When Jo Malone was 15, a teacher told hershe would never amount to anything.She had dyslexia, a conditionlargely misunderstood at the time,says Carmine Gallo on Forbes.com. Yet, at an early age Malonediscovered she had an acutesense of smell while helpingher mother mix creams and fragrances for a skincare clinic.Malone memorised everyingredient by smell. So afterdropping out of school in 1988,she started her own fragrancebrand. With four plastic jugsand two saucepans, she beganmixing skin creams for 12clients. "A scent she inventedcalled Lime Basil & Mandarinput her on the map."
In 2006 Malone sold hereponymous business to EsteLauder for "many millions" butas part of the deal, she agreed toleave the fragrance industry for fiveyears, which she regretted, as "thehunger and spirit" never left her.With her exile at an end, Malonelaunched Jo Loves, and got backto what she loved doing: "mixingand matching scents". "Followyour heart," Malone advises in herautobiography. "If you wake up eachmorning with a drive rooted in thepassion of what you do, rather thana passion for the money you canmake, you're on a wise path."
Rest in peace in a Bio Urn
While planting vegetables with his grandmother as a child near their family home in La Seu d'Urgell in the Catalan Pyrenees, Gerard Molin came across a dead bird. His grandmother dug a hole and buried the bird with a handful of seeds. The idea of planting bodies with seeds, a symbol of life, took root in Gerard Molin's mind, says Hazel Sheffield in The Independent. Years later while studying product design, he sketched out an idea that became the Bios Urn.
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The urn arrives by post as a cardboard tube with two cones: one for holding the ashes of a loved one, and the other containing a soil mix and seeds. The ashes are decanted into the bottom cone, and the two parts planted together. Since 2012, Gerard and his brother, Roger, have sold over 100,000 Bios Urns from Barcelona. For those without land, the duo raised €73,671 last year through crowdfunding to develop the Bios Incube a sort of high-tech plant pot, which allows families to keep the plant near them and monitor its progress using an app.
The Molins' grandmother never lived to see the urn she accidentally inspired "which may be a good thing". "She was really Catholic," says Roger. "She wouldn't approve of the idea of scattering ashes in the mountains, let alone using the urn!"
The sabbatical that spawned a £250m idea
Edward Wray, the son of a stockbroker, took a master's degree in engineering, economics and management at Oxford before he "sold out" and went into banking, says Kiki Loizou in The Sunday Times. "I loved it," Wray admits. But while on sabbatical in 1999, he met Andrew Black: a professional gambler, former IT contractor for the Ministry of Defence, equities trader in New York, and golf caddy. Between high-stakes games of bridge, Black was writing a computer program to calculate football odds, says Loizou.
That's when he mentioned to Wray the idea of an online betting exchange, "where punters would be able to trade the price they would pay to, say, bet on the favourite in the 2:40 at Newmarket, just as they would shares in BP or Vodafone". The pair raised £1m through friends and family and launched Betfair. The firm listed on the stockmarket in 2010, and a merger with bookmaker Paddy Power left Wray with a personal fortune of around £250m. In 2012 he left Betfair to become an angel investor. "I haven't missed it," he says. "A great business should outlive the founders."
The entrepreneurs showing that it pays to start young
Katie Mortimer was 13 when, three years ago, she signed up to Depop, an online shopping app launched in 2012 to give children their own trading platform. Since then she has made £31,000 in profits from selling clothes and accessories bought from Chinese wholesalers to girls mainly of her own age, with mark-ups of up to 250%. "I decide how much to sell the item for by thinking how much I would pay and how much I think other people would pay for it. I then check that I'm making a decent profit," she tells The Daily Telegraph's Amelia Murray. It doesn't always go to plan, Mortimer admits: "I think I've still got about 100 iPhone 4 cases, which I don't think I'm ever going to shift."
Rob Knowles, an 18-year-old from London, left school last year "feeling confident, full of passion, and hungry", says Alison Coleman on Forbes.com. Having read of the successes of tech entrepreneurs not much older than himself, Knowles developed Twitgage, an extension on the Google Chrome internet browser that allows companies to better gauge how successful they are on social-media site Twitter. Now he's launching Yellora Media, a creative agency to give young people a platform from which to be heard by big brands. "Doing things differently generates new ways of thinking, which in turn creates fresh ideas," he says. "This is great for brands that want to tap into young people's wants and needs."
Nathan John-Baptiste, 15, reckons he turned over around £25,000 by running an illicit tuck shop from the boys' toilets before he was "busted" by his north London school. Dubbed the Wolf of Walthamstow by the press, John-Baptistetold The Sun, "No one has done what I have. Others have sold sweets, I've created an empire." You can see the confident young man he's become, Colin James, the head of Gangs Unite, an organisation that helps children with behavioural problems, who has been mentoring John-Baptiste for three years, told The Independent. "A lot of young people are in awkward positions, [or] in gangs If they can use this story and try and become entrepreneurs, that's great."
Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.
Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.
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