It’s all about being focused and being passionate about what you are doing, says one of the most successful British entrepreneurs, Brent Hoberman.
Professional and inspiring – the UK Trade and Investment event hosted at the British Ambassador’s Residence.
The idea of the event was to encourage entrepreneurs to start or continue to grow their business in the UK and to listen to one of the most successful British entrepreneurs, Brent Hoberman, UK Business Ambassador for Technology and Co-Founder of lastminute.com, made.com and Founders Forum.
I got a chance to have a chat with Hoberman before his presentation and learn more about his journey to success, opinions on technology and the key points in becoming successful yourself.
Brent is a British entrepreneur born on on 25 November, 1968. His journey began with a co-funding Lastminute.com, an online travel business.
“It was nice being paid to learn about the industry. It was my version of the MBA,” says Hoberman.
According to Brent, the business was shelved for two years because the idea was ahead of its time and wasn’t ready for the market. “If I were to raise investments back then, it would not have worked, there would have been no customers.”
During that time, Brent focused on other startups and then switched back to Lastminute.com when the environment caught up and there appeared more interest in travel.
Tech Savvy Mindset Matters
Since Lastminute was the first company that Hoberman founded, I wanted to know how hard it was to manage it. Surprisingly, he said that it was all about getting a co-founder. “Managing loads of people, money, budget, loads of things that I didn’t know about”, says Hoberman.
It became obvious that managing one big “army” is not a task for one man. That’s when he found a partner and together they made a business plan in a month.
Since Brent’s focus was on E-commerce and technology, I asked him whether or not technology is a necessary tool to become successful. “How much do you need to understand programming to be a great entrepreneur,” he replies.
Hoberman gave a presentation at the British Embassy in Helsinki that was followed by a fireside chat with Micke Paqvalén of Kiosked.
“As an entrepreneur, you should be able to know how to collect the team, manage and inspire. Technology is not necessary in gathering a successful team, but what’s important is how you attract people with technological mindset. Here comes the part where being technologically educated helps to understand and attract technologists to work in startups,” Hoberman continues.
Hoberman himself did some basic programming at the age of 13. He even says he wasn’t that great at it nor a mathematician – but he saw the potential in knowing it and got excited.
Brent owes a lot of his programming experience to MS Excel. Working with spreadsheets on a professional level contributed to his understanding of logic and techies.
But how to manage the tech savvy people? Hoberman wants to share some advice with us.
First, ask same question in multiple ways. Second, help them to communicate with each other. Third, make sure that you care. The last is the most important piece of advice. As long as your staff feels that you care and are involved into the process, you will be able to inspire them to work for you.
“Trend Is Your Friend”
It wouldn’t have been a proper interview, had there not been the cliché question of what has helped Hoberman become successful?
“When you are prepared to be unhinged and unbalanced, and so focused on that and nothing else in your life,” he says. That’s the first key to success.
Hiring smart people is the second key. Hoberman mentioned that it’s not really about people who know the industry but how adaptable they are. Third, when recruiting, ask a simple question: would I work for this person?
“Trend is your friend,” Brent adds. Not only that, but jumping early enough on that hype train and knowing where the world is going to.
Last but no least, if you did some research on Brent, you may be aware that he has been honoured with an OBE (Order of The British Empire), but he says it really didn’t play any role in his road to success:
“It’s all about being focused, passionate about what you are doing. Just keep going.”