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Simon Squibb is a multi-millionaire entrepreneur and angel investor. After being homeless at 15, he has gone on to found 19 businesses and invest in 76 companies to date. After selling his business to PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) he retired at 40 and is now on a mission to help 10 million people start their own businesses through the Purposeful Project. But it wasn’t a straight line to success, and one of those businesses, a comic book business, failed, losing $1.5 million. What went wrong? Listen to find out. If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
This is Secret Leader’s 200th episode! Over the last 5 years we've featured over 50 unicorn leaders and household names such as Monzo, Slack, Duolingo, Brewdog, In today’s episode host Dan Murray-Serter takes listeners through the interviews that have had the biggest impact on him. Guests include host of Diary of a CEO, entrepreneur, and angel investor, Steven Bartlett; Co-Founder of Little Moons Vivien Wong on how they went viral during the pandemic; Eve Sleep Kuba Wieczorek on what it cost being one of the fastest UK companies to IPO ever; and Jo Malone talking about how leaving her company after her recovery from cancer was the biggest mistake of her life.  Listen to the full episodes here: Steven Bartlett, host of ‘Diary of a CEO’ and entrepreneur  Lemonade Co-Founder Daniel Schreiber  Little Moons Co-Founder Vivien Wong Eve Sleep Co-Founder Kuba Wieczorek Fiverr Co-Founder Micha Kauffman  Trinny Woodall, Founder of Trinny London Jo Malone, Founder of Jo Malone innit :P Dan reflects on what those interviews have taught him: How to stay consistently true to your path and mission statement whilst not believing your own bullshit with Founder and Host of ‘Diary of a CEO’ Steven Bartlett How to redefine an archaic industry by tapping into consumer psychology with Lemonade Founder Daniel Schreiber  How to handle the challenges of surprise growth in hard times with Vivien Wong from Little Moons The pitfalls of hypergrowth when you put the scaling your business ahead of your mental health (everything can fall like a house of cards),with Eve Sleep’s Kuba Wieczorek How to avoid obsessing over the wrong things, with Fiverr Co-Founder Micha Kauffman  How to stay humble, be vulnerable and start again with Trinny Woodall How to build resilience and not be a victim of your greatest regrets, with Jo Malone    We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
In 2013 Emma set up strategic brand agency Hands Down in her spare bedroom, on her laptop, with just £1,000 in savings. She’d never run a business before and had been an employee for the past twenty years, since she was 18. Learning on the job, she put all her energy into growing the business over the next ten years. She had one goal in mind, to make £1 million a year. Despite the pandemic, the business was on set to reach this goal in 2022…but in July she decided to close Hands Down down.  What went wrong? Listen to find out what.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
John Hitchcox is the Chairman and Founder of Yoo Group, the property company behind the £1.3 billion pound regeneration of Olympia London and considered by many the global leader in the branded residence space.  John founded Yoo in 1999 with one of the world’s most famous designers, Philippe Starck. Together they have grown Yoo to where it is today, operating in over fifty cities and thirty countries worldwide.  John has been in the property market since the early eighties, when he was just 17. He’s had to bring a lot of confidence to be so successful but is honest about the challenges of being an entrepreneur. He has also ridden through multiple financial crises. With the market going bananas and uncertainty over interest rates and inflation going through the roof, it’s a good time to talk to someone who knows more than most.  What does he see in his crystal ball? And what happened when he tried to do his first property deal at the age of 14? Listen to find out. We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
This a new one for us - we've just launched our first true crime show at Kindling Media (we make Secret Leaders). It's called Bad Money and it's about the Hong Kong gangster, Big Spender. Obsessed with money, he went further than anyone before to get rich. In fact, he became so wealthy he could've had his own episode on Secret Leaders. This is a story of how money and power really work - and this is the first episode. You can listen to the rest of the show here: Or search for Bad Money wherever you listen to your pods. Hope you enjoy!
Konrad Bergström is the founder of Swedish electric boat manufacturer X Shore and Zound Industries, the Swedish tech giant that sells consumer electronics for Marshall Amplification and Adidas.  But before that, he was half a million euros in debt and living out of his car after his previous business, Megascine Agency, failed. Konrad set up the business which distributed brands like Quicksilver and Burton in Sweden in the late 90s. The company grew quickly and made a name for themselves, organising events such as the world’s largest indoor snowboarding competition and the first European edition of the World Cup in wakeboarding.  So what went wrong? Listen to find out what.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
Nikki Wicks is the CEO of The Body Coach and the older brother of Joe Wicks. Joe, aka The Body Coach, is a household name. He’s a fitness coach with a massive online following and the author of one of the best selling cookbooks of all time ‘Lean In 15’, having sold over a million copies in its first year alone.  During the pandemic Joe became known as the ‘Nation’s PE teacher’, delivering exercise sessions on YouTube for children every week. One class of PE with Joe was live-streamed by nearly a million people, earning him a place in the Guinness World Records.  Joe has his own personal brand, but The Body Coach is also a fast-growing business that Nikki has built, along with Joe, over the past seven years. Their YouTube channel has over 2.5 two and a half million subscribers and they hit over a million downloads on their app in their first year. They are booming. Nikki and Joe have a strong bond, formed during a difficult childhood during which their father struggled with a drug addiction. Nikki says he first heard the word ‘drugs’ when he was just five years old and tried to hide his father’s drug’s use from the rest of the family. When Joe asked Nikki to come back from working abroad in 2015 to help him build his business, Nikki says he was worried about working with his brother because of the warnings he’d heard about working with family but doesn’t regret his decision.  What is his advice for those that want to work with someone they are close to and how do they cope with such a fast-growing global business? Listen to find out.  We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
Kurt Davis has spent twenty years in Silicon Valley and Asia, working in venture capital and business development for technology startups, focusing on deals with companies like Apple, Microsoft, Spotify, and Sony.  But he experienced failure, with his very first business, a mobile game company. Kurt was living in Hong Kong in the early 2000s and from there he witnessed the beginning of a wave of innovation in China, especially in tech. Alibaba, Tencent, Baibu, all of them were launched around that time and were beginning to grow.  It was exciting and Kurt couldn’t resist the opportunity. He left his job and moved to Shanghai in 2003 to make it as an entrepreneur. He was really into football and hit upon the idea of starting an online fantasy football game app. At first it was going to be a website but, after realising they weren’t going to be able to monetise it very well, they then turned their attention to mobile phones. Remember this was 2003, so the early days of smartphones, before the iPhone. All of this was really new, but they did it! They got mobile phone carriers, like China Unicom, to sell their product and also spread into other countries in Asia.  So what went wrong? Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
Christian Angermayer is a German-born billionaire. He’s on the Sunday Times rich list, and has accumulated a lot of wealth from his work as an investor, film producer and founder. But Christian is about much more than money… From his family office, Apeiron Investment Group, he invests and starts companies in areas from psychedelics to fintech, cryptocurrency, biotech, and artificial intelligence. In fact, he’s been called the world’s first ‘psychedelic billionaire’. That might seem a bit strange given the fact he is basically a tee-totaler. He doesn’t smoke. He’s a Bavarian who’s never drunk beer! His biggest vice is tea and coffee.  He’s also really into longevity. He believes that within his lifetime, we will extend human lifespan to such an extent that we will voluntarily decide when we exit this life. And he’s committing some of his vast fortune to making that a reality.  He thinks deeply about how he has got to where he has and works hard to master his ego. Why does he think this is key to being a successful founder and investor?  Listen to find out. We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
Jonathan Anderson is the co-founder and CEO of Candu, a no-code platform that helps people build their own products. They are used by companies likeAdobe, Thought Industries, and Gorgias and have raised over five million dollars. But his first business wasn’t such a success. In 2011, when Jonathan was a student at Stanford University in a CleanTech programme, he came up with the idea for a smart thermostat controlled by your smartphone with a couple of his fellow students. The problem they’d identified was that programmable thermostats at the time were really hard to use meaning customers just didn’t do it.  It was early days for the smartphone but also exciting times. They realised they could use the GPS on customer’s smartphones to say when they were coming in and out of their homes, making heating much more efficient. After securing twenty thousand pounds with convertible note financing, they worked with a Chinese supplier to build a prototype. They were pumped to be at the forefront of the revolution in household technology But they’d made a fundamental mistake. Listen to find out what.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
If you’re not one of their 500 million users, Duolingo is a phenomenally successful app where you practise a language in small chunks every day. Launched in 2012, it has become the number one language learning app and the most downloaded education app in the world. The company floated in 2021 and currently has a market cap of just under 4 billion dollars.  It’s rare for a founder to be brilliant at both invention and business but Luis Von Ahn, the Co-Founder and CEO of Duolingo, is one of them. Before Duolingo, he invented Captcha - those squiggly letters you have to write out to prove you’re not a computer. The guy’s a genius, and that’s a fact. He actually won an award for being one in 2006, the prestigious Macarthur Fellows Program award. It’s colloquially known as the genius grant, because it’s said you have to be one to get it.  Luis grew up in a single parent household in Guatemala. His mother spent all the money she could sending him to the best school she could afford. This experience, of seeing the difference between those who receive a good education and those who don’t, would later form the basis of Duolingo. But when Luis and his Co-Founder Severin started Duolingo in 2012 they had a big problem - how could they keep their users coming back? Listen to find out.  Show notes: (01:50) - The beginning of Duolingo (08:40) - Getting first interested in computers at 8 years old.  (11:15) - Inventing CAPTCHA (16:00) - Selling reCAPTCHA to Google  (19:45) - How he handled suddenly becoming very rich  (23:30) - The key things they did right with Duolingo in the early days (25:25) - How they got their users to stay motivated (29:00) - Working out how to teach Gen Z (33:00) - Why he doesn’t see Google Translate as a competitor (35:40) - Using crowdsourcing as a tool to grow the business (40:35) - His advice for other entrepreneurs We'd love your feedback Sponsor links: (get 20% off with code secret)
Jay Radia has built three businesses worth over half a billion pounds and currently runs an accelerator focusing on increasing happiness in the workplace.  But before all that, he founded a company called Mobi RF, which failed. The idea behind the company was to allow anyone with a smartphone to start selling their photos to businesses, like iStock or Getty Images for your smartphone.  Jay had this spark of inspiration back in 2012 when Instagram was taking off and everyone was taking more and more photos on their phone. His confidence skyrocketed when he spoke to the Founder of iStock who told him the idea was incredible and that he wished he’d thought of it. He quit his six-figure job in finance and bootstrapped the company with his brother. What went wrong? Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links: If you want to hear more from Jay, he's got his own podcast 'Happy Millionaire'.
Before Mark Joseph founded his current marketing agency, Vouch Global, he experienced failure with another agency called Testify Digital. Their clients included brands like Universal, Wonderbra, Shock Absorber and Lenovo. He loved the projects they came up with, including the world’s first award judged on social media for the Mobo Awards. They got to £1m in revenue and Mark ran the company for five years before he reached the point where he felt he had to walk away.  So, what went wrong? Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
Gareth Atkinson launched the Yorkshire Meatball Company in 2014 with his father after they recognised a gap in the market for a premium meatball product. They opened a restaurant in Harrogate, won awards, were listed as one of the UK’s top 100 startups, and ended up being stocked in 300 supermarkets across the country. Like all good entrepreneurs, they’d even built a brand that had the potential and scope to stretch into other markets. So what went wrong? Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
How do you build a metaverse?  Long before Facebook changed to Meta, Improbable, a British game and technology company, was working on the idea of a kind of metaverse, even if they didn’t call it that. Now, they are at the forefront of making virtual worlds (where you can go to work, socialise, have experiences) a reality.  Improbable was born in 2012 after Herman Narula met Co-Founder Rob Whitehead whilst they were both studying computer science at Cambridge University. They had a dream: they loved computer games and wanted to go live there. They spent over a decade working on how to do that and became a unicorn without anyone really knowing what they did. But it’s not all about entertainment, they also have another side of their business that has applications in defence and public policy. They build models of real world countries which can be used to solve a whole host of problems; from what would happen if a particular response to coronavirus is implemented, to how climate change might require the electrification of a grid.  Herman is obviously a key part of the company’s success but he doesn’t want it to be all about him and warns against falling into the trap of the cult of personality such as that of Elon Musk. Instead, he says, if you are building an ambitious company, you need to be able to be open to failure and understand your limitations. And, he says, they have made many mistakes over the past decade but they were lucky because they were funded at a time when people could invest in technology companies that didn’t have a business model.  Listen to find out why young tech companies that are looking to grow now shouldn’t expect the same luck; how virtual worlds will change the way we live our lives entirely; and why he says that the era of consolidated monopolies, such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, may be coming to an end.  We'd love your feedback Sponsor links:
Would you fight for your business even after you’d put it into administration?  Radha Vyas co-founded Flash Pack, an adventure holiday company, with her husband Lee, after realising there was an untapped market for solo entrepreneurs in their thirties and forties.  They slowly built their company and were just entering an exciting first fundraising round when the pandemic hit, decimating their company and the entire travel industry. They had to put the company into administration but then were offered a ray of hope which meant they might be able to get their business back. What happened next? Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
You want to launch a new product. But how do you decide on exactly what you’re going to develop? How do you build a community when you don’t have anything to sell them? How do you test demand? These are important questions that Dan Murray-Serter, the usual host of Secret Leaders, will be answering this week. This is the fourth chapter in our semi-regular series with Dan where we put him in the hot seat. If you haven’t listened to the previous three it’s worth doing that now because you’ll understand more about what he talks about in this episode.  Dan is a founder himself. His day job is running his VC-backed company Heights. For this episode we are going back to the beginning of Heights. Well, actually, before the beginning, because whilst Heights is now a braincare supplement company, it didn’t start out as one.  After the failure of their previous company in 2018, Dan and his co-founder Joel decided they wanted to focus on building a consumer goods company in the mental health field. They knew where they were pointing roughly and they were in the rare situation where they had money left over from their previous business, essentially their seed money. But how do you get from there to a product that people love? Listen to find out. Here are all of Dan’s episodes so far: Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 We'd love your feedback Sponsor links:
Do you struggle to maintain good relationships with your employees?  Hayden Bloomfield managed to grow his grounds maintenance company during the pandemic. At its height, it had a team of ten and was turning over £25,000 - £30,000 a month. But during a period of two years, Hayden went through thirty members of staff. He couldn’t focus on building the big picture because he regularly had to cover some staff not turning up for work. Why couldn’t he stop his staff from leaving?  Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links: If you want to know more about Hayden's failures, check out his podcast, Benevolent Business.
Micha Kaufman is the Co-Founder and CEO of Fiverr, the global online marketplace for freelancers. Let’s say you’re a designer. You can list your services and display your portfolio. And then companies who want stuff designed like a new website can find you and hire you to do the work. It's called Fiverr because at the beginning all the tasks cost 5 dollars. Though the pricing has changed, the name has stayed and the platform is currently used by 4.2 million customers in 160 countries worldwide. The company launched in 2010 but Micha was committed to growing it organically so spent nothing on marketing for the first five or six years.  And that is even more incredible when you think that Fiverr, which went public in 2019, has a current market cap of just under 1.4 billion dollars and revenue of over 160 million dollars this year so far. Micha says it’s three times larger than it was when it floated. But during the pandemic, they skyrocketed to a market cap of 11 billion dollars….yeah, we get into that period! As well as that, Micha tells me how being featured on Yahoo nearly ended Fiverr when it first launched; why he says their success is down to luck, and much more. We'd love your feedback Sponsor links:
Would you go into business with a friend?  Jo Fisher is the Founder and CEO of Footlights, a performing arts company, which has 17 franchises and works with schools across the north of England.  She got into business at a ridiculously young age. As a young child she used to sit in the entrance to her house and sell items her neighbours no longer wanted to make money for sweets. She left school at 14 to work full-time and launched her first business, an underwear business, when she was just 18. When it started to grow she decided to bring in her best friend as a partner…and that’s when things started to go wrong.  What happened? Listen to find out.  If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it. What would make the show better?  Sponsor links:
Comments (6)

Mobile Accessibility


Dec 20th



Dec 9th

John Davies

Is Graham not the nicest guy... Ever!

Mar 9th
Reply (1)

Vignesh Subramani

Awesome Dato

Apr 29th
Reply (1)
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