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Money makers: Taking film to the skies

Matthew Cottle Jr and Nick Frow are taking cinema to whole new heights with their Rooftop Film Club.

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Matthew Cottle Jr and Nick Frow: taking cinema to new heights

"Gerry Cottle Jr wants to take cinema to new heights and quite literally, with his al fresco film company specialising in screening flicks at high altitude," says Matthew Caines in The Daily Telegraph. "From East London pub roofs to hotel terraces in Times Square, his business, Rooftop Film Club, is about offering an alternative to the stale multiplex experience."

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Rooftop Film Club is "made for the Instagram generation", says Cottle. Visitors can snap a group selfie in front of the big screen, with a setting sun behind them, before settling down with prosecco and popcorn to watch Star Wars beneath the stars. People love the concept, he says.

Cottle worked as a trapeze artist for his father's circus before moving to London to work in marketing, but he spent his spare time making his cinema dreams a reality. He discovered an old rooftop in trendy Shoreditch, east London, at the Queen of Hoxton bar, thinking that it could work as a venue for "screening cult, classic and new releases".

The owners loved the idea, and the first screening was held in 2011. His school friend and former city banker Nick Frow joined the venture in 2012 (Frow is on the left in our picture). The business turned over £3.2m last year, and has since grown to four venues in London. Cottle's advice to small business owners is to live by the "don't ask, don't get" adage: "have the nerve to approach the big companies".

An FX trader with fighting spirit

Paresh Davdra's family fled Uganda in 1972 when dictator Idi Amin gave the Asian population 90 days to leave, says the BBC's Suzanne Bearne. "Their fighting spirit rubbed off on the younger Davdra." "We were never really given anything," he says. "If I wanted something, I had to earn it." When he graduated in 2003, Davdra joined his dad's company as a foreign-exchange dealer, where he met Indian-born Rajesh Agrawal now the deputy mayor of London for business.

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Together they amassed £32,000, and launched their foreign-exchange brokerage, RationalFX, in 2005. It reported revenues of £1.3bn in 2016, up from £1.1bn the year before, and pre-tax profits of £2.3m. Xendpay, their latest venture, is "more of a social initiative to try and bring the costs of remittance down for people working hard to bring their families out of poverty, says Davdra. It runs on a "pay what you want" model, but a 0.3%-0.4% commission is suggested. Seven out of ten customers choose to pay it, while 10% pay more.

China's latest unicorn

"I could feel Chinese society changing around me," Mao Daqing tells Yuan Yang in the Financial Times. The start-up boom and surging technology sector was taking hold in China, so, in 2015, aged 46, Mao resigned as vice-president of Vanke, the country's then most valuable property company, to set up UrWork, fearing that "in the blink of an eye I could be 50", he says, without ever having tested himself as an entrepreneur.

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Within two years, UrWork, which renovates old buildings into office space, and leases them to small businesses, has become the first "unicorn" in China's co-working sector, claiming to be worth about $1.2bn. It has leased 100 locations in 30 cities worldwide and opened its first offices in LA last month.

The celebrations were spoilt by US-based WeWork's court claims of trademark infringement. Nevertheless, UrWork has raised Rmb2bn (£230m) from investors and Mao has his sights high, saying he wants to be as big as Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, China's richest man.

Rees-Mogg's mixed record

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Tory MP that some are touting as future leader, is relaxed about Brexit, says Tim Adams in The Observer. Brexit is a defining moment for our nation, and leaving the EU will not be nearly as hard as it looks, he says. Remainers are being "Eeyorish". But then, the 48-year-old Tory has a history of putting a positively Tiggerish spin on things. His past career as a fund manager is a case in point.

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From 2003 to 2007, he ran the Lloyd George Emerging Markets Equity Fund, started by run by Robert Lloyd George, the great-grandson of the Liberal prime minister. During that time, Rees-Mogg boasted he grew assets under management from "a mere £50m to £5bn". Yet the fund's performance trailed the benchmark MSCI Emerging Market Index in four of those five years, says Alan Livsey in the Financial Times.

He was "a conservative, careful investor", said Samir Mehta, a former colleague from Rees-Mogg's Hong Kong days in the 1990s. But analyst Damian Barry told the paper the consistent underperformance "suggests some poor stock selection". One holding, Walmart de Mexico, halved during 2006. While Lloyd George had seen the market correction coming, the fund admitted to investors that year it had "lost ground, because we were not aggressive enough in our repositioning".

In 2007, Rees-Mogg left Lloyd George to set up Somerset Capital Management, stepping down as chief executive when he was elected to parliament. "In his absence, Somerset has blossomed", says the Financial Times. As a partner in the firm, Rees-Mogg still receives an average of £11,730 a month. A portion of those profits will ultimately have come from Somerset's £5m stake in Kalbe Farma, an Indonesian firm that makes abortion drugs, opening up Rees-Mogg, a devout Catholic, to the charge of hypocrisy. "It would be wrong to pretend that I like it," he told the Sunday Mirror. "But the world is not always what you want it to be."

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