Money makers: A bright and early start

Faced with the challenge of getting published, Vicki Willden-Lebrecht started her own agency representing illustrators and writers of children’s books.


The Bright Group's Vicki Willden-Lebrecht
(Image credit: Copyright-Tom Stockill-All Rights Reserved. This image must not be syndicated or transferred to other systems or third parties, and storage or archiving is not permitted. Any unauthorised use)

"Vicki Willden-Lebrecht can point to the precise moment that she decided to one day start her own business," says Matthew Caines in The Daily Telegraph. "I asked for a photocopier when I was seven," remembers the agency founder, who as a youngster sold T-shirts to friends and set up a stall in her garden to sell accessories to passers-by. From a young age Willden-Lebrecht earned money, and the urge to start a business "came from my financial independence", she says.

After graduating from the University of Portsmouth with a degree in visual communications, she realised the difficulty in getting published without an agent. This led her to launch The Bright Group in 2003, an agency that represents illustrators and writers of children's books.

Initially unable to afford either a house or a headquarters, she rented a single-room office in London, where she laid down a mattress for the week nights while staying with her parents on weekends. Today the agency has two offices (in London and New York) and made a turnover of £5m last year.

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The A-level student taking on estate agents

Akshay Ruparelia from northeast London is a typical 19-year-old boy who completed his A-levels last year at a grammar school in Barnet. "He's also the millionaire managing director of online estate agent, the Uber' of the property world," says Rosie Fitzmaurice on Business Insider. Instead of the average 2%-3% commission most property agents apply to a sale which on an average London property equates to about £10,000 Doorsteps charges just £99. After only a year doing business, the company was recently valued at £12m.

Meanwhile, Ruparelia has raised around £400,000 with approximately 500 investors via Crowdcube in return for just over 3% of his business. He did his first deal through Doorsteps selling a five-bedroom detached house with a swimming pool while he was taking his A-levels.

A customer from East Sussex had stumbled across his website, so his sister's boyfriend drove him to the property (as he had neither a driving licence nor a car at the time) so he could take pictures of it. Within three weeks it sold for £500,000. Since that day, Doorsteps has taken on 1,500 houses and sold £120m worth of property.

How an immigrant became the richest man in Florida

Thomas Peterffy is the richest man in Florida, with a fortune of around $17.3bn, says Rob Wile in Time. He is a paid-up member of Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club, which charges a $200,000 joining fee. He is also the founder and chairman of Interactive Brokers, one of America's biggest online trading firms. Yet his beginnings could not have been more different.

Peterffy was born in a basement in Budapest in 1944 during an air raid. Eventually the country was taken over by communists, and Peterffy dreamed of escaping to America. He followed in his father's footsteps his father had already emigrated to New York and arrived in the city when he was barely out of his teens. When the firm he worked


How veganism became cool

Veganism is now big business, says Suzanne Bearne in The Guardian. Last year at least 542,000 Britons considered themselves vegan, up from around 150,000 a decade ago, says the Vegan Society. Thus vegan start-ups are sprouting up across the land. One such is Bosh!, a Facebook channel started by school friends Ian Theasby and Henry Firth, which has garnered close to 1.4 million "likes" and features videos of vegan recipes. "I think we've nailed the format," says Firth (right in our picture).

"We instantly had high-quality content and good recipes. But there's a growing tide of people interested in eating more plants, and not just vegans." Earlier this year, the duo secured a six-figure book deal with HarperCollins. Then there's Vegan Tuck Box, a company they started in 2013, that will send you vegan snacks from £9.50 a month.

It's a trend that has caused the dairy industry to break out in a cold sweat. One of the drivers of the trend towards veganism has been concerns over animal welfare. But animal cruelty isn't the decisive motivator, says Men's Health editor Toby Wiseman in The Sunday Times, a confessed carnivore, who struggled with a vegan diet for a week. "This is largely a millennial thing Based on my own admittedly imprecise research, I'd wager that a significant portion of these [vegans] live in east London Make no mistake, veganism is cool."

Rather it's concerns over health and the environment (ie, the amount of grain needed to raise cattle and the resulting "cow emissions") that have led to all the jackfruit recipes on social media. Judging by the popularity of eateries such as Temple of Hackney, a vegan "chicken shop" selling burgers made with seitan, a meat substitute, "dude food with a conscience" is here to stay.

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.

You can follow Chris on Instagram.