends. And then the thing nobody warns you about is that when it's sold, you just end up with a bank balance, and the friends are gone, the mission has gone.” Norman has founded multiple businesses in welding, gaming and eco-friendly energy. Each time he’s turned them into multi-million pound ventures, before selling them and moving on to the next big thing.  Norman has had his fair share of bruises - including having a dream billion dollar deal slip right through his fingers at the last minute.  “An Icelandic hedge fund, who already owned 25% of the business, offered to buy the whole thing for $1 billion. And when somebody offers to buy your business for $1 billion, it's impolite to say no, so we agreed to sell.” His focus now is on climate change, and despite being asked to sell his current business every six months, he’s resolute that this one isn’t for sale.  Don’t miss Norman share his fascinating story in this episode. From how his childhood impacted his career, to the commonality of anxiety and entrepreneurship, starting and selling five businesses, learning to control the business narrative, building a gambling machine business from £70 to £300m in revenue, missing out on selling a business for £1bn, founding the cloud, tackling climate change with The Cool Planet Group, and learning how to walk on hot coals.  “Keep fucking walking. This business shit is not easy. Anyone who tells you it's easy is not trying hard enough, so keep walking. Don't give up.” We chat about: Mental health and entrepreneurship Starting and selling 5 businesses Why his current business is not for sale Learning how to walk on hot coals Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
16/08/21·47m 50s

Overcoming crippling anxiety and how to get work/life balance right, with Mathilde Collin, Co-Founder and CEO of Front

Mathilde Collin is the co-founder and CEO of Front, a communications platform that has developed a cult following - despite having to stop working at one point because her anxiety had become so debilitating. Find out how Mathilde learned to overcome burnout, an incapacitated co-founder, and a serious case of competitiveness that almost let work take over her whole life.  Front has grown quickly since its founding in 2013, amassing a cult following, and recently announced a huge series C round with some investors including Eric Yuan - the founder of Zoom.  In this candid conversation, Mathilde shares why she was so unhappy as an intern before starting Front, meeting her co-founder, her Y Combinator experience, meeting Patrick Collison - CEO of Stripe, why dealing with anxiety has been so challenging, and why she considers discipline and transparency to be important skills for happiness and success.  “For me, what matters is when I'm not working, I want to make sure that I'm not working. I think the biggest thing that prevents people from having a good work life balance isn't obviously the number of hours, but the fact that when they're off, they're on.” We chat about: Make something people want How YC gave her the confidence that Front would be a great company Transparency and discipline at Front Her super power Links: Mathilde Collin – Medium Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
10/08/21·46m 4s

Breaking startup scandal: how blood pressure medtech TLT scammed investors out of millions, with investigating reporter Sara McCorquodale

Tarilian Laser Technologies (TLT) was a medtech company founded by husband and wife team, Dr Sandeep and Nita Shah, who bamboozled everyone from the UK government to PWC. They claimed to have a revolutionary wearable blood pressure monitor, powered by a secret, proprietary algorithm. They raised millions, before everything came crashing down.  This is an audio exclusive with the journalist who just broke the story in The Sunday Times, Sara McCorquodale, founder and CEO of CORQ. When Sara, a former journalist, first heard what TLT had done, she knew it was a story she had to report on and has spent the last year investigating. “It was just six lines of JavaScript”, said Sara, of the secret algorithm. “It was a GCSE level sum, it wasn't an algorithm, it was barely an equation. And that sum had a £52 million valuation.” “Sandeep and Nita Shah, they were very credible characters… Usually you don't Google the person who owns the [scam] company and find search results which include them winning awards, and being endorsed by the government of their country.” It was a 13-year scam.  How did they get away with it so long? Where did all the money go? Why didn’t anyone raise the alarm? Links: The Theranos story Tarilian Laser Technologies Book - Influence: How Social Media Influencers Are Shaping Our Digital Future Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
02/08/21·48m 12s

The American fixing the race problem in UK venture capital - Eric Collins, star of Channel 4’s The Money Maker and CEO of Impact X

“Impact X exists because I'm tired. And there are a lot of people who are tired of asking the question - what to do to improve the lives of black Britain? We've been having this conversation for a long, long time.” Meet Eric Collins. He’s done some work for President Obama, built some of the world’s biggest tech companies, is the host of a new TV show on Channel 4 called ‘The Money Maker’, and is the CEO of Impact X, a venture capital fund in the UK for underrepresented founders.  How did Eric find himself here? “I got a network of extraordinary people. When I say these people are extraordinary people I'm talking about when I was an undergraduate, there was a woman named Michelle Robinson, who was a student in my brother's class, you will know her as Michelle Obama.” Eric shares his incredible story from building a network at university with the selective eating club, Cottage Club, to the global tech behemoths he helped build, to the mistakes and reflections he gained from his time at SwiftKey, to hosting ‘The Money Maker’, and finally founding Impact X, a venture capital group for and by underrepresented entrepreneurs. We chat about: Building your network from university Going from $5 million to $70 billion in 3 years at AOL Funding underrepresented entrepreneurs Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
26/07/21·48m 6s

How to build a $65b company, with Twilio Co-Founder and CEO Jeff Lawson

Today’s guest is at the helm of probably the biggest company we’ve ever had on Secret Leaders. Jeff Lawson is the Co-Founder and CEO of Twilio, a cloud communication platform that helps businesses use everything from text to video calls in their sites and apps. Since its founding in 2008, Twilio has grown to 4,500 employees, annual revenue of $1.74 billion, and is valued at $65 billion. Yup, $65 billion. Woof. All this despite investors not being interested at the beginning which forced Jeff and his team to make a decision. “When choosing between listening to investors and customers, we're gonna choose customers. And we're gonna let customers guide our actions. And if that works, then investors will follow suit. And sure enough, they did.” But how did Jeff actually do it? How do you build a company like Twilio?  We chat about: Learning how to start companies  How big companies work How to reinvent yourself if you want to stay CEO  How to have difficult conversations IPOing on the day of the Brexit vote
19/07/21·48m 56s

Fighting P Diddy, managing Gwen Stefani & Nas, what Roger Moore said in Monaco, and turning the music industry on its head, with Steve Stoute, Founder and CEO of United Masters

Before he was the manager for Nas and Gwen Stefani, before he was the producer for the film 8 Mile, before he was getting into fights with P Diddy and 50 Cent, Steve Stoute was an entrepreneur. He’s always been an entrepreneur - starting out shovelling snow and selling mortgages. And boy has he got some stories to tell, like what Roger Moore said to him when 007 met Steve and Bono in a bar in Monaco. Find out how Steve is turning the music industry on its head as the founder of United Masters, having recently raised $50 million from an all star trio: Apple, Google and Andreessen Horowitz.  “As an entrepreneur, your job is to have an idea, build out the vision so that it's clear, and that people can buy into it. Employees, outside partners, strategic partners, bankers, whatever it may be, you have to get people aligned around your vision.” Steve shares his journey, from growing up in Queens, New York, around the birth of hip hop, to investing in music producers, and creating and producing albums for Gwen Stefani and Nas: “Once you start getting momentum and you have heat, you know, heat attracts heat, people want to be around what’s hot, and working with Nas and then LL Cool J and Foxy Brown, Mariah Carey, Lauryn Hill and the Fujis...”  Steve has learned from Sit Paul McCartney, has had public fallings out with 50 Cent, founded an advertising agency - Translation - and now with United Masters has created a record company that gives artists back their power.  “Don't listen to the noise, be irrational with your pursuit of perfection, be irrational with your belief in your idea. And don't allow people to tell you that you can't do it. They're actually just putting their limitations on themselves, on you.” We chat about: The impact the rise of hip hop had on him Taking advantage of every opportunity Founding the record company in your pocket His darkest days as an entrepreneur Links: Book - The Tanning of America Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
12/07/21·48m 50s

Building world’s best elite match-making service, with Rachel MacLynn, Founder and CEO of Vida

“I came across a job advert for a psychologist to join a matchmaking agency. I wouldn't describe myself as a spiritual person, but it just felt like my dad had sent [me] this opportunity. I had butterflies in my stomach. That was the moment that changed my life.” Are you unlucky in love? Or perhaps you’re exploring a very niche entrepreneurial path, then don’t miss Rachel Vida MacLynn, the founder of The Vida Consultancy, widely considered the best elite matchmaking agency in the world, on this week’s Secret Leaders.  “One of our biggest challenges is we don't get to keep our clients for a lifetime. We have to keep finding new clients because most of our clients only stay with us for 12 months, and they're expensive to acquire.” It's a fascinating niche - they're a matchmaking service for high net worth individuals, entrepreneurs and business people looking for long term relationships.  “I've pulled more and more psychology into the service, because it's become more apparent to me that a lot of clients think they know what they want in a partner, but what they think they're looking for isn't actually right for them.” But how does elite matchmaking work? What is the business model for such a niche? What does it cost? And how did Rachel get into it in the first place? From starting up to international expansion, to learn about Rachel’s incredible journey in elite matching and more, download and listen to this latest episode.  We chat about: The role of psychology in matchmaking Finding customers for elite matchmaking Funding and international expansion Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
05/07/21·46m 58s

Learn the art of negotiation with Chris Voss, FBI’s former chief international hostage and kidnapping negotiator, and author of Never Split the Difference

Want to know what it’s like to negotiate for a person’s life? Want to learn the secrets of great negotiation? Want to find out why a deal can break down with no warning? “The deal-killers are as important as the decision maker”, explains Chris Voss. “We've changed our hostage negotiation strategies to take the people not at the table into account. And we found the exact same dynamic in business.” If you feel like your negotiation skills need sharpening, you’ll like this episode with Chris Voss, former chief international hostage and kidnapping negotiator for the FBI and author of the best-seller, Never Split the Difference. He’s got some pretty crazy stories too. Now the Founder and CEO of The Black Swan Group, Chris has carved out a career as the world’s number one negotiation coach, taking what he learned during his years at the FBI and applying those techniques to the business world.  “Listening is not waiting for your turn to talk. It's an evolved skill. There isn't any negotiation book out there that doesn't list listening as an advanced skill that you have to actually work at.” Learn about Chris’s journey to becoming a negotiator, why listening and being coachable are the core skills of a great negotiator, what’s happening psychologically during negotiations, the art of the calibrated question, why Bono is one of the best negotiators in the world, why deference is a superpower... and why you should never split the difference.  Links: Book - Never Split the Difference Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Follow us in your favourite podcast app.
28/06/21·46m 55s

How Gorillas became Europe’s fastest ever unicorn and what it means for your supermarket shopping, with Co-Founder and CEO Kağan Sümer

“We were 100% sure about one thing: if you go to the fucking moon, you shouldn't go to the supermarket. We have the technology to go to space and we’re still going to the supermarket? This is counter intuitive.” Kağan Sümer is the founder and CEO of Gorillas, a grocery delivery service which promises to have your order delivered to your door in under 10 minutes, at retail prices. They’ve been blowing up. Recently launched in the UK, they’re the quickest ever European startup to be valued at over $1 billion and they’re only just getting started.  “Gorillas is about four things: being authentic, taking bold decisions, keeping riding, and constantly changing things and owning the change.” Kağan (pronounced Kaan, not Kağan) is celebrating Gorillas becoming the fastest ever European startup to reach a billion dollar valuation, and is now fighting hard to introduce the venture to the UK and US. If you haven’t heard of Gorillas, you can bet your bottom dollar they’re about to be everywhere.  “You can outsmart me. You can out-structure me. You can out X me. But you cannot out self-discipline me. You can't outwork me. Because if I want something, I go for it.” Before we strap ourselves into the Gorilla rocketship, we first find out what made Kağan the man he is, what shaped his foray into entrepreneurialism, how the company grew from one man storing drinks on his balcony to a billion dollar company, the four values of Gorillas, how Kağan’s vision for revolutionising delivery, building a new supply chain and infrastructure led to Gorillas phenomenal growth, and knowing when it’s time to move on and hand the mantle over.  If you’re keen to learn from Kağan’s success story or to follow in his shoes, don’t miss this incredible episode.  We chat about: Kağan’s path to Gorillas Gorillas phenomenal growth The mega funding round led by Coatue Management Hiring for behaviour, not skills.   The four values of Gorilla Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
07/06/21·44m 50s

Healthily: Building a “moonshot” for the health of a billion people, with Co-Founder & CEO Matteo Berlucchi

Most of the founders we speak to have already achieved much of their startup’s mission, but today’s Secret Leader is in the midst of a much longer journey with his company. Meet Matteo Berlucchi, a serial entrepreneur and the founder of Healthily which has spent several years building their product to a point where they can play for the ‘big prize’.  “Healthily is a moonshot, it’s the textbook definition of a moonshot. The idea behind Healthily is to use technology to enable people to manage their health in a better way... To become the Spotify or Netflix of healthcare.” Launched in 2015, the app formerly known as Your.MD, now Healthily, is the first medically approved self-care app in the world, and is aiming for a user base of over a billion people.  “To me, success is not making money, it has never been my definition of success. To me, success is building something that has impact.”  From his first days founding startups, to helping create Healthily and turn it into a profitable startup; investment, failure and limiting beliefs, don’t miss Matteo’s hard fought insights. “Provided that you always do things with integrity and with belief, you believe that you're doing the right thing, then if it doesn't work out, it doesn’t work. Failure is lying to yourself, doing something knowing that it's not going to work and doing it anyway, that's a failure.” We chat about: What is actually success and failure Self care is the self service of healthcare How to make a company like Healthily profitable Failing to sell the story of Healthily to investors properly Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
31/05/21·41m 22s

Myprotein: How to bootstrap a £500 overdraft into a £350m exit, with Founder Oliver Cookson

“I was a keen gym goer and I used to buy protein powder from what was the leading sports nutrition company in the UK at the time. And about six months in I looked at the back and thought, ‘what actually is this?’” Oliver Cookson founded the sports nutrition business Myprotein in 2004 with just a £500 overdraft, selling it to The Hut Group seven years later having kept 100% equity. The deal ended up being worth north of £350m for him. So how did he pull it off? “I don't live with regrets because some people said to me, ‘should you have held onto Myprotein longer?’ If I did, I’d be a billionaire now. There's no doubt about it. It is always growing. However, you can only make a decision at that moment, where you are now.” Oliver has written a book about his experience - Bootstrap Your Life - and hosts a podcast of the same name (links below).  “If you want to create a leading brand, a national leading brand, or an international brand, there's no work life balance, especially if you’re bootstrapping. It’s impossible.” From students with an idea to FTSE 100 CEOs, this is an episode no entrepreneur should miss.  “Stick to your guns. One thing private equity will do is they will try and ship you. So call their bluff early. I did. They will try and get you on bits and bobs of what comes out of the due diligence. Don't be bullied in that situation.”  We chat about: Handling growth and achieving £1m EBITDA, still fully bootstrapped  What you have to sacrifice for success Selling Myprotein to The Hut Group Working on the board with people he’s in litigation with Links: Bootstrap Your Life - book Bootstrap Your Life - podcast
24/05/21·53m 43s

Double Jeffardy: the story of Seedrs and its vetoed Crowdcube merger, with Co-Founder Jeff Lynn and CEO Jeff Kelisky

How did two Americans called Jeff come to lead Seedrs, one of the UK’s leading crowdfunding platforms? And why did their planned merger with bitter rivals Crowdcube get blocked?  In today’s ‘Double Jeffardy’ episode, Seedrs Co-Founder Jeff Lynn and CEO Jeff Kelisky share their experiences and learnings - from the biggest missed opportunities when scaling, to what the CMA got wrong with the merger. “The CMA has chosen to take an exceedingly aggressive stance on anything that looks like a tech merger. I think they feel very burned by having approved Facebook and Instagram, where they didn't understand or see the platform power that would emerge.” In this episode you’ll learn about: The biggest mistakes Seedrs made in the early days Seedrs vs Crowdcube When Jeff realised he needed to hire a CEO How to integrate a new CEO into a founder-led company The failed merger How to get motivated to compete again after a merger like that collapses
17/05/21·57m 3s

After his startup IPOd in record time everything fell apart, with Eve Sleep co-founder Kuba Wieczorek

Founders dream of being early to market, garnering flattering press, watching their product fly off the shelves and IPOing in record time. For Kuba Wieczorek, Co-Founder and former Chief Marketing Officer of Eve Sleep, the dream became a reality. And then the wheels came off. Kuba founded DTC mattress company Eve Sleep in 2015 with his cousin Jas, and they quickly started experiencing explosive growth. Within just two years they’d raised £35 million and were valued at £140 million. To top it off, they IPOd in record breaking time. It was the stuff of fairytales. But the fairytale wasn’t to last.  “About six months after Jas left I hit rock bottom as well. You know, really rock bottom, I realised that it was either my health and my family, or staying at Eve, so I made the right choice. I resigned.” In today’s episode, Kuba shares his journey with Eve, the effect it had on him and his mental health, and what he will do differently in the future.  “I’ll be stronger with myself and not be seduced by crazy growth and money and promises of IPO and riches and all of that stuff. Authenticity, be authentic. If you know who you are, and you know the brand you're building, just stick to that.” We chat about: The meteoric rise of eve Sleep The fastest ever British retail float The toll of eve on his mental health Know what you’re building Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
10/05/21·49m 52s

Bolt: Markus Villig skipped university at 19 to take on Uber and become the youngest unicorn founder in Europe

Markus Villig was 19 when he decided to spend the $5,000 his parents had saved up for university on starting a business instead. His initial goal for Bolt, then called Taxify, was to solve Tallinn’s (Estonia) taxi problem. By 25 he was the youngest unicorn founder in Europe and had shown that Uber wasn’t going to win everywhere. “Today, Bolt is the fastest growing mobility company in the world. We have more than 50 million customers on the platform. We operate in more than 40 countries. And we’ve raised more than $600 million of funding with a team of about 2000 people.” Markus knew from an early age he wanted to start a company and build a product.  “The only things that were really, really clear for me were that it needed to be in technology, I really wanted it to be a consumer product. And it needed in some ways to make the world a better place. But other than that, I was pretty agnostic of which space to get into.” He chose transportation, not only because he can’t drive, but because hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on transportation globally by consumers each year, and what they get in return isn’t good.  From the problems caused by private cars, to taking on Uber, their unusual funding routes, making big mistakes in his early hires, and why his strategy to focus on Africa paid off.  “The last straw for me was when I was in Serbia, in Belgrade, meeting one of the local taxi companies. And halfway through the meeting, I realised that these guys are essentially mafia, the guy had a revolver on the table and a big safe in the corner of his office.” This is a tale of tenacity and grit, and a CEO’s unwavering belief in his vision. Don’t miss it. It’s a good one.  We chat about: Building his first company at 17 Taking on Uber The hardest challenges he faced as CEO Scaling and fundraising when no VC will touch you Not diluting the company’s focus too much Links: Eat Sleep Work Repeat - Perspectives on the work to come Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
03/05/21·43m 11s

A startup Covid tale: how accuRx got to ⅓ of UK vaccine bookings and 99% market share of GPs, with Co-Founder and CTO Laurence Bargery

You might not have heard of today’s guest or his company, but if you’ve had a Covid jab in the UK (or are going to) there’s a good chance you’ve used their tech.  Laurence Bargery is co-founder of accuRx, a healthtech supplier trusted by 99% of GPs, and with ⅓ of all vaccine bookings in the UK now taking place through their systems. “Within about four or six weeks of us releasing this suite of Covid tools we'd gone up from that 50% point to about 99% of GPs using us.” Laurence and co-founder Jacob Haddad built a tool to allow GPs and other healthcare providers to communicate more effectively with their patients. To date, their software is used by 7,000+ GP surgeries and has messaged 30m+ patients.  But they didn’t start out down this avenue. In fact, they started off looking at antibiotic resistance, but the market wasn't there, so they pivoted.  They knew they wanted to create something that added value to healthcare, but not knowing enough about the industry and its sticking points, they immersed themselves in a GP practice.  “And that's where this idea came from, of something super simple we can do that's going to be really powerful when applicable to so many of the problems in general practice and healthcare and ultimately, that was communication.” From getting traction with GPs, to building individual Wix websites, Laurence shares how they grew accuRx pre-Covid, to how they've dealt with the explosive growth during and post the pandemic. If you’re a founder and you’ve had to pivot your business, or you’re thinking about pivoting, don’t miss this latest episode of Secret Leaders.  We chat about: Pivoting the business to accuRx Dealing with explosive growth Strategically handling 99% market share Monitoring employee engagement   Links: Jacob Haddad Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
26/04/21·49m 57s

Insights from 12 world class founders & thinkers for our 100th episode

We’ve been making the UK’s startup podcast since 2017 and this is our 100th episode. To celebrate, we’re doing something a little different and bringing you a bunch of the most powerful stories and insights from some of the amazing guests we’ve had the honour of talking to over the years.  In celebration of this milestone, we’re also giving away a pair of Apple Airpod Pros to a lucky Secret Leaders subscriber/follower. Entering is super simple and takes just a few seconds - go to to win. We’ve divided this episode into three sections. In the first, you’ll hear war stories from the founders of some of the world’s biggest unicorns; in the second we share tales of mental health and adversity; and in the third we bring you big ideas.  “What I want them to learn from me is to find that thing that really makes you happy, and where you're really creative, because that's what will bring you fulfilment in your life.”  From Daniel Schreiber, co-founder of insurance disruptor Lemonade, on how he formulated the product, to Jo Malone talking about growth, to Will Shu, founder of Deliveroo, talking about those early scrappy days when everyone had to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in: “We would do stuff like just hand out flyers in the street. I wore a kangaroo costume too many times. I didn't enjoy wearing the kangaroo costume.” You’ll hear Cal Henderson, co-founder of Slack, talking about his company's reaction to the pandemic, former Chief Business Officer for Google X, Mo Gawdat, sharing how even the worst times in our lives can be gateways into something beautiful, and Jason Calcanis, the self-proclaimed ‘greatest angel investor of all time’:  “A lot of founders and people have early success. The things that made them successful in that first phase of their career will actually work against them in the second phase.” For all you entrepreneurs out there, don’t miss this ultimate episode, jam packed full of 12 insightful, key takeaways. Download and listen now.  We chat about: How to be a disruptor Lay the foundations for success  The value of happiness, resilience and a culture of openness Develop atomic habits Support women in business  Be humble Links: Daniel Schreiber Will Shu Jo Malone Cal Henderson Nicola Kilner Mo Gawdat Martha Lane Fox Damien Bradfield James Clear Debbie Wosskow Alain De Botton Jason Calcanis Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
19/04/21·1h 3m

How to land LeBron James & Michael Phelps in your first 100 customers - Will Ahmed, Founder of Whoop

As the captain of the Harvard squash team, Will Ahmed trained and prepared as best he could. But, whatever he tried, his body kept breaking down. He didn't know why so he started researching the human body, devouring medical papers. Now, several years later, those personal frustrations have grown into Whoop, a wearable tech startup you can see on the wrists of NFL players, pro golfers and Navy Seals - despite being consistently told his strategy was wrong. “The vision for Whoop has always been the same, which is that we're going to build this wearable platform that's going to help you improve your health. And it's going to start with the best athletes in the world. And then it's going to be on everyone.” So he was proved right. Whoop counted professional athletes LeBron James and Michael Phelps among their first 100 users, and just got valued at $1.2 billion.  “I object to the quote, ‘it's a marathon, not a sprint’, because it's actually both. If you truly are trying to create a company from scratch, and have it be this enormous success, you have to go at an incredibly high pace for an incredibly long time.” We chat about: How overtraining led him to found Whoop How do you actually create a resilient mindset Why the first fundraise was the toughest How to build epic brand partnerships What happens when Amazon try to rip you off Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe!
12/04/21·50m 50s

Trinny Woodall reveals her surprising, untold startup journey - from dotcom bust to beauty boom today

Most people recognise Trinny Woodall for being one half of Trinny and Susannah from their breakout TV show: What Not To Wear, but not many people know this side of her story. Trinny is a serial entrepreneur. She was a founder in the dotcom bubble back in the day, and is the founder of soaring makeup startup, Trinny London, which booked £42m of revenue in the last year. What happened? How did she get here? In today’s episode of Secret Leaders, Trinny shares her really surprising entrepreneurial journey that doesn’t get told. “Susannah and I started the idea [their first entrepreneurial venture], it was a very lucky break. And I did that for eight years. And then from that television came and then I started writing books and that whole part of my career, when I look back now, brought me to being the CEO of Trinny London.” It doesn’t matter if you’re a budding founder or a seasoned entrepreneur, this episode with Trinny is not to be missed. From hiring interns with a twinkle in their eye, to having to sell her clothes to fund her startup, to understanding the need for personalisation in a brand, Trinny has a wealth of experience every founder needs to hear.  “Through building Trinny London, advice I always give to other entrepreneurs, younger entrepreneurs, is stay in your own lane. Because if you look too much at the competition, you dilute the uniqueness of your offering.” We chat about: Her partnership with Susannah The genesis of Trinny London Financing Trinny London How she handled fame Creating a community on social media Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
05/04/21·54m 26s

Bloom & Wild: building world’s fastest growing flower company with Co-Founder & CEO Aron Gelbard

How big can a flower company really be? Well, the industry processes over a billion transactions every year and Bloom & Wild is leading the charge to become the dominant player. In today’s show we talk to Co-Founder and CEO Aron Gelbard about how it all nearly failed before it had even begun, and how much of that market they can really take. “We're doing a few million of those. So we've made meaningful headway. But there's a huge way to go around the world.” That’s not bad for a company that set up shop in 2013 and quickly became best known for making it possible to send flowers in under a minute on a smartphone, and for those flowers to be delivered through your letterbox.  “We got 1,000 orders in the week of [our first] Mother's Day. And I remember this because I had to process them all individually in the spreadsheet, and it took me all day to do whereas normally the order processing took an hour.” From their first piece of accidental marketing by the Daily Mail (after being told to move on by Wholefoods on High St. Ken), to understanding the value of a great customer review:  “We very rapidly realised that it was going to be really important to get good customer reviews and build trust, because people need to trust you in order to let you be the conveyor of their emotions. And so we focused on getting good review scores.” Don’t miss Aron sharing the challenges of international growth, the problem with building a website on the cheap, their success with replantable Christmas trees through the post, and raising their recent £75m seed funding round.  “It's super important for me to be kind to everybody that I interact with. I think it connects to my desire to please people, it's really innate in the business that we're in, that you have to do it kindly. And I think I've tried to be kind to consumers and those that we work with, and to our team.” We chat about: Tracking sender and recipient Net Promoter Score Embracing sustainability  Fundraising for international expansion Building and nurturing culture while WFH The importance of kindness  Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
29/03/21·50m 10s

Four top female founders reveal what it’s really like in the startup hot seat

To mark Women’s History Month, we’re serving you the secret sauce of four incredible female founders: Alice Bentinck, co-founder of Entrepreneur First; Debbie Wosskow, co-founder of AllBright; Saasha Celestial-One, co-founder of Olio; and Tamara Lohan, co-founder of Mr and Mrs Smith. Although the numbers for female-founded businesses are improving, it still remains that of the 6 million businesses in the UK, only 1/5 are run by women. There are twice as many male entrepreneurs as female ones. And only 1% of startup funding goes to female-founded businesses. “When I started, there was not a whiff of any kind of VC money specifically for female businesses, there were no female networking clubs, there were no female support groups, there was nothing.” In this one-off episode, recorded at our live event for International Women’s Day 2020, these founders share some of the toughest moments they’ve had in their careers, they discuss access to funding, and why there has never been a better time to become an entrepreneur, if you’re female.  “I suppose my coping mechanism is to try and ignore [imposter syndrome] and just focus on solving the problems that will make my business better and more valuable, rather than constantly worrying about my own performance.” We chat about: Their toughest moments as entrepreneurs Funding as female entrepreneurs The shifting gender balance Tackling imposter syndrome Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
23/03/21·49m 52s

World’s youngest Dragon, with Michele Romanow, Co-Founder of Clearbanc

You can’t take your ears off our guest today. Born and raised in Canada, Michele Romanow has been building startups since university (a cafe which still operates today) followed by a venture in an industry she knew nothing about - caviar - right when the 2008 financial crisis struck. “There I am, 21 years old, selling the world's most unnecessary luxury product. I realised the world owes you absolutely nothing, that everything can fall apart in a second, that it can be your fault. It can be the market's fault, it doesn't matter. But I was gonna have to pivot if I wanted it to be successful.” And pivot she did.  From Buytopia, to SnapSaves (acquired by Groupon), to Dragons’ Den Canada (‘I was the youngest Dragon ever’), to co-founding Clearbanc - Michele has done so much in such a short space of time. She co-founded Clearbanc having seen dozens of similar pitches on Dragons’ Den. The idea is that ecommerce founders no longer have to give up equity in exchange for capital. Instead Clearbanc invests and gets paid back from revenues with a 6% - 12% fee on top.  “We have now invested more than $1.6 billion into 4,000 different founders around the world. We have backed eight times more women than the venture capital industry average.” What a story. We hope you enjoy it. If you like what we’re doing please subscribe or follow Secret Leaders.  We chat about: Starting her career in cafes and caviar From Dragons’ Den to Clearbanc The struggle of financing Clearbanc The hardest part of being an entrepreneur Never be comfortable Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
16/03/21·53m 13s

From living on benefits to the American dream, with Pipe Co-Founder Harry Hurst

“I was a young kid with a family on government benefits living off £600 a month. I was surrounded by people that could afford private school. And from a naive child's perspective, they seemed to have everything that I didn't have when I went home to my reality. But I think that was the formation of Harry Hurst, the hungry, ambitious, immigrant entrepreneur.” Today’s Secret Leader, Harry Hurst, has been hustling ever since he was kid - and he’s had to. He credits his poor upbringing for his entrepreneurial spirit - and with two hugely successful startups to his name (Skurt and Pipe), he’s not only someone who’s risked everything - he knows what it takes to build a special company.  With co-founder Josh Mangel, he founded Skurt, an on-demand car rental service, later acquired by in 2014.  They subsequently co-founded Pipe, a trading platform for a new asset class - recurring revenue - in 2019.   “You've obviously seen the press announcement how we ended up raising $50 million from all of these strategic [partnerships], it's Shopify, Slack, HubSpot.” But it’s not all been plain sailing for Harry. He’s had his back to the wall on many occasions but in 2016 he experienced one of the toughest moments of his life when he was hit with severe anxiety.  From his humble beginnings, to starting and selling Skurt, to founding Pipe, dealing with mental health and the importance of sharing ideas, Harry is open, frank and honest about his crazy journey. “Don't hold back on discussing the ideas that you have, if you want to be a founder. It pains me when people say to me, ‘I've got this amazing idea, but I can't talk about it’. I think that's gonna hold you back.” Download and listen to this truly fascinating, rags to riches story. We chat about: The origins of Harry Hurst, entrepreneur Founding Skurt and Pipe Harry the leader at Skurt v Harry the leader at Pipe Experiencing anxiety Don’t hold back on your ideas Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
09/03/21·51m 25s

Former Monzo CEO Tom Blomfield on falling out of love with your work

Get you own unique referral link: Tom Blomfield, the former CEO and Co-Founder of Monzo, and Co-Founder of GoCardless, knows a thing or two about the fintech industry.  “We wanted to create something different than existing banks. We believed that the banks weren't serving customers particularly well at that moment. Customer expectations had been raised dramatically by things like Spotify, Uber and Airbnb, in terms of the user experience and functionality.” Which is why his announcement in January 2021 that he was leaving Monzo, 6 years after founding the challenger bank, came as a shock to many.  “When you get to that size, it's about people management. You spend almost no time on product or customers really. It's about process, a lot of process, extraordinary amount of regulation.” But it takes an outstanding leader to know when to step aside. And in today’s inaugural episode of Season 7, Tom talks about the mounting pressure when you’re at the top and ultimately its impact on your mental health and identity.  “I've talked about suffering that kind of stress, a build up of stress, it starts impacting your sleep, or at least it impacted my sleep, it became this vicious cycle where not sleeping makes your work worse, make worse decisions.” From raising £1m from crowdfunding in 96 seconds, to how he scaled personally alongside the bank, to building a culture from the very outset, to what made him leave Monzo - Tom is exceedingly candid in this interview, which was recorded just a few weeks after his departure. Don’t miss this hugely insightful episode from one of Europe’s top founders and CEOs - it’s something all entrepreneurs need to hear. We chat about: Crowdfunding Monzo Building a culture from the start Entrepreneurship and mental health His decision process to leave Monzo Links: Monzo GoCardless Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
02/03/21·38m 44s


Get a flavour of what we're all about :)
23/02/21·1m 7s

CERN scientist turned founder - Natural Cycles CEO Elina Berglund

“There's no birth control method that is 100% effective and Natural Cycles is as similarly effective as the pill. So it's 93% effective with typical use, and 98% effective with perfect use, meaning that you use protection on the days that the app says.” Before becoming CEO and co-founder of Natural Cycles, the world’s first and only app to be certified as a contraception both in Europe and in the US, today’s Secret Leader, Dr Elina Berglund, was part of the team that discovered the Higgs boson at CERN, which led to the Nobel Prize in physics in 2013.  “I felt like with my understanding of data from particle physics, I can actually develop an algorithm that also learns cycle to cycle and applies more advanced statistical methods to say like, well, I'm definitely not fertile today.” Elina was looking for an effective natural contraceptive and applied her skills from particle physics to create an algorithm that could accurately pinpoint when a woman is fertile. Elina is now on a mission to pioneer women’s health with research and passion, empowering women with the knowledge they need to take charge of their health.  From how to found an app and work with your husband, to building the algorithm without being in beta mode, dealing with unwanted pregnancies while using the app, to her biggest mistakes in the early days. Don’t miss Elina sharing her journey of how she created a product that fundamentally changed the way we choose to live our lives.  “Now I'm looking back at it, I should have listened to my gut more, because my gut was telling me, this doesn't feel right, something feels difficult, this feels heavy. Now when things are actually going well, it feels easy, it doesn't feel hard anymore. So I think I should have listened to my gut and changed things faster.” We chat about: The transition from CERN to contraception How to build trust with the first users Funding and financing Natural Cycles Dealing with unwanted pregnancies Bringing wearable contraception to market Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
09/02/21·39m 51s

Grace Beverley, 23, author, influencer & founder of TALA & SHREDDY

“Both my businesses have really strong values. And those have evolved pretty naturally from my growth coming into those interests of sustainability, of ethics, and saying, well, if I'm consuming something, that's one thing, but if I'm selling it, that's a whole other thing.” Today’s guest on Secret Leaders is not your average 23 year old. Grace Beverley is a Natwest GBEA Young Entrepreneur of the Year and founder of two brands, Tala and Shreddy. A successful female entrepreneur, Grace is shaking up the archaic business world. With a global reach of over 1.5 million, she’s been named first in Forbes 30 under 30’s retail and e-commerce list, at just twenty-three.  At The University of Oxford she set up her first company, B_ND, a vegan friendly resistance band company which has since come under the Shreddy umbrella, an app that gives you workout plans you’ll actually like. And Tala, a sustainable activewear brand that is flying off shelves. But that’s not all, she’s also written a book due out in April called, Working Hard and Hardly Working.  “Everything that we produce is going to be vegan. And that's what we set from the offset. And that was part of our purpose and our pillars and our values. And yet, obviously, that evolved to be so much more than that.” From influencer, to founding B_ND at The University of Oxford, to becoming CEO of two companies. Today’s episode charts Grace’s entrepreneurial journey, how her personal growth perspective has shaped her businesses, and how she’s learned to be a better leader by saying ‘I don’t know’.  “I made this commitment a few years ago when I realised that, okay, I have this opportunity here to travel the world and take pictures for a living. And I don't enjoy that.” We chat about: The genesis of Tala and Shreddy Being an influencer How her two companies overlap Working Hard, Hardly Working The gender divide on social media Why you need to define success for yourself Links: Book - Working Hard, Hardly Working Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
02/02/21·42m 1s

16-year battle to £100m esports team, with Fnatic Founder Sam Mathews

If you’re in need of inspiration and ideas for how to succeed in the eSports world, then don’t miss this insightful episode with the co-founder and CEO of Fnatic, Sam Mathews.  “I'm probably more like the Glazers than I am Alex Ferguson, because I'm kind of running the whole business.” Fnatic is one of the leading eSports teams in the world, and currently, the eSports industry is blowing up, not just because of Sam, but he has definitely contributed towards its success.  But what is eSports and why are over 1.5 billion people around the world so into it?  “[The] games we play on the computer are super engaging, and they're much more engaging in some ways than some of these physical sports, and tactical. And they're also unlimited in terms of imagination.” Not to mention watching people who are exceptionally good at eSports is thrilling in itself, and the top competitors engage with spectators in real time.  From launching Fnatic at uni, to aiming to become a billion dollar company, in today’s episode of Secret Leaders, Sam shares his entrepreneurial journey to date. Including the transition from Neverland to becoming the CEO of Fnatic, how he bought his mum out of the company, fundraising on a $130 million valuation and most recently, creating an eSports partnership with Gucci. We chat about: What eSports are and why 1.5 billion people worldwide play them How he got his Mum working for Fnatic… and how he bought her out Why eSports tournaments are held IRL Creating an eSports partnership with Gucci Fundraising for Fnatic and becoming CEO Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
26/01/21·51m 34s

From launch to IPO in 4 years, with Lemonade CEO Daniel Schreiber

“Once you see it, you can't unsee it. [Insurance] is something that is 11% of GDP, $5 trillion worldwide, 100% household penetration. And you're like, wow, this has been hiding in plain sight. It’s such a dull industry that nobody's noticed it. Nobody's thought to tackle it.” Until Daniel Schreiber. That is.  So what made a law graduate with no prior knowledge of the insurance industry decide to co-found an insurtech startup in 2016, which floated on the New York Stock Exchange just 4 short years later, more than doubling in valuation on the first day of trading? “It has been a pretty rapid growth, we're talking from standstill to about $200 million in just over four years and doubling every year.” Lemonade isn’t like any insurance platform you’ve ever come across before. Daniel (former president of Powermat) and co-founder Shai Wininger, (Fiverr co-founder) didn’t want to simply follow in the footsteps of what had gone before. They wanted to create a new kind of insurance company, something that improved the user experience for everyone.  “We built [it] from scratch, we were vertically integrated, we built every piece of technology. We're not fronting for some old insurance company, we built every element of the user experience, down to the insurance dimensions, as well as the technological ones.” From lawyer to SanDisk to Power Mat to Lemonade, Daniel has had a portfolio career like no other. His is a truly fascinating journey where the phrase ‘peer to peer insurance’ sparked an idea that rapidly grew into a multi million dollar business. We chat about: The multigenerational Schreiber entrepreneurial mindset Building Lemonade from scratch The spark of peer to peer insurance High speed execution and financing Lemonade The insurance industry is politics Links: Fiverr Powermat Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
19/01/21·56m 25s

Sir Ronnie Cohen: Refugee to father of British venture capital

If you’re a budding entrepreneur, you can’t learn to swim by doing exercises on the beach, says Sir Ronald Cohen. “You can't keep preparing yourself for an entrepreneurial career. You learn by doing. And by your mid to late 20s, you're ready to do that. You don't have to prepare beyond that.” Sir Ronald is Chairman of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment and The Portland Trust. He is a co-founder director of Social Finance UK, USA, and Israel, and co-founder Chair of Bridges Fund Management and Big Society Capital. But before all of this, he co-founded and was Executive Chairman of Apax Partners from 1972-2005. From immigrant, to grammar school, to Harvard Business School where he discovered Venture Capital, to setting up Apax Partners, to impact investing. Sir Ronald has had quite a life, his story is one of humanity and people. A 45-50 year overnight success story. “Venture capital was a way for me to do good and to do well, and at the same time create jobs and make money.”   After becoming financially independent and at the age of 53, he informed his partners at Apax that he was leaving to deal with more important things. He wanted to help tackle social issues and try to contribute to achieving peace between Palestinians and Israelis. So, if you’re looking to create a social impact, Sir Ronald has a lot of sage advice for you - this is one episode not to be missed. “Principles have a cost, but they're always a bargain in the end. Don't try to take shortcuts. Live by your principles, you will attract the best talent, and you will be proud of your achievements.” We chat about: Founding Apax Partners  Funding Dolly the sheep Social investment task force Impact investing Social investment bank The B Corp movement Links: Impact: Reshaping capitalism to drive real change Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
12/01/21·55m 52s

Samantha Moyo - addict-turned-shaman who created sober raving

How do you get sober when AA isn’t working for you? Well, if you’re Samantha Moyo, you found the global sober raving movement, Morning Gloryville. A business designed to get people to wake up at 6am and go dancing, sober, to famous DJs such as Fatboy Slim, Basement Jaxx and Carl Cox.  She sold just 26 tickets to their first event, but such is Sam’s desire to challenge the status quo, she grew the business to a community of 200,000 within 18 months, across 23 cities.  Morning Gloryville was born from her life as Captain Hello Titties, an unsustainable, creative, money-making idea that involved putting on parties on the River Thames. But it wasn’t all plain sailing.  “When you have co-founders, and things aren't well, one of the things that helped us was getting a mediator. We kept doing some practices together just to keep the energy flowing, so that we wouldn't affect the business.” Not only did she part ways with her co-founder, they had too little money for the growing company, and she wasn’t being kind to herself or those at work.  “I wanted to bring conscious clubbing to the world stage and spread love, peace and joy through dancing. And after five years of doing that, and waking up at 6am so many times, I think my spirit was done.” Sam is no longer with Morning Gloryville, today she’s a wellness entrepreneur, with a difference. Now, known as Mystic Moyo, Sam has undergone her own transformation, from burnt out business leader, to activist, to mystic secret leader.  So what can you do to be a more conscious leader inside your organisation? What can you do to keep on the path of curiousness? How can you take a more spiritual path, a more spiritual journey with your leadership? To find out, don’t miss this incredibly insightful episode. We chat about: Captain Hello Titties Building Morning Gloryville The notion of kindness Racial and economic injustice is real in business The birth of Mystic Moyo Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
05/01/21·51m 29s

DECIEM - a tale of tragedy and beauty with CEO Nicola Kilner

The massive beauty disruptor, DECIEM, was founded in 2013 by “the beauty world’s most exciting disruptor”, Brandon Truaxe, and co-CEO Nicola Kilner. From the beginning, they weren't like any other cosmetic company, they acted more like a startup incubator launching 10 brands in rapid succession.  They were hugely successful, did everything in house, outstripped the competition and grew wildly popular brands like The Ordinary. What Nicola wasn’t prepared for, however, was Brandon’s very public struggles with his mental health in 2018, his death in 2019, and the devastating impact it all had on the company.  “Ultimately, you can't help someone who doesn't want help.” In this heartfelt, honest, emotionally raw episode of Secret Leaders, Nicola shares her incredible entrepreneurial journey to date.  “It was always just trying to get the balance between keeping DECIEM going and trying to be there for Brandon. And people tell you all the time, you just have to wait for the person to want help. It's such a difficult situation to be in, you just have to wait for them to reach rock bottom. But what if they never do or, in Brandon's case, it ultimately ended in the worst possible way.” From founding DECIEM with Brandon, to seeking investment, scaling the business up, and then what happened when Brandon’s mental health took a turn for the worse. After being fired by Brandon, to assuming control of the company once more, Nicola tells the DECIEM story, warts and all, ensuring that Brandon’s legacy lives on. “Brandon would want, you know, he taught us so much about family and being there for each other. So it was kind of, let's just put that back into practice now.” We chat about: Starting DECIEM with Brandon Funding DECIEM with Estee Lauder Working with Brandon before and during 2018 Being fired and then regaining control of the company Communicating through a crisis Links: Brandon Truaxe Avestan Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
29/12/20·1h 1m

Could a startup solve homelessness? With Beam CEO Alex Stephany

Wondering what to give as an unusual gift this year? How about donating in someone’s name to a social enterprise solving homelessness? Simply purchase a gift card for someone from Beam, and help a homeless person get back on their feet.  “There's billions of pounds being spent on homelessness. More than 1,000 organisations are tackling homelessness. There are millions of people in London who care about this issue. And yet still, despite all of this, people are literally dying outside of tube stations.” But how does your donation help someone find a home? Well, it does more than that - through crowdfunding, you donate to people Beam are working with and the money goes directly towards training them in their chosen vocation so they can get back into employment. On the flip-side, Beam is giving scale-ups and corporates access to overlooked talent. “The greatest economic opportunity you can give to people is a sense of self worth and an opportunity to contribute back to society because really, they don't want donations. They want the ability to be in control of their own destiny.” Alex shares the story of the first homeless person he helped, Tony, and how he was the inspiration to scale up Beam.  “I thought, well, if we can do that for one person, then what if we can do that for 100,000, or millions of people? What if we can use technology and operational processes to create this same life-changing intervention for other people at scale?” So, if you’re interested in learning how to solve huge societal problems with tech and new business models while making some money in the process, don’t miss this incredible episode.  We chat about: Founding Beam and its business model Tony’s story Frustrations when running Beam Making money while doing social good Scaling up Beam with tech How to support Beam Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
22/12/20·54m 56s

HubSpot - how to build a SAAS titan with CEO Brian Halligan

“I think today, if I look at the companies that are doing really well and kind of came out of nowhere, it's when their customer experience is 10 times better than the competition.” If you run a b2b, there’s a high possibility that you’re already a customer of today’s Secret Leader, CEO and founder of HubSpot, Brian Halligan. Founded in 2006, HubSpot has grown to annual revenues of over half a billion dollars, 3000 employees, 70,000+ customers across 100 countries. Brian is also an author of several fantastic books and has been named as one of the best CEOs for diversity and best CEOs for women, before it was trendy in tech.  “Part of my mission in HubSpot isn't just to build a big successful company, but to build a company, my kid, and hopefully someday my grandkids, will be proud of and brag about.” In the early days of HubSpot, Brian found culture an uninspiring topic and famously said, ‘Please, can we never have a chief people officer?’ But even successful startup leopards can change their spots. Brian is now a keen advocate for culture, firmly believing, ‘culture is how people make decisions when you're not in the room. Culture is how you scale.’ So to hear from the inbound marketing legend himself on topics ranging from customer experience to company culture, imposter syndrome to CEO support groups, don’t miss this incredible episode of Secret Leaders.  We chat about: The what and why of HubSpot Never making the same mistake twice Wartime mode vs peacetime mode How to nail customer experience HubSpot culture code How to look after your mental health Links: Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs Marketing Lessons From The Grateful Dead Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
15/12/20·56m 36s

Tabitha Goldstaub - AI, pivots and losing your identity

If you’re concerned about AI and how it could affect your future, then don’t miss Tabitha Goldstaub on this week’s episode of Secret Leaders.  Tabitha is a serial tech entrepreneur, an artificial intelligence industry expert who is chair of the UK government's AI Council, and co founder of CognitionX, which was before COVID, the biggest AI conference in the world, but has understandably had to pivot to an expert advice platform. “It was really clear that there were so many better experts to advise the government, but there wasn't anybody who could be the glue to hold them together. And they needed somebody to do a lot of the legwork. And also, I think they were looking for someone as optimistic as me.” Before that, she co-founded Rightster (now Brave Bison) a global b2b video network for distribution, content-sourcing, audience engagement and monetisation, and now she’s just written a book - How To Talk To Robots, something we could all do with learning.  “I felt like I was at this sort of epicentre where I got to witness the future unfolding in front of my eyes. And I was selfish if I didn't explain it to my mates.” From explaining why she’s written a book about AI for women, to worrying that we won’t use AI to fight climate change, Tabitha is frank, open and incredibly honest about the future of AI. So, if you’re interested in the future of the world and the way that artificial intelligence will impact it, don’t miss this incredibly insightful episode.   We chat about: Chairing the UK government’s AI council at 31 The fear that led her to write How To Talk To Robots The risks and rewards of AI Her biggest fear in AI The issue of trust Pivoting CogX from physical to virtual Links: How To Talk To Robots Cathy O'Neil - Weapons Of Math Destruction Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
08/12/20·51m 58s

Jim Collins - best business author of his generation

“Bill [Lazier] would always remind our students, the most important thing is to do work you love, with people you love. And if you do work you love, with people you love, you win.” Jim Collins is an entrepreneurial researcher, however he’s most well known for being a best selling author of multiple books that frankly, if you're listening to this podcast and you haven't read, you've definitely got your priorities all wrong.  We celebrate all things entrepreneur on Secret Leaders, having been in the game for almost 10 years ourselves. And one of the first books we ever read, as every budding, new or even seasoned entrepreneur should, was Good To Great. The timeless, classic, entrepreneurial handbook written by two experts.  Jim’s latest book, Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0, a revamped and updated version of the original, is an homage to his co-author and late mentor, the inimitable Bob Lazier. “I asked Bill one day, I said, ‘So what makes a great relationship?’ He says, ‘oh, if you ask each person in the relationship, who benefits more from the relationship, they each independently would say, I do’.” Jim, by his own definition, is not normal. But then, we argue, what exceptional leader of industry is? That's why we invite people like him onto this show, so listeners can learn all about them.  And this episode is one of the best. Jam packed full of tasty tidbits and inspiration, you should have your pen ready, because this is bound to fire up your neurons and get your thinking juices flowing.  “Leadership is a responsibility not an entitlement, or decision, not an accident, a matter of willful action, not genetics, whether you learn to lead greatly in the end, is a choice.”  We chat about: Bill Lazier Writing Good to Great in the spirit of relationships Level five leaders The myth of the entrepreneurial temperament  His encounters with Steve Jobs The Stockdale paradox Why Patagonia is such a great company Links: Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos and Luck - Why Some Thrive Despite Them All Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0 Turning the Flywheel: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great Turning Goals into Results: The Power of Catalytic Mechanisms Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
01/12/20·1h 11m

Atomic Habits - Little things can transform your life

If you've not read Atomic Habits by James Clear, we urge you to stop what you’re doing and go and get it. It's one of those books that once you've read it, you start to think about how those ideas can change your reality.  “The book’s been out almost two years now and has sold over two million copies. And for me, the most gratifying thing is that the ideas are useful. The best thing is to see people using them to build better habits in their own life or to break habits that they've been struggling with for a while.” While James is not the father of thinking about habits, he is an expert on the subject, having built up a newsletter around the topic years before launching his bestselling book.  “I'm not the smartest person, I'm not the fastest person, I’m not the first person to talk about this stuff. But I want to do it in a way that's useful.” By doing this, he's simply a master of demonstrating what best practice looks like and how that impact can impact your future, which above anything else, makes him a person you might want to listen to.  “A habit is a behaviour that's tied to a particular context. And what you start to realise is that you cannot have a behaviour outside of an environment. They all happen within a certain context. Any time the environment changes in a big way, behaviour changes in a big way.” So for everything you need to know about habits and how they can help you be the best version of yourself, don’t miss out on this truly insightful and illuminating episode.  We chat about: Why habits are universally timeless  How Uber was founded on users’ habits What a habit is How COVID has changed our habits Bad habits that leaders should avoid Important habits for startups to avoid  Links: Atomic Habits 3-2-1 newsletter The Outsiders - William Thorndyke Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
24/11/20·47m 46s

Alain de Botton & Anne-Marie Huby: How to do good, better

With host Dan Murray laid up in hospital, this special live episode is hosted by none other than the feisty, joyous force of nature, Resi founder, Alex Depledge.  “We have a foundation at Resi that does pro bono work for architecture. People look at me a little bit sceptical, like, what's the motivation? You can't really earn a profit and do good at the same time. So why is building a for profit company better for society than building a charity?” Alex, alongside special guests Anne-Marie Huby of Just Giving and Alain de Botton of School of Life, discuss social enterprise, building for profit companies for good, and the question of whether this does or doesn't make more of an impact on society than charities. “When you think of the size of the charity sector, which in this country is commendably big, but you look at the wider overall economy, it stands to reason that if we want to live in a more fulfilling, equal, decent society, we're going to have to attend to what companies do.” Both of our guests, Anne-Marie and Alain, share their motivations for why they chose to create their businesses as for profits, rather than as charities, and spoiler alert, it’s not all about financial gain.  “A business that wants to achieve good and make money has a double role, a business that merely wants to make money has a single mission. It's much harder to be a so-called good capitalist, because you're trying to hit two targets. You’ve got to work doubly hard.” Inspirational and insightful, this is another cracking, not-to-be-missed live episode.  We chat about: Churches don't have the monopoly on doing good Good capitalism v bad capitalism Maslow’s hierarchy of needs The core issues with building charities How can we make capitalism work The effective altruism movement Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
17/11/20·1h 8m

Arlan Hamilton - from homeless to VC founder in 3 years

We are all for throwing two fingers up at the establishment, and who better to do that than an LGBTQ, black, woman investor? Meet Arlan Hamilton, Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital.  Backstage Capital is a fund that invests in under-estimated founders that are defined as women, people of colour and members of the LGBTQ community, who together represent the biggest economic opportunity for investment. Arlan’s latest book, It’s About Damn Time has been received with critical acclaim, because given the state of play in the world right now, it really is about damn time. She’s an inspiring hustler who’s come to venture capital from a completely adjacent industry.  Just a few short years ago Arlan was homeless and now, 5 years on, her $10m boutique venture fund has invested in over 130 startups. She takes capital from an increasing list of big name investors, such as Mark Cuban, who trust her decision making to back the next generation of founders.  “I didn't believe when they said things like, ‘you're not networked enough’, or ‘you're not connected enough’. I thought that was BS. But I did respect the ones who said, ‘you've got to really get your chops figured out’ and thankfully, no one could be more sure of that than myself, like, no one could be harder on me than I could be on myself.” We chat about: Becoming a venture capitalist Fair feedback during fundraising The ignorant assumptions VC make about underrepresented founders Preparing founders for investment The power of saying no How she maintains her mental health Links: Book - It’s About Damn Time Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
10/11/20·38m 35s

Damian Bradfield & Matt ‘Mills’ Miller: Mental Health and Entrepreneurship Live

Mental health disorders are the global epidemic of our times and according to WHO, the instances of anxiety, depression and suicide rates are climbing, globally. On this special live episode of Secret Leaders, two amazing guests, Damian Bradfield and Mills, open up about their personal experiences with mental health.  “I've come to realise now that everyone has some form of mental health without a doubt. And actually, the more I talk openly about it, the more I realise that many people are in a similar situation. I'm not special in that respect, dealing with life, dealing with being married, having kids, growing up, companies, losing money is hard.” In the words of the iconic Steve Jobs, the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who actually do. But that comes at a price.  “Startup founders are estimated to be twice as likely to suffer from depression, six times more likely to suffer from ADHD, three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse, ten times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder, twice as likely to have a psychiatric hospitalisation and twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts than the general public.” Join us as we do our best to shine a light on the seriousness and severity of mental health without losing touch with the lighter things, and learn the tips, tricks and hacks to dealing with mental health issues from two incredibly successful entrepreneurs. We chat about: Why the image of success sets us up for failure How their mental health disorders manifest Growing a company and living with ADHD Their reasons for going to a therapist Company culture and mental health The link between depression, anxiety and control Links: WePresent App - Collect App - Paper Presentation tool - Paste Book - They fuck you up Book - Johann Hari - Lost Connections Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
03/11/20·1h 16m

John Cleese: How creativity can be applied to business

As an entrepreneur, creativity is the name of your game. And who better to hear from than the king of creativity himself, Mr John Cleese. Yes, that’s right. John. Cleese. You’re welcome.  Where do we begin?  John’s (Mr Cleese?) talents are boundless - actor, comedian, screenwriter, producer and author. The co-founder of the infamous Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the creator and star of Fawlty Towers has taken the time to look back on his writing processes and accomplishments as a series of creative experiences to share and inspire. And he’s distilled his thoughts into a short (an hour long read), beautiful guide he’s cunningly entitled ‘Creativity’.  Even if you have no desire to break into screenwriting, John has lived a lifetime of creativity and there is so much that we mere business folk can learn from him, including his secret process.  “You have to create a space where people don't come in and interrupt. And you have to have a sufficiently long period of time for your initial agitated thoughts to settle, so that you can then play, and play in a very relaxed way, not cudgelling your brains and furrowing your brow, just thinking, I wonder if, what would happen if, and why did I suddenly think of a hippopotamus? That sort of thing.” So grab a cuppa and let John’s wisdom guide you. This one really is a corker to kick the season off with.  We chat about: What we can learn from children about creativity Our emotional facilities aren’t helped by modern living John Cleese’s secret process There’s no such thing as a mistake The importance of rehearsal Resting for creativity Links: Creativity - John Cleese Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind - Guy Claxton Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
27/10/20·51m 40s

Beauty Pie: Meet The Forrest Gump Of Serial Entrepreneurs

Marcia Kilgore is a serial entrepreneur in the truest sense of the term. Not content with creating just one globally renowned brand, Marcia is responsible for Bliss Spa, Soap and Glory, FitFlop, Soaper Duper and now Beauty Pie. But how did she become Queen of Startups? Bliss Spa, her first startup in NYC, saw her give facials to Demi Moore, Courtney Love, Christy Turlington, Bette Midler and Calvin Klein to name drop but a few regulars. She sold this to world leader in luxury products LVMH, before turning her hand a couple of years later to Soap and Glory.  From there she founded FitFlop, Soaper Duper and now Beauty Pie, an exclusive buyers club for luxury beauty products, without the luxury beauty bullshit. “I love the part of a business where you're really struggling to figure something out and it's really hard and you're solving real problems and really moving that dial every day and able to create new things. But when it sort of gets masked out and it's not about creating new things for customers anymore and you get too far away from it and it's charts and spreadsheets, that's not really my thing.” Rather than discuss just one of these behemoths, Marcia is incredibly candid about all of them, talking about the genesis of each, her entrepreneurial journey and the mistakes she’s made along the way.  “There usually comes a time in my businesses where people say, ‘Oh, you've got to stop doing customer interface, you've got to stop doing the copywriting, you’ve got to stop doing the naming of the products’. And actually, that's what I do better than other people. So I shouldn't stop doing the part that I love doing. That was, I suppose the mistake that I've made in the past.” We chat about: What set her on her entrepreneurial path That urban legend about Jean-Claude Van Damme How LVMH wooed her Stopping your brand getting watered down Learning to deal with the big companies Lifting the lid on the beauty industry  Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
28/07/20·1h 4m

Basecamp: The One Stop Shop For Remote Working

If you created one of the world’s most popular programming frameworks, a framework on which hundreds of thousands of programmers rely to build applications such as Github, Shopify, Airbnb, Kickstarter, to name but a few, would you make it open source?  Because that’s what David Heinemeier Hansson decided to do.  DHH (to his friends and everyone on Twitter) is the creator of Ruby on Rails. But that’s not all he’s done. He’s also the cofounder and CTO at Basecamp. Oh, and he’s a best-selling author and a Le Mans class-winning racing driver. When he’s not busy doing those things you can find him spouting off on Twitter (and only Twitter - he’s not on FB, LinkedIn or Insta).  Basecamp is an all in one toolkit for working remotely. Founded in 1999 as a small company of 4 it has since, 21 years later, grown into an international organisation with over 50 employees, spread around the world. Everyone who works at Basecamp is free to live and work wherever they want. In fact, DHH and co-founder Jason Fried are such huge advocates of remote working, they wrote a book on it.  And in these trying times, where the whole world has been forced to work from home for the last four months, David isn’t smug, he’s not said ‘I told you so’ while pedaling Basecamp. What he wants is to save the smug tea and just enjoy the liberation, and welcome as many people as possible to remote working.  “I would like more people to enjoy the spoils of a remote work life. That's the camp I'm in because that's what I live. And I look at people who don't have access to that - there are people who commute for an hour or two to get to their office to sit in front of a computer all day. It makes no sense, neither economically, ecologically, or humanly, it just doesn't make any sense.” We chat about: How Ruby on Rails came about  Why he trod the entrepreneur path The inspiration behind Basecamp (or 37 Signals) Working remotely with Basecamp The impact of the pandemic on our attitudes to remote working The drawbacks of remote working Links: Basecamp guide to internal communication Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
21/07/20·1h 4m

Pleo: The Startup That Became A Major European Company

Pleo is a fundamentally new way to manage company expenses (not to mention being one of the sponsors of this illustrious podcast). Founded in early 2015 by fintech veterans Jeppe Rindom and Niccolo Perra, core listeners may have a good understanding of who Pleo are, but how much do you know about their actual journey? “It was all about the product in the beginning. And we were just figuring out what are the tangible pain points out there? And how can we bring a solution? We didn't think too much about purpose and all that until later.” Having raised over €70m in 5 years, Pleo has become one of the biggest card payment companies in Europe. But to take Pleo from idea to reality, keeping payments in companies simple, transparent and manageable for all, requires some incredible leadership.  Which is why we're talking to Jeppe, co founder and CEO of Pleo, to find out more about their rocket ship journey. “The way I think about organisation is a little bit like I think about our products. Your organisation fit constantly needs to be nurtured and changed. The way we communicate, the way we organise, the way we make decisions, the way we come together as a company - it needs to change all the time, because what worked a year ago no longer works. You need to nurture it as a product and you need to invest into it.” We chat about: The trials of naming your company The inspiration and motivation for starting Pleo The purpose, values and vision for Pleo Raising money before having an Alpha or Beta in the market Going through leadership development process as a leadership team Find what makes you happy in life - don’t settle Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
14/07/20·53m 36s

Bulb: Starting The UK’s Fastest Growing Private Company

Do you want to cut your carbon emissions to zero and save money on your energy bills?  Introducing Bulb, a green energy company founded in 2015 by Hayden Wood and co-founder, Amit Gudka. Together they wanted to change the energy industry, to make it better, by making energy simpler, cheaper and greener.  “We saw all the new technology from solar panels and batteries and smart meters changing the relationship that homes have with the grid. The home of the future [has] solar panels on the roof, there's an electric vehicle in the driveway, and that home needs an energy supplier that it could trust, because its energy needs need to be managed.” Today Bulb has grown their members to 1.7 million, adding more to their ranks each day. And with a team of over 700 people spread across London, France, Spain and the US, running a company that aims to use technology to reduce costs, improve efficiency and provide outstanding customer service hasn’t been an easy journey.  “A lot of the feedback we got in the early days was: ‘sounds too good to be true’, ‘where's the catch?’ ‘It doesn't make sense, you know? Why are you doing this?’ ‘Why hasn't somebody else done it before?’” So what does it take to build and lead Britain's fastest growing company?  “This is where I think I have really struggled to be honest, I found this job very difficult. And I feel like I'm really just at the early stages of my learning on how to do it. I think I do have tendencies to be a perfectionist. And I think it's helpful sometimes, but generally unhelpful. You have to not let perfectionism get in the way of excellence.” We chat about: The genesis of the idea for Bulb Angel investors and EIS Struggling to get customer sign ups Developing as a leader and giving employees autonomy Handling the pandemic and pivoting on a sixpence The importance of company mission in recruiting Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
07/07/20·54m 2s

GoCardless: Finding The Hockey Stick Growth Curve

If you’ve ever wondered how entrepreneurs without a specific idea go on to found a unicorn startup from their bedrooms, then this episode of Secret Leaders is for you.  “One of the things that really strikes me that's changed over the course of the last 10 years is the level of awareness of what's possible. When we decided to start GoCardless, most of our friends just thought we were unemployed and couldn't get a job.” Today’s guest is one third of the British equivalent of the PayPal mafia, Hiroki Takeuchi, co-founder and CEO of payment giant GoCardless.  GoCardless is a global payment network taking the pain out of getting paid for more than 50,000 businesses worldwide from multinationals to SMB, processing over $15 billion of payments annually across more than 30 countries. Hiroki and his fellow co-founders Matt Robinson (who now runs successful property tech startup Nested) and Tom Bloomfield (who has recently stepped aside as CEO of challenger bank giant Monzo) have raised over $120 million across 7 rounds of funding, securing $75 million in their latest series E. But it’s not been an easy ride.  “The first round of investment that we raised was definitely the hardest. I think we had something like 64 ‘no’s’ before we got our first ‘yes’.” Hiroki has been on a real journey, not just professionally, but personally too, having to physically rebuild his body after a horrific cycling accident in 2016 that left him paralysed from the waist down, drastically altering how he manages himself and the business day to day. We chat about: The hardest part of starting a business The hockey stick growth curve How to mentally prepare to fundraise When co-founders leave the business Choosing a CEO and building a leadership team The future vision for GoCardless Links: Nested Monzo Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
30/06/20·59m 25s

Charity: Water: From Club Promoter To Clean Water For 11 Million People

“When have you actually been thirsty? We have water everywhere around us. There are taps, there are showers. It's this infinite resource for most people, yet for the marginalised 10% of the world, it's something that they've never known.” Scott Harrison is a former club promoter turned CEO of Charity: Water, a hyper transparent non profit organisation that in 13 years has raised over $500 million and brought clean drinking water to 11 million people.  You’d think with these numbers under his belt Scott would be content to sit back on his laurels and congratulate his hard work. Far from it.  “Did I ever think I could raise half a billion dollars for clean water? And the real answer is 13 years later, this is a fraction of what I'd hoped we could have done. I mean, yes, it's a lot of money, but it's water, for crying out loud. We should be able to rally the world, clean water for humans, clean water for children. When I go to bed at night, I'm not patting myself on the back. It doesn't feel like success. It feels like a fraction of the potential achieved.” This strong desire to help others hasn’t always driven Scott. For 10 long years he lived (in his own words) a truly ‘degenerate, hedonistic, sycophantic lifestyle’, filling up clubs with beautiful people, taking copious amounts of drugs, smoking like a chimney and drinking like a fish, with a gambling addiction and a pornography addiction.  It all came to a head one day when he realised there was nothing redemptive about his life. So he stopped and asked himself what the opposite of his life would look like, and he thought, doing something for others.  “What if I volunteered for a charity? What if I volunteered for some sort of humanitarian mission for one year and tried to give instead of take.” And so Scott: the second chapter began. This is an inspirational episode everyone needs to hear.  We chat about: From nightclub promoter to charity founder Creating a hyper transparent charity The three pillars on which Charity: Water was founded How he’s innovating the charity sector Why apathy is his biggest challenge Don’t be afraid of hard work Links: The Spring - The charity: water story - YouTube Donate - Give The Gift Of Clean, Safe Water | charity: water Thirst - Scott Harrison Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
23/06/20·1h 9m

Karma & Olio: Capitalists Can Care About The Environment Too

Have you seen your household food waste increase exponentially during the pandemic? You’re not alone.  “Food waste in homes is more under scrutiny now than ever because people are not used to cooking at home, seven days a week. It's the perfect storm for trying to figure out your cooking schedule and using everything and that definitely produces food waste, at least initially until you've found your equilibrium.” Chatting all things food waste on this episode of Secret Leaders are two entrepreneurial power houses beating the same drum, but tackling the global issue of food waste from different angles.  We have Saasha Celestial-One, COO and co-founder of food sharing platform Olio who has featured on the podcast before (her episode is in the links section) and Hjalmar Ståhlberg Nordegren, CEO and co-founder at Karma. Hjalmar is a Swedish medical doctor turned entrepreneur. Together they’re both seeking a solution to the $1.2 trillion food waste problem. Join us as we discuss what’s been happening with the food waste problem during the pandemic, as well as what we can all do within our own communities to help tackle this unsustainable issue (one third to 40% of all food is wasted globally), as well as how to create a business that both monetises food waste and builds communities.  “Find a co-founder or co-founders who are 100% obsessed with your mission and recruit for mission. So we always recruit for mission first, you can train people and upskill people, but you can't train passion and mission alignment.” We chat about: Impact of COVID-19 on food waste Breakdown in food charitable chains The recession and the food waste issue Earth overshoot day Building communities through food waste Starting an impact company Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
16/06/20·51m 53s

Superior: Delving Into The Murky Science Of Racism

With the world now confronting issues of race, and more specifically, Black Lives Matter, we felt it right to bring on an award winning science journalist, author and broadcaster and the first ever guest we've had that is not an entrepreneur of a wildly successful company.  Angela Saini may not have the battle scars, nor learned the painful lessons that you, our audience, have become accustomed to hearing on Secret Leaders, but what she has to say might be even more pertinent for you. We felt it was time to bring in an expert speaker on the topic of racism, so that we and other leaders can think about racism more deeply.  “When we're arguing with racists, these aren't just intellectual arguments we're having, these are about belief. White supremacy is not just a kind of scientific belief, as it is for some scientific racists out there. It's like a religion. It's a fundamental faith in the idea that some groups of people are naturally better than other groups of people.” Angela was destined to be an engineer until a chance encounter as an intern on the London Underground set her on her current path - as a journalist who covers science.  “We might think of it [race] as a biological quantity. But the race categories we use are social categories, not genetic categories. They're not born out in genetics. They were defined very arbitrarily, around the Enlightenment period and onwards by Western philosophers and naturalists in very vague ways.” Which is why science around racism can get confusing, resulting in scientific misinformation. So if you’re wondering what you can do to bring about change in your company, real change, not just an expression of solidarity, this is one insightful episode you don’t want to miss.  “When you're thinking about bias and prejudice, before you start pointing the finger at others, and we know that there are plenty of fingers that could be pointed, just start with yourself, try and recognise the bias within yourself.” We chat about: Why science is a murky world The grandmother hypothesis Debunking COVID related racial myths  Why you shouldn’t argue with racists on Twitter Recognising the bias within yourself Links: Superior: The Return of Race Science Inferior: The true power of women and the science that shows it Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
09/06/20·56m 42s

Secret Sales: the naked truth behind their entrepreneurial journey

If you think now’s not a great time to start up a business, take this advice from seasoned entrepreneur Sach Kukadia:  “There is never a good time to start anything, particularly a startup. There's always a list of reasons as to why you shouldn't do it. And the older you get, the more that list grows. If you're going to start anything, whether it's a start up or do something, you need to just do it now. Because it'll only ever get harder.” Wise words from someone who’s never earned any money he hasn’t made himself. Behind Sach Kukadia’s glittering facade is a dogged determination to succeed, but his metric for success has changed considerably over the years.  In this latest episode of Secret Leaders, Sach shares his journey with Secret Sales, from startup through to sale, to buying it back, to selling it again. And he is brutally honest. Because not every successful startup stays that way.  Sach doesn’t hold back and shares some of the behind the scenes facts you never normally hear about in the complicated journey of building a personal empire.  “There's a bunch of things in my journey that have caused me to lose sleep and become a bad human being. I was convinced for 10 years that I was going to be able to retire. And when that didn’t happen it took me a little while to realise that this is life and things happen to you, you just have to get over it and you've got to find a way to continue hustling, and it wasn't that we didn't make money, it’s just the quantities were significantly different.” And if you’re an entrepreneur, you need to hear Sach’s story.  We chat about: The idea behind Secret Sales and the business model that inspired it The Secret Sales journey The impact of Brexit on the sale of Secret Sales How business deals happen in the real world Rebalancing his life post Secret Sales The lesson of greed for his future businesses Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
03/06/20·52m 22s

One Billion Happy: Learning To Be Happy In A Pandemic

Learning to be happy is hard enough. Learning to be happy in the middle of a pandemic should be nigh on impossible. Not so, according to Mo Gawdat, former Chief Business Officer of Google [X], serial entrepreneur and author of “Solve for Happy: Engineering Your Path to Joy” (2017).  Mo’s famous for bringing Google to 4 billion new users, but that’s not all he’s done. Throughout his career he’s also co-founded over 25 businesses (7 still survive today). He starts businesses that fascinate him, making sure none of them have a conflict of interest with his ‘full time’ job (first at IBM, then Microsoft and latterly at Google), coming up with a new idea every year or two. His book, “Solve for Happy: Engineering Your Path to Joy” (2017) was the result of 12 years researching the topic of happiness. Mo even created an algorithm and a repeatable well engineered model to reach a state of uninterrupted happiness regardless of the circumstances of life.  “Happiness is not found outside you, you were born happy. Our default setting as humans is happy. But we grow out of happiness; we grow out of happiness because there are external influences that make us unhappy.” A lot of what Mo learned about happiness came from his experiences with entrepreneurship; born from the understanding that entrepreneurs are not only aware that things can go wrong, but they expect them to go wrong.  Regardless of whether you’re an entrepreneur or not, if you’re wondering how you can find happiness again, post-COVID, this is an enlightening episode you don’t want to miss.  We chat about: Why a business partner is more important than the business The impact of Solve For Happy Happiness is predictive Consumerism is destroying our planet Comparing COVID to Tetris Links: Action for happiness Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
26/05/20·56m 41s

BrewDog: From Salty Sea Dog to Rebellious Beer Captain

From salty sea dog to captain of BrewDog in the space of a year. James Watt is the founder of the rocket ship brewery and brand known as BrewDog. Now valued at over $1 billion, this incredible startup began life in co-founder Martin Dickie’s mum’s garage.  “No one wanted to buy our beer. Everyone told us to make beer with less flavour, with less bitterness, with less hops, that our labels looked stupid, like nobody wanted to know and we were working almost 24/7, sleeping on sacks of malt on the floor, filling bottles by hand, doing deliveries out of the back of my beat up Volkswagen car, and just going absolutely nowhere.” But it took a meeting with Michael Jackson (no, not that one), a punt at Tesco and playing two high street banks off against each other to give them the kickstart they needed. Today, BrewDog are well known for their rebellious marketing tactics and have recruited a clan of investors known as equity punks, raising £80 million through a range of clever crowdfunding campaigns.  But how have they handled the COVID-19 pandemic? What have they done to ensure the nation’s thirst remains quenched - and how the hell have they produced and distributed over 250,000 units of hand sanitizer (free) to the NHS and charities? All the while operating the brewery AND adhering to social distancing measures?  If you’re an entrepreneur, James has one piece of advice for you:  “The only logical thing that my useless advice could be is don't listen to advice, which would also apply to this advice just now.” We chat about: From rebellious child, to quitting law, to making beer Overcoming the first disastrous year Fanvestors - advocate ambassadors AKA equity punk investors Developing the next generation of leaders from within the company The importance of culture fit when hiring Managing BrewDog through the pandemic Links: Book - The hard thing about hard things - Ben Horowitz App - Hop Drop Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
12/05/20·51m 34s

allplants & Mindful Chef: Keeping The Nation Fed Through Covid-19

It's a tough time for many businesses right now, but one sector in particular is thriving - the world of delicious food delivered to your doorstep. Unlike the vast majority of businesses, these companies are growing exponentially, because of the lockdown. “Literally overnight, it's [Covid-19] essentially forced consumers who have never bought one grocery shop online to go, ‘Well, I might as well try this because there's queues around the block for my supermarket, which has got nothing in it, and every restaurant in the land is closed. So let me give it a go’.” If you’re an entrepreneur wondering how your food business is going to survive the pandemic, then you need to listen to this episode with the founders of two brilliant brands, Mindful Chef and allplants.  Mindful Chef was founded by three school friends out of their tiny apartment in 2015 and now makes 5 million meals a year. allplants on the other hand was launched by brothers JP and Alex in 2017, and have already served 1 million plus meals and recently launched Europe's largest dedicated plant based kitchen.  With names like Sir Andy Murray and Victoria Pendleton thrown around, and nuggets such as ‘frozen is the most neglected technology in the UK’, this episode is jam packed full of information that all aspiring foodie entrepreneurs need to take note of. We chat about: The positive impact of Covid-19 on the food industry How to increase volume of production while ensuring employees are social distancing Issues of sourcing new suppliers to meet demand How to manage overnight growth Maintaining the culture of the company with so many new employees Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
05/05/20·59m 29s

Stride.VC: Funding and Financing During A Pandemic

If you’ve been caught out raising money for your startup during this complicated time, then you’ve come to the right place - you’re in good company.  In this episode of Secret Leaders we’ve pinned down VC extraordinaire, Fred Destin who is primed to answer not just our questions, but your questions too. Why should you take advice from Fred? Because he’s the founder of Stride.VC, a £100 million seed stage fund focused on operating in London and Paris.  Before starting Stride, Fred was a general partner at Excel and of the 17 investments he led, 10 have exited and 4 are active value drivers, including 5 companies in excess of $1 billion in value - these include Zoopla, Deliveroo and PillPack.  His portfolio has a total enterprise value of more than £10 billion, and he generated in excess of £700 million in exit value to investors. All of which makes Fred someone worth listening to if you’re wondering what the hell you’re going to do for money now that the world seems to have shut down.   Because if there’s one thing we all need right now, it’s someone who is able to give us a direct and honest account of where the funding environment is at today. “By the way, when we raised Stride, we talked to 420 investors, and we had 1,000 meetings. So I know fundraising for startups is painful, but I mean, I honestly have pitched the same story probably 800 times over”. We chat about: The reason he’s not investing in new startups currently Revenue based financing The role of VCs and venture capital during a global crisis Likely sources of finance going forward Growth plans for startups experiencing short term rocketing of demand Where founders should be conserving or spending capital Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
28/04/20·56m 19s

Slack: How to Work Remotely and Stay Productive with Cal Henderson

Today’s guest is someone we’ve had on the show before, in fact, he kicked off season 4 for us. So don’t be confused and think we’ve got our seasons muddled up.  We thought we’d invite Cal Henderson back onto the podcast because his company, Slack, is one of only a few companies that aren’t in a tailspin currently. They’re facing an entirely different dilemma - they’re scrambling to keep up with demand, what with the majority of the world now in self-isolation and having to work from home (WFH).  “One of the challenges of remote work for folks has always been the boundary between being at work and not being at work. And that's, you know, that's one thing when it's individuals, and [another] when it’s an entire company in one go.” If you’re wanting to hear the story of how Slack started, take a listen here, because we don’t rehash it in this episode.  Instead we talk with Cal about Slack’s sudden increase in user numbers, how they’ve responded to the crisis as a global company (they have employees and offices around the world), as well as what decisions they are making with regards the platform and its new features, as well as offering advice to listeners about productivity and how to work productively, when WFH.  So if you’re taking five minutes out from juggling your kids and your day job, this episode might be the very tonic you need to get you back into the WFH headspace.  “In many ways as a company, we were built for this kind of thing. Like, we didn't start Slack because we thought there'd be some kind of global pandemic that forced people to work from home.” We chat about: Slacks features that enable greater productivity Tracking the impact of the virus around the world How Slack enables distributed work Looking after your mental health when isolated The importance of great internal communications when WFH Links: @stewart Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
21/04/20·50m 58s

Tech Will Save Us & Koru Kids: Educating Children at Home Through Covid-19

If you’re wondering how on earth you’re going to hold down a full time job while working from home AND educating your kids for the foreseeable future, then you need to listen to Koru Kids founder Rachel Carrell and Tech Will Save Us co-founder Bethany Koby.  “Lower [your] impossible expectations. It is not possible to work full time and also homeschool kids full time, at the same time. It's just not possible. And just don't listen to anyone who implies that it is. We are working really hard to come up with new services to help people make one plus one somehow equal three.” Koru Kids, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, was building a whole new childcare system, recruiting, training, matching and managing over 1,000 nannies in London every single day. Having had to pivot hard, Rachel explains the impact that coronavirus has had on her business and how she has taken nannying online.  Tech Will Save Us co-founder Bethany has created a play led home learning system focusing on creativity and technology, delivering fun and learning advantages to 4-12 year olds. Bethany explains how they had the foresight to switch their attention towards their digital channels last year, which so far has saved their bacon.  So if you’re a founder wondering how to turn this current situation to your advantage, download and listen to this episode. “We need to make sure we get through this as strong as possible, because this will put us in an even stronger position in the next six months, to hopefully really raise our strategic round, with even better metrics and with even better evidence of the necessity of the product, and the kind of joy and efficacy that the product is actually bringing to families.” We chat about: How Covid-19 has impacted their investment and distribution channels Why the whole childcare system needs an overhaul Why innovation is key to pivoting and ultimately survival The spotlight on the ed-tech space  Why you need to create rhythms to suit your family Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
14/04/20·53m 17s

Ali Parsa and Dr Rangan Chatterjee: The Global Impact of Coronavirus

Kicking off series 5 of Secret Leaders are two fantastic guests - Ali Parsa (CEO and founder of Babylon) and Dr Ranjan Chatterjee. Ali has been on the show several times before - firstly on his own, and secondly for one of our live events where he shared the stage with Michael Acton-Smith, founder of Calm.  In the light of the current global crisis, nobody knows what the world is going to be like when the dust settles at the end of this pandemic. And this is what we discuss in this episode - what the business and social impact of the coronavirus on society will be.  Because currently, it isn’t looking good. The economy is tanking. Borders are closed. Everyone is practicing social distancing. The strain on political leaders is evident. And the pressures on the NHS are close to crippling it.  Ali Parsa is one of the best placed people in the world to talk about some of the predicted health impacts of the virus, in particular what he’s seeing in his own industry of healthcare. Dr. Ranjan Chatterjee is also incredibly well placed, and comes at it from how to handle things on a more personal level. His podcast is the number one UK podcast in health and wellness, and he has set himself a personal mission to help 100m people realise they can be the architects of their own health. “I worry about what is the consequence of shutting down society in terms of mental health problems: depression, anxiety, isolation, the sort of things that we were already struggling with in society two months ago, even one month ago, pre-lockdown, we were struggling with these.” We chat about: Accessibility to health care Comparison of prevention versus cure What global healthcare might look like in the future  The consequence on our health of shutting down society What you can do in isolation to look after yourself Links: Feel Better, Live More Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
07/04/20·53m 24s

Deliveroo: The Rise Of The Delivery Unicorn Company

We’ve all been there - back from a hard night’s boozing and hungry. Most of us would simply eat some toast and hit the hay, but then most of us aren’t Will Shu, founder and CEO of Deliveroo.  “I was like, wow, you know, you can't get any decent food delivered here when you've been boozing. Then I was like, wait a minute, maybe I should start something that is a late night delivery service for food that you can get in like half an hour. You want it for McDonald's or BK.” And so from a late night boozy idea, everyone's favourite takeaway service delivery unicorn company, Deliveroo, was born.  Today this incredible company that began life in a shared flat in 2013, with Will and four other riders delivering food, has seen off the competition in the form of Uber Eats and received significant investment in their latest funding round (to the tune of £450m) from Amazon, valuing Deliveroo at over $4 billion.  Widely regarded as one of the most dynamic and impressive founders in the European entrepreneurship scene, we couldn’t think of anyone better to see this series off in style than Will.  “I think for me, what I love more than anything is primary research. Talking to customers, talking to riders, talking to restaurants, and doing that in different markets. That really energises me and just understanding what are the problems they face and how can we solve them? Like that, to me is super motivating.” We chat about: How Just Eat influenced him, but not in the way you think The genesis of Deliveroo How Deliveroo was funded and its expansion internationally The idea behind Additions and the challenges they’ve overcome with it How Deliveroo has revolutionised the eating out economy His thoughts on the gig economy The challenge of being a CEO when he’s not a professional executive Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
10/03/20·1h 3m

Planet Organic, Hassle, Skimlinks & Seedcamp: Female Leadership and Equality for International Women's Day

“I think the worst thing is every morning when you wake up as a founder and you pick up your phone, you think what will I discover that will ruin my day?” While your business might not care what your gender is, significant discrepancies still exist between the number of female and male entrepreneurs. As Baroness Martha Lane Fox quite rightly proclaimed, ‘you cannot be what you cannot see’.  And so we’ve gone and put four female entrepreneur powerhouses together on the same live stage. We’ve put the same questions to them and their answers are as diverse as they are. This episode on female leadership and equality for International Women’s Day is a real smorgasbord of insights from some of the UK's leading female founders.  Get the expert investor perspective from Reshma Sohoni, co-founder of Seedcamp. The non-VC route founder Renée Elliott, founder of Planet Organic. Alex Depledge offers the perspective from a consumer facing tech enabled marketplace, with her startup Hassle. And finally our technology software entrepreneur, Alicia Navarro, whose company Skimlinks has raised over $25 million helping publishers monetise advertising.  “If being a woman is the hardest thing you have to deal with in your journey, sorry, you’re fucking lucky. Because that is the easiest challenge you're gonna have to deal with. If you can't handle that, if you can’t handle a couple of dickheads in the corner that belittle you, you're just not going to make it. I'm sorry, but that is the truth. It is hard and relentless. And if you can't handle people that make you feel like shit, that's like peanuts in the corner.” We chat about: Why not every business should take VC funding The toughest moments of their entrepreneurial journeys so far Their different perspectives on funding and financing a business How to choose your role models Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
03/03/20·1h 20m

Allbright: Connecting women, what’s the worst that can happen?

If you found the film ‘The Holiday’ so inspirational it kickstarted a business that you went on to sell for over £50 million, then you’re in good company. You didn’t? Well you missed a trick. Not so Debbie Wosskow, co-founder of AllBright and former CEO of LoveHomeSwap (a subscription based home exchange business) who on a plane home from a ‘holiday’ in the Caribbean watched the movie and thought, ‘does this even exist?’ But LoveHomeSwap wasn’t Debbie’s first successful business, nor was it her last. So what is her secret to successive business success?  She credits her formative years for her entrepreneurialism (not that her family would have called it that), and she credits her business acumen to her first business Mantra, which she calls her 7 year business education.  With the mantra of ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ it’s safe to say that Debbie Wosskow is an entrepreneurial powerhouse and a female force to be reckoned with. She’s had an independent government review into the sharing economy named after her, she’s a member of the Mayor of London's Business Advisory Board, she sits on the board of the Women's Fiction Prize, in 2016 she was awarded an OBE for services to business, and in 2017 she co-founded AllBright with Anna Jones (former CEO of Hearst), to celebrate and champion women at all stages of their careers, to inspire change.   In this episode of Secret Leaders Debbie is brutally honest about what it takes to succeed, and she provides a number of insights that future entrepreneurs would be wise to take note of. So sit back and learn from the best.  We chat about: How her early years influenced her career Why her first business Mantra was a 7 year business education Why is her mantra ‘what’s the worst thing that can happen?’ The story behind LoveHomeSwap The impact of strategic investment on Love Home Swap What you need to do to survive as a sole founder What you need to do to achieve a work/life balance as a female entrepreneur Founding Allbright Links: Believe. Build. Become.: How to Supercharge Your Career (Book) Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
25/02/20·56m 5s

LoveFilm: Selling to Amazon - The Deal From Both Sides of The Table

You may know that LoveFilm became Amazon Prime Video, that part of the deal was public knowledge. What you may not be familiar with is the wrangling, the deal making and the allegiance swapping that went on behind the scenes to get the deal across the table.  In this very special live episode of Secret Leaders we once again sit down with serial entrepreneur and angel investor, best known for creating Lovefilm and being an early investor in Secret Escapes, ‘the subscription guy’ William Reeve and VC Jedi, Simon Cook, to discuss the ins and outs of one of the most complicated business sales in recent history - when LoveFilm sold to Amazon.  Because this deal wasn’t straightforward in the slightest. A series of unusual mergers, buyouts, disputes and much more led to this being one of the more complicated deals of both their lives.  In fact, the only way to explain how convulated the deal was, is by comparing it to the plot of Game of Thrones. Simon was the VC on the board throughout the whole deal and Will was the founder of LoveFilm, yet neither of them are 100% clear on what went down.  It’s very rare to hear such insights from such a high profile sale, so grab a notebook and pen and learn what it takes to not just grow a subscription business, but how to sell it to a behemoth like Amazon.  “They [Amazon] could see we were winning. They said ‘we do not believe in being a loser in anything we do. We'd much rather have a small piece of the winner, than a big piece in the loser.’ And that was their indication they'd much rather sell to us than compete with us.” We chat about: Building up LoveFilm and plonking flags in Europe Why competition drives business forward and sparks innovation Why they teamed up with Amazon to defeat Netflix Lessons learned - venture debt, paying attention to working capital and why raising venture capital is the worst thing a business can do Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
18/02/20·1h 10m

OakNorth: The pathway to building a unicorn with Rishi Khosla

Today’s guest has been a high achiever since he was a kid, completing his computer science GCSE at 11, his A-levels at 13, and receiving a Masters from LSE by the time he was 20. Some child geniuses burnout before they achieve great things, not Rishi Khosla.  Rishi, according to LL Cool J, is something of a phenomenon in the world of entrepreneurship, and we are wont to agree with him.  Co-founding OakNorth, Europe's highest valued FinTech company having raised over a billion dollars in funding to date, in only four years, Rishi is considered one of the stars of the industry.  And OakNorth is just his most recent headline. He’s an early stage investor, investing in several businesses including PayPal and Indiabulls. He’s already co-founded a company, Copal Amba, a financial research firm which was scaled to 3,000 employees and sold to Moody’s Corporation in 2014. And he helped establish the family office of the steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal amongst many things. With OakNorth he estimates they’ve created about 12,000 new jobs in the UK and 13,000 new homes.  And has anyone ever thanked him? “How can I put it? I guess, I've always been sprinting through life, recognition hasn't been what I focused on. I focused on results.” His advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? You need to have enough hunger inside of you, you’ve got to have fire in your stomach, to say ‘there’s only Plan A’. We chat about: Working with Jack Welch at GE Establishing the family office of Lakshmi Mittal  Meeting Peter Teal and Elon Musk Building Copal with business partner Joel, brick by brick Meeting Son at SoftBank and how he pitched him Why only 5% of unicorns are profitable Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
11/02/20·46m 32s

Alain de Botton: Finding Answers to Life’s Tricky Questions

Have you ever wondered what the meaning of life is? Of course you have, you’re only human after all.  Well, today’s guest, Alain de Botton, philosopher and founder of The School of Life, has not only wondered the same thing too, philosophising this age old dilemma, he’s also written a book on the subject.  Actually, he’s written well over 15 books as a solo author and collaborated on countless others.  “I was a young man who really wanted to know the meaning of life. I wanted guidance in the big questions. I wanted to know why I was anxious. Why I might be sad. What love was. How to secure love. What a good relationship was. What friendship was. What a satisfying career might be. I wanted to know all of these things. And really, there were very few clues in my education.” And so as well as writing on meaningful topics to help elucidate these deep subjects, Alain also founded The School of Life. He set it up in 2008 with colleagues, friends, supporters and his family, with the aim to offer an emotional education, focusing in particular on the issues of work and relationships.  From a vague plan his business has fast grown into an organisation that now not only provides a home for developing the tools for people to lead a more fulfilled life, it supports countless businesses, enabling them to get the most out of their employees, and vice versa.  So if you want a more fulfilled life, start by listening to this podcast with a modern day thinker. It’s truly insightful.   We chat about: How his upbringing shaped his early existence The School of Life and its inspiration How to cope with crippling anxiety in your work The connection between food and your state of mind How the School of Life can help your business Why his deepest fear is catastrophe Links: Religion for Atheists How To Think More About Sex The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
04/02/20·55m 36s

Mumsnet and Jo Malone: Lifting the Lid on Life as a Female Entrepreneur

Here at Secret Leaders we are all about bringing you the best entrepreneurs in the world - those people who you wouldn’t ordinarily hear from, but who have inspiring stories to tell. They share their highs and more importantly their lows, with the aim of sparking a fire in you to follow in their footsteps, or accelerate the path you’re already on.  Because let’s be honest, success stories are all good and well, but it’s the failures that shape us; it’s how we handle adversity that makes us who we are. And today’s two live guests are no strangers to adversity.  Jo Malone: “My goals have never been realistic and that's the secret of my success. I really go out there and I push myself above and beyond. I think what we have to realise is that mistakes are a part of life.” Justine Roberts: “I worked very, very hard to find patient capital, which I think is what Mumsnet needs. And I made it very, very clear that we will always put purpose before profit.” Today, sharing the live stage and their entrepreneurial experiences for the first time are Jo Malone CBE and Justine Roberts CBE.  Jo is the eponymous perfumier who came from humble beginnings on a council estate with no qualifications whatsoever, who has now successfully launched Jo Loves, her second bite at the startup apple. Justine has been described as one of the world’s most influential women and CEOs, the founder of Mumsnet, the most talked about parenting forum.  We chat about: The hardest moments of their entrepreneur experience so far The upside to being sued The difficulty of finding funding for your startup from men, when you’re female Why your equity in your business is your golden ticket The difficulty of achieving a work life balance when you’re an entrepreneur with a family Entrepreneurialism needs to be taught in school If they had a do over, what they would do differently Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
28/01/20·1h 0m

FabFitFun: Creating A Celebrity Swagbag Subscription Box Model

Founded in 2010 in the USA by Co-CEOs brothers Dan and Michael Broukhim and Editor-in-Chief Katie Echevarria Rosen Kitchens, the wildly successful lifestyle subscription platform FabFitFun is a lifestyle membership that inspires happiness and well being.  Their flagship product, the FabFitFun box (now available in the UK), delivers a curated collection of full-size products across beauty, fashion, wellness, fitness, home, tech and more - to over 1 million members each season. And as well as the box, members have access to FabFitFunTV, their digital lifestyle magazine, a robust online community, members-only shopping experiences, exclusive perks, events, and their mobile app. Now in their 10th year of trading and having surpassed $200 million in revenue, they have recently closed the most remarkably whopping series A of $80 million, led by some of the best venture capitalists in America.  But it hasn’t always been plain sailing.  “We were $1 million in debt when we closed our financing the first time. And we were running the business on credit cards, stretching every single payment, the first million that came in went right out the door.” We chat about: How FabFitFun came to fruition Why newsletters are making a comeback Exploring finance options to fund the business The future for FabFitFun The self doubts and personal challenges that each founder faces What they’d change if they could do over Why you should never underestimate the importance of company culture Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
21/01/20·51m 24s and Babylon Health: The Future of Healthcare

In this live podcast episode we talk about what makes a healthy body, a healthy mind and the future of technology enabled healthcare.  We’ve previously talked to both of today’s guests - Michael Acton-Smith, founder of Mind Candy, Firebox and in Series One of Secret Leaders and Ali Parsa, founder and CEO of Babylon Health in Series Two.  But to have both of these guys (who are revolutionising healthcare), sit down together and go through pertinent health issues of the day was too good an opportunity to pass up.  Yes, Michael Acton Smith OBE, once described as the ‘tech version of Willy Wonka,’ may not seem an obvious choice to talk all things healthcare with, but this esteemed guest has focused his recent attention on raising awareness and building businesses in the mental health space, an arena that we are still very much lacking information. And Ali Parsa, well Ali is a one man war on healthcare. He’s a refugee who has set up the world’s largest healthcare app successfully changing the way we as humans are getting access to healthcare. Get ready to be blown away by the ambition of these two superhumans, and all for the benefit of the human race.  We chat about: What healthy means to each of them Why we don’t have a healthcare system as such, we have a sick-care system How technology and AI is and will enable a better healthcare system Everything affects your life, and nothing affects your life - your genetics are what they are The obesity epidemic The current mental health crisis Conquering aging - we die because we age Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
14/01/20·1h 19m

Starling Bank, Resi and Just Eat: Funding and Financing Startups

Secret Leaders is all about hearing from founders and CEOs of some of the world’s most successful startups. We grill each guest on the highs and more importantly lows of starting and running a startup, and one of the biggest hurdles for any startup to overcome is financing and funding. “Leave investors with two or three messages that are really clear what is special about your business, what's great about you and your founders, and how this thing is ever going to make money. They're probably the only three things that [they’re] going to remember from [a] 45 minutes or an hour [pitch]. Sometimes you feel when making a deck that more is more, it really isn't.” Financing and funding a startup seems to be the biggest sticking point for so many businesses. So much so, we invited back three incredible human beings - Anne Boden, founder and CEO of innovative challenger bank Starling Bank, Alex Depledge, co-founder of Resi and formerly (since sold to Helpling) and David Buttress, ex-CEO and co-founder of Just Eat to discuss their experiences. All three have had very different experiences of finance and raising funds, and so they are the perfect trio to discuss how they did it, what they were hoping to achieve and more importantly, how they handled the process, including how they coped when they came face to face with the urban legends that are in fact actual funding horror stories - because believe it or not, even the most successful entrepreneurs still face discrimination. We chat about: Raising money before you need it What it’s like in the lead up to going public Inner demons and horror stories that actually happen when you raise funds Raising money as a single founder vs being a co-founder Practical processes to set up for successful funding Links: Starling Bank Just Eat UK Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
07/01/20·58m 46s

Grenade: Disrupting the FMCG Industry with Alan and Juliet Barratt

If you’re an entrepreneur in the FMCG industry, this episode of Secret Leaders is one you don’t want to miss. Today we talk to the founders of Grenade, one of the fastest growing companies in the UK, featured in the Sunday Times Fast Track Top 100 companies four out of five consecutive years.  Launched in 2009 as a hobby company, “we were only ever planning on launching one product, but then it did so well that customers and retailers were asking us for more”, and getting down to just £27 in the bank at one point, Grenade was sold in 2018 for £72 million.  So how did this husband and wife team start and grow such a successful company, developing it into a global lifestyle brand?  Alan says, “one of the things that I think has been a real strength at Grenade is that people have enjoyed working with us, whether it's a supplier or customer, or the team, treat people how you'd like to be treated yourself.” It’s honest insights like these that make Alan and Juliet Barratt so listenable. They’re funny, inspiring and willing to help the next generation of entrepreneurs succeed, as long as the entrepreneur is hungry for success.  “You choose your own luck. We think luck is where opportunity meets preparedness.” We chat about: Why and how Alan and Juliet set up in business together Where the name Grenade came from The cost of setting up in business  Why disruption doesn’t need to be expensive Why the perfect work/life balance doesn’t exist Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
10/12/19·49m 44s

Blippar and Shazam: A live chat with visionaries Jess Butcher and Dhiraj Mukherjee

If you want to know what it takes to start and run a technology company, then you need to listen to two of our most pioneering guests discuss their experiences live, as they started visionary companies in every single sense of the word.  In this special episode we talk live to Jess Butcher, co-founder of Blippar - the augmented reality giant, and Dhiraj Mukherjee, co-founder of Shazam - the app that lets you discover the media playing all around you.  Jess was one of our first guests in Season One, and Dhiraj was interviewed for Season Two. We thought we’d bring them back on to the podcast for a catch up, only this time we’d interview them in a live setting.  We know, first hand, how hard it is to be an entrepreneur and get a business off the ground. Which is kind of the main reason we started this podcast, to help entrepreneurs, like us. Because the more we sat down with successful founders and picked their brains, the more we discovered that getting from zero to anywhere wasn’t always the glossy and incredible experience that it’s made out to be.  In these in-depth live events you’ll get more of an understanding about the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, the challenges and the constant grind that is required to get any venture started, as well as learn best practice tips from the experts who’ve been there before.  We hope you enjoy listening to this live episode as much as we did making it.  We chat with Jess about: How the Blippar vision has evolved over time Finding the balance between motherhood and running a tech company The advantages of being a woman in tech The highs and lows of co-founding Blippar We chat with Dhiraj about: How four people got together to create Shazam How they got around any law infringements to get the music Getting early adoption through smart marketing Making the decision to leave Shazam Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
03/12/19·1h 20m

Huel: How to Become a Food and Drink Millionaire with Julian Hearn

Want to know what it takes to become a food and drink millionaire? Of course you do. That’s why you need to listen to Julian Hearn talking about how and why he founded the powdered food product Huel. Huel is marketed as a super convenient, nutritionally complete meal replacement. With sales of £14 million last year and a projection for 2019 at more than £40 million, this makes Huel one of Britain's fastest growing businesses - full stop. But Huel wasn’t Julian’s first foray into entrepreneurism - he sold his first venture, Promotional Codes, for £10m. “I had enough money to retire, but I get bored and I needed something to stay busy.” So his answer to staying busy was getting back into business. And after a few failed ventures he eventually founded Huel. So if you’re looking for inspiration, you won’t go far wrong tuning into Secret Leaders to hear how a guy who just wanted to find a way to spend time at home, not commuting, made millions in his pajamas. We chat about: How a failed entrepreneurial venture led him to founding Huel The thinking behind Huel branding and how they picked their branding designer The problems with finding a food manufacturer Why he chose to hire in a CEO (thus remaining as CMO) Why he keeps all his recruitment in-house The potential to use Huel to solve world hunger How Huel has been financed (and why they raised money when they didn’t need it) Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
26/11/19·48m 41s

Photobox and Moonpig: Selling to your competitor and the art of the exit

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes when one well-known start up buys another well-known start up?  Well, wonder no more.  You’ve heard us talk to both Nick Jenkins (founder of Moonpig) and Graham Hobson (founder of Photobox) in Series One. But we thought it would be fun to bring them together and have a Q&A with them, side by side.  So that’s just what we did.  Because you normally only hear the side of the story from the founder who sold their company. You rarely, if ever, hear the story from the founder who bought the company being sold. In this case the wildly successful personalised e-card company,, that sold for £120m to photo printing giants, Photobox in 2011, which then itself went onto sell for a reported £400m+. You’re in for a treat today - you get to hear from both sides - the good, the bad and the ugly of what happens during a M&A. That and you get a bucket load of advice from two Angel investors who between them have sunk a lot of money into the next generation of start ups.  So grab a cuppa and sit down to hear not one, but two entrepreneurial powerhouses talk about how they started and how they became millionaires. Listen out, there are tips aplenty.  We chat about: The 4 crap ideas that came before Moonpig What happened when Nick and Graham first met  Selling your business to your main rival Top tips on securing an exit  The dribble and shake theory Negotiating the deal, going through M&A The importance of culture integration What it’s like to actually buy a company The pros and cons of being a Dragon The art of Angel investing Links: Nick Jenkins - Moonpig Graham Hobson - Photobox Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
19/11/19·1h 16m

Slack: Cal Henderson - An Engineer’s Fairytale Story

Welcome back to series 4 - what a season have we got lined up for you! Kicking us off is Cal Henderson, co-founder and CTO of one of this decade’s most famous tech companies - the team communications platform the majority of companies couldn’t be without, Slack. But Cal hasn’t always been CTO of Slack, he cut his teeth as co-founder and VP Eng for Glitch, a web-based massively multiplayer game, before that, he was the Director of Engineering for Flickr at Ludicorp (where he first met Slack fellow co-founder Stewart Butterfield) and then Yahoo. As you will shortly hear, Cal is considered to be one of Britain's finest exports. Although it's probably fair to say that he divides people much less than Marmite. Now residing in San Francisco where Slack is headquartered, Cal grew up in the humble county of Bedfordshire, England. After completing a computer science degree from Birmingham City University, he moved to the US in 2003, but not before landing a job after hacking into the email system of the company he wanted to work for and telling his future bosses that he could help them fix the problems they were having. This is a guy who it would appear got lucky, several times over. But in truth, all of Cal’s success has been down to hard work and his first love - computers. “From the first time I got a computer, I was like, this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. This is what I want to do for work.” We chat about: How he met Stewart Butterfield How he got a job through hacking the company he wanted to work for Why investors Accel and Andreessen Horowitz didn’t mind them failing How on Slack launch day they had 8,000 companies sign up to use Slack The advice he’d give to his 15 year old self Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
12/11/19·48m 51s

ClassPass: How Payal Kadakia Built A Fitness Empire

Today’s guest is Payal Kadakia, founder and executive chairman of ClassPass. Payal started ClassPass in 2011 a business that was born out of her love for dance, which she has been doing since the age of 3. Prior to founding ClassPass, Payal worked as a consultant at Bain & Company and in Warner Music Group’s Digital Strategy and Business Development Group. However in 2010 Payal realised that her two lives (working at Warner and running her dance class side hustle) weren’t gelling and she wasn’t being authentic to either. It was the push she needed to dedicate herself to ClassPass full time. Fast forward to today and ClassPass is a monthly fitness membership program worth over $500m. It lets you take classes at different studios and gyms in your local area. It's one membership and with that you get credits that you can use to go to a spin class, a yoga class or a dance class for example, anytime and anywhere. We chat with Payal about: How learning to dance at a young age gave her a way of life and a way to think about the challenges that lay ahead. Why there were crickets when they initially launched ClassPass. How she brought her team in and the importance of passionate generalists (in the beginning). How to hand over the CEO reins and move into a new role in the company. If she could run any business, what it would be. Links: Resources: Venture Deals Zoc Doc Favourite book: The Alchemist For more go to
14/05/19·50m 15s

Vicki Saunders: On being a SheEO extraordinaire and implementing #radicalgenerosity

Investment funds for female entrepreneurs are not exactly commonplace in the world of finance. But today’s guest, SheEO founder and Canadian entrepreneurial powerhouse, Vicki Saunders, has been on a one woman crusade to change that. Her mammoth task has involved championing the term ‘radical generosity’, which means allowing people (men and women) to share capital in order to help like-minded women turn their light bulb moment into a successful company. Since launching SheEO in Canada in 2015, Vicki has successfully built up a network spanning numerous countries and sectors, with ambitious plans to raise $1bn of funding for one million women, by 2026, she is well on her way. How? Find out as we chat about: Her favourite quote - everything's broken, what a great time to be alive. How the SheEO fund works. How they’ve achieved a 100% payback rate. What path took her to founding SheEO. Why her favourite book is Winners Take All. What it’s like for someone to get investment through SheEO. How people can get involved if they want to help. Why meditation helps her cut through all the noise. Why she lives by the motto - energy input equals impact you’re having. Links: Winners Take All SheEO Think Like A SheEO Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter! Full show notes at:
07/05/19·50m 21s

Founders4Schools and Scale Up Institute: Meet Sherry Coutu CBE, a Serial Entrepreneur and Angel Investor Turned Philanthropist.

Sherry Coutu CBE is a serial entrepreneur, former CEO, angel investor and non-executive director based in Cambridge, UK but originally from Canada. She is best known for investing in Lovefilm, Zoopla and for sitting on the advisory board of LinkedIn. A self-confessed techie, Sherry has now turned her hand to philanthropy, having learned first hand that the number one problem for scaling businesses is finding great talent with the necessary skill sets, to enable startup businesses to grow. Sherry’s resume is as lengthy as they come. She founded Interactive Investor International (III) in 1994 which she ran until 2000 when it floated on the London Stock Exchange. She then swapped entrepreneurship for angel investing, because it afforded her a better work/life balance. For 15 years she was a serial angel investor working with hundreds of entrepreneurs. But now she focuses her efforts on charitable endeavours via Founders4Schools. Join us today as we talk to Sherry about: The inspiration behind Founders4Schools Why she decided to start the Scale Up Institute The number one thing holding businesses back from scaling up What appeals to her as an angel investor Her top tips to entrepreneurs What she’d wished she’d known growing up The best advice she’s ever received Links: For more, visit
30/04/19·49m 38s

Lovefilm - The Subscription King You Won’t Have Heard Of

Serial tech entrepreneur William Reeve realised early on that he wasn’t quite techy enough to be a techy, and so focused on the business side of tech businesses. And without this early enlightenment, we might not have seen the likes of Zoopla, Dunelm, Secret Escapes, Lovefilm or Graze, to name but a few of the businesses that have benefitted from William’s involvement. At the tender age of 23, having recently graduated from Oxford University with a degree in engineering and having just started his own company, William was told by a family member that he was ‘too young’ to start his own business. Four years later that business sold and netted William £10m. Listen today as we find out what it took to bring Lovefilm to market and how it beat Amazon. Join us as we chat to William about: Other than marriage, what William’s best investment to date was How, aged 27, he sold his first business and made almost £10m in the process Why he chose to go down the DVD subscription route How Lovefilm handled the slow business start by buying out the competition What it’s like negotiating with a behemoth like Amazon How to measure user churn Links: Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
22/04/19·49m 6s meet Martha Lane Fox, the Baroness of tech who refuses to let her past define her future

Martha Lane Fox is a digital entrepreneur who is not only passionate about the world of tech, but Chancellor of the Open University, a philanthropist and a public servant to boot. Martha can be thanked for making our everyday lives easier, as well as the lives of children, and even prisoners. Martha’s resume is as lengthy as they come, and whilst she is notably the youngest female member the House of Lords has ever had, you will probably know her best as the founder of However she doesn’t want that to be her sole legacy. She credits for affording her the opportunity to pursue her other work interests: being on the board of M&S, Twitter, Chanel and Channel 4, as well as her charitable work including setting up Reprieve - a charity helping those suffering from torture and human rights abuses. Martha is a keen advocate of just being human, for not letting your work define you, and so it is no surprise that she is the co-founder of prime evening entertainment venue, Lucky Voice. Just don’t make her listen to another rendition of Don’t Stop Believing, and don’t ask her to sing anything by Celine Dion. We chat about: Brent Toberman changing her life forever. The accident that could have been the end of her, but how she drew on her resilience, both mentally and physically, and how it has given her the opportunity to pursue other business avenues. Why no one had come up with the concept of Lucky Voice before, and why it wasn’t called Rubber Chicken. What she learned through working on the board at M&S. The subliminal role San Francisco plays in tech start-ups. Supporting young women in tech and why their voices need to be heard. Links: Doteveryone For more, visit
15/04/19·45m 32s

Saasha Celestial-One: Tackling food waste through startup Olio

Saasha Celestial-One may sound like a band formed in the swinging sixties, but she’s actually one half of a food waste startup looking to sign up 1 billion users to food sharing app, Olio, by 2025. Born and raised by hippy parents in Iowa, Saasha cut her teeth upcycling and tackling food waste from a very early age. Having grown up with not very much, she set her mind on building a bulletproof CV and worked hard to de-risk her professional career - she admits she was really seeking financial security and career stability. But having worked at Morgan Stanley, McKinley and American Express, she knew her heart wasn’t in financial services and consulting. And it was whilst on maternity leave when she took redundancy, realising she was financially secure, did she finally turn her hand to something she was truly passionate about. Her first foray into entrepreneurship was the hugely successful My Creche, London's first PAYG provider offering flexible childcare for busy parents. But that was nothing in comparison to the behemoth challenge she is tackling by way of Olio. Join us today whilst we talk with Saasha about her journey from Midwest America to tackling food waste, one sweet potato and leftover cabbage at a time. We talk with Saasha about: Olio, what it means, and how it’s tackling the problem of food waste How redundancy changed her life Why a leftover sweet potato and a cabbage brought her to her current path How far £40k will go when you start your startup How Olio began with 12 people in a Whatsapp group Olio’s reliance on volunteers to spread the food waste message How you can get involved The best piece of advice she’s ever been given Links: For more go to
09/04/19·44m 57s

Founder of Stellar, Ripple and Mt Gox Jed McCaleb: On Cryptocurrency and the Hardships of Entrepreneurship

Jed McCaleb is a cryptocurrency legend. He's been involved in some of the most high profile organizations in crypto including Mt. Gox, Ripple, and now his current rocket ship, But the journey from Little Rock, Arkansas to number 40 in the Forbes rich list has not been a smooth ride. He struggled his whole life with trying to find a balance between wanting to do something huge and wanting to just go chill at the beach and surf. Luckily for the rest of us, he opted to work hard to affect a lot of change in the world. Having dropped out of UC Berkeley after just one and half semesters, realising that he could already do what he wanted to do, programming, it still took him nearly four years in the wilderness, building stuff and floundering in the dark, before he started up e-donkey. And the rest, is history. Join us today as we follow Jed’s journey from e-donkey to and listen as we talk about: Why he’s better suited as CTO, not CEO His childhood growing up in the woods with no running water or electricity The basics of cryptocurrency (it’s mum-friendly don’t worry) Why he picked the name e-donkey for his company The time he built a butanol lab in his girlfriend’s apartment How Mt. Gox was originally started as an online trading exchange for Magic: The Gathering The future of bitcoin Why even as an incredibly successful entrepreneur he still struggled to get off the ground His best piece of advice for entrepreneurs Links: For more go to
02/04/19·45m 26s

Candy Crush: creator Riccardo Zacconi on what it means to be the king of King

Riccardo Zacconi is an Italian entrepreneur best known as the CEO of King, the company behind the most popular game of our generation: Candy Crush Saga. Riccardo cut his teeth in the tech startup world during the dotcom boom of the late 90s, when he joined Swedish messaging startup Spray. He left Spray to become vice-president of European sales and marketing at uDate, leaving shortly after it was acquired by, to set up King in 2003. The rest they say, is history. But we aren’t going to gloss over this incredible piece of history, so join us as we talk with Italy’s most successful entrepreneur and take note, he has a lot of advice to share. Today we chat with Riccardo about: Giving King his all in the early days: selling his car and his flat to self-fund his venture and how King got angel investment at the eleventh hour. Why the University of Life is more important than actual university, and why King is harder to get into than Harvard. What he would take if he was stranded on a desert island. Why timing and predicting the market is so important when launching a product - that and creating a unique UX for users. How innovation buoyed his company up and kept them afloat. Why he credits his success to great hiring (and how to hire successfully). The one KPI all game and app developers have to monitor. His proudest moment whilst building the brand. For more go to
26/03/19·48m 3s

Uber's first invester - Jason Calacanis the GREATEST angel investor of all time (his words) and host of This Week In Startups

Today’s guest, Jason Calacanis, is best known for his podcast This Week In Startups and for investing in unicorn companies such as Uber, Thumbtack and Robin Hood; as well as selling shares in Facebook (whilst telling Mark Zuckerberg what he thought of him) and working alongside investors such as Elon Musk. But it took him awhile to get here. Jason was the Founder and CEO of Rising Tide Studios and Weblogs Inc (which he sold to AOL in 2005 for $25m), before turning his hand to angel investing. Jason is the dinner party guest you want to have at your table - he would entertain and delight because he favours candidness over honesty, and believes that the secret to success is the ability to get on with difficult people. An early investor in, Jason could see the benefit it would bring to the world and credits the founder, Alex Tew, for having the same levels of creativity as Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. Jason says he loves angel investing because he gets to hang out with the smartest people in the world who tell him how the world is going to change, how they're going to do it and then they invite him along for the ride. So to that end, join us on our ride as we chat with Jason about: Whether he’s marmite or fungus. Getting trolled for investing in and why you should never underestimate anyone. The secret to angel investing. Why the people who are going to change the world aren’t always easily likeable. His favourite book of 2018 (hint, it isn’t Shoe Dog). Who his all-time favourite guest on TWIST (this week in startups - his podcast) has been. The impact of the realisation that the person who picked the Times cover model was the most powerful person in the room, not the model themselves, had on him. Links: This week in startups For more go to
12/03/19·1h 3m

Clara Brenner: the VC investing in social entrepreneurs for a better urban future

Clara Brenner is co-founder and Managing Partner of the Urban Innovation Fund, a venture capital firm she established to invest in the future of cities. She had a vision to empower entrepreneurs keen to solve urban problems, and so with business partner Julie Lein, she is helping grow tomorrow’s most valued companies. The UIF provides seed capital and regulatory support to social entrepreneurs looking to create solutions to tough urban challenges, such as transportation, work force, housing in the built environment and education, amongst others. Clara’s journey began in Washington DC where the two biggest industries are government and real estate, and whilst she has no desire to get involved with GovTech just yet, she did enjoy working in real estate, cutting her teeth at Fundrise, a social impact company. From there Clara went on to co-found Tumml, a startup hub for urban tech before establishing the Urban Innovation Fund, which closed a $24.5m seed stage fund last June. And now, with a diverse portfolio of companies under their wing, Urban Innovation fund is set to dramatically change the urban landscape. Join us as we chat with Clara about: Her motivation to begin her hero's journey, from Washington DC to San Francisco. The role technology will play in shaping the urban environments of the future. Why she’s happy for people to acknowledge her success as well as being female, rather than just accepting it. The diverse portfolio that the UIF has inadvertently invested in and why she is drawn to companies with strong female and POC founders. Why she was so determined as a kid not to follow in her mother’s footsteps and how, despite her best efforts, the apple really didn’t fall too far from the tree. What personality traits and motivations entrepreneurs need to have if they hope to succeed with her. The appalling parental leave policy in the USA and the business Clara is championing to support breastfeeding mothers who have to go back to work. Her vision for the San Francisco of the future. Links: Urban Innovation Fund For more, visit
05/03/19·46m 14s

Tim Draper: The Jedi Master of Venture Capital

Tim Draper is the world’s most famous venture capital investor who’s backed many companies like Hotmail, Twitter or Tesla. He is a ridiculously nice and charming guy (it might be all that Bitcoin he owns, who knows?), he’s full of amazing advice and has a voice like chocolate silk - which, if it did exist, he could probably afford to buy. Tim founded DJF, Draper Associates and Draper University. All you need to know if you’re listening outside the Valley is that Tim is one of the great legacy names known best for a warm smile, a suit and a firm handshake. His unique ability to pick out opportunities explains why you might have heard of him as one of the world’s most prolific Bitcoin supporters and owners. We chat with Tim about: A family of venture capitalists What it means to be a hero Why he disagrees with Elon Musk about AI The benefits of Bitcoin His book, “How to be The Startup Hero: A Guide and Textbook for Entrepreneurs and Aspiring Entrepreneurs” What Draper University is all about Links: How to be The Startup Hero: A Guide and Textbook for Entrepreneurs and Aspiring Entrepreneurs Bitcoin Hustle For more go to
26/02/19·48m 48s

Allbirds Co-Founder Tim Brown: Designing and Manufacturing the World’s Most Comfortable Shoes

Tim Brown is an ex-professional New Zealand footballer turned American shoemaker entrepreneur. After a successful football career, Tim got injured. This caused a career turning point and he looked outside the sporting world at a business future. He first obtained a master’s from LSC, and then he entered into a partnership with Joey Zwillinger. The result? Allbirds, a sustainable tech and science-led footwear that has a huge A-list Hollywood following and that’s creating massive waves in the funding community as a direct to consumer brand. We’re here to delve deeper into this exciting brand as it launches its first UK shop within Covent Garden (as well as an online UK store). We chat with Tim about: The difference in the attitude towards entrepreneurship between London and San Francisco How he saw an opportunity in making shoes out of different materials Why and how they became a B Corp Living his boyhood dream of playing soccer in the A-League in Australia The Allbirds funding journey His best piece of advice for entrepreneurs Links: Allbirds For more go to
19/02/19·43m 22s

Mumsnet: Justine Roberts on Saving Parents’ Lives

Described as one of the world’s most influential women and CEOs, Justine Roberts is at the helm of one of the world’s most talked about forums, Mumsnet. Loved by many and the cause of many heated discussions, Justine has created a place for open and frank conversations for a wide sector of the public. As a wife and mother of four, including twins, Justine has had the exact experience of how hard it is to be a working mum. Recognized for her impact on the economy and ultimately being awarded a CBE in 2017, the Oxford-educated ex-journalist takes time from her busy schedule to discuss all things Mumsnet and Gransnet. We chat with Justine about: The disastrous holiday that started everything Growing the Mumsnet community organically, by word-of-mouth The picture of the first years: a very quiet start (2000) and then a very accelerated growth period from 2006 onwards Getting sued memorably and other hard moments Advocating for many good causes via Mumsnet What a typical day looks like for Justine Links: Mumsnet For more go to
12/02/19·42m 13s

Starling Bank: Anne Boden Founder & CEO, an Innovative Challenger Bank That’s Exciting the Market

Growing up in Swansea with two hard-working parents, Anne Boden couldn’t have dreamt of the future ahead of her. After going on to study Chemistry and Computer Sciences at Swansea University, she made the big move to London to work for Lloyds Bank. Jump forward 35 years and positions at UBS, RBS and ABN AMRO, Anne has put herself out there as a forward-thinking banker who has spotted huge potential in the world of digital banking. Unable to have her vision realized as Allied Irish Banks’ Chief Operating Officer, Anne broke away and developed Starling, an innovative and exciting new way for customers to bank. We chat to Anne about: Quitting her job in traditional banking, moving to London and deciding to start her own bank Raising money as a female founder for her unusual initiative The type of culture and ethos they are trying to build Her ambitions with Starling in the future A typical day for Anne Her advice to entrepreneurs Links: Starling Bank For more visit
05/02/19·41m 28s

WeTransfer: Damian Bradfield tells us about the art of the stunningly straightforward file sharing

WeTransfer started in late 2009 and today it has over 45 million active monthly users. It’s one of the world’s most trusted online brands, helping people to discover and share in every country around the globe. Damian Bradfield, an advertising and marketing specialist who cut his teeth at various agencies, teamed up with Nalden, a famous Dutch design and media blogger. From creating the disarmingly straightforward file transfer service WeTransfer to curating an interactive art installation at Amsterdam’s art’otel, the duo has been behind a series of truly forward-thinking projects. Nowadays WeTransfer helps share 1 billion files every week. In 2015 it took its first round of investment, a series A of $25 million, and Damian moved to LA the following year to spearhead the company’s US operations. Managing a dual role - heading the American office and leading the brand’s marketing growth and content departments - Damian personifies WeTransfer’s commitment to supporting and showcasing the best creative talent. To this end, he has set up content partnerships with the likes of FKA Twigs, Rankin and Nelly Ben Hayoun, among many others working on the newer platform of WePresent. We chat about: The early days of WeTransfer: no money and huge ambition in Amsterdam How StumbleUpon helped them launch Bootstrapping and keeping their full-time jobs until 2015 The two fortuitous things that happened in WeTransfer's early days What Damian believes the future of the internet is going to be And what he’s like as a boss Links: WeTransfer For more go to
30/01/19·57m 48s

Jo Malone: The Alchemist Devoted to Spreading the Poetry of Scent

Today’s Secret Leader is Jo Malone CBE, founder of her namesake and more recently Jo Loves. Of all the guests we’ve had the wonderful fortune of interviewing, Jo has one of the biggest reputations preceding her, but worry not, it’s an entirely positive one. From battles with dyslexia to cancer Jo is well known for being authentic, inspiring, and a true hero to young entrepreneurs everywhere. We chat about: Growing up in a council house, looking after her mother, and putting her sister through school Leaving school at 14 and going over to London to sell face creams in order to pay the family bills Moving to London and doing all sorts of odd jobs Putting her astounding sense of smell into an actual business Opening the first Jo Malone shop in 1994 with her husband Receiving an offer to sell to Estée Lauder after three years Facing the greatest challenge of her life and starting a new business after five years Links: Jo Malone Jo Loves Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
10/07/18·59m 45s

Vijay Eswaran: From Taxi Driver to Billionaire

Vijay Eswaran is the Executive Chairman of the QI Group of Companies. Born in Penang, Malaysia, in 1960, to hardworking parents, Vijay had a childhood filled with moves around his native country. His education brought him to the UK, and in 1984, Eswaran graduated from the London School of Economics with a degree in Socioeconomics. In 1998, Eswaran returned to Malaysia after several years of work that stretched globally, and he co-founded the multilevel marketing company that has grown into what we now know as the QI Group. The QI Group of Companies describe themselves as a diversified multinational entity catering to varied businesses that include education, hospitality, direct selling, financial services, and retail. Vijay would be forgiven for stopping once achieving this conglomerate, however, he has also gone on to establish the RYTHM Foundation and the Vijayaratnam Foundation (named after his father), and has written several books. We chat about: Why getting a degree today is no longer completely necessary Losing his scholarship and being sent to the UK by his father Working as a cab driver while studying in order to pay his student fees under the Thatcher regime Taking a year off in order to hitchhike around Europe Going through 33 days of silence in an Italian monastery Building the QI Group Giving back and living in the now Links: QI Group of Companies Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
04/07/18·55m 42s

JustGiving: Anne-Marie Huby, Always Guided by a Deep Sense of Purpose

From a business desk at the Birmingham Post to the world’s fastest-growing tech-for-good platform, Belgium-born Anne-Marie Huby is one of UK’s most innovative entrepreneurs, creating the first online fundraising platform in the UK in 2000. She started her career in journalism in Belgium, and later joined the UK arm of Doctors Without Borders (aka Médecins Sans Frontières), where she worked for ten years. In 1994, Anne-Marie was in Congo with MSF, not long after the genocide which saw Rwandan soldiers and Hutu gangs claim the lives of more than half a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus. MSF received a Nobel prize just one year before Anne-Marie transformed the humanitarian landscape by launching JustGiving with co-founder Zarine Kharas. The company became profitable in just five years. Defying the odds, JustGiving has helped raise over £3.5 billion to date and has improved the lives of over 28 million people in 164 countries. We chat about: Meeting Zarine Kharas and creating a sustainable business model For-profit vs not-for-profit charities Their unusual first pitch and fundraising story What a typical day looks like for Anne-Marie Taking a break, reconnecting with what’s important for her, and reading voraciously Corporate responsibility in modern times Links: JustGiving Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
26/06/18·1h 1m

Rankin: Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes

Rankin is arguably Britain’s most successful export to the fashion industry, and one of the world’s leading portrait photographers. He is also well known for his phenomenal work ethic, his charitable pursuits within fashion and his fearlessness when creating art. Rankin made his name in publishing by founding the seminal monthly magazine Dazed & Confused with Jefferson Hack in 1991. Dazed & Confused has now progressed into Dazed Media, which in itself is a brand synonymous with leading fashion. With more than 40 books published and exhibitions all over the world, as well as still creating work for his own London gallery, it’s a wonder that Rankin has time to devote himself to any other project, let alone sit down with us today. He is also known for his affiliations with charities, and he travels the world creating campaigns for the likes of Comic Relief, Women’s Aid, and Macmillan Cancer Support. Rankin has captured icons and is respected worldwide for being the ultimate visionary. However, he is not just a celebrity photographer, he is also super being passionate about photographing real people of all sizes and shapes. We chat about: From Glasgow to Yorkshire to St Albans: his childhood and finding his way Meeting Jefferson Hack and creating Dazed & Confused Always wanting to give something back What he thinks about the MeToo movement Who he would like to photograph next His attraction to serendipity His fascination with Trump and his love of photographing baddies
19/06/18·56m 3s

Planet Organic: How Founder Renée Elliott Wove Together Love and Food

From the pages of a wine magazine to the UK’s largest certified organic haven of delicious produce, Mississippi-born Renée Elliott moved to the UK in 1986. Nine years later, Renée launched Planet Organic having followed her heart. Planet Organic became the first store certified by the Soil Association, and now it has seven outlets. Inspired by the tutelage of Craig Sams, founder of Whole Earth Foods and Green & Black’s, Renée absorbed a wealth of knowledge of fuelled nutrition and everything organic. Walking into the Planet Organic is like walking into the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory but for organic and healthy food. Ever-flowing food and vegetables, bread from artisan London bakeries, sustainable fish from British water, gluten-free, dairy-free raw food and dairy options. Limitless goodness. Speaking of limitless, Renée’s ventures don’t stop there. Beluga Bean, a life and business skills academy for women is another fantastic enterprise that is inspirational and genius in even strokes.
05/06/18·54m 58s

Shazam: How Dhiraj Mukherjee Built One of the Most Downloaded Apps of All Time

Our esteemed guest this week is Dhiraj Mukerjee, co-founder of Shazam, the app that has literally put more songs on the record than anyone else in the world. Dhiraj is not a fan of being praised or of receiving any kind of popular commendations of his AMAZING efforts, so we won’t do any of that today. Today we offer you the story that led four people to build one of the world’s most innovative products of all time. Long story short: Shazam was created in 1999 by co-founders Chris Barton, Philip Inghelbrecht, Avery Wang, and Dhiraj Mukherjee. Since its launch, over 30 billion shazams have been sent via their app, which has been downloaded over 1 billion times. 18 years after it was founded, it sees 100 million users flock to its surface every single month. Join us for a crisp dose of inspiration from someone who really knows what he’s talking about. We chat about: Building Shazam and getting people to use it Getting a lot of nos from investors Disguising the product so that someone else didn’t steal their idea What the future looks like, if you ask Dhiraj Links: Shazam Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
29/05/18·57m 2s

Babylon Health: How Founder and CEO Dr Ali Parsa Plans to Make Healthcare a Utility for Every Human on Earth

Our guest this week is the very inspirational Ali Parsa, founder and CEO of Babylon Health. Babylon is the world’s largest healthcare app successfully changing the way we as humans are getting access to healthcare. Their mission? To provide affordable healthcare to the world and to be, in Ali’s own words, “the Google of healthcare”. We don’t say this often, but get ready to have your mind blown at the scale of his ambition and, even more importantly, his execution. So tune in or you’ll miss out! We chat about: Coming to the UK as a refugee and steering clear of negativity Building Circle and, later on, Babylon Thinking big, acting big, staying human Links: Babylon Health Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
15/05/18·1h 5m How Alex Depledge Co-Founded a Company that Sold for €32 Million

Left work on a Friday and gave birth on a Saturday: already our guest this week is pretty much a rockstar. 2014 Tech City’s Entrepreneur of the Year Alex Depledge is a straight-talking British businesswoman best known for being the driving force behind Alex launched her career in the US after completing her master’s degree at the Uni of Chicago, working on the campaign team of a major US politician. In 2006 she returned to the UK to become a consultant for Accenture, where she advised Footsie 100 clients on their customer and channel execution. In 2012 she bravely entered the world of entrepreneurship. In 2011 Alex and her best friend, Jules Coleman, conceived the idea behind when they discovered how hard it was to find a piano teacher online. They realized that service providers found it hard to market themselves, as they weren’t always as tech-savvy as other entrepreneurs, and they needed to rely on word-of-mouth. Alongside co-founders Tom Nimmo and Jules Coleman, they started Teddle with the idea of connecting local service providers to customers. Two years later they rebranded to and focused on connecting vetted cleaners to local customers. They recently sold for €32 million to German company Helpling. Alex has now launched BuildPath, a company which assesses whether house extensions are viable and how much they would cost. She also continues to be a driving force for shared parental rights in business and female equality amongst the entrepreneur scene. We chat about: Hassle’s journey from we-don’t-know-anything-about-startup-entrepreneurship to building an MVP to joining an accelerator to building the right product at the right time What was raising money like in a period when there wasn’t a startup ecosystem Their hiring challenges as first-time founders with no reputation Selling to Helpling and getting massively depressed Finding an executive coach and surviving Brexit Links: Resi Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
08/05/18·57m 3s

Charles Tyrwhitt: How Founder Nicholas Wheeler Went From an Aston Martin to Global Domination

Here to share with us his journey from owning an Aston Martin to owning a multi-million-pound shirt company is Nicholas Charles Tyrwhitt Wheeler, one of UK’s most successful entrepreneurs. After being left £8,000 from a great aunt, Nick used the money to purchase the English dream: an Aston Martin DB1. One year later he sold the same car for an eye-watering £75,000 profit. This profit became the funding that set Nick up to become the powerhouse he is now. Nick founded Charles Tyrwhitt as an undergraduate in 1986, after being frustrated that shirts were too expensive. For several years the company was just a hobby alongside Nick’s full-time job. However, by 2002, Charles Tyrwhitt had stores in London, Paris, and NY, and is now on its way to achieve global domination. We chat about: Nick’s previous ventures and how he started and grew Charles Tyrwhitt Nick’s infatuation for learning from mistakes, over and over and over again The do’s and don’ts of hiring when you’re a small company His advice to entrepreneurs worldwide Links: Charles Tyrwhitt Full show notes at Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
01/05/18·56m 53s

Not On The Highstreet Co-Founder Holly Tucker

Today we are delighted to bring you Holly Tucker, the co-founder of the first marketplace of its kind,, the place to pick up fantastic inspiration and bespoke gifts. Side note: is also very helpful when you’re trying to get back into your mum’s good books and make her happy with a thoughtful hand-designed gift. Just saying! Since stepping away from day to day operations she's now championing creative business owners through her new venture - Holly & Co. Like so many businesses, it was set up around a kitchen table shared by her co-founder Sophie Cornish. We dare say this was the inspiration behind her bestselling book, “Build a Business from Your Kitchen Table”, but you know, that’s just a guess! Hear more about Holly’s inspirational story, as she shares the highs and lows of building one of Britain’s best-loved online marketplaces. We chat about: Working from the age of 13 Creating together with Sophie Cornish at their respective kitchen tables Giving back and helping small businesses thrive Why Holly advises entrepreneurs to trust their internal compasses Links: Not On The High Street Holly & Co Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen!
17/04/18·1h 2m

ustwo Co-Founder Mills on Building a Fampany (aka Family Company)

Our guest today is on the more unconventional side. For starters, he wouldn’t necessarily choose to call himself a “leader”, so what better set-up for a secret leader? Mills, aka Matt Miller, is the co-founder of the fampany (read: family company) ustwo, a design studio occupying the ground floor of the Tea Building in Shoreditch, famous for hosting many of UK’s most creative brands. Mills started his career at design studio Animal, where his first and only ever boss demonstrated to him just how leadership can be: a friendship based on trust and shared values. After experiencing that, Mills and ustwo co-founder John Sinclair, aka Sinx, decided to replicate it to create a fizzing company culture of their own. Today we talk about doing things differently and putting values at the heart of an organization that really tries to keep its creativity in full flow, full-time employed. Mills and Sinx have zero intention to ever sell ustwo, and are on a mission to create the best working environment you can imagine. We chat about: The story of how ustwo was formed International expansion How they created a global smash hit mobile game Mills’s love for mindful ultrarunning What's next for ustwo Links: ustwo Monument Valley Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!
10/04/18·1h 5m

Café Rouge: How Co-Founder Karen Jones Creates Brands People Come Back To

Today we have an audio feast for you as our guest is Karen Jones, most well-known as the co-founder of the Café Rouge chain of restaurants. Her career is a textbook story of entrepreneurship. Karen was born in Lancashire, in northern England, and raised in Yorkshire, London, and Switzerland, before studying English and American Literature at the University of East Anglia, where she has now come full circle to serve as their Chancellor. As the Café Rouge brand grew, Karen and her co-founder Roger Myers formed the Pelican Group, which was eventually acquired in 1996 by Whitbread for a reported £133 million. Karen couldn’t stay away from the table for too long and became the CEO of the Spirit Pub Group. She is definitely not the kind of person to sit back and put her feet up, so she also joined the board of the London Gastropub Company among many others. We chat about: How the first Café Rouge came to be Selling Café Rouge and creating Punch Taverns What makes a brand a winner Karen’s advice to entrepreneurs Links: Café Rouge Are you enjoying the second season so far? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Let us know what you think and, while you're at it, why not give us a review in iTunes? We'd really appreciate it! Full show notes at:
03/04/18·1h 3m

Songkick: Pete Finlay on Burnout and Growing Too Fast

Today you are going to hear the story of Songkick led by Pete Finlay, formerly known as Pete Smith. You’re going to learn about the ups and downs of a very brutal story. Songkick was once one of the startup darlings of the UK, they raised a ton of cash, grew exponentially quickly, and, as Pete will share in today’s episode, really grew too fast for them to really understand how to manage this beast properly. Pete ended up leaving Songkick and starting Silicon Milkroundabout. This had its own challenges, which again he shares in brutally honest fashion. Like any great leader, he owns his mistakes and shares how others could avoid them in the future. We chat about: Songkick’s birth, infancy and later years What made Songkick different from other online concert discovery tools Pete’s experience with burnout and his advice to first-time founders Links: Songkick Silicon Milkroundabout Join us to learn more about Pete’s amazing journey. Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!Full show notes at:
27/03/18·1h 1m

Project Everyone: How Gail Gallie reached 7 billion people in 7 days

If you are the type of person who is into sustainability, philanthropy, giving back, purpose, any of these things, our guest today is the crème de la crème. Meet Gail Gallie, co-founder of Project Everyone. Today we go through Gail’s entire story from when she was a producer at Radio 1, to becoming CEO of ad agency Fallon, and eventually working with Kate Garvey and Richard Curtis of Four Weddings and Notting Hill fame on Project Everyone, a communications house for the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The UN has committed globally to creating a fairer world by creating 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development that we can all commit to. Ironically, the UN is also not unbelievably good at marketing. Fortunately, world-class British filmmaker Richard Curtis and two brilliant marketeers came to the rescue. We chat about: Working as a producer for Radio 1 The challenges of being the CEO of an ad agency Driving awareness towards a sustainable future Links: Project Everyone The Sustainable Development Goals To learn how it all happened, join us today. Want to receive our podcast on a weekly basis? Subscribe to our newsletter!Full show notes at:
20/03/18·1h 1m

Just Eat: How David Buttress Co-Founded and Built a £5.5bn Company

For the last 11 years, David has done nothing but think about takeaway. Sounds like a dream, right? But that’s the reality for the former CEO of food giant Just Eat, still part of the board to this day. Described as one of UK’s standout entrepreneurs of the last decade, David got a taste for delivery-based businesses when he created his own newspaper-delivering service at the age of 11. Just Eat helped restaurants deliver almost 100 million orders last year, from anything from curries to salads. David is now working at venture capital firm 83North as general partner. In his new role, he aims to identify technology startups in Europe and Israel that have the potential to grow to the same size as Just Eat, which now has a market cap in excess of £5 billion. Key takeaways: The Just Eat journey: how two colleagues working in a basement created an empire with a valuation of £5.5 billion Their story of getting funded What made Just Eat stand out from other food delivery services Join us to discover more about the incredible story of Just Eat. Full show notes at:
13/03/18·1h 7m

Draper Esprit: The first ever public VC fund - Simon Cook

Today’s special guest is one of the key Venture Capital investors in the UK, the CEO and Founder of Draper Esprit, Mr Simon Cook. Most recently, Simon has focused on disrupting the traditional VC structure by taking his company public on an IPO that raised over £100m of ‘permanent capital’ as he calls it which he intends to use to grow the UK’s influence globally. He has been involved in some of the best known deals in the UK including LoveFilm, Graze and Trust Pilot.
12/09/17·59m 12s

Unruly - From lecturer to millionaire. Sarah Wood tells all.

Today we are joined by one of the best known, and certainly most liked entrepreneurs in the UK - Sarah Wood from Unruly Media. The tl;dr on Sarah is that she went to University of Cambridge, then became a lecturer at the University of Sussex, then she Co Founded Unruly, sold it for £114m to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp a few years later, and now teaches a course back at Cambridge whilst maintaining a role as CEO at the company she helped build. In this episode you'll find out what Unruly does, and how Cambridge University responded to her suggested classroom title she teaches entitled “ Mashups, memes and LOLitics, online video culture and the screen media revolution”
25/08/17·1h 13m

Traffic & Copy: Vincent Dignan on how to growth hack your way to success

Today’s guest is the self styled Jesus Christ Superstar of the organic viral growth world, Vincent Dignan. He puts the M in Millennial, the G in Growth and the WTF in Fashion. A man who very much practices what he preaches, and a true obsessive for the American personal branding school of thought - he knows that to stand out, you have to really stand out. And he does this to perfection. In his own words - his mission is to help as many founders and companies grow in the fastest way possible using bespoke techniques, tactics and software most people don’t know about. Whilst his over sharing and very un-British attitude towards self promotion doesn’t resonate with everyone - it’s categorically impossible to ignore Vincent once you’ve made contact, and underneath all the outfits and image is simply a guy interested to see how he can help others succeed with the knowledge he’s accumulated. From living off benefits to touring the West Coast inspiring young entrepreneurs and makers how to build an audience, Vincent’s life has gone from rags to riches in very little time, and should be viewed as an inspiration that anyone with a strong work ethic, positive attitude and most importantly, the self belief and confidence in what makes you unique and interesting is your pathway to success.
16/08/17·55m 9s

Mr & Mrs Smith: Tamara Lohan MBE taking on Expedia and

Tamara Lohan MBE is the co-founder and CTO of Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels. She started Mr and Mrs Smith with her husband James 14 years ago, and has been at the heart of one of the best loved internet brands in Britain, but it in fact started as a publishing business; a guidebook for people like her who wanted to explore the luxury boutiques across the country and discovering the real gems and stylish weekends away in unique hotels. They sold 10,000 copies in their first 6 weeks, but fast forward to today they have over 100 staff spread across London, LA, Singapore, New York… and have had contributions from celebrities ranging from Stella McCartney to Cate Blanchett.
09/08/17·1h 5m

Vorsprung Durch Technik - Sir John Hegarty (BBH) tells us where that came from!

Our guest this week is the advertising giant Sir John Hegarty. As the co-founder of ad agency BBH and creator of acclaimed campaigns for brands such as Levi’s, Audi, BA and Johnnie Walker, Hegarty has been a leader in the advertising industry for more than 50 years. In our interview with him he reveals some of his creative tricks (lose the headphones) and “when the world zigs, zag” – words which went on to become the BBH’s mantra.
13/07/17·1h 2m

Skimlinks: Alicia Navarro on how to build an advertising giant

Our second Australian guest in a row for our 10th episode of Secret Lives of Leaders. This episode we have the pleasure of hosting Alicia Navarro - the co-founder and CEO of Skimlinks. Known for her energy and enthusiasm, Alicia has been in the heart of the tech scene in London for over a decade. Her company has gone through many highs and lows along the way as well as receiving over $20m in venture funding. Alicia gives us an insight into running starting and then running a high growth company as well as what she gets up to when she's not working.
29/06/17·56m 17s

Daniel Priestley -- Bestselling Author & Entrepreneur (Key Person of Influence, 24 Assets, Oversubscribed)

Our guest in episode 9 is the bestselling author Daniel Priestley. Hailing from Australia Daniel was already a success before he moved to Europe. He used writing as a way to get his thought process down while running his own business and along the way his books is what he is most well known for. His catalogue includes the titles “24 Assets”, “Oversubscribed” and “Key Person of Influence”. Along the way Daniel has built huge businesses, advised celebrated entrepreneurs, broken world records, raised millions in venture capital and fundraised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity.
23/06/17·1h 12m

Seedcamp: Reshma Sohoni tells us how to be a successful VC

Our guest this week is one of the best networked ladies in UK tech, as the Co Founder of not only the first ever, but also arguably the most successful Seed Fund in Europe, Seedcamp. By only part-selling their stake in their most successful investment, they’ve already returned their entire fund back, as the high profile FinTech unicorn Transferwise was originally developed before Reshma’s eyes and with her support and brainpower. With over 200 investments to her name, its not fair to focus only on their largest, as they’ve backed many really exciting winners, which she’ll be talking to us about in this episode. With her roots from India, teenage years in America, and an MBA in france, it’s Europe she’s chosen of the 3 continents to call home, and it’s fair to say she’s had a huge impact on the technology scene.
15/06/17·1h 10m

Social Chain: Steve Bartlett is young and hungry

Our guest in this episode is probably responsible for the funny tweets you saw, or that ridiculously viral campaign that captured your imagination. At 24, he’s one of those guys who has already had the life experience of most 40 year olds, with offices in Manchester, Berlin and New York, plus spending a small stint living in San Francisco as an Entrepreneur in Residence advising Bebo for their relaunch, he’s accomplished a great deal in a short period of time and shows no signs of slowing down. At the age of 18, Steve Bartlett dropped out of school and embarked on his first business, Wallpark - a social media venture connecting students with similar interests around, essentially a digital social notice board. He then exited that business in 2013 and Co Founded the Social Chain, having met a young guy called Dom McGregor, who had a unique knack of creating multiple twitter accounts and growing the shit out of them, and from there they’ve been at the heart of a number of viral campaigns growing Social Chain to a multi million pound business counting Apple, McDonalds and BBC as some of their clients. Quite rightly, they’ve picked up a ton of PR along the way and Steve, presumably learning along the way from those he promotes, has increasingly been popping up in my facebook feed as an inspirational speaker with his own YouTube channel, therefore, in his own right, becoming a key person of influence.
05/06/17·56m 55s - Michael Acton Smith tells the story behind Calm, Moshi Monsters and Mind Candy,

Michael Acton Smith OBE is a man who's been described as the ‘tech version of Willy Wonka’. From setting up popular e-commerce websites with university friends to extravagant online games Michael Acton Smith has always had a drive as a maker. His biggest success, Moshi Monsters, grew to over 100 million registered users and expanded to over 150 countries around the world. It’s not all been plain sailing though. His businesses have come within days of missing payroll and after booming success Mind Candy has found it challenging reproducing it’s second hit. More recently our esteemed guest has focussed his attention on raising awareness and building businesses in the mental health space - an area very close to his heart with the meditation app - Calm.
12/05/17·1h 5m

Blippar: Jess Butcher building a business and a family

Jess Butcher is the co-founder of Blippar - the augmented reality giant. Founded in 2011, Jess has over 250 colleagues and as of 2016 raised a total of $100m valuing the business at a reputed $1bn and it’s also reported that they turned down an acquisition of £1.5bn. Jess gives us an insight into the founding days of Blippar and also what it's like building a behemoth of a business while also raising a family. This episode of The Secret Lives of Leaders was recorded at Stockton House in front of a live audience at the Foundrs Unconference.
08/05/17·1h 2m

Prince Andrew on supporting the UK's next big companies

In this episode you will learn; How his journey from 20 years in the navy eventually led to him starting Pitch at Palace How he became fascinated with people and psychology - from education to growth and business success The importance of being able to sell your business in a 3 minute pitch How a conversation with Tom Hulme of Google Ventures led to him thinking of himself as an ‘accelerant’ and focus on adding value and amplifying entrepreneurs’ success rate How Pitch at Palace has never really had great ambition but like all great startups, has thrived into a beast And lots more of course... Key Quotes This nice little furry creature I created on a small scale turned into a ferocious lion that sits in the corner and wants to be fed all the time The venue for Pitch at Palace is absolutely intended to be intimidating! The really good entrepreneurs are the one’s who understand the ‘what ifs’. Because the ones that think about that, are the ones who plan, adapt, and think of how to stay ahead of everyone else. No plan survives first contact with the enemy. Top Advice: Everything is easier with a track record - we are here to try and help you get that track record. Dont worry about failing, just look to find opportunities from big shifts in the status quo. Be realistic and recognise just how long it takes to raise money. Not 3 months. Not 6 months. It could take you 2 years. Dont get caught out by the PR cos its not the reality! Other Fun Facts: HRH ideally wanted to become a venture capitalist yet he wasn’t technically allowed to be, which led him on this journey... He’s seen over 400 startup pitches in the last 3 years.
24/04/17·1h 1m

Photobox: Graham Hobson (Co-Founder) on how he built a £400m business

In this episode you will learn; Why he started Photobox, and what it was like running a startup over the dotcom boom and bust, within the first year of it’s inception. The complexity of their raising funds, from trying and failing; from growing fast to scaling all the way back, what that felt like for them at the time. The process of buying and selling companies as a means to grow How to manage culture when absorbing other companies What it’s like starting as CEO, then hiring someone to replace you, and becoming CTO. And lots more of course... Key Quotes I don’t see myself as an Entrepreneur because to me, they feel more like the types that do it repeatedly, and perhaps I just got lucky. I’m one startup away from feeling like I’ve earned that title You dont manage one football club and get called a ‘football manager’ so to me the same is true about an entrepreneur. Top Advice: Sit back, assess a situation, and decide what to do next, instead of making a knee jerk reaction. Figure out why you want to be an entrepreneur - do you have a problem to solve, or do you want to be your own boss, if it’s the latter, don’t go sit in WeWork - get a normal job, build up your experience and contacts, and be patient until a real problem comes up that you need to solve. Other Fun Facts: He was cautioned by US naval intelligence for hacking He worked next to Nick Leeson - the infamous Rogue Trader who brought down a whole bank -
24/04/17·1h 11m

Entrepreneur First: How to build unicorns with Alice Bentinck

In this episode you will learn; Where the idea for Entrepreneur First came from originally, and how that’s evolved through the years How to start a business with no business model whatsoever The best and worst company ideas she’s ever been pitched. What they look for in individuals that gives them the confidence to just give them cash and help them to develop valuable ideas And lots more of course... Key Quotes As an entrepreneur - where do you stop and the company start? I want people to eventually see me as the greatest AI leader globally (and fun fact she is pretty certain EF is currently the biggest investor in AI technology in Europe) “We look for megalomania in our founders - this crazy belief that if everything else goes wrong, we’ll be ok - that’s pretty important for resilience. Entrepreneurs always come up with the same ideas - so what we enjoy is trying to push people to think a bit more uniquely. But I’ve heard probably every single dating and food delivery concept you’ve ever thought of. Top Advice: Get a mentor or professional coach - it creates huge value for founders - so much so they use a bunch of them for their founders, to make sure they’re mentally balanced. How important a ‘growth mindset’ is for resilience and how she tries to embed that within her teams. Strong beliefs, weakly held. What makes you special? Think about that before thinking about what you want to do. And then think big. Other Fun Facts: Magic Pony Technology was 18 months old from Entrepreneur First and sold for £150m to Twitter, with only 15 people - the founders had never met each other before they started. In one University they work with, more people join EF than join the financial services sector now!
24/04/17·48m 4s

Moonpig: Nick Jenkins and the £120m card company

In this episode you will learn; How he started his career in Russia working for the infamous Mark Rich as an ‘intrapreneur’ and what that process taught him about business. The value of being a sole founder His definitions on focus, and how important that can be for someone who describes himself as ‘easily distracted’. How he started an MBA knowing he’d most likely come towards the bottom of the class but still be one of the only people to start an actual business - and he was right on both fronts. And lots more of course... Key Quotes Being considered by others as being fair in business is much more valuable than being ruthless. If people need to check how many fingers they’ve got left after a handshake, I dont understand how that’s constructive to business. There’s nothing quite like ‘needing’ a business to work, and what’s more motivating than if you’ve put all your money in? Top Advice "As a founder, never, ever, do any work that you can pay someone else a simple basic wage to do. For starters, you are creating a job someone needs, and secondly, you’re more likely to create more jobs if you focus on your priorities and key skills like strategy and the big picture." “Write a business plan, and then spend as much time as you can looking around to see who else is doing it - and what you’ll do better. No harm in anyone doing it, just do it differently!” “You need to be decisive. What I learned whilst doing my MBA was there were many people far brighter than me who could do a bunch of presentations much better than I could, and yet they couldn’t pick one thing to go with and they never got anything properly off the ground - so being decisive is a key skill”. Other Facts: Yes, they had a pig in their office, and yes they had to take it for walks all the time. He failed a business which led him to be sure he needed an MBA before starting Moonpig Moonpig ended up being one of 5 ideas developed through his MBA You can listen to the other Secret Leader's interviews mentioned in this episode here: Charles Tyrwhitt – How Founder Nicholas Wheeler Went From an Aston Martin to Global Domination Just Eat – How David Buttress Co-Founded and Built a £5.5bn Company Jo Malone – The Alchemist Devoted to Spreading the Poetry of Scent Huel: How to Become a Food and Drink Millionaire with Julian Hearn Slack: Cal Henderson - An Engineer’s Fairytale Story Alain De Botton - Finding Answers to Life’s Tricky Questions Atomic Habits - Little things can transform your life DECIEM - a tale of tragedy and beauty with CEO Nicola Kilner Trinny Woodall reveals her surprising, untold startup journey - from dotcom bust to beauty boom today Myprotein: How to bootstrap a £500 overdraft into a £350m exit, with Founder Oliver Cookson After his startup IPOd in record time everything fell apart, with Eve Sleep co-founder Kuba Wieczorek MedMen:what went wrong at the cannabis industry’s first unicorn, with Founder and former CEO Adam Bierman MasterClass: how to get over a stutter and attract A-listers like Anna Wintour and Martin Scorsese, with Founder & CEO David Rogier Duolingo Founder: Being a genius, inventing CAPTCHA & getting 500m users - Luis Von Ahn
24/04/17·1h 14m
Heart UK