After designing a website for a family friend for £50, Ben balanced schoolwork with managing a growing web design business. Facing some unusual challenges, such as his children’s bank account being frozen because of the number and size of transactions going through, and having to study for exams and fire a member of staff for not responding to clients, Ben was running a fully-fledged SME with a team of 26 before he was 18. Working on campaigns for companies including QuickBooks, Pot Noodle, Champneys and Virgin, he had to decide between focusing on his business or taking his A Levels. Ben compromised and became the first person to employ themselves as an apprentice in his own business - which meant having an employee review his work.
After leaving the agency, Ben became an advisor and Communications Director at pharmaceutical giant GSK, a mentor to new entrepreneurs, and an investor in a range of startups. He topped The Times’ global Super Teen Power List, and was an advisor on the CBBC series Pocket Money Pitch (a Dragons’ Den for young entrepreneurs). Ben is an advisor to the Royal Family, supporting digital initiatives and entrepreneurship programs. He was also appointed by the UK Government to lead on the Innovation and Entrepreneurship review and strategy with the Department for Business.
Ben’s latest venture is Tahora.com, a global culture and wellbeing platform that aims to improve work through a focus on inclusivity, engagement and employee happiness. The project brings together Ben’s passion for business, support for mental health awareness, and his drive to use technology for positive change and to connect people.
Alongside his unusual entrepreneurial story, Ben also speaks about the wider world of technology from the view of someone who has effectively known little else. Frequently, his youth (he’s 25 days older than Google) has provided him with a keen insight into what’s new, what’s fading from popularity, and who’s doing what on which platform. He can bring together the complexities of business and commercial decisions with the demands and expectations of a new generation of employees and consumers, predicting new opportunities and potential challenges.
Tech for Good
Ben’s ability to find innovative solutions around a problem has led to him advising Governments across the world, Corporates like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and supporting some of the world’s fastest-growing start-ups. Alongside this Ben is a regular investor in tech-for-good businesses that are on a mission to change lives.
The Key Traits Of An Entrepreneur
• Visionary – The first thing is you need a vision. You need a north star, something to focus on and align your hearts to achieve. For me now it is mental wellbeing and building community amongst people, for you it could be solving a big data problem using Oracle’s technology.
• Passion – starting from a young age, working in between school time and in the evening because I was passionate about what I was building.
• Resilience – the world dislikes innovators, the people who go against the norm, for me being a young entrepreneur I was always breaking the norm with my age, business success, client campaigns, and innovation.
• Agile – we talk about being agile so much at corporates but in the fast-paced ever-developing world we live in this is now more important than ever. Being able to pivot and change as the world adapts is vital to sustainable business innovation. An example of this is me having to pivot my business this year due to Covid-19.