Advertisement

Money makers: Success on the bounce

When a twisted knee scuppered Greg Cox's plans to play rugby for Wasps, he set his sights on becoming a fintech entrepreneur.

887-Cox-634
Greg Cox: twist of fate

A twisted knee in 1999 put paid to Greg Cox's dreams of playing professional rugby for Wasps, says the BBC's Will Smale. After a brief stint as a bricklayer, Cox, now 36, began importing cars from mainland Europe, which were up to 20% cheaper than in Britain. Business boomed at his company, Coszt Imports, "despite the terrible name", says Cox.

Advertisement - Article continues below

But then, in 2001, the dotcom bubble burst, the pound fell and the business went bust. Licking his wounds, Cox moved to South Africa, and resumed importing cars to Britain. By 2008, Cox was back in the UK and investing in the fintech sector. Then, in early 2009, he got together with his friend and business partner, Paul Naden, and they launched Quint Group, with each investing £12,500.

The company owns several consumer finance websites, including online loans marketplace Monevo. Cox bought out Naden last year, and today, he owns 90% of Quint, and the business turns over £42m a year. While it hasn't all been plain sailing, "I think I have always been entrepreneurial", says Cox. "Focus on what you are good at, work relentlessly at it, make considered decisions, don't be too emotive, and with a bit of luck you'll have some success."

Food business slims down to grow profit

Ben Jackson left a well-paid job nine years ago to spend more time with his children, says James Hurley in The Times. "The hours were insane," says Jackson, 40. "I knew I had to set up my own business so I could control my own time." He started running Capsicana, a Latin American food company, from home, selling a broad range of products to independent shops. But it wasn't very profitable.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

"You think, I'll grow revenue by adding another product line'", says Jackson. "Before I knew it, I had 35 product lines to manage and the working capital was going the wrong way... I was working every hour I could and I couldn't see a way to grow."

So, he slimmed the line down to four cooking sauces and partnered with a big manufacturer. Amazon-owned Whole Foods began stocking the range, which led to deals with Waitrose and Sainsbury's. Capsicana is working towards turnover of £900,000 this year, and has raised £450,000 in investment, including from New Covent Garden Soup founder John Stapleton. Says Jackson: "Running a small business is about continuous improvement."

A digital textbook case of refusing to give up

Camilla Hessellund Lastein's first attempt to launch Lix, a platform for digital textbooks, ended in disaster, the 24-year-old Dane tells Hazel Sheffield in The Independent. She dropped out of university, took savings from a full-time office job, and part-time waitressing, and got a £20,000 bank loan. She invested it all into her idea and went bust within a year. The firm she had commissioned to build her first digital platform invoiced for all the cash she had, and left her with a PowerPoint presentation.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"They took advantage of me", says Hessellund Lastein. Her mother, an entrepreneur, told her to learn from it. She soon met her new co-founder, Kasper Krog. They assembled a team of developers and got Lix 2.0 off the ground. Three years on, Lix has raised $7.5m in funding. The platform hosts 7,000 publishers, including Pearson and McGraw-Hill. The media goes on about what young people are worth, says Hessellund Lastein, but "people don't understand how much work this takes".

887-NME-634
99523087

2018 Getty Images

No more inky fingers for music fans

"Nirvana. You probably barely recognise the name, but by the time this page is ink on your fingertips, Nirvana will have sold 1,000,000 copies of their new LP." That's how I opened a cover story I wrote for the NME, on 23 November 1991, says Mary Anne Hobbs in The New York Times. Alas, "there will be no more inky fingers for NME's readers". Last week, the New Musical Express, "Britain's most important music newspaper and a taste maker on both sides of the Atlantic", put out its last print edition after 66 years.

Advertisement - Article continues below

For decades, NME was a "cultural bible for teenagers and had clout that could propel rock, punk and indie bands into the charts with front cover features", say Nic Fildes and Federica Cocco in the Financial Times. But from the 1990s, its influence waned with the rise of online and specialist titles. Circulation fell to 15,000 a week; rivals Melody Maker and Sounds had already succumbed. Now, private-equity firm Epiris, which bought NME's parent company, media group Time, last month, for £130m, has decided to stop the presses.

The closure of the print edition of NME (it will continue online) "is the latest warning sign that the shift to digital media is threatening to kill the British love affair with print magazines", says Mark Sweney in The Guardian. Sales of the top 100 titles have fallen by 55% since 2000 to just 13.9 million. Similarly, print advertising will have fallen from £512m in 2010 to £250m by the year-end, and digital advertising is failing to fill the void. Music magazines, such as NME, have been driven online. Now they face a fight to exist even there.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/517964/dont-squeeze-our-entrepreneurs
Economy

Don’t squeeze our entrepreneurs with higher taxes

Britain’s entrepreneurs and business innovators get generous tax breaks. They should keep getting them.
17 Nov 2019
Visit/economy/small-business/601355/new-grants-for-the-self-employed
Small business

New grants for the self-employed

Self-employed workers can now apply for government support if their income has been affected by Covid-19.
22 May 2020
Visit/economy/entrepreneurs/601280/julian-hearn-taking-the-hassle-out-of-lunch
Entrepreneurs

Julian Hearn: taking the hassle out of lunch

Julian Hearn developed Huel as a "functional" food to replace meals for the time-poor.
13 May 2020
Visit/economy/entrepreneurs/601281/kate-daly-why-you-should-break-up-with-divorce-lawyers
Entrepreneurs

Kate Daly: why you should break up with divorce lawyers

After a particularly acrimonious and expensive divorce, Kate Daly quit her job to set up a service to help couples separate without rancour.
12 May 2020

Most Popular

Visit/economy/global-economy/601420/james-ferguson-the-virus-the-lockdown-and-what-comes-next
Global Economy

The MoneyWeek Podcast: James Ferguson on the virus, the lockdown, and what comes next

Merryn talks to MoneyWeek regular James Ferguson of Macrostrategy Partnership about what's happened so far with the virus; whether the lockdown was th…
28 May 2020
Visit/economy/uk-economy/601427/covid-bounce-back-loans-and-inflation
UK Economy

What bounce back loans can tell us about how we’ll pay for all this

The government will guarantee emergency "bounce back loans" for small businesses hit by Covid-19. Inevitably, many businesses will default. And there'…
1 Jun 2020
Visit/investments/stockmarkets/601423/as-full-lockdown-ends-what-are-the-risks-for-investors
Stockmarkets

As full lockdown ends, what are the risks for investors?

In the UK and elsewhere, people are gradually being let off the leash as the lockdown begins to end. John Stepek looks at what risks remain for invest…
29 May 2020