Daniel Szor’s friends thought he was having a mid-life crisis when the former hedge-fund manager set up his whisky distillery in the Cotswolds three years ago, says Laura Onita in The Sunday Times. But “I’ve always been a whisky nerd”, admits the 54-year-old. Building a distillery from scratch is not cheap. Szor used his £1m savings,and borrowed £500,000 from friends and family to buy the stills and kit out the distillery. Yet he still “didn’t have enough money to see the whole thing through”.
So Szor created a founders’ circle in which members received shares and a barrel of whisky in return for a minimum £50,000 investment. So far he has raised £4.6m from backers and through crowdfunding. Szor’s first whisky will be released in the autumn, but the 2,500 bottles that were made available for pre-sale at £44.95 have already sold out. Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Harrods will stock it from November. It usually takes around eight years for a whisky business to break even, says Onita, but tours and a sideline production in gins and liqueurs (which, unlike single malt, do not require ageing) have kept the money flowing in. The Cotswolds Distillery is already in profit.
Music mogul with a genius for talent-spotting
Music mogul Jimmy Iovine declined to follow his father into a safe career working on the docks, says Matthew Garrahan in the FT. Instead, he earned a reputation for “spotting winners” by producing albums for the likes of John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith. In 1981, Iovine (pictured) produced his then-girlfriend Stevie Nick’s first solo album outside Fleetwood Mac, before co-founding Interscope Records eight years later with Ted Field, heir to the Marshall Field retail empire. But it wasn’t until 1991 that Iovine’s “gigantic moment” came – the year he met rapper Dr Dre.
“I didn’t know a lot about hip-hop but I sure as hell knew my speakers and what was coming out of those speakers was unprecedented,” he says. “It was like hearing Phil Spector for the first time.” Interscope and Dre’s Death Row Records began working together. In 2006 Iovine hit upon a brainwave when Dre’s lawyer called to pitch a fashion-endorsement deal. “Not sneakers. Speakers,” Iovine told Dre, and they came up with the name Beats. Since then, more than 60 million of the “edgy, cool” headphones have been sold. Even Apple couldn’t resist. In 2014 the tech giant snapped up the brand for $3bn.
Burst bubble’s a boon for Japan’s Poundland
Decades of stagnant wages and a sputtering economy proved a boon for Daiso Sangyo, the self-described “Japanese shopping wonderland”, says Venus Feng and Grace Huang in Bloomberg Markets. After graduating from Chuo University in Tokyo, Hirotake Yano drifted between jobs before he started hawking goods from the back of his truck in 1972. To save time attaching price labels, he decided to sell everything for a flat ¥100.
Five years later, Yano incorporated Daiso and opened his first ¥100 shop (the equivalent of Poundland) in 1991, a couple of years after the Japanese economic bubble burst, prompting “a profound change in consumer culture”, Pascal Martin, partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants, tells Bloomberg.
Since 1999 revenue has grown from ¥81.1bn to ¥420bn (£2.9bn) for the year to the end of March. Daiso is now the biggest player in a market worth ¥600bn (£4.1bn) a year. It operates 3,150 outlets in Japan and 1,800 overseas, selling everything from mannequin heads to “chair socks”. Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index pegs Yano’s net worth at $1.9bn.
The lucrative world of the super tutor
School’s out for summer, says Guy Kelly in The Daily Telegraph, but for the offspring of high-rollers, the home-tutoring season is just about to begin. Last month, London-based Tutor House launched a new package for a “residential tutor” for up to ten weeks. The starting price is £1,500 per week for 30 hours of tuition – a sum unlikely to trouble rich, pushy parents.
Ninety-seven per cent of customers on Tutors International ticked the “money no object” box on the British agency’s website, founded by Adam Caller in 1999. Prices start at £8,000 a month, rising to £20,000. But the life of these “super tutors” isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. “We’ve got one tutor… with a family for an entire year on a 70ft yacht,” Caller tells Kelly. But they have tough parents to please. “It’s not going to feel like much luxury for anyone.”
Tutors International saw more interest on its website last month than in the whole of 2016. That might have something to do with the introduction of supposedly “tutor-proof tests” across Britain. Devised by academics at Durham University, these exams are meant to be harder to prepare for, says Nicola Woolcock in The Times. But tutors love tutor-proof tests, because they are actually “much easier to tutor”, Mark Maclaine, co-founder of agency Tutorfair, told Helen Rumbelow in the same paper last October.
Still, much of the demand for super tutors still comes from abroad. “Royal families, rulers of countries, are very, very keen that their kids get some form of education in Britain,” Maclaine tells the BBC’s Katie Hope. It’s an export industry that was worth some £17.5bn in 2011, according to government figures. Often Maclaine offers his services online. But when he’s offered a “stupid amount of money”, he’ll agree to fly out. “I’m a human being,” he says. “I’ve got a mortgage to pay.”