MY STORY SO FAR
Play with the best and you'll be forced to raise your game.
I am a business builder at heart, that's what I do. I'm constantly working on, looking for, or being approached about deals and new projects that will be at the cutting-edge, fast-paced entrepreneurial environments like the Virgin of their industries. I am relentlessly pushing business forward, looking for that edge that will make the difference. I know that all businesses face similar challenges, no matter whether it is a startup or an existing business looking to go to the next level.
It is my experiences that have got me where I am today. Below I detail those roughly in chronological order. You will see that I didn't leave school at 15, nor have I been working in an investment bank for the last 20 years. I'm lucky enough to have worked in the blue chip world but I've also had my sleeves rolled up working in fast paced entrepreneurial environments. My business interests range across industries and my involvement has been from passive to pure growth in trying to engineer a sale.
These unique experiences mean that I can spend time in a serviced office, helping a startup bulldoze its way through problems to get to the next level, and then in the afternoon I can don a suit to negotiate with the latest city whiz kid to make sure we're not fleeced while we're raising capital or negotiating a sale.
First class education and skills are always needed.
I scored a first in accounting and finance at the University of Western Australia, winning the university's highest academic honour, the Hackett Studentship. I also graduated with a MBA with distinction from the prestigious Ivy League Cornell University, where I was awarded the title Marshall of Program for being the student who demonstrated the highest level of academic and leadership ability.
Cold hard fact based analysis and deal making.
The Bond Corporation
I cut my teeth working alongside one of Australia's leading entrepreneurs – and national icons - Alan Bond, the first non-US citizen to win the America's Cup. It was a cut throat environment where people either sank or swam – your ability to get deals done was the only currency. Working for Bond was a roller coaster ride. Despite being just 29-years old when the business collapsed, I was seconded to sit alongside some of the most respected business and professional figures in Australia to preside over a $13bn debt for equity swap.
McKinsey and Co
I spent 3 years at the world's most prestigious management consultancy. Working in the area of FMCG and retail, I honed my strategic and analytical skills and advised some of the world's largest and most ambitious blue chip companies at board level. McKinsey drilled into me the core strategy skills that are crucial to creating profitable opportunities and managing any business.
Learning from startup masters was the kickstart.
It doesn't get any better than working in the engine room of Virgin, reporting directly to Sir Richard Branson. As his Corporate Development Director, my role was to forge pastures new. Of the hundreds of business plans that landed on my desk, I had to identify, nurture and grow businesses, either selling or refinancing them for profit. I was involved in many varied and breathtaking ventures from Virgin Direct, One, Active, Vie, Clothes and even Brides. And let's not forget the London Broncos.
Directly after I left Virgin, Niall FitzGerald, The Unilever Chairman, was desperate for some startup ability in his organisation. Drawing heavily from my experience at Virgin I helped to create Unilever Ventures – a highly effective team working outside the bureaucracy of day-to-day Unilever to fund and grow startups. Subsequently I partnered with some of their startups including Rocket Lifestyles – a unique food offering ultimately sold to Threshers. During this time I sat alongside Niall Fitzgerald on an internal new business panel reviewing worldwide Unilever startup concepts.
Education, sourcing: capturing a growing market.
Inside Track, Instant Access Properties
Brought in by the Shareholders and Founders, my role was to help engineer a sale. Multi-million pound offers were received before the credit crunch scuppered the deal at the last minute, but not before the companies were built into some of the largest of their kind in the UK. I also worked on the branding, PR, and channel management of Inside Track, which allowed it to educate over 100,000 people - easily the largest of its kind in UK history. Then with offices in Spain, Orlando, London and Hong Kong this business attracted over 100,000 people to education events and sourced more than £500 million of property for over 10,000 clients in a calendar year.
Engineering growth through synergy.
This company was built on the back of the property ventures and offered stability. It is an excellent example of maximizing synergistic growth opportunities. Fuel is an innovative mortgage advisor for independent property investors. From a standing start in 2004 the company built up to a high of £550 million mortgages per annum. Fuel is a winner of various industry awards including 'Best Buy To Let Broker' from Mortgage Strategy.
You can't avoid the online world.
The founders needed to add growth and diversity to their existing loyalty play, the largest cashback forum in the U.K, and the answer was a sister company. Launched in 2008, it was one of the newest, most highly ranked offers in cashback. Add a white label strategy and the technology was moving to be fully exploited.
Healthy Wealthy and Wise
I launched Virgin Active for Sir Richard Branson, so it was inevitable that I would get involved in the Health Club industry again. I did so through Centennial Health Clubs, and we have launched our first gym at EQ Fox Studios in Sydney. From a standing start we have built a profitable boutique gym known for its excellent services and unique classes, with over 1,000 members. Having got this one into the black through real grind, we are on an expansion drive and looking for new sites. See www.centennialhealthclub.com.au
Super profits require measured risk taking.
I founded The BSF Group to attack situations that can only be solved through entrepreneurial spirit and action. Over the years I have assembled a talented group of people whose goal is to help other entrepreneurs and companies. We only deal with challenging situations where brave but measured risk taking is called for, in order for what we call super profits to be attained. Our expertise lies in launching start-ups, funding, joint ventures, and brand extension. If you like the sound of attaining super profits, then have a look at www.thebsfgroup.com
A strong personal online brand is non-negotiable.
At Virgin I saw first hand the importance of both corporate and personal brands, and learnt from Sir Richard Branson how they can be used as weapons to create profitable opportunities. SocialCheck does exactly that for individuals. Using a fully automated cutting edge automated software, which incidentally allows pricing to be affordable, - another trick I learnt from Sir Richard - Socialcheck audits your online presence and social media scores you out of 1000 against your peers. Additionally it provides complete recommendations to ensure you look your best online; congruent with how you want to be perceived. We show you how to control the front page of Google. Corporates ensure their employees are great brand ambassadors. This rapidly growing business, is in a successful fund raising process, and is looking to expand into the UK and the US, with strong overseas venture capital interest.
All businesses need fuel to grow.
Most businesses I have owned or worked with have needed to raise funds to launch and/or grow. This has ranged from huge corporate deals at Virgin and Bond to hundreds of thousands of dollars at Centennial Health Clubs. The processes are remarkably similar although the target investor may change. The props and proof of concept are very important and there is a formula for getting funded. It is also critical to get it right first time, as you don't often get two chances. BSF Funding can help you in this process from start to finish, and has access to investors whom we provide vetted opportunities to. Thinking of funding? Then get in touch.
Charity begins at home.
I believe that in some small or large way, and not only through financial gifts, we should all try to give back. Not everyone can afford to provide financial support, but we can all help others by investing our time. I speak at various functions and provide some teaching seminars at no cost to appropriate groups. One entrepreneurial organisation that I am a director of is TIE, a charity that assists entrepreneurs. If your interested to help have a look at sydney.tie.org. If that's not for you but you want to help others then please contact me, as I'm sure there are ways you can help.