From 0 to 70 million, Chris Cole
The third speaker I will cover from last week’s “Business Start up” exhibition in London is Chris Cole.
For those of you who don’t know Chris. He is not the famous skater with the same name but skates (metaphorically speaking) through obstacles and problems of a completely different kind, in the business world. He founded Hydrogen, a recruitment company in 1997 and from 0 floated it at £70 million company 10 years later. Hence the title of his seminar which was “From 0 to £70 million in ten years”. Despite this staggering achievement he has not gained the recognition which he perhaps deserves. This was reflected in the beginning of the seminar when a couple of people in the front row (we, me and my friend, were seated behind in the second row) bluntly told him that they had come expecting to see “James Caan” (the famous entrepreneur on British TV’s “Dragons’ Den”). Chris was somewhat disconcerted by this but me and my friend said don’t worry we’ve come to see you. This is an important point to bear in mind, because regardless of how successful you become or how high you reach there will always be people with a not so positive attitude, something which of course someone like Chris, who is obviously experienced, probably knows.
After creating Hydrogen alongside others, Chris started his most recent company in 2007 which is called “Makeitcheaper.com”, which which aims to save businesses money by finding them the cheapest deals for services, equipment, deals that they need. Thus there was a move in to a completely different sector and industry from that of finding the right staff for companies to finding the cheapest deals for companies including SMEs (Small to Medium size Enterprises). This is something to note as certain entrepreneurs only stick to one sector which they know, whereas others are able to move on to a different field and succeed in it such as Britain’s famous, Richard Branson who has run companies in air travel, music and other industries.
Chris, like many other entrepreneurs I’ve heard in seminars, was down to earth as well, and spoke about his experiences including his setback when for instance he encountered problems with his business and had to end up selling his beloved Aston. He also spoke about the sacrifices required when wanting to be a successful business person, and this is a key ingredient that people must realize. There is no substitute for hard work and sacrifice. Another point which he made was that he personally didn’t really believe in a strict division between the “work/life” balance since in his eyes when we all die it was all part of the total experience which we call “life”. At the end of the seminar in his presentation he summarized some key points and also gave a list of books which he recommended for reading.
Makeitcheaper.com has come at the right time for many British businesses struggling to survive in the worst economic recession in recent history. The company made a profit of £2.37 million last year, in the middle of the recession, and will probably only grow from strength to strength. Can Chris equal the 0-£70 million in ten years he did with Hydrogen? Well it’s been 4 years, soon to be 5 since the start of Makeitcheaper.com so I think he and the rest of his team can do that in the remaining 5-6 years, as word will probably only spread, though we will have to wait and see. However whilst doing this they can have fun by helping struggling business owners to survive and provide for their families by saving much needed cash. Chris believes he has already saved businesses, £100 million each year.
Makeit cheaper’s website is www.makeitcheaper.com
– Jahan Choudhry