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A Look at Some of UK's Most Famous Business Angels
Over the years, the UK has seen some prolific business angels investing in diverse businesses across the nation, and in this article, we look at some of them.
One of UK’s most famous business angels, Duncan Bannatyne holds varied interests in areas such as Health Clubs, Hotels, Media, TV, Stage Schools, Property and Transport. His popularity as a business angel even led to his portrayal as one, on BBC’s television series, Dragon’s Den.
Bannatyne’s story is pretty much one of rags to riches, whereby from a stage where his family could not even afford to partake him with a bicycle when he wanted one, his current personal net worth is estimated to be about £320 million, making him the 167th richest person in the United Kingdom.
While Bannatyne spent a few of his initial formative years in the Royal Navy which he got quickly disillusioned with, and even managed to receive dishonourable discharge for throwing an officer off a boat landing jetty in Scotland, his twenties saw him move ala a maverick, from one job to another. Eventually though, he found his true calling in the form of diverse businesses which he set up, managed and ran before selling out – only to set up another business. His first business was that of an ice cream van which he bought for £450, soon managed to expand the business by buying more vans, and eventually sold the business for as much as £28,000, only to start a nursing home business this time. Currently, he has been making major inroads in to the Health Clubs business and has in fact managed to take his Bannatyne’s Health Clubs right to the top, as the largest independent chain of Health Clubs in the United Kingdom.
Also one of the dragons on BBC’s Dragon’s Den, Meaden is best known for being a British business woman who first ran a multi-million pound holiday business for her parents, and then even bought it out from them! The company in question was Weststar Holidays, which was in the business of building caravan holiday homes, lodges, bungalows and even had more than 1,000 camping pitches. After the retirement of her parents, she became the Managing Director of the company, and subsequently acquired the major shareholding in a management buyout, thus effectively buying out the company from her own parents. Eventually though, she sold the company to Phoenix Equity Partners in a deal worth £33 million whilst retaining a 23% stake. Later in August 2007, Meaden sold her remaining stake in Weststar Holidays to Alchemy Partners for £83m, thus valuing her stake at about £19m. Today, Meaden’s personal net worth is estimated at £40m.
Simon Woodroffe is the owner and proprietor of the sushi chain, YO! Sushi which he launched in 1997. The USP of the chain is the usage of a Japanese style conveyor belt method of delivering sushi to customers. Located essentially in the United Kingdom with the majority of outlets in and around London, Woodroffe has since managed to take his chain to places around the world, including the Middle East in Dubai, Bahrain and Kuwait as well as in Malaysia, Russia and Ireland.
Today, Woodroffe spends a large part of his time as a motivational speaker and entrepreneur, looking for exciting business opportunities. He retains only a 22% stake in YO! Sushi, having sold his controlling interest in September 2003, in a deal worth £10m, which was backed by private equity firm Primary Capital. He has also managed to the extend the YO! Company’s interests into diverse areas such as RadiYO! – a series of radio shows about business, YO! Zone – spa and health club, as well as YO! Home – which are modern style city centre apartments.
Trevor Baylis is a renowned English inventor and artisan entrepreneur, best known for inventing the wind-up radio, as a response to the need to communicate information about AIDS to the people of Africa. Currently, Baylis devotes a large part of his time to running Trevor Baylis Brands plc, which is a company dedicated to helping inventors develop and protect their ideas as well as to find a route to market.
He also continues to invent newer devices, one of them being “electric shoes” that use piezoelectric contacts in the heels to charge a small battery that can be used to operate a radio transceiver or cellular telephone.
Sir Richard Branson
The flamboyant owner and proprietor of the Virgin group of companies definitely needs no introduction. From starting his first business venture of a magazine called Student at the young age of 16, Branson has today gone on to create a business empire spanning airlines, music records, mobile networks and much more taking his personal net worth to approximately £1.5 billion or about US$2.5 billion, making him the 261st richest person in the world according to Forbes’ 2009 list of billionaires.
His constant innovations and string of business enterprises have spawned millions of entrepreneurial dreams across the world, with many young business graduates in particular aspiring to “lose their entrepreneurial virginity” the same way as Branson described in his autobiography titled, Losing My Virginity, an international bestseller.
Professor Sir Christopher Thomas Evans
A biotechnology entrepreneur, Sir Christopher runs Merlin Biosciences which he founded in 1996. The company manages investments in the biotechnology industry. Over the span of his career, Evans has managed to establish as many as 20 science companies. His entrepreneurial achievements earned him the title of “Cambridge Businessman of the Year” twice.
Back in 2006, Sir Christopher was estimated to have a personal fortune of £158 million, placing him at 364th position on the Sunday Times Rich List.
In summation, as you can clearly see, the list of UK’s Most Famous Business Angels has the names of some real big-wigs. Also, this list is only partial, with a complete listing of the thousands of business angels dotting UK’s financial landscape, simply way beyond the scope of this article. If you are an entrepreneur looking for financial support from one of UK’s Most Famous Business Angels, you would be best off looking up an online solution that brings entrepreneurs and investors together, such as Venture Giants.