Money makers: A natural alternative to the pill

Fresh from finding the Higgs boson particle, nuclear physicist Elina Berglund Scherwitzl turned her attention to birth control.


Elina Berglund Scherwitzl came up with a novel form of birth control

Fresh from finding the elusive Higgs bosonparticle in 2012 while working at Cern,the Geneva-based nuclear-researchorganisation, Elina Berglund Scherwitzl,from Sweden, decided to start her ownbusiness with her Austrian and fellowphysicist husband Raoul, says theBBC's Maddy Savage. Their idea wasan app for measuring fertility, basedon body temperature readings. "Itwas in my quest for an effectivenatural alternative [to hormonalcontraception] that I discoveredyou can see when you're fertileby your temperature, and for methat was really a revelation," shesays.

Launched in 2014 in Stockholm,Natural Cycles, which is certifiedin the EU, has 300,000 usersin 160 countries, who pay amonthly fee, or a yearly one of£50, which includes the cost ofthe thermometer. The businesshas raised $8m in fundingand, so far, sales have totalledmore than $6m. The pair hopeto increase the number ofthe app's users in developingcountries where religion isoften a barrier. "Now is reallythe time to grow and reach allthese women in the world," saysElina. "Every pregnancy shouldbring happiness."

Angling for profits

In 1986, keen anglers Martyn Page, now 62, and William Hill opened their first small fishing-tackle shop. But they were in for a rude awakening, says Laura Onita in The Sunday Times. By the end of their first day, they had sold just £20 worth of stock.

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The pair, who met while working for an accountancy firm, decided to target affluent anglers. Back then, "you went to a dark and dingy shop and it never had the things you wanted", says Page, who had been making his own fishing kits since the late 1960s. As profits trickled in, Page and Hill snapped up two nearby shops and, in 1996, they opened Britain's first fishing-tackle superstore.

Today there are 15 Angling Direct shops in the UK, generating pre-tax profits of £660,000 on sales of £21m. Three new shops are due to open in the autumn, catering to a £570m market in Britain. Last month, the business, which employs 170 staff, cast its line into London's junior market, netting a market value of almost £40m. When starting out, "don't be afraid to ask for help", says Page. "Running your own business can be a lonely place."

The Middle East's Uber

Mudassir Sheikha is a 39-year-old Stanford-educated Pakistani with an engineer's obsession for optimising everything, says Parmy Olson in Forbes. Together with Magnus Olsson, an Arabic-speaking Swede he met while working at consultancy McKinsey, Sheikha hopes to turn their car ride-hailing app, Careem, into "the biggest mover of humans and things in the Middle East".

In five years, they have won ten million registered users in 60 cities across 11 countries. Some 250,000 contractor drivers work for Careem, and the number of journeys has risen by 25% a month for the past two years. Annual revenue is in the "hundreds of millions" of dollars, and profits are expected in a year or two. A thorough knowledge of the local culture, geography and infrastructure ("or lack of it") has helped keep Uber at bay, which arrived late to the region.

Based in a Dubai tax-free business hub, and the first Middle Eastern ride-share start-up to reach a $1bn valuation, Careem is a "unicamel", quips Sheikha, adding, "we are just building to last"... and inshallah [God willing] this is going to be around for many decades and centuries to come".

The midlifers setting out on a new adventure

If you thought starting up businesses was best left to the young, think again. "Midlifers" are "setting up businesses faster than any other age group and employ nearly ten million people", says Suzanne Mountain in The Guardian "almost two million more than the under-50s". Often faced with discrimination at work, or "disillusioned with the culture of large organisations", many choose to take the redundancy money when offered and run "not to the jobcentre or an online job board, but to their spare bedroom, to create the lifestyle they want".

After all, says Mountain, you probably have "significant" industry knowledge, a large network of contacts, the ability to raise funds faster, a better awareness of work/life balance, and the perspective to see beyond the money. Indeed, says Cardiff Garcia on the FT's Alphaville blog: "return the Corvette, stop eating voguish green grotesqueries, ignore the creeping existential dread. You've got a company to found and your banal midlife crisis will have to wait."

The average age of entrepreneurs in the US between 2007 and 2014 was 41.9 years, according to an upcoming paper from America's National Bureau of Economic Research. For the most successful firms, the age rises to 45.0. So why the enduring perception that "great entrepreneurs must be found only among the young, hungry and restless" asks Garcia. The paper's author suspects the blame lies with venture capitalists and the tech-orientated press.

John Treharne, the 63-year-old founder of The Gym Group, is a case in point. Almost a decade ago, the former England squash player raised capital from private backers for his first "budget" gym in Hounslow, west London. "The opening was an absolute stonker," he tells Joanna Bourke in the Evening Standard. The Gym Group notched up sales of £73.5m last year, a 23% rise on 2015, and its 100th gym is about to open. Treharne says he aims to open one gym close to every Underground station, of which there are 270, notes Bourke. "There's a major workout in store."

Chris Carter

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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