My dream was to connect Japanese businesses with partners overseas. I had absolutely no idea how to do this. But fate stepped in 1985 the U.S. arm-twisted Japan into revaluing the yen, in something called the Plaza Accord. This caused the yen to shoot up from about 240 to the dollar to 120 and caused havoc among Japan’s manufacturers. Many of my customers in the documentation business rapidly moved off-shore, and we suffered mightily. Finally, faced with bankruptcy, I asked myself: “When your currency appreciates double in value, where are the opportunities?” The answer was, “imports.” So I started importing PC clones in competition to IBM (just me and IBM in the market at that time), and I wound up selling container loads. This was my initiation into the wild, rollercoaster world of entrepreneurship.
To make my big dreams come true (Like working in UEFA Champions League as an innovative tech provider that we did last week during final rounds of UCL) I started Sponix, because my main interests were sport and technology since I was a kid. I was a professional football player and also I was graduated from university in master degree in IT Management. So after I had some activities in the Sport and Technology fields, in 2018, I decided to have a very big step in Sports Technology industry to really have a big impact on the market. Then I have gathered a great team and we started to see what the sports technology trends were in the market and also what section could be so interesting for big leagues, clubs and broadcasters. So we decided to develop some amazing technologies that no one before that was able to do the same.
Easy it’s all about
Creating something unique
Creating great team
Supporting talented young people
I started my own t-shirt company when I was 19 (very stressful in a damp basement ‘office’ on my own with no windows), then I fell into IT for RBS and The Bank of New York when I was 22. After enjoying the IT work, at 27 I went to Durham University to study Computer Science. At Durham I saw Facebook, Twitter and other startups take over like never before. After Durham, I came to London and worked at a few more IT (FinTech) companies but it was depressing and soul destroying (some people worked really hard, others not at all and it didn’t make any difference to anyone). So at 32, I started an MBA at Imperial College and that’s where I discovered Venture Capital. The idea of having small stakes in a bunch of fast-growing tech companies really appealed and my immediate aim was to have my own firm. I knew it would take a long time and, around a decade later, I have co-founded 9others (est. 2011 and now a network of 4,000+ entrepreneurs in 47 cities) and the DMG Syndicate (est. 2016 with 68 investors and a portfolio of 8 startups) as well as holding a few other investments.
After working hard at university (twice) and loving my first job at an investment firm (2010–03) I wanted to work really, really hard but also have the chance of massive rewards. I didn’t like having a ‘boss’ (especially the ones I didn’t respect) — I realised that I wouldn’t ever be CEO of The Bank of New York or similar so it was up to me to take control! Life is (hopefully) very long and switching jobs for a slightly better salary every couple of years just had no meaning and wasn’t going to get me what I wanted. Working for myself I’m now able to think in decades — the 2010s was the decade of the entrepreneur and the 2020s will be the decade of the angel investor. I have no idea if it’ll work out but I love the journey I’m on and enjoy pretty much every day (and if it’s a bad day I enjoy it when I figure out why and what to do about it).
I like the risk and the decade-long puzzles I have to solve. It’s exciting — the risk is always there but as with many things that’s what makes life so interesting, challenging and rewarding.
The ASPIRE programme is designed for those who want to take the opportunity to redefine what work means to them by starting their own businesses, becoming an entrepreneur.
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