The Home Club Presidentâ€™s journey to Entrepreneur
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The Home Club Entrepreneurial Journey I am sometimes asked “So what did you do before The Home Club?” This always brings a smile when I reply, “I began my career as a Carpenter.” Then an absent look and leads me to explain my Entrepreneurial journey. To some, it would appear that there is a universe between the two and yet, when taking time to explain, it is easy to see. I was born in Stratford, East London on the 23rd May 1969, the son a great ‘Shipwright’ father and loving mother. My two younger brothers soon arrived, in 1971 and 1976. Both of which are also real Cockneys.
with mum We were then taken to Essex to grow and develop and yet Essex was much like the East-end of London If I wanted to continue and with the apprenticeship and with lots of family members in the East—end, so and the risks of other shipyards closing, I would need to move to Hull in the North of England and take the we effectively grew up between both cultures. apprenticeship there. This was devastating news and I I was destined (as were my two brothers) to enter was advised to look for an alternative career path. shipbuilding and as with my grandfather, building ships, bridges and oil refineries as he was a Plater/ My father had left shipbuilding and was running large hotel construction sites and said that I should Boilermaker. definitely take an apprenticeship in a trade. Carpentry We had both owned our own boats, a sailing barge, being the closest to my skills and something that I which we spent our holidays refurbishing as a family enjoyed, I looked at the career opportunities in the and also worked with my father in the docks of St. newspapers and didn't really know what to do. I Katherines dock, on Thames Barges and luxury yachts. stumbled upon an advertisement for an ‘apprentice I was to enter British Shipbuilding on the Isle of Dogs broker’ with Lloyds of London. I called the number, with a unique Apprenticeship, due to my experiences explained a bit about myself and was invited to an and reasonable exam results: a ‘Shipwright/ interview at ‘Blackhorse House’ in Whitechapel. Boilermaker & Naval Architect’, an eight year It was a couple of weeks when I received the decision apprenticeship and quite an undertaking. I accepted that I had got the job. I felt quite odd in that I hadn't and planned to begin in the Autumn of 1986. expected to get the job and really just applied as I had Unfortunately, the work in the London docks had nothing else planned. I was asked to come back to dried up and they didn't have the proposed works in sign the contract and apprenticeship indentures. order to take on an apprentice, especially for eight At this exact time, I received an invitation to take an years. What would usually happen, is that the firm apprenticeship in Shipbuilding just as I had wanted would simply pass an apprentice onto an adjacent but based in Hull. yard. But there weren't any as they had all closed. My mind was spinning a little and I was torn between I was given a choice… Well they said it was a choice. both.
To add to the confusion, my father had been headhunted and then took a position in a family construction business in Ilford Essex, who had grown their business in residential building, refurbishment of Grade l and Grade ll listed buildings and had some of the Melville Group take up senior management positions.
The plasterers completed the work before I could complete the carving of my name. It will still be there today and for another 500 years+
I noticed the opportunity and then accepted the Apprenticeship with the Ilford based firm as an, Apprentice Carpenter & Joiner, before my two younger brothers joined me to begin their career pathway later on.
The Use of a Adze to hand carve the timber knees and all of the steel tools would turn blue with the oils in the Oak seeping into the steel blades. Called ‘Bluing’.
As my father was the Site Agent on this project, he brought 12 Shipwrights from London to help with the project as there was a need for skills that had almost died out.
We would collect the oak shavings and dampen them slightly putting them into a sack along with our spare I was then sent to what remains, my favorite project. tools as with a little time (one or two months) the The Red Lion Hotel in Colchester, Essex. I’d travel 60 tools would turn blue, strengthen and avoid rusting. miles each way, every day, to begin my craft here and was it worth it. The Red Lion Hotel was built in 1465 I had missed out on becoming a shipwright, but this in Colchester Essex, Britain’s oldest recorded town gave me the thrill of developing my skills, using the and had two additional wings added through the tools that I had practiced with during my youth, plus Georgian and Edwardian periods. This was a huge the creative knowledge and skills of those training me project, underpinning the whole building, hand cut on site and at my technical college in Walthamstow. Oak timbers and using templates as the Oak had This building wasn't square and true and the same twisted and settled over 500 years. methods of templates and a trained eye were more often used in shipbuilding, than construction. This was great training and gave me insights into ancient skills that were at the brink of extinction. 2
Pictured above the Red Lion carriageway and my work of the hand crafted oak beams . I personally made the two knees  and I made and fitted the largest beam in the building and began to carve my name into the top of the beam  before being called to the pub. Shipwrights were highly skilled and creative, but they also loved to drink.
Not only had I trained my carpentry and building skills within my apprenticeship, but I’d also met my first love ‘Katie’ who worked in the local female clothing retail shop in the coach-way. She lived a few miles away with her parents in Harwich. Her father a Pilot on the large Hook of Holland seaways and her mother at home looking after her brother. If I had too much to drink at lunchtime, Katie would hide me in the changing rooms and bring me a sandwich to sober up. I would sometimes stay with her and her family in Harwich after work.
An apprenticeship is much more than the education and vocational skills and there are friends, networks and personal relationships that build you as a person. As I was with them, I also trained in the bars of I was fortunate in that I had good people around me. Colchester.
This was 1989, the rave scene was now prolific and the ‘yuppies’ had taken over docklands. I had a friend that had taken an apprenticeship with Lloyds of London and was absolutely living it up.
I completed my apprenticeship and as with most apprentices, left the company to go-it-alone as a ‘Self Employed Carpenter & Joiner’.
It’s a bit of a shock at first, being taken on board as a I was earning approximately £75 per week, topped up fully fledged tradesman, without the support of those with a £25 travel expense, which became my food in the old firm and yet it wasn't that I couldn't do the expenses as I travelled in with my father, then work, I just missed the people that I previously had brother Brian six months later. around me, mostly family. I had taken the risk for the reward and was earning a great deal as when completing an apprenticeship and being a ‘Tradesman’, I was earning the same as the others in the company. This began as £110 per day and I thought that two days was more than one weeks pay as an apprentice. I took my mum out and pampered her with my first week’ pay packet.
Pictured above, Bridge House, Docklands Grade ll Listed.
I was then called by one of the Shipwrights that I had trained with, who asked me if I wanted to be an ‘improver Shipwright’ working in Tilbury docks on the container ships and loch gates etc.
Bridge House was a Grade ll listed building and the I was doing so well and yet the thought of realizing project (like that of the Red Lion) was to completely my childhood dream and then following in my fathers refurbish it and then turn it into six luxury flats. footsteps meant that I just couldn't say no. As a young man, with opportunities to party most I left the building industry and worked in Tilbury nights , I wanted to earn more and took on additional docks for about one month before having a serious hours to facilitate my desire to have fun. accident. A scaffold wheel fell 60 feet and straight I recall looking off of the scaffolding at Bridge House onto my head, splitting it. I nearly died. and seeing a young guy, not much older than me, I remember laying in the hospital and was clearly in with a brand new Porsche 911, nice suit and the shock and under the influence of the medication, apartment to match. I wasn't jealous, but I wanted to when my mother and girlfriend came into the room. earn more to try to get somewhere near that lifestyle. Now, as I couldn't see the top of my head, I thought I worked and worked and had the clothes, Armani, that it was just a glance off the side even thought the FERRE, Stone Island, Massimo Osti and others as I had blood was everywhere. My mother then walked a friend (Doug) who owned ’Oaks Menswear’ back in towards me and her eyes glanced at my head before Colchester who would look after me. I had a screaming. I then knew it was very serious! reasonable car (not a Porsche) a Capri. Yes not close at all. I had a little charm and lots of fun in me, so I lay there in hospital wondering if I should let the shipping world ideals go and return to carpentry and sometimes attracted a beautiful young woman. residential refurbishment, when I found another Things were good but I wanted more... opportunity.
The New Orleans - Hobbs & Sons - Henley-Upon-Thames My father was missing Shipbuilding too and more than that, he had received an offer from one of his old contacts. J. G. Jakubait & Sons who had a shipyard in Point Wharf Greenwich. The recession was biting hard and whilst visiting Bridge House for some ‘weekend work’ I had seen the collection agencies and locksmiths deal with a screaming ‘broker’ in the apartments opposite and his Porsche repossessed. The building industry had take a turn for the worst as had everything else. Opportunities were very hard to find and competition was high. Only those that could cut their cloth enough, would take what was left of the contracts. Men with families found it very difficult to half their pay and that’s possibly why there was in influx of minicab drivers in the early nineties. We had been contracted to build the New Orleans paddle-steamer (pictured above). All of the carpentry, fit out, doors, windows, bar, paneling, wheelhouse after the steel hull and engines had been completed. The New Orleans would be the largest boat at Henley-upon-Thames and we had very specific details of time frame and measurements to deliver upon. I know that sounds very standard, but the only way that this boat was going to be delivered in Henley ‘for the Regatta’, was on one particular day and Low Tide as the records had been taken over the previous five years and an average measurement agreed. The New Orleans had to fit under the last bridge, which also seems easy as, just make the boat much smaller. The brief to us was that they wanted to retain the prize of having the largest boat at Henley that could fit under the last bridge, on the low tide and there was no room for error. We bought the mahogany in bulk and milled it down to the correct measurements. We made all of the doors, windows & paneling personally in the Joiners shop at the boatyard, before fitting it into the boat on board. Shipbuilding was a rarity as were those with the skill to deliver them. Whilst everyone else was halving their pay and changing their careers, we were lucky in that we doubled even our usual building contractor fees.
I remember working away in May, sun beaming and on the foredeck of the New Orleans, building the wheelhouse, when we were asked, “are you still on track to complete the vessel before the low tide?”. We were and it was very close though and we had put in some extensive hours to remain in front. As usual, we checked and double checked every stage of the works and then the completed wheelhouse before having it signed off. All was fine and we then called in the Architects to sign off. As the architect measured and re-measured, his demeanor changed and I could tell that something wasn't quite right. He said that the wheelhouse was 14 inches too high and would smash into the bridge. You will see that the funnels are raised in the picture below (and the pilot’s head…), but the funnels lower to get under the bridges. “Have you received the amended drawings?” he asked. We hadn't of course and a usual ’architect oversight’ otherwise we would have made the wheelhouse the sizes indicated. I watched my father remain unflustered and say, “ok give me the measurements and I’ll change it”. Now I was a very good tradesman and I couldn't see how he could remain so relaxed as this was a complete rebuild. After many doubts from the Architect, we were left to get on with it. “How on earth are we going to take 14 inches off of the top without taking the whole thing down?” I asked. “The first thing we are going to do is go and discuss it.” my father replied. This meant that we were about to get very drunk, as my father already knew how to do it, he just wanted an excuse to think. I mean drink. The next day was twice as bad as that before and we had to take down the wheelhouse. “Go and get me the jigsaw and the rest of the tools.” he said. I then watched as he took off 14 inches from the roof and then made new paneling to refit the existing design. I was then back to being his labourer, whilst I watched a Master Craftsman at work. When he had finished he reminded me that, “An apprenticeship is for life and we are always learning. None of us are too old or too good to learn something new. We have the skills that evolve over time. All we need to do as tradesmen is to solve problems using our skills. Often many of them.” Pictured Left: The New Orleans enjoying the English summertime, delivered on time and with the wheelhouse 14 inches lower. We can change some things but not the heights of the water nor the man. The brief had been completed and the client was so happy to take receipt of his boat. This was just in time for the Henley Regatta that year and I hear the proceeds of which paid for one tenth of the boat cost.
We went to the local merchant to purchase some plywood, a piano hinge and softwood mouldings for edging and make a large 8ft x 4ft table top that could be folded in half and brought up into X’ home. As we left we were discussing what we would put underneath to stop any scratches from the plywood. We passed the home of Steve Davis (Six times world snooker champion) and my father pulled off the main road and we went along Steve’s driveway. My father then knocked on the door and Steve answered, looking a little shocked. Pictured above, refurbished Hampstead home.
My father told Steve of the problem before he led us It wasn't too long before the Henley residents and into his garage. visitors asked about the boat and its builders as the Steve then begun to pull out some green baizes, “oh inside is gloss lacquered mahogany-marquetry panels. not this one, this was the 19** snooker match-play We were invited to Hampstead Garden Suburb to work on the home of a Jewish Silk heiress. I have mentioned this lady’s religion for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the kitchen needed to become two kitchens and then and once completing the work, the whole Jewish community in Hampstead were banging on our door for us to complete their work.
table baize. This one was on the table when I beat ***.” He then stopped and told us a story about how he beat a top ranking snooker player on ‘this baize’. He then handed my father ‘the baize’ and wished us well. We offered to pay Steve for the baize and Steve asked that we pay it to charity which we duly did.
We attached the baize to the underneath of the We worked for Film Directors and most of the TV temporary table top and then travelled to Hampstead world, Finance brokers and Solicitors. to lay it on the glass table top. X then thanked us and One such solicitor had an office in West End Lane and asked how we had done it, so we told him the story. a home overlooking the Heath. I’ll call him ‘X’.
X called us the next day and thanked us, giving a huge X had the most amazing dinner parties (I heard) and bonus. always had the Socialites and Filming guests who After thanking him, we asked why…? wrote about these events in their luxury magazines. X said, “The dinner went even better than usual and One Saturday afternoon, X called with a dilemour. the conversation was flowing. We all laughed though, He had planned a dinner party for 8 guests on the as for most of the latter part of the dinner, all of the following Sunday evening but had four additional guests were underneath the table looking up at the guests that were asked by his wife without telling ‘D’ on the snooker baize, as I told the story of having Steve Davis’ world championship baize cushioning him. Or was it the other way around? their table. Either way, he couldn't cancel any of them and asked if we could make a solid cover to extend the size of They loved it!” his dinner table, BUT couldn't scratch the glass table.
Life — Savers!
I wanted to understand and learn about management which proved difficult without formal managerial training, as I was unable to be given any real chances of realizing this. I mentioned this to my father who spread the word amongst his network and a good friend of his: Tommy Hunt gave me an opportunity to manage one of his pubs in North Woolwich in London. The pub ‘The California’ was a very run down bar in the East-End and as the docklands was being developed, Tommy wanted to have a bar ready for the local residents, new builders in the area and then residents of the new luxury riverside apartments. I agreed and started by personally cleaning , then painting and sanding the floors and generally refurbishing the bar. I opened accounts with the local brewery and bookers cash and carry, then employed local staff and opened the doors to a local crowd and then to passing punters. The bar had an old dock license so I opened at 9am until 12midnight so I was able to be inventive in the timeframe available with pool nights, karaoke and other entertainment. Things were moving forward, but not as quickly as I had hoped, although I was certainly learning about management. One Saturday afternoon, a man ran into the bar and screamed what I thought was “FIRE!”. I ran out and down to the river Thames and into a slipway, where I could see three young children trapped up to their chests in the mud, all screaming. The tide was returning fast and would be over them in minutes. I ran out to them and one by one, brought each of them out of the mud and then back to the bar, safe and sound. The following week , the Newham Recorder (picture right) placed my efforts on the front page and that Sunday evening and almost every day thereafter, until I left a few months later, the bar was full of people wanting to meet the MANAGER of their bar that saved the local children. (three brothers) I had learnt a lot about Management and People. The power of communities and the importance of their support. Although leaving the building industry was not my main aim, realiszing an opportunity to further myself was. I had no idea that the events would change the revenue of the bar, but more importantly the feel good factor to the community.
Experiences are everything and from hereon I returned to the building industry and worked constantly on the rich and famous’ homes and then their friends homes. We were so trusted, that we refurbished homes for the ex-Director of MI5, Salmon Rushdie’s home (at the height he was most wanted) and many others across North and Central London. The contacts and networks we formed remain with us today and that’s just one reason that I decided to take a leap of faith and open my own construction business. My first business in construction was incorporated in 2000. I had no business training, now actual knowledge of how to run a business, tax and other important matters and yet, I did have some great skills in my trade, my personality, trust, and a desire to deliver quality and whilst behaving professionally, I always had fun. I began in the usual way, connecting with local businesses, estate agents, an ear to the ground, contractors and used this as my means to grow my business. Things were going well and I had completed two Loft Conversion contracts in Earlsfield, Wandsworth South West London when things changed considerably. I was at home in Wandsworth, planning to have a evening at home, when my (then) girlfriend ‘Michelle’ burst through the door, with luxury magazines under each arm and then blurted… “I’m going to be rich!” Michelle was an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) and had accumulated a healthy database of clients. Michelle went on to explain that she had been introduced to a data company that had scraped the whole of the UK’s local authority planning portal of all the ‘planning permission information’ and put it into Microsoft excel for direct marketing. “Is that legal?” I asked. Michelle explained that the planning permission information is ‘public information’ and as such perfectly legal to see it, download it, and use it.
“So, what are you going to do with it?” I asked. Michelle further explained that she was going to select individuals in selected areas and then target them by sending them her marketing material, as a financial services provider. She added that she already knew that they were planning major residential building works and she was going to offer the owners of these properties: re-mortgages, insurances and other financial products.
250 of them in fact. “Great” I replied, eagerly awaiting her explanation.
The way that the planning process usually works, is that a homeowner would instruct an Architect, who would create drawings in line with his clients wishes and then forward those drawings (the application) and information on to the local authority in order to receive ‘planning permission approval’. The permission would be decided at 8 weeks from the application date and go through a process of review on a case by case basis during the eight week period. Michelle’s database gave her the upper hand in that, she would have the homeowners details and the details of their planned works within a few days of the application being made and so had the ability to advance any competitors by seven weeks ‘minimum’ by sending the homeowner advanced marketing. After the congratulations, going out for dinner and a late night celebrating, again, things changed. About one week later, Michelle came home and this time, I could see that she had been crying. When comforting her, she revealed that she was unable to use the database as, the Financial Services Authority FSA (now FCA) would not allow anyone to ‘direct market’ financial services to consumers B2C. She was devastated and needed a little time to recover. One month passed by and my company had created a very basic website with Yell.com and had picked up two further contracts with recommendations from the last. I approached Michelle and asked her if she would introduce me to the company that provided the data as I had an idea. I explained that whilst she was unable to sell in financial products directly to potential clients, there was nothing stopping me from sending my company’s marketing material to homeowners in order to carry out the building works on their properties. I added, that once meeting with potential clients, that I could always introduce her as part of the services from my business and therefore not compromising any financial services issues as this would simply be an introduction. She seemed pleased with my approach even though neither of us knew what was to follow. I visited the local authority, had sight of their letterheads, window envelopes and asked a local stationary company to present my company information upon the very same grade paper and envelopes. I then employed people to complete a mail-merge document with links to my company website and even to directly introduce potential clients to the previous clients so that they could see and hear in private how my company ‘really behaved’ and without me looking over their shoulders. What really drove the incentive, was that when creating the mailing, I asked that the planning reference number was visible in the window of the envelope along with the homeowners name and address. This way, when looking down at the carpet full of mail, the homeowner knew that unless there was an issue with their planning application, they shouldn't see any mail with their planning reference on within the 8 week period. This ensured, immediate opening of my company mailout, yes under panic mode, but with great surprise when opening up the letter and discovering an interesting offer from a local builder. I would then visit the potential client, complete the quotes, give the details of the recent recommendations of completed works and then they would be able to either phone and/or meet with my previous clients to see the completed works and the standard of finishes, discuss the process of the works and how the contractors behaved etc. It was a winning formula.
Once the homeowner had opened my mail, they could see that my company wasn't only a residential building company in the local vicinity, but a new means of creating business and in-line (I was later told) with the way that the potential client usually have done business. In a professional and transparent manner. I was then being considered as ‘one of them’ (a professional) rather than just a local builder. It didn't take to much longer and my company had, 5, 10, then 20 teams working on loft conversions, extensions and other refurbishment works in Fulham, Chelsea, Kensington, Wandsworth, Cobham etc. My company was not only competing with the likes of ‘Top Flight Loft conversions’ but all of the major refurbishment companies in West / South West London and Surrey. I left the office, well, the corner of the bedroom of my flat, took the huge photocopying machine, computer and moved into offices on the Tonsleys in Wandsworth, next to Wandsworth Town railway station. My company grew and grew, 14 staff, 300 contractors, sub-contractors, scaffolding companies 5 plumbing companies and more all within 18 months of receiving the data. The usual turnaround from marketing letter to signed contract was around three months. I had a great system, great people, skilled contractors and all with really good personalities, respecting client’s & behaving in what most said was a, ‘non-builder-manner’. But, I had the data on the whole United Kingdom and was only using approximately 20 percent of it. I scratched my head as to how I might scale up, avoiding the costs and potential dramas. I knew that everyone on my list needed FF&E (Fixtures, Fittings & Equipment) and all that a limited company needed to do to become a trade customer and receive the trade discounts on furniture, was to complete a form (one page usually) with their company details. This is no secret, as Interior Designers have been making most of their money from these trade discounts whilst sourcing their clients FF&E. Some have even said, that the designers have edged their designs based upon the level of trade discounts. I would then sell in the FF&E to homeowners knowing that they would be looking to refresh their homes. So there I had it, I would get a database of builders that I would forward the opportunity of new residential building projects from the data (for a fee), and in turn their clients would buy their FF&E and other services from my database of suppliers. I would then share the trade discount on the FF&E with them 50/50.
I then connected the Interior Designers to the builders by location and invested all that I had from the construction company into the new business. I even employed staff that were previously senior sales and management from major UK Trade Merchants. In addition, there were other building companies looking at my growth and had received knowledge of my insights and direct marketing. In conjunction to this there were a few data companies emerging with similar data to mine, so I had some competition which was reducing my company’s potential. Realizing this in advance, I decided to depart from the actual construction side of things and do two things, 1. To create a database of quality residential building companies and supply them with the project advantage. 2. Set up a new company to offer homeowners other products as they all would want furniture, carpets, kitchens and other Fixtures, Fittings & Equipment. (FF&E) I had approximately 1,000 residential building companies on my database and then brought in kitchen companies to begin with as I could give the homeowners a share of the trade discount on their kitchens. I had two main opportunities to market with my database, 1. Loft conversions 2. Side/Rear ground floor Extensions For Loft conversions, I could sell-in, Bathrooms, showers, flooring, tiling, decorative, furniture, beds, lighting and soft furnishings. For the extensions, I could sell-in kitchens, tiles, flooring, and other relative FF&E. I would use the same process and yet this time, mailing to the whole UK and offering the homeowner discounts of their FF&E and access to my ‘trusted builders’. Shortly after this came the CheckaTrade, MyBuilder, Trusted Trader and other similar networks although they didn't have the ‘live’ database I had (and still have).
My company then signed a huge deal with the previously mentioned Kitchen and Joinery company ‘Y’. The deal was that my company would have 80% discount on Kitchens and Joinery and a special deal on approximately 25 other items, Plasterboard, Timber, Insulation, Plaster and other commonly used products.
details and over to the Kitchen company and repeat over and over again. I had a fork in the road though. Continue the business that I knew and was successful with and with huge potential or the plasterboard sales route.
I asked Jon to test the market and I would consider from I set up another company to sell the building materials there. He contacted an old contact of his who brokered a into my database of builders and was set-up to, deal with a larger plasterboard distributor with over 25 1. Give the database of residential builders the data on branches in the UK and the logistics to move tons of prospective building projects. Some effective plasterboard. The trial was a success. marketing material and insights into sales material. I’ll never forget it as I remember having Jon ask me, “so 2. The builder would then purchase materials from my how much are we selling the sheets for?” company (subject to pricing being competitive) In all the hype, I hadn't finalized the full sale prices and 3. The Builder would offer their potential clients, other even the larger companies couldn't get any of these services of my contacts in, Interior Design, Financial products for less that £3.75 per sheet. Even in bulk orders. Services, Surveyors, etc. and discounts on their FF&E. “Lets sell them for £2.50 per sheet for lorryload orders.” I I was in a position to take large market share the UK replied. building market and sat down with Jon (previous sales I’ll never forget what happened next as I don’t think I slept manager) who was an exceptional sales manager and for a couple of weeks as the phone was HOT! handed him the list of products he was to manage and sell. I then received a call from the manufacturers of the Jon said, “I’ve been looking through these prices and all are plasterboard who said, “I am the UK Sales Director of ‘K‘ very keen, but that plasterboard is at a ridiculous price and and have heard about your amazing plasterboard deal. I believe, even less that it costs to manufacture it. This is Who are you working for…as this deal cannot be real!” quality board as well” I explained that the deal was very real and that the I thought that I had missed it, as I was concentrating on product was ‘selling like hot cakes’. the kitchen prices and believed that builders could I then received a call from a very large Builders Merchants negotiate better prices on the other goods. based in the UK who said, “I am the senior buyer of all I took another look and the plasterboard was £0.99 per plasterboard and insulation for ‘Z’ and have heard about sheet on 6x3ft sheets and £1.50 on 8x4ft sheets all your plasterboard deal. Would we be able to purchase thicknesses and edging details and so for the residential from you guys?” I agreed, subject to completion of the and commercial markets of dry lining. The offer extended forms and asked how much they wanted. “Lets start with to, free delivery anywhere in the UK (on full loads) and a 50,000 sheets per day and see where we go from there. I’ll £50 charge for non-full loads. get someone to forward the delivery addresses.” he said. Jon then said, “Forget your other businesses and just sell I had one of the largest buyers in the UK on the phone and plasterboard, loads of it. I can sell ‘millions of sheets’ as I so cheekily asked, “is that it?” “Is that all you want?” have contacts in the largest Builders merchants in the UK when I was buying from them and others who would rip He replied, “Ok so you really can deliver on this eh!? Lets your arms off for these prices. If the lorries go to the ports, make it £100million per quarter and for as long as you can sell it to us. We’ll set up six depots in the South East of then we can sell internationally also.” England and distribute from there. That’s £1.2billion across Jon was right and all he had to do was to find buyers, take the three years Mr. Bolger. Is that enough?” their address and payment then forward the delivery
Now, I’m neither usually overwhelmed nor stupid. But what happened next put both together.
I forwarded the documents and received the signed versions on their headed paper front cover. I was then called again, “oh Darren, I had forgotten to ask. So where are you buying this board from?” I had a contract and felt comfortable and so replied, its ‘Y’. His reply then changed and he said, “I cant believe that, they know that we control 25% of the market share of Plasterboard in the UK and want to sell it to a relative minnow. No offence Darren, but you’ve just had a great deal really haven't you?” I had to agree. Jon put the orders through and within 30 minutes ‘Y’ replied stating that they would not be supplying my company's with any more materials. It had all gone up in smoke!
What happened next gave me in depth knowledge as to what happens when contracts go wrong and I spent the next six years in or around the Inns of court. I met with the good, the bad and the ugly of the legal system. What happened to me is that even with a good case of breach of contract, I needed an accountant to give a forensic report on quantum (damages). I know that the other side were good for the damages as ‘Y’ is a publicly listed company. I instructed an Accountant who created a report with damages to my companies of £50million +orI was then advised that I needed a good barrister, a Silk (Queens Counsel) and an equally good solicitor. The Accountant introduced me to Mr. David Greene of: Edwin Co solicitors in Chancery Lane, London. Mr. Greene reviewed the papers and said that he would “...do the case on a CFA.” (Conditional Fee Agreement). David estimated the legal fees at on or around £1.2million. Plus, I would be required to put £250,000 in cash into the court to cover the other sides legal fees. It seems that this was required to even get the case off the ground.
Now when things go wrong ‘contractually’ it looks like a mountain ahead, even with the best professionals in support. I was advised to consider ‘litigation funding’ as a means of supporting the case. I then had to ask a barrister to complete a written advice upon the case ‘merits on success’ and all this before even writing to the other side to let them know of my companies claims. The next hurdles are that, this isn't a short-fix and the Court route can take 18 to 24 months to conclude even though mediation is preferred by the courts. This is why some companies often go to the wall and/or take huge losses when considering the above, in addition to continuing with business. I found this the very same and wondered if there was a better way of doing it… It was whilst speaking with a pupil barrister (shadowing a barrister I was considering). She explained the difficulties in becoming a barrister and that there was nothing that gave the law student real time training other than the pupilage which was very rare and hard to get. Whilst approaching the eve of the commercial contract litigation world, I thought to take a look at what was out there on real-time legal training. It seemed that there was very little actually and so I decided to form a new charity, beginning, not with contract law but instead, looking at criminal cases of miscarriages of justice. Now looking back, its little wonder why I sometimes get odd behavior on the internet, as I had effectively tried to unravel cases of Serious Crime and see if they were unsafe. In doing so, I would have to look at the work of the Police, Prosecution and others including expert witnesses and forensic practitioners. It was very interesting and exciting. Trying to undo criminal cases that are miscarriages of Justice isn't welcomed by those on the prosecution side of things and I soon discovered that these same people would have it in for me too as there are agencies and even charities who are just fronts for activists wanting to receive the odd MBE for other pursuits. I, on the other hand, wanted to do it with no agenda other than interest and for the benefit of those, wrongfully convicted and those training in law.
The charity was welcomed by the prisoners, yes, some of which thought it was a means of getting them off. When instead, it was a means of reviewing what are deemed as miscarriages â€˜dead casesâ€™ and trying to discover either new evidence, misdirection's of law by the presiding trial Judges, yes another potential reason for my backlisting.
convicted of serious crime, murder, GBH (section 18) and other crimes would have their families or friends to send out of prison their legal papers (depositions) and the charity would then have the law students from the universities and law schools form a small team of 4-8 students and review the cases, whilst monitored by University staff.
All that said, remember that my desire to do this came from the law student giving me insight into lapses in opportunities of real time training. I had just chosen the more difficult area of law to focus into.
I met with the students and had many mooting days which gave me such faith in the Universities training as although these students were some way from practicing law, they were super-smart and their minds acutely aware of the issues and the law. I was seriously impressed! This soon found its way to becoming so successful that I had 19 Universities wishing to have my initiative within their universities and part of the law training As a Registered Charity, I used my own funds to for their students. support it along with a donation by one of the There were additional pluses and of courses minuses, prisoners family members and a global photographic the former being of course the benefits to the brand who had new tech that could assist the forensic prisoners in that they would have focus and some markets in criminal law. hope and whilst hope can be a very dangerous thing I set up offices in Putney SW London and a few staff and some law students. I had additional support from the law faculties of the major Universities of Bedfordshire, Cambridge and many others. The project was very simple, that the prisoner(s)
when serving a life sentence, for not only the prisoners but also their families, it has the added benefit of giving closure to those that believe they have been hard-done-by in law and wrongfully convicted. Its not that the prisoner isn't innocent, its actually that the process hasn't afforded them a means of either a fair hearing and/or appeal. This ensures that the prisoner can move on and concentrate on getting through their sentence and focusing on the positive life changes they will make for themselves and their family. The benefit to the Student(s) is immense!
Lastly and to leave this particular experience, I wanted to note that whilst at a meeting at Irwin Mitchell in Holborn along with, Sir Michael Napier CBE QC, Sir Robin Knowles CBE QC and Miss. Kate Warmsley. It was said, â€œYou have come out of nowhere Mr. Bolger and formed the largest bro bono criminal appeals charity in the Country.â€? Shortly after this, my charity, assisted four men that were convicted for life, receive: Justice on Appeal and their convictions of life sentences were quashed. A success that I am very proud of.
In a few instances, there were some cases that had issues not reported in the prosecution cases, but implicated some prisoners into adding to their misery. Instead of replying to the prisoner adding to their grief and potentially their sentence, I decided to simply reply to some of them saying that we couldn't find anything of use. That was of course unless there was something useful to them. There were rarer cases of child abuse which is an area of law that I completely ruled out. In one instance whereby an released prisoner wanted to clear his name, it was found within the bundle of his papers of implications of serious children abuse related crime that we simply wouldn't deal with. Pictured above left, outside of the Royal Courts of The same prisoner in one such matter wasn't happy with Justice & above, Mr. Michael Wolkind QC who is in my my letter to him and has since decided to post very mind, the finest criminal barrister and top criminal qc. I unnecessary lies on the internet about me. Fortunately, I have had the great honour of instructing superb barristers at: 4 Pump Court: Michael Douglas QC & 4 am known of better things as you will see herein. Paper Building Head of Chambers: Mr. Johnathan Cohen QC now The Honourable Mr. Justice Cohen.
At this exact time, I was also in contact with some of The JCP had what they called their ‘Sector Based Work my database of contractors who were doing quite well Academy’ SBWA. This gave the unemployed an and asked me if I would help them drive sales. opportunity to carry out a work trial across a maximum number of 8 weeks. The first week being voluntary and I had heard on BBC news, that the UK had a serious any following weeks to be mandatory. shortage in new apprentices in construction and were looking for a way in which to drive and develop The incentive for the unemployed person, was to Apprenticeships in Construction. receive an interview at the very end of the work experience, which some may say, isn't incentive I have been an apprentice and owned companies that enough. had apprentices and know the pitfalls and processes. I had heard that the decisions being made by those I understood the tools that the JCP had and introduced considering an apprenticeship in construction were my: A.C.E. the Academy of Construction Excellence. often based solely upon what their friends had, by I wanted to incentivize those on my database of means of finances or lifestyle aspirations. I can relate. building contractors in order for them to give a I recalled how, when I was an apprentice and even with candidate, some work experience and even an the family history and training that I had received apprenticeship. I had nothing to negotiate with them to pre-apprenticeship in addition to my family support, agree to this, as they already received the proposed that I was fed up at times and wanted to throw it all in, clients, marketing material, FF&E, Interior Designers due to the very poor money apprentices earn and the and I couldn't see them needing anything else from my lifestyle desired by a young person at that age. repertoire. I felt so strongly about it that I contacted the Job- I then thought about my contractual experiences and Centre-Plus (JCP) in Fulham and asked to meet with the how to avoid litigation, rather than to have to enter the seniors to discuss my new initiative into construction. legal arena and potentially lose everything anyway. It transpired, that the JCP had an overwhelming I sent each of them a letter with my own experiences in desire by the unemployed to have apprenticeships in contract disputes and received a positive reaction. construction and yet companies were disinterested in I then mentioned to my database of builders of the taking on any new trainees and/or apprentices. many pitfalls of contracts and clients fall into. I equally It has always been the way, that a man (previously) mentioned that in order to receive sign-off of a project, then more women nowadays in their prime (30-50 receive funds and have a happy customer and referral, years old, would take time out of their day to train new all that was required was for a fair contract and the apprentices only for their earning potential to reduce ability to resolve if things go wrong. due to the time taken training others. Then at the end That was received as double-dutch at first. But once of the apprenticeship the apprentice would often leave explaining in more detail, most of them signed up to their apprenticeship early and/or upon its completion. my new standard contract and resolution system. I then had the facilities of ‘housing’ many unemployed trainees and then opportunities for apprenticeships in construction. I went back to the JCP and asked to meet with a training facility in London and was invited to give a lecture on Construction at the Ealing Hammersmith & West London College. EHWLC.
The College, with a reputation for providing quality award winning programmes with learners at its heart and, with its well-established relationship with the JCP was the learning provider of choice to join the SWBA as its Pre-Employment Training-Provider. Mr Bolger said "This partnership will ensure that those who have been unemployed for a period of time will have every opportunity to regain skills or obtain new skills. We are offering a complete package of support for those that want to turn their lives around."
No excuses partnership builds hope in the community Press Release - Dec 20, 2011 10:29 GMT
London's largest college today launched a Sector Based Work Academy for all those aged 19 plus , in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance and genuinely interested in working within the construction sector.
Kam Babrah, Account Manager, Jobcentre Plus, West London said "Sector-based work academies gives individuals the skills and experience they need to take up jobs in their local area. This scheme offers jobseekers in West London a real opportunity to gain the vital skills and work experience to start a career in the construction industry with guarantee of an interview for a job or apprenticeship at the end."
An enthusiastic audience had many questions for presenters including concerns around the issue of childcare. Mr Bolger responded by saying, "if you commit your time to this programme, we will work with you no matter your circumstances." On the day when employment figures reached a 17-year high of 2.64 million, Ealing, Hammersmith and West London Encouraging words that left no further room for excuses and seemed to provide comfort and reassurance that the College, officially entered into this Sector Based-Work Partnership were fully committed to their success. Academy (SBWA) in collaboration with employer CC Developments UK 2007 Ltd and Job Centre Plus (JCP) to A new student who enrolled after the presentation provide a solution to tackle the growing number of locally commented "There are very few opportunities that will unemployed. provide you with a guaranteed job without a CV or application form. I am excited that I will be starting 2012 on SBWAs were first introduced in August 2011 as part of the a course that will teach me a trade. Maybe I will start my Get Britain Working measures which encourages the JCP, own business in a couple of years." providers and employers to band together to match local people to employment opportunities. Sandra Balthazaar, Lead for the JCP Relationship at the College said, Darren Bolger Managing Director of CC Developments UK "in an environment where all news is not sounding good, 2007 Ltd, the 'inventor' of this particular programme, we want to be part of the solution and help those who come approached the JCP in West London with a host of forward in any way we can get into employment and the opportunities and apprenticeships putting in motion his SBWA is a wonderful way to make that happen. From the desire and vision to play an active role in ensuring local turnout and engagement from attendees it is clear that this people could access these opportunities. Partnership is offering much more than just another scheme."
...and I was further questioned; “What if I want to be in construction and then discover it isn't for me?” I explained that my initiative had safety nets that gave added support to the participants as follows, “You can show yourself to the foreman and others on site and get your personalities across, your hard work attitude, will create new friends and networks, new skills and a mindset for work and personal development…” I explained “Yes but what if I discover its just not for me?” shouted another member of the audience. “If this isn't for you as a career and you decide to go back to school or other education, then at least you have a new skill that you can access on a casual ‘self-employed’ basis and rather than try to take bar work or similar roles in order to support yourselves in education and/or rely upon the state or others, you will have the ability of working on site for £60-80 per day.”
I spoke at length with Dr. Maria Lenn the trustee and driving force of the charity along with the Rt. Hon Rev. Rowan Williams (pictured above) who asked me what I was doing. He was very complimentary and gave me a personal blessing, which I will never forget.
I hear from JCP Fulham that this was a huge success and It was visiting my project in Wimbledon SW19 when a then they cancelled the program. contractor was standing outside waiting for a delivery. I It dawned on me that whilst your not in control of a asked him how he was doing and he began to tell me of project, even though it facilitates every desire from his son’s new BMX and skateboard craze and that he government level down to a personal need for had seen local kids without a bike and or skateboard. employment, that this can be dissolved due to financial Now, lots of kids cant afford things but this just touched cuts and/or other decisions from others. me and I was in a position to do something about it. My legal matters ended in resolution and I then decided I met with the volunteers at the local skateboard park in to put all of my experiences during the legal process Garratt Lane in Wandsworth and asked them if I might together and create my own community in organize a BMX ‘Jam’ (Event and competition). construction. They agreed but explained that they wouldn't be able to I still had the planning data in construction and in 2015, effectively promote the event on any scale, as they one of my companies gave unemployed people real didn't have broadband as the local council though it a training, just as I had created previously and put back luxury. the profits that I received in construction into local I paid for a full year’s broadband, trophies, three BMX charity and community projects. bikes, other prizes, food, DJ etc. and together we I attended an event with a charity I support namely created an event that reached not only the local Suited and Booted based in the City of London. Suited community but in addition, Fulham, Lambeth, Surrey and Booted give suits and shoes to unemployed and/or and other Greater London Boroughs. men that have just been released from prison for an interview and/or employment.
There was a real buzz around and this was only added to by the glorious weather that we enjoyed on the day.
The then, Mayor of Wandsworth, cllr. Nicola Nardeili had also been touched and took time from her busy schedule to attend and give our prizes, even on a Sunday.
A community all together for fun
The Community all having fun together
Bringing together both experienced BMX riders and those committed to becoming the next BMX generation.
A young girl receives an award for her effort and bravery
Top Left: A young boy encouraged
B M X J A
d by his mother to participate in the fun…
Left: One of the BMX Park volunteers ‘Jackson’ encourages one of the attendees of the event to sign up to compete in one of the BMX races
I had also delivered my apprenticeship initiative into London Borough of my birth… 1st December 2011
apprenticeships have declined since 2008/9 and only increased by 5 per cent on last year.
Newham also topped London’s young jobless table as unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds rose again to 3,420 in September this year – a jump of 60 in a Newham charity Community Links have welcomed a single month. new apprenticeship scheme to tackle youth crime Wandsworth business launches and unemployment in the borough.
Newham charity supports apprenticeship schemes in face of youth unemployment
The initiative, launched this week by CC Developments UK, is piloting around 1,000 apprenticeships for young people to work on community projects within the construction industry to improve their job prospects and make London a safer place. The scheme gained the support of Community Links, on Barking Road, which ran the most successful New Deal project in London and the South East, running youth clubs and children’s activities for almost 4,000 young people in the last year alone.
apprenticeship scheme to pass on tools of the trade - 1st February 2016 A building contractor has launched an apprenticeship scheme for disadvantaged young people to learn the trade. January 29: Wandsworth Council prepares to spend £100m in three years on housing projects Pictured above (left), Darren Bolger, Jackson Torr and Mayor of Wandsworth Nicola Nardelli. Darren Bolger is a former self-employed carpenter and independent labourer, who then grew his business.
Co-founder Kevin Jenkins, OBE, said: He said: "I found that apprenticeships were dwindling, “The Apprenticeship Programme launched by CC especially in trades like construction, carpentry, bricklaying Developments will no doubt have a positive impact on and roofing.” both communities and young people in general. "I found that it’s only plumbing and electric schemes that
“The scheme will enable unemployed youngsters to are doing well. move on in a difficult time and to give them a chance "I now have the ability and resources to train these people to build their futures. This is a wonderful initiative.” in residential buildings."
Last week, figures released by the Office for National Statistics revealed that unemployment within the under 25 age bracket has hit 1.2 million, the highest total since 1992 but the number of construction
Mr Bolger teamed up with Job Centre Plus and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to launch the scheme, initially hosting an introduction to construction which saw about 200 youths attend Hammersmith and West London College to devise the initiative.
First apprentice and former Burntwood pupil, Jackson Torr said the scheme "has changed [his] life in a really positive way". The 22-year-old met his now boss by chance at a skating park where he worked as a youth worker when Mr Bolger was promoting the scheme. Mr Bolger has been awarded for his contributions to the community by Wandsworth Mayor, Councillor Nicola Nardelli, is already in talks with Councillor Steve Diamond to promote youth initiatives for the Nine Elms regeneration area project in North Battersea.
Darren Bolger - Award-Winning Businessman Darren Bolger receives Mayoral award from Helps Young People Start a Career in Wandsworth Mayor for services to the Construction 26th October 2016 community. (PRWEB UK) 3 March 2016 Darren Bolger receives Mayoral award from Wandsworth Mayor for services to the community. Darren Bolger, MD of London Building Specialists, a South London firm which creates beautiful conversions and refurbishments for homes and commercial premises, is taking on apprentices from disadvantaged backgrounds to learn the skills of the construction industry. The industry has been through some difficult times since the financial crash. Darren says, “It is important for the building industry to nurture new talent. Since 2011 we have been helping young people to learn the basic techniques which mean they can work in the industry. Recently we have also added training in ecological construction and materials. So we are looking to the future, as new methods replace older, less environmentally-sound ones.” Darren Bolger receives Mayoral award Last year Darren was awarded the Wandsworth Mayor's ‘Badge of Honour’ for services to the community. The Mayor, Cllr Nicola Nardelli, gave Mr Bolger the award at a special ceremony held at the Town Hall.
Last year Darren was awarded the Wandsworth Mayor's ‘Badge of Honour’ for services to the community. (pictured below left) The Mayor, Cllr Nicola Nardelli, gave Mr. Bolger the award at a special ceremony held at the Town Hall. (pictured below) The Mayor and Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce support the apprenticeship scheme. It is open to applications from London-based under 25s from all backgrounds. There are ambitious plans being developed to roll out the scheme across London, starting with South West London boroughs. Training apprentices in ecological construction Jackson Torr is the first apprentice to be trained in the ecological methods. He will be living in local government accommodation and working with London Building Specialists on various of their projects throughout London. The company has been recently featured in The Art of Design Magazine and Opulent Interiors. They have hand-picked teams who create successful loft conversions, extensions and refurbishments, and are often referred to new projects by satisfied clients. Their team includes architects and interior designers who can help people create a home that really feels special and unique. You can see a gallery of completed projects here: Darren hopes that more young people will see building and construction as rewarding future. “Look at me. I started as a labourer 25 years ago, worked my way up, and now own my own company, with teams of people reporting to me. If I can do this well, anyone can!” He is now helping schoolchildren in the LionHeart Challenge, a nationwide competition where school children work in teams to learn entrepreneurial skills.
encouragement and tell them some funny stories you can encounter in business and the drive necessary in order to become an Entrepreneur. I asked the girls to complete a document, giving their reasons for taking part and their reasons for trying their best to win. Less than one month later, Burntwood Lane Girls won the National Prize for first place as Entrepreneurs in the LionHeart Challenge.
I was asked to be one of the three Judges at Burntwood Lane girls school in Wandsworth (see picture below) in the LionHeart Challenge which is a national competition looking for young entrepreneurs. The event is for six form students and they are split into teams and given a theme in which they are to create a new business, the logistics, financials, and then to present their products. There are the usual first place and runners up and the winners are invited to the regional and if successful, onto the national finals. The team of winning girls went on to winning the next round and were on their way to the National Finals. I was asked to return to give, advice, support and
These girls now understand what it takes to be successful, in the face of â€˜Addversityâ€™. Pictured above: with the teams of the UKâ€™s future Female Entrepreneurs at Burntwood Lane Girls School in Wandsworth London.
It seems that I was being noticed, not only in the Greater London boroughs but in the City of London and was invited to an interview to see if I was the suitable to be considered as a Freeman of the Guild of Entrepreneurs.
Whilst the Company of Merchant Adventurers and Society of Merchant Venturers continued the distinct craft of entrepreneurship (merchant venturing) in York and Bristol respectively, there was, in the early 21st It seems that I was suitable and admitted Freeman of the Century, no comparable extant organisation in London. Guild of Entrepreneurs Pictured below with past Master Entrepreneurs - City of London Network of the Entrepreneurs. With, Sir Paul Judge at Ceremony The serial finance and communications entrepreneur on 15th September 2016 Guildhall in the City of London. Dan Doherty (a liveryman of the Needlemakers’ Company), had already founded and was running a successful informal group for Entrepreneurs called “Entrepreneurs – City of London Network”. The Network met regularly at the London Capital Club, the former Gresham Club in the City, and had always linked its activities to promoting enterprise in and around the City, appreciated the City’s civic activities, supported charity and pro-bono work and hosted events in City venues. The membership of this group included a number of liverymen of the City’s Livery Companies, and from amongst them and others, the Founding Committee of the proposed Guild was drawn.
I would like to pay respects to Sir Paul Judge and thank him for admitting me into the Guild of Entrepreneurs Formation and Early History before his sad death. Our thoughts are with his family. With assistance from the Chamberlain’s Court and from Sir Paul Judge’ sad departure came so soon after the Adele Thorpe (a Past Master of the Worshipful Company death of another Founder Freeman: Mr. Dan Docherty of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators and Clerk of for which I did not have the great honour to meet, but in many years’ standing) a proposal document was drawn feeling the respect and sadness from fellow Freeman, up and delivered to the Court of Aldermen. It was gives me knowledge as to how this man was loved and accompanied by numerous letters of support from amongst the City Livery Companies, academic respected by so many. institutions and businesses. Approval was given for the R.I.P. Sir Paul and Dan God bless you both. formation of the new Guild The Guild of Entrepreneurs is a guild of the City of on July 8, 2014. London and an aspirant Livery Company. Formal working party The Guild of Entrepreneurs successfully petitioned the meetings were held in August Court of Aldermen for Guild status in 2014 with and September 2014 to ambitions to become a Company without Livery by 2019, approve the rules and and a full Livery Company by 2024. It is formed of men suggested governance of the and women connected with the City of London who have Guild, and, on September 8, invested their own time and financial resources in 2014, the Guild’s first Court Meeting was held at the Old establishing and running successful businesses and Bailey, with the following Founding Freemen elected to enterprises. Its motto is Dare, Create, Succeed serve as Court Assistants.
I then had the great honour of walking alongside 28 Greater London Mayors in the Whittington Walk. I donated to the Whittington Hospital and the funds were used for the nurses accommodation. see: pictured below.
See: pictured above, lunch at Mansion House.
And close up below with community members
I wanted to give back to the City of London, the Mayoralty and those within its extended communities. I decided that The Home Club would be a supporter of the Lord Mayors, City Giving Day, whereby businesses give support and funds to the Lord Mayor and his charities.
I really felt the benefits of belonging to a community with trust and honour between all Members. I was learning how communities were built and how they retained their longevity.
I was invited to Mansion House at the end of the Whittington walk and was warmly greeted by Lord Mounteavans, the Rt Hon. The Lord Mayor of the City of London 2015-2016 and the Lady Mayoress and had an amazing lunch and conversation with their guests. Most of which were Mayors of the Greater London Boroughs. I experienced exclusive events with luxury and simplicity at their core. They were more about experience and excellent company, rather than money and excess.
Pictured above with the Rt. Hon. Lord Mountevans at Mansion House â€” City of London
Each year The Home Club has promised to donate to the City Giving Day and in 2017 I was honoured to meet with the Rt. Hon. Dr. Andrew Parmley, Lord Mayor of the City of London (current). Pictured below.
Procedure used during the Joining Ceremony The Cups, filled with mildly spiced wine, are handed to the Master by the Senior and Renter Wardens, in turn. The Master drinks to the New Members appearing before the Court of Assistants for their Joining Ceremony, and returns each Cup to its respective Warden. The Guild always passes its Loving Cups to the LEFT. The Senior Warden therefore turns left and bows to the New Member seated on the Master's left, who then rises and takes the Cup from the Senior Warden with both hands, and bows. [Please note that City bows are given by an inclination of the head only, body erect.] The Renter Warden carries his Cup to the New Member sitting on the far end of the Master's right and bows to that individual, who then rises and takes the Cup from the Renter Warden with both hands, and bows.
The events and banquets are always fluid and it’s a full time job keeping up with the invitations to stunning events. I wanted to adopt some of the traditions of the Livery companies and include them as part of my new community. One such tradition is the ‘loving cup’. See pictured right below at Banquet of the Entrepreneurs. The custom is said to have originated in the precaution to keep the right, or 'dagger' hand, employed so that the person who drinks may be assured of no treachery, such as that practiced by Elfrida on the unsuspecting King Edward the Martyr, who was slain while drinking at Corfe Castle. This is why the Loving Cup has a cover. The cup is filled with spiced wine, immemorially termed 'Sack'.
In both cases, the first New Member then turns to the next New Member on his left, who rises to face him. They then bow to each other. The New Member on the Left then removes the Cover of the Cup with his right hand, holding it at shoulder-height for all to see. Then the New Member holding the Cup drinks and applies the napkin, which is appended to one of the handles, to the lip of the Cup. Then the New Member holding the Cover of the Cup replaces it. The New Member who has just drunk from the Cup then passes it to the New Member who had been holding the Cover, this New Member grasps it with both hands, and then both bow to each other before turning about. See pictured below.
The New Member now holding the Cup turns to his left The Wardens will be on hand throughout to guide New and the procedure is repeated from paragraph 5. above. Members smoothly through the ceremony to its conclusion, but New Members will later need to be See banquet with the Guild of Entrepreneurs below: familiar with the ceremony to be able to brief their guests on occasions when the ceremony will be performed, such as at Guild Dinners and Banquets.
When the second holder of the Cup turns to his left, the first drinker turns to his right; standing back to back with the New Member now holding the Cup, to guard his back whilst drinking until the Cup is passed to the next New Member.
The Wardens guard the backs of the first New Members to drink, and during this ceremony will advise those standing back to back with drinkers when it is time to sit, usually by a light tap on the shoulder. When the Cup reaches the last in the line of New Members on that side, the Wardens will lift the Cover for the last drinker, and accept the Cup back at the end of the Ceremony.
White tie Banquet with the Guild of Entrepreneurs
With my position as Director of successful companies, new networks within the City of London and far-reaching, I had the great opportunity of enjoying some of the exclusive events and fineries that I hadn’t expected when growing up and entering my career as a tradesman, then Master Carpenter & Joiner and now Entrepreneur.
This really is ’Tandem Connexa’ and with the added value of training the future entrepreneurs of the world from within the community, gives added value and what I had experienced in my training with the City and Guilds.
I now had an insight into how the social elite behaved and what there wants and desires were in relation to social media, networking and communication with likeminded High Net Worth Individuals.
The interest in The Home Club is being driven and influenced by the network and the desire to access it for the delivery of quality experiences in goods and services and to meet likeminded people.
These are the old-fashioned ways of trade and relationships but in the modern way.
What I also understand is quality, experience and fun and This was a club whereby privacy and security partnered as my networks developed, I soon noticed that my idea with trust, quality and integrity are integral and foremost. ‘The Home Club’ had great potential. The Home Club also gives percentages of its gross profits I had created a healthy network of Executives, to Charity, Community projects, Livery Companies, ChamEntrepreneurs and the Social Elite and wanted to pursue a bers of commerce and the Lord Mayor’s City Giving Day. business model that gave these people the same abilities as others in social media, networking with likeminded people, without the concerns of privacy and security. The Home Club had began as a club for exclusive property and interiors network and then as the network expanded with professionals from Health, Luxury, Legal and Finance etc. I decided to join these people together ‘under one roof’, connecting them in in a virtual platform I then came up with the motto: Tandem Connexa, Latin for Ultimately Connected. I also wanted to join the worlds finest brands to The Home Club’s Members and also give the brands the ability of trading with the globe, just as the City of London had done for a thousand years or more. I then decided to give the brands a separate advanced marketing platform to enjoy, just for taking care of The Home Club’s Members. A platform whereby I could allow the brands to search the world and connect with their target customer, see emails, phone numbers and have so many search options that whichever Affiliate would join The Home Club, they could communicated. This was an advanced version of my planning data but on a global scale. I was now in the market of owning an exclusive virtual members club of the worlds influencers and also the Suppliers of the worlds finest goods and services.
I was having the most wonderful time and reinventing all Darren, via his company The Home Club and his gave me this for The Home Club community and having added this opportunity and agreed to mentor me as part of his benefits was being well received. company’s new‘Entrepreneurial Apprenticeship initiative.’ I was able to understand communities in the Livery companies of the City of London and how they all watched each others back and created excellent business together. See: pictured below with fellow Freeman Rev. Bertrand Olivier, Master Kate Jolly and Nicola (Entrepreneurs).
Darren’s mentoring program helped me to realize crucial details that will guide me to develop myself in order to have a successful career. He showed me how to think critically at every step. As a student, you do not realize how important these stages are in a process of building a business as an Entrepreneur. Darren’s great experience and creativity gave me a better vision about how to study clients to satisfy their expectations and necessities, then how to give back showing added value in business. Darren also motivated me to ‘dream big’, be innovative, create blue oceans and transform communities. A business is not just about making money anymore, but to be able to reshape the future... I actually loved it!”
It was whilst attending the All Hallows at the Tower Church’ Christmas Carol Service with the Guild of Entrepreneurs, that I met with a young lady named Stephi Henrichs. Stephi is a German national studying business in London and looking for experience as an Entrepreneur.
I mentioned that I was finalizing my new Entrepreneur Apprenticeship Initiative called: Addversity See: www.addversity.co.uk and wondered if she might like to give it a go. Stephi shadowed me in my business and networks and before leaving after completing her exams in the UK to set up her own business with her father, she wrote, “I am a 25 year old German National studying business in London. I was introduced to Darren via the Guild of Entrepreneurs as I want to become a leading female entrepreneur but just didn't know how or where to begin or how to be an Entrepreneur.
Networks and communities are highly prized and access to The Home Club comes with so many benefits, people, luxury goods and services, events, magazine and all wrapped in trust, privacy and security. Leading on from the business parts of the community there is the equally prized access to Addversity, free for Members of The Home Clubâ€™s children and those underprivileged in society. An exclusive network that is free is that there is no charge to Members. This is unprecedented for such an exclusive club whereby the fees could easily be charged to reflect the benefits. Later on, you will read how The Home Club survives and makes healthy profits in addition to giving our Members access to free events, banquets and other luxurious benefits. Once the word is out, it is very difficult to keep a hold on the reins and it is surprising as to who wants access to not only The Home Club, but in addition Addversity. I was asked to visit Roedene school in Brighton West Sussex and give a talk as an Entrepreneur on my life, experiences, markets, finances, economics, legal matters, construction, data and Addversity. (See: pictured below)
I met with those responsible for careers and the Head of Roedene School who asked for access to Addversity not only for their students, but also for their teachers and staff. I am currently considering how this can be done within the confines of The Home Clubâ€™s rules and those of Addversity. Needless to say, Iâ€™ll find a way. Since meeting with Roedene, additional schools, colleges and Universities have contacted me, both in the UK and Internationally, equally interested in The Home Club and its far reaching benefits.
I had all of the pieces of the puzzle placed nicely, the and asked if he could join The Home Club and bring his desire, experience, tenacity and of course the networks global network along with him. (with Lord Michael and database in which to drive the business. Buckmasterâ€”Brown Pictured below)
Pictured above at Roedene school discussing Data and As we discussed this over coffee. Michael was on his communities. I wanted to somehow round up all of my mobile phone calling his contacts and asking them to career experiences and place them all under one roof. meet with me that same day for lunch and conversation. One community for the benefit of all.
Michael explained that he had a network of contacts that The Home Club had began its journey as with mine and would want to join The Home Club based in China and my desire to bring one global community for the benefit the Middle-East and asked me to meet with his contact of all. I had been very lucky with the people and based in Scotland, Mr. Russell Dalgleish. information I received and feel that along with the hype As one of the most connected Scottish businessman, and desire from those I intend to have within the Russell is a high-profile influencer and connector, as well community and this exclusive private members club. as a serial entrepreneur. On the 17th March 2017 at the London Capital Club in He is the founding Managing Partner of the advisory the City of London, The Home Club launched in Beta. group, Exolta Capital Partners as well as angel investor. Such was the interest that Lord Michael Buckmaster- In his earlier career he has held board leadership Brown (Chairman of Emblem Group and nephew of Sir positions with International companies achieving Winston Churchill) came across from his planned turnover in excess of ÂŁ200m. meeting...
His passion for this subject was recognised by the Scottish Government who have appointed him to the Scottish Board of Trade. Today Russell sits on the boards on ten companies and organisations including Institute of Directors Scotland, Startedin and ScotlandIS. He is an active member of Merchant Company of Edinburgh , Asia Scotland Institute and supporter of organisations championing female business leaders Changing the Chemistry and the Association of Scottish Business Women. Regularly appearing on lists of top 100 most influential entrepreneurs, he was also recently named on the Maserati 100 – a list of Britain’s business leaders doing the most to promote and support the next generation of entrepreneurs. An experienced speaker, Russell has delivered entrepreneur focused events in Abu Dhabi, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Shenzhen, China. Russell’s success has been commemorated in a number of ways, but most notably by sculptor Anthony Gormley. He was turned into a living statue, fully kilted, on a plinth in Trafalgar Square for charity.
(Picture with Mark Moody at London Capital Club above)
Again, once one Ambassador came on board then many Within only half an hour of Michael making his calls, Mr. more followed. Mark Moody (Social Editor of OK magazine) left his meeting and came straight over. Mark wanted to join The Home Club, not only as Member but also as a paid role as Social Editor, leaving his position at OK Magazine and later tweeted, “The #Homeclub is already the talk of the London elite. Have you been invited to join? Where’s my invite?” The Home Club was growing at speed and I had interest from experts wanting to become Brand Ambassadors in differing fields of expertise and with experience that would assist me in understanding the behavior and profiles of The Home Club’s target market of Members, Affiliates. These Ambassadors were to support, advise and assist The Home Club in the 12 sub-headings.
The sub-headings under which The Home Club’s Ambassadors, Affiliates practice, 1. Fixtures, Fittings & Equipment 2. Property 3. Property Professionals 4. Health & Relationships 5. Mental Health 6. Social & Networking 7. Fashion & Tailoring 8. Travel 9. Jewellery & Watches 10. Legal 11. Finance 12. Recruitment
I had the advisors in The Home Club’s Ambasadors, the previous history other than some ideas, a very large networks and understanding of the Members wants network and lots of hype. As soon as Bentley became and needs. I wanted to now bring in the Brands to see Affiliates, so did the other luxury brands. what interest (if any) was already building. The Home Club had no marketing drive and the interest was organic. For additional clarity even though its quite clear herein, it must be noted that all of the referenced Ambassadors and Associates have now resigned from The Home Club and were not in their positions at the point of this material being posted. I wish them all well and am grateful for their time and professional advice! It was now time to return to the luxury brands who were continually contacting me asking for the membership details and how to join and access my network of HNW’s. I spoke with Douglas McFarlane CEO of Lomond Yachts, David Brown Automotive, Lucy Choi, Taj Palaces, Six Senses, Oliver Sweeney, Rosewood Group, Langhams, Augusta LLP (litigation funders), Sable FX (Foreign exchange), Hall Kemp (Property agents) Couture Fashion designers… It was overwhelming!
I had thought of it previously, but neither had the time nor experience to launch a new luxury magazine and building of the business and platform creation. I decided to form a very (no a very) basic magazine and simply place pictures and details of some of the interested brands and send out to 250,000 HNW individuals, 60% in the UK, 30% in the USA and the balance across Europe and the Rest of The World. The results were incredible and I had the read times, open rates and other very useful information to refer to. I had been to a luxury car event in Battersea, only a few minutes from my home and was given a business card of Mr. Andrew Slatter, a senior salesman of Bentley Hertfordshire. I called Andrew and asked if Bentley would like to become an Affiliate of The Home Club. After some initial checks, Andrew called me with a “yes please!” Andrew is very commercially minded and I would have understood if Bentley had not wanted to become an Affiliate of my company as there was no
The Home Clubâ€™s initial trial Magazine: https://issuu.com/thehomeclub6/docs/the_home_club_magazine_july_2017
I wanted to deliver the concept into the market and had Russell had done this many times previously as Senior the assistance of Russell Dalgleish and Michael Partner of Exolta Capital Partners, Buckmaster-Brown in addition to a review by Shirlaws. Exolta Capital Partners ‘Exolta’ are a collective of senior executives and non-executive directors specialising in providing business growth guidance to agile and ambitious businesses. They are a team of experts operating within the business growth and corporate finance marketplace. They operate globally in businesses and companies on all continents, offering support to individuals and businesses focused on achieving their ambitious growth plans and realising value from their business enterprises. Their advisers have experience of working in over 50 countries in a broad spectrum of international sectors and industries. In terms of our services to Private Equity, Exolta have a track record of generating considerable value for investment community clients through understanding Chris Holdsworth—Shirlaws their investment profile intimately, identifying high growth potential businesses, engineering creative and Shirlaws are coaches, do-ers, founded on fact and robust structures and backing management teams to substance. Their founder, Darren Shirlaw, is a deliver these objectives. world-acknowledged expert on the financial markets and Exolta‘s competitive advantage is our direct access to their impact on business growth. equity funds, consistent quality and volume of deal flow, Shirlaws systems are based on careful research and the experience in both advisory and principal roles and a experience of working with hundreds of growing track record of unlocking significant value. Exolta Capital businesses, and so our clients consistently outperform Partners is fully owned by its founders and as such can the market. It was time to bring all this together under be flexible and creative in how it structures its one platform and I gave Russell the Shirlaws review and participation in its investments. instructed him to prepare the business plan and In addition to these fine gentlemen, I had the might of ‘financials’. Michael Buckmaster-Brown, a one star General, a military man with order and precision at his heart and a passion that would assist me with my business. It was whilst meeting with Michael at the London Capital Club that Michael asked me if I would like him to, “become The Home Club Chairman and have a director take care of his media businesses…” Of course I was honoured but relished holding onto the helm of a business that was effectively my whole career in the making. I declined the offer with gratitude. Russell and I met at the Institute of Directors (IoD) in Pall Mall and discussed the future of The Home Club.
Russell Dalgleish— Exolta)
Russell explained how he had delivered on many tech companies trading of shares, development and at early stage and said that he wanted to help me...
Russell said he loved The Home Club idea and said that, “there was nothing else like it…” and “it excites me!”
Russell then asked me if he could build the business plan and meet with the company accountant Mr. Henry Goldstein to prepare the financials as he had an idea. The Idea is that Russell said, he has many contacts in Silicon Valley and they would love this as the American market love the British brands and especially ones that have deep links to the City of London, heritage and the Russell then returned to London on the 10th May 2017 and Royal Families and others involved in the club globally. met at the accountants offices in Moorgate in the City of Henry Goldstein—Maurice J. Bushell & Co. London ’MJB’ to discuss the business plan draft he had forwarded in advance of the meeting and for the accountant to complete the Financials and Prospectus. This was agreed and I returned to the accountant, Mr. Henry Goldstein’ office of Maurice J. Bushell & Co. a short time later. I had been planning The Home Club for sometime and whilst Henry and his business partner, Mr. Steve Foster had understood the concept, they had no idea of the potential. During the course of the 12th May 2017, Henry and I took time to go through every minutia and all the questions asked and evidence of such supported. I’ll never forget, Henry stepping back in the boardroom of his office and saying, “...you were actually right all along. Sorry, its not that I didn't believe you but the numbers were just too much for a startup. If we are right and I’ve gone back and forwards and answered many questions not put to you in my mind, then the first year gross profit is approximately £132million.”
Russell asked if I minded him talking to his contacts in Pivitol Labs and Silicon Valley Bank SVB and see if there was any interest in investment in lthe company. There are NDA’s in place and I thought that he could be trusted, so I agreed.
Henry added, “The running costs and the platform build are so small in comparison, approximately £3.2million, that you have an amazing business here Darren. Well Done!” Henry and I still remained silent, staring at the whiteboard when Steve Foster (Henry’s business partner at MJB) entered the boardroom and said, “Oh these numbers look interesting Henry are these hundreds or thousands of pounds? “They’re millions” Henry replied. “What!!” Steve exclaimed “MILLIONS!?!” As I sat and drank the rest of my cold coffee, I heard Henry and Steve go through the steps and discuss the business plan and financials. After a short while, they both agreed.
Russell and Michael asked to meet with me to discuss what shares of mine in The Home Club as ‘Sweat Equity’ and they described as, “An offer that I simply couldn't refuse.” the sale of 20% of my shares of The Home Club for £103million, the first tranche of £3million to be delivered How interesting I thought and met with them again at the in October 2017. IoD in Pall Mall. Russell had amended the business plan and explained every part asking if he had nailed my idea. After a On the 5th June 2017 at the IoD, Michael, Russell and I very few further amendments, I agreed. signed that contract, turning The Home Club into a billion pound company. Michael then took center stage and spent some time convincing me that The Home Club required a formal board The ink was barely dry when Russell revealed that he had and that he and Russell and even Mark Moody would be already booked his flights to San Francisco in the July to very happy to come on board as, Chairman, Managing discuss the interest and deliver on the contract with SVB. Director and Social Editor or Media Executive respectively. I remembered the plasterboard business and the I felt that this was the right thing to do as the Ambassadors numerous property, supercar and luxury goods were very busy and had given some useful help and advice. magazines, before using them as firelighters when I was In the absence of the Ambassadors and whilst I said that I in litigation. I wasn't going to build this one up! needed time to consider, Michael then revealed that Russell had interest of significance from Silicon Valley. Russell then explained that, “There's lots of tech and lots of money in Silicon Valley and yet there are very few good ideas. I should know, I do lots of business out there and have taken UK business to investment and support to there.” I suppose that I must have had my poker face on as Russell then went on, “Based upon the business plan and draft financials, the Shirlaws review, you have a potentially multi-billion-pound-company here!” Russell added, “I said that I would speak with someone in SVB and they want to discuss further. I wonder if we, you Michael and I can now enter into an agreement on the sale of your shares and partnership with a tech company TC?” Pictured above, Left to Right, Me, Michael and Russell at Pictured below, Left to Right, Michael and Russell and I at the IoD only a few minutes after signing of the contract. the IoD discussing the proposed contract The interest in The Home Club was becoming over Over the next few weeks, we drafted and re-drafted a whelming and I had interest from everyone I met. contract for a partnership with a Tech Company for a few I received interest from a HRH (European Prince) via Facebook as he had no other way of contacting me. I then received a call from a Mr. Rockefeller. Ah ok, I expected this. Some odd characters trying to get in eh? But they could have used a lesser known name as this was far too easy to check out, I thought. I acted as if the gentleman. Why wouldn't I, I had a Crowned Prince contacting me. Mr. R. explained who he was, how he could verify who he was. His full history, employment at ‘Coutts Bank’ and other information.
I said that I had indeed heard of his family name and yet this club was there to protect the privacy and security of its Members, Affiliates etc.
Pictured with Lady Michelle Mone of Mayfair.
Again, he asked me to waiver my levels of due diligence and gave additional information about himself and his family. Again, I explained that there was a process and it wasn't willing to bend it. Not for anyone. As everyone in The Home Club is very important and they expect me to do my job in ensuring that they have every comfort in who I allow in. “Ok” he said, “I’ll see what I can do!” A couple of weeks went by before I received a call from a USA number. When answering it, I heard, “Mr. Bolger? Mr. Bolger The Home Club?” “Yes” I replied. For the next, what seemed like five minutes was the sound of a small group of people laughing, almost uncontrollably. I was going to hang up, when I heard, “Apologies, Mr. Bolger in all the years that ******** have been dealing with the Rockefeller’ legal affairs, we have never before heard of anyone asking one of the family to show ID.” Then they carried on laughing for a moment or two before ending the call. Within ten minutes, I received the passport for Mr. Rockefeller along with the mandate for the ‘Christina O’ (Onassis yacht) and the discounted price.
I also received the details of properties valued in the £50million+ range and many other opportunities to share with my club. Pictured above Property in Rome, Italy. £50m+ Then followed more properties, mainly in Italy and a couple in France. All top end and off market and more people interested in The Home Club
Pictured with Mr. Greg Wallace of BBC MasterChef.
Pictured below at dinner with Lord David Leakey (Black Rod) at the London Capital club.
With The Home Club’s expansion came the advice from the experts and we met regularly to discuss how the luxury brands would interact with The Home Club’ community. Pictured above, The Home Club team discussing the platform and future of the markets. It was very difficult to get all of the experts in one room and so we would often have to meet at different stages. This was difficult and kept me awake most nights as there were so many variables, whether social scenes, differing mindsets and behaviors, levels of availability and during the formation of the basis for the platform, the R&D in events and social behavior, not only for the Brands but of the Members was a very interesting puzzle to solve.
Lieutenant General Arundell David Leakey, CMG, CBE in his role as ‘Black Rod’ at the House of Lords.
Pictured above with Alina Blinova (City of London)
I decided to create events whereby we could all meet and interact. The Home Club network was growing and I was organizing all of the factors into an orderly fashion.
Pictured with F1 Legend Nigel Mansel as he ‘drove’ the sheep across London Bridge.
Pictured above with Julie Fairclough (fashion agent) and Nana Nanoush (Model—best female model of the year 2017)
There were some great events created and quite surreal to attend the Worshipful Company of Woolmen’ Sheep Drive and watch Nigel Mansel — Drive Sheep. Pictured with Alderman Peter Hewitt and his wife, Fidelma at the Sheep Drive.
Pictured above: with the Rt. Hon The Lord Mayor of the City of London Lord Mounteavans at Guildhall.
With so many contacts, events and business and networking opportunities, The Home Club was effectively building itself even before the ‘automaton concierge’, big Peter is the Master of the Worshipful Company of data and Artificial Intelligence platform was in place. Woolmen and also the Founding Freeman of the Guild of The insights into the actual behaviors of HNW individuals Entrepreneurs. and people of status was however giving me so much Fidelma and Peter manage Premier Non Executives, a assistance in creating the architecture for the online specialist recruitment site for Non Executive Directors, community, associated databases and online platform. Interims and Senior Management. They also both manage Finance for Companies which is a risk capital broker.
Russell was still in Silicon Valley and not a word from him. I was very excited and couldn't wait much longer and so sent him an email, “Dear Russell, I hope that you are well and enjoying the USA. I wonder if you would please confirm whether you have had any of your planned meetings with tech company(s) and Silicon Valley bank? If yes, what is the SP and if not when are these occurring? I look forward to hearing your update.”
Anna was charming and lots of fun. She even asked me to pose with her and her friends and posted it on her Twitter Account, “Having an afternoon blast with Darren Bulgar, President of the exciting Home Club.” (pictured below left)
Anna was hilarious and without a care in the world. She asked me who else was in ‘the club’. I explained that I had a very well known footballer and his wife’s PA ask if they could join The Home Club. Before I could finish Russell replied, “Hi, How's the knee? I've been with and suggest that everyone would want these two A— three funding groups including SVB, will brief all when I Listers in their club, Anna said, “Please don’t lower the am back. “ and “Yes there was interest.” tone Darren. You may think that these two are socialites but they really aren’t. The Home Club, as I This was great news and exactly what I needed as the understand it, is exclusive and for the worlds elite, not bills were mounting up and my own funds dwindling. the modern day A-Listers.” I was called by Nicola Manning asking whether I would Anna had a point and it was only when mentioning this meet with Lady Anna Brocklebank as she had also to her, that she gave me useful insights as to who to heard about The Home Club and wanted to both join include before showing me a plastic bag full of her and bring her contacts to The Home Club. contacts business cards. “Now Darren, go and really Anna lives in Corsica for most of the year and it would make something of this club and remember, it has to be have ben lovely to have had the time to fly out there FUN!” I was very lucky to have Anna’s advice and more but I was snowed under in London and Anna came over than that, she had experienced every end of the true to meet with me, which was very good of her. I met socialite arena. In fact, she probably invented it! Anna along with Nicola and some of Anna’s friends at I was able to sharpen and re-sharpen the business and Anna’s Surrey home. with the advice and the network, I knew that The Home We discussed The Home Club and Anna’s aspirations Club would be a success. for her ‘doctor friend’ who wanted to take the top job I had the databases of Property (planning applications) and the new cancer clinic in South Kensington… and HNW individuals, the socialites, the word of mouth, the databases of my Ambassadors and the potential of the partnership with the Silicon Valley Tech Company and Silicon Valley Bank to really drive the business. The Private Members clubs, restaurants and hotels had also heard of my database and wanted access to it. Whilst contemplating the HNW community platform with the Tech Company, I decided to review my own database and wondered whether I could create a database that the suppliers and affiliates could access via a license so that they would have the finest marketing tool anywhere. Affiliates can offer the Members their goods and services and yet I wanted to give something else, something in addition to supplying The Home Club’ members with amazing goods and services,.
I wanted to also plan for some small intimate events. Low key and quality and FUN just as a ‘taster’. I was early for a meeting in the Royal Exchange with Jin Lee who is the events manage for D&D at the Royal Exchange. I was quite early as I had seen the Princes Dome at the Ned Hotel which had finished earlier than planned, so I took a walk around the Royal Exchange and went into a couple of boutiques to discuss the brands becoming Affiliates for The Home Club. I went into Boodles, Tiffany & Co. Churchills and Hermes before Jo Malone. I was introduced to Michelle the store manager at Jo Malone who enquired about The Home Club. I explained that The Home Club is large network of HNW’s and luxury brands which I bring together as one part of the club. Michelle immediately asked if I would like to invite up to 25 guests and she would close the store and give The Home Club’ guests a pampering session and trials of the new range of Jo Malone ‘smellies’ as she put it.
Pictured, Prince Rostislav (Rosti) Romanov I had been invited to the ’new age’ of networking events. The ’in the life of’ from ‘Rosti’ whereby someone of importance and/or influence will chat to a warm hearted audience and revealing themselves to all.
I know that many stores, Hotels and Private Members I was invited to meet with Prince Rostislav Romanov at Clubs do similar things in order to showcase their 12 Hay Hill private members club in Mayfair to premises, goods and services. I agreed and a date was set. experience this for myself and met with ‘Rosti’ who was in fact very interesting, charming, relaxed and open about I was also invited to may other events, Art, Furniture, his life and that of his family and the effect the Russian Business and this also gave me knowledge of the markets Revolution had upon Russian Art. and the ‘networking culture’ that had been prominent for a few years now. The differences were, that most events The doors had now opened to the art world and at the have a fixed theme, dating, business, networking, social highest levels as word of The Home Club circulated. etc. and yet when getting into the actual event, the theme goes out of the window and people usually take the event as they want. One of The Home Club’s previous Ambassadors had told me that she preferred business networking events as they were much more relaxed than, dating/relationships events and she felt comfortable to control the level of interest in her whilst attending the better ones. This was very interesting to me and as I wanted to create exceptional events that were indifferent, then I needed to experience as many variables and create something special and different, experience being everything. Pictured, Artist — The Yacht London
I had the team of experts, the board of experienced executives and tech introducers, advice from ‘blue chip’ counselling team, contract for Tech Company and sale of 20% of my shares valued by Michael & Russell at £103million. I have the support of the Guild of Entrepreneurs and City of London, the interest of the HNW Executive community across 12 professional sectors, Luxury brands throwing their stores open (for free) just to have The Home Club’s Members attend events at their stores and it was time to bring this all together and ‘deliver’ The Home Club. I was ever closer to the complete version of Home Club’s structure and business model.
The Home Club has always been and will continue to support of the Lord Mayors City Giving Day pictured above left, Clockwise, the Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor of the City of London Dr. Andrew Parmley. I was asked to attend the Lord Mayors City Giving Day on the 5th September 2017 and was honoured to sit on the Lord Mayors table (table number 9) pictured above right. With delivery of the contract on the 9th October 2017 with Michael and Russell and to be in funds of £3million with the balancing £100m to follow, I decided to add to my support of the Lord Mayors office and wrote to the Lord Mayor and offered to donate 10% of the value of my sale of shares, a figure of £10.3million over the next few years. I also spoke with Mr. Lawson Muncaster and Christian May of CITY AM and they wanted to promote the donations on the forthcoming CITY AM publications. See: Lawson on table 9 below. I asked Michael for a meeting with him and Russell and agreed upon the afternoon of the 5th September as Michael, Russel and I were going to discus the position on the contract and then donations to the Lord Mayor of the City of London. I then received a call from Andrew from Bentley giving VIP tickets to attend the Game Fair in Hertfordshire. I’m English, play tennis quite regularly and love the English culture and the international relationships, networks and metropolitan culture with other countries and communities and yet, I had never been shooting and needed to attend this network with interest and to further The Home Club networks.
Upon arrival, we were welcomed as VIP’s of Bentley with the, now usual, Andrew greeting. A smile and open arms but with direction and purpose guiding us all into the seated area for some refreshments. I enjoy a drink with the rest of them, but champagne at 10am…? Well why not I answered and was guided outside on the lawn for
him say to Ieva, “Will this be ok, it’s all I could muster and had I known that you were vegetation I would have prepared much more.” Will handed Ieva a roll that seemed on the face of it, the same as the bacon rolls that we were enjoying. What I hadn’t realized was that Ieva was a vegetarian and Will had spotted that Ieva hadn’t take a bacon roll and had took the time to ask her if she wanted something else instead, once he discovered her dietary requirements. Will had done no more but to visit his family’s kitchen located a few stands away and personally made Ieva a delicious egg roll. Now that may not sound like much, but it wasn’t the fact that it was an egg roll. It was the level of thought, service and desire to ensure that someone was well catered for that filled me with an overwhelming feeling of being in a luxurious environment, whilst in the most relaxed and enjoyable moment. I made comment to Will of his thoughtfulness and he gave thanks but I felt that this was standard for Will and his company and he was so unassuming and yet creative and generous. I will never forget this and thought that this is the level of standard that I want in the hearts and minds of those servicing The Home Club’s Members.
some bacon rolls to accompany the champagne.
I later discovered that Will wasn't Bentley’s catering company but a VIP guest of Bentley that just so happened to be showing his own company’s fine cuisine in an adjacent stand at the show.
This may not be what some might accept as luxury, but Will took time to support Bentley guests and go the extra for me, it was the start to a wonderful day. mile, before leaving to attend to his guests that were Pictured above, clockwise, Ieva, Me, Brian Bolger. shortly to arrive. Will then asked, “would you all like to try I noticed that a gentleman I now know as ‘Will’ standing some of our Game cuisine at some point today?”. beside us and Andrew introduced Will as, “Please meet I wouldn’t usually think of game as something that I Will. He is the joint owner of Fieldings Game & Country would choose from a menu and yet, Will had caught my and Will and his family create the finest game cuisine and curiosity as I couldn’t get his superior level of service out dinner parties that you will ever wish to have. Believe me” of my mind and wondered what the food may be like. Will shook all our hands before Will left us as we enjoyed We all agreed, “We would be very happy to accept your the food and beverages and chatted to other Bentley kind invitation Will and look forward to seeing you at, say, guests. 2:15” “I look forward to showing you some of our dishes Within about 5 minutes, Will arrived again and I heard and introducing you to my mum.” Will replied.
Of course, Will’s behavior was like this, he was part of a family business. A long line of people of luxurious cuisine and this was reflected in both his behavior, attitude and degree of care and attention to detail. The ’experience’ had only just begun and Andrew mentioned to us that he would be personally taking us to shoot with his friends at E.J. Churchill. Andrew then walked around the Mulsanne, GT and Flying Spur showing the Game Fair’ visitors the brand Bentley and giving everyone the opportunity of enjoying the Bentley experience, sitting in the cars, photo opportunities and generally allowing the general public to have an experience with this luxury brand, whether they intended to buy a car or not. We were then called to go shooting and between Bentley and E.J. Churchill, Andrew introduced us to some of his contacts, including, Rob Fenwick Managing Director (pictured above) of E. J. Churchill.
Also pictured above with Ieva and Norton Bike & with Stuart Garner and V4 Superbike. Stuart was showing off Norton's new creation superbike and had a large queue trying to get close to take photos. We left E.J Churchill promising to return later on. Andrew was in full flow and walked us through the crowds avoiding all of the queues and introducing us to some of the luxurious brands and discussions with the Then Victoria (of E.J. Churchill) came over and Owners of these brands and their guests. introduced me to Stuart Garner, the CEO of Norton bikes who, along with his partner, Suzie who personally Andrew then stopped and said, “oh I must introduce you explained the Norton ethos, the British brand and of to Jade. She’s probably very busy, but lets give it a try. course his new edition, the New V4 (pictured above). We were then invited to a personal meeting with Jade
With, Ieva & Jade — Holland Cooper
Ieva was in her element and tried on most of the garments whilst I chatted with Jade who took time from an overflowing stand whilst her staff coped with the, what seems to be overwhelming desire to purchase her goods. Jade explained her brand, her advertising schedule, Harrods and the future of luxury clothing brands. Jade was delightful as were her team and the quality of the clothing and the feeling of care and attention to detail was resonating with me and these are the brands that I want The Home Club’ Members to have access & ‘first look’ of. Andrew then asked us to follow him off “to the shoot”
Andrew then took the five of us down to the shooting area and in turn we shot around 10 cartridges each, during which we were superbly guided by the ‘loader’ and given the best advice and in very simple terms. Shooting is very addictive and I was reminded to use the same techniques that I use in my tennis. Hand to eye!
This was a huge help and although I only hit three, the experience was simply thrilling and very addictive. I think that Ieva actually hit the most and was a real sharp shooter. We were guided back to E.J. Churchills where I was warmly greeted by a busy barmaid who asked me, “what flavor would you like Sir?”. “Flavor! Gin!” I exclaimed. I was then given a very short summary on the many types of flavored Gin’s and settled on Rhubarb and was then guided to the mixer of Ginger Ale and ice of course. It was absolutely delicious and I could taste it before it hit my tongue as the smell was sublime and after two, or was it three I was getting very comfortable and wanted to stay.
Will then passed a large plate, placing it on the side, with what reminded me of the feeling I had at: Ametsa with Arzak Instruction in Belgravia. I was relaxed, intoxicated, having fun, standing with friends, eating fine game cuisine, cooked on a portable stove and at a Game Fair. Stunning!
Finest Gins, from their 200 year old barn on Falls Farm in the picturesque village of Harrington, Northamptonshire, they lovingly distil a range of small batch, fantastically smooth, award winning gins using their farm’s natural spring water, grain spirit and home-grown ingredients. Each batch is small, and every single bottle is handcrafted by Warner Edwards, from filling to the wax seal and label finishing. We were having such a great time and then returned back to Bentley and upon arrival we could hear the faint sound of the champagne cork and Ching of fine glasses, before being met with the same, cold glass of bubbly. We sat and laughed with Bentley staff and had a relaxed end to the day.
Even until this day, my brother who is well travelled and knows good food, still raves on about this exact experience (as do I) and that’s why I just had to have Fieldings Game & Country at events for The Home Club’ Members.
Oh No!! Will and his food! It was 3:30! We gave our apologies which were graciously accepted and then walked through the various stands until we arrived at Fielding’s. As we climbed the few steps into the hut, we were warmly greeted by Will and with his mum right behind him in support.
“I’m so sorry...” I began to explain and couldn’t help but take in the smells that were coming from the chef’s pans. “Not to worry.” Will replied “I have prepared something for you all. And something vegetation for you Ieva and the Chef will have it with you in a couple of minutes. Meet my mum…” Then we met with Will’s I had access to even more of the finest brands and the mum Liz. top tier clientele as Members of The Home Club and “Hello,” she said in her softly, well spoken, English contacts of mine. We chatted for a while before accent, “pleasure to meet you all and I hope that you returning to Bentley. The whole experience was enjoy the food today.” seamless and thoroughly enjoyable.
This wasn't a case of throwing lots and lots of money at it and hope it sticks. This was once again, all about experiences and with the leading brands. The following Monday morning, I spoke with Andrew and thanked him and Bentley for their hospitality and thought that I would experience the same the following year. But Bentley hadn’t completed their hospitality as this was simply just one facet or thread in which the Bentley brand has been built. You might think that after giving such a fabulous day of hospitality and some, that Bentley would look to other clients or potential clients of theirs to fluff and create new business and this wasn’t quite the case at all. We chatted about the event at the Game Fair and other more personal matters, including that I was to take my daughter to meet with a breeder of Pomeranians the following weekend.
We travelled to Feltham to see the dogs and along the way my daughter played with every Bentley gadget, paired her iPhone to the car headset and then played her Spotify tunes until we arrived and went in to see the dogs. Two cute, pictured above. It seemed that although these dogs were very cute, they weren't Pomeranians and therefore it was either have a home full of cute dogs or find the real thing… We left with the sounds of “aaaww” and “aah they're so cute daddy. Can I have this one and another Pom?” My Andrew then asked, “Would you like to take your daughter isn't stupid by any means and I really didn't daughter to see the pups in the brand new £320,000 want to be either, so I did everything I could to change Bentley Mulsanne then on for a few days…?” Never has the subject, which meant a long drive to Brighton. the term ‘no-brainer’ been appropriate and I surely We pulled up in traffic in one of the lanes and then she agreed with huge appreciation. opened the front door and got into the back seat where Again, what a treat and more, the levels of hospitality and the music volume increased, the blinds went up and the care for clients by Bentley. I messaged my daughter and TV’s and Wi-Fi were duly tested. told her of the car and although sounding very impressed, “You just have to get this one Daddy,” she said “I love this she really only wanted to see the cute pups. one and its so comfortable. Will you pick me up from I collected her from her mother and saw he eyes widen as school?” “Of course Princess” I replied. Of course I’m going I opened the door for her. Then she said when getting in. to spoil her and give her everything! “This is nice. A Bentley hey... mmm very nice”
I dropped of my Princess and contacted the Kennel Club for information on Top Breeders and found one in Doncaster. I had a month or so before seeing my little Princess again so it was back to work and head down as everything was now coming together nicely and I just had the event at Jo Malone to complete this month.
I contacted Michelle at the store and she forwarded me what I thought was a wind-up.. I thought that Will would refuse to cater in these conditions and yet he asked to come down to visit the store and try to work something out.
I contacted Will and asked if he and his mum would assist with the catering for the event and asked if he had any recommendations as to the wine and spirits. He came back to me and said that he had spoken with a friend ‘Donald Ealand’ who owned the distinguished winery and brewery, Chiltern Valley who wanted to support The Home Club event. ‘Chilterns vines were planted in 1982 on the slopes of the Chiltern Hills, surrounded by beech woodland and overlooking the beautiful Hambleden Valley near Henley-on-Thames, (remember the paddle steamer?)
We met at Jo Malone store at the Royal Exchange in the City of London and found a completely clear room.
“Forget the other room.” Will said, I’ll bring the facilities and everything will be fine.” Now although I had Chiltern have Royal Warrant to Her Majesty Queen expected something else from Will, but my experience Elizabeth. See picture of Chiltern’s Royal Warrant below.’ and deep down gut feeling, wasn't the type of guy to give up. I was then called by Will asking if I could forward over a As we were about to leave, Michelle asked us to “come photo of the kitchen facilities at Jo Malone. next door to Lulu Guinness as they want to get involved with The Home Club event too.” We all went next door and met with Iryna the Store Manager and explained the planned event. She Said, “We would love to be involved in co-hosting your events and will close our store along with Jo Malone to no other than The Home Club guests, complimentary !” We were all set, the venue, fine food and wines and all I needed now were the guests. But who as there are so many. Who I would love to invite and I only planned for 25-30 people (mostly females). I didn't have to reach out too far and filled the guest list with friends all of which were very excited to be pampered and see the new products of two amazing brands. Although predominantly for females, there were some men interested in being pampered. Or was it the fact that there would have stunning ladies attending.
With everything that was going on, I had to round up the business plan for The Home Club as if your in any way entrepreneurial or know one, then you’ll know that our minds are always creating and planning ideas and invention, but its then putting everything into a cognitive form and of course, making some money out of it.
No, being an Entrepreneur will do all of that for them without my help!
Being an entrepreneur is almost a disease of the creative mind, it becomes you, you need it, want it and desire it and whilst feeling lacking and trying to succeed, when tasting success, your mind wanders to thinking about what you will do next, when successful and not There was so much to place within The Home Club, so feeling ‘alive again’. many areas of business, people, behaviors, additions i.e. Everyone wants to be an Entrepreneur, it’s a sexy events, a magazine, an apprenticeship initiative, a word, looks good on the business card and LinkedIn platform, concierge service and all on a global scale and profile. But you might as well call yourself a spaceman with the finest luxury brands and HNW’s. as yes, being a real entrepreneur comes with scales but, Any one of these areas of business is a lifetimes work entrepreneurs know real entrepreneurs. and yet I was putting them all together into one Bing an entrepreneur or realizing it, doesn't come from platform as this is my lifetimes work. setting up a limited company and then a GoDaddy The number of times I sat writing down the plan and website, Vistaprint business cards and then networking adding different alternatives equates to many months. at Home House. Although real entrepreneurs also do Add to that the emails, meetings, calls and otherwise this too, if that’s what it takes. networking and my heart was mostly banging in my No, being an entrepreneur is something that often chest, gasping for breath. makes you feel like you’re chasing yourself, looking for This is excessive, overwhelming and often very exciting and exhausting with times where I cant almost contain my excitement and desire to tell someone. But this is just being an entrepreneur and depending upon how far you want to take it, challenge yourself and then deliver the ideas, will you experience the exact same feelings that I describe and many more.
resolution to problems, embracing your own ideas and hoping that people will understand you.
Being an entrepreneur isn't for everyone as it often comes with risks, huge ones and I have found that its when I’m almost broke and living hand to month, that I perform at my very best, struggling to solve problems without the ability of necessary financial support.
Its often a lonely place and I know that I‘m not selling it, but I don’t have to and can’t. Well I probably could as the positives with being an entrepreneur is that confidence oozes as does reading people, selling anything, taking the knocks and laughing at them whilst fixed in the knowledge that it is making you better, stronger and even more creative and whilst feeling the punches, you are creating the adventure and even creating new businesses from them too.
I have thought about how to train the next generations of entrepreneurs. Do I tell them to take only £5 each day and try to deliver a idea and/or business, negotiating the pathway ahead. Do I advise the Apprentice to become street-wise and feel the pain of struggle to need to survive. Do I make it so difficult that the Apprentice feels the pressures of living on the edge and potentially failing and losing everything, every minute of every day.
You are creating and don’t really want to share your thoughts but somehow feel that you have to, just in order to validate the lack of speaking your mind, when all you really want is to be left alone and to create, adjust, solve problems and deliver.
During your entrepreneurial journey you will create many ideas and I think of this as being a song writer, delivering the best song of the day and having many others in the repertoire for a later stage, even if just to feel that feeling again.
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With R tact o such a
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With Actress & Model: Ciara Lyons
red left: Ciara Lyons (Actress & Model) and I— The evening began with Ciara wearing one of Peter Bagley’s latest creations and with 0 hand stitched pearls. I was wearing another of Peter’s amazing creations a cashmere blazer and waistcoat.
uests were soon enjoying the fine wines provided by Chiltern Valley and they really gave the event a start by giving The Home Club ah Thargau - An exclusive pre-release for The Home Club at Jo Malone of Chiltern Valley English Dry - Delicate, clean, fresh with lively e and a citrus finish.
Riesling being a big part of its origins, Muller Thurgau can have a floral and aromatic nature. Being given a little extended Lees conour Muller Thurgau has a higher body and viscosity than MT tends to exhibit. Easy drinking on its own but great with food. Seafood as Mackerel, Fowl such as Duck and even Spicy food help to bring out the best in this wines Aromatic and Fruity Nature.
er Thurgaucan Colour – Light Straw to Golden
a – Stone Fruits such as Peach and Apricot with a hint of pear. Tasting notes – Fruit driven to begin with leading into hints of mild , Medium bodied, with a balanced mouthfeel. Overall Dry with a fresh and long finish.
an see the different people from very differing professions all coming together whereby they might usually be in their professional le. The Home Club brings people and communities together.
red below left to right, Sulheka Ahmed (Model), Peter Bagley (Atelier), Will Fielding (Fine dining and Owner of Fieldings Game & try), Jason Bolger (Entrepreneur & Construction expert), Brian Bolger (Entrepreneur & Inventor)
Pictured left: Louise and I
Jo Malone Jo Malone London is a British perfume and scented candle brand, founded by Jo Malone in 1983. It has been owned since 1999 by EstĂŠe Lauder. The brand is known for its expensive perfumes, luxury candles, bath products, and room scents. Whilst it was initially thought that only the females would participate in the pampering e.g. hand massages etc. I noted the men enjoying the pampering equally as much. I think that If it wasn't for the wine and canapes and more, the ladies roaming at their leisure, the men may have stayed in the pampering area for much longer.
Fieldings Game & Country Seasonal local produce freshly cooked by our creative chefs to provide an innovative and exciting eating experience ready to be served in any location. CanapĂŠ menu - right Venison, fig & caramelised shallot roulade with a dark chocolate & hazelnut crumb
Pictured left with (Biologist and Actress) Louise Renouf and right: Louise, Jemma (the Bentley girls) and Federico Nassetti (Architect) Lulu Guinness Lulu Guinness was launched in 1989 as a handbag and accessories retailer & currently operates multinationally. As part of her 'Collectables' range, Lulu's The Florist Basket forms a permanent part of the Victoria and Albert Museum's "The Cutting Edge: 50 Years of British Fashion 19471997" exhibition in London. Lucinda "Lulu" Jane Guinness, OBE is a British accessories fashion designer. She was born in May 1960, the daughter of Sir Miles Rivett-Carnac, 9th Baronet descended from a colonial administrator. By the time that the guests had been pampered in every way, they were all looking for more.
Canapé menu - left Mustard and Watercress macarons with wood pigeon pate and parmesan shards.
Hot oak smoked salmon with dill & lemon mayonnaise on rye Tomato & fennel consommé (palate cleansing) Red pepper purée with beetroot pearls and feta
Jo Malonne The Royal Exchange, City of London
Lulu Guinness â€” The Royal Exchange, City of London
What began refurbishing luxury properties...
Is now a global community of amazing brands and high net worth individuals
1 Lombard Street Brasserie
The Home Club So
The Home Club here pledge to give a total of 50
You will see that throughout my career, whichever business or creation, I have done what I can to give back to charity and communities. When rounding up all of my initiatives and entrepreneurial ideas into this platform and community, it is also fitting that I also give back through my company here also.
The Lord Mayor of the City of Londonâ€™s City Giving Day appeal,
5% 32 Greater London Boroughs for Community projects
5% Addversity Entrepreneur Apprenticeship
5% U.K. Community Projects
5% U.K. Charities
Tandem C www.thehomeclub.community
The above referred percentages are the total percentag
0% of the gross profits to the following,
I am fortunate in have had the support of The Home Club’s Ambassadors, Advisors, Executives, Entrepreneurs & the Social Elite along the way. I have had experts in business and finance giving expectations on my company’s future finances, which more that I would need.
All livery company’s in the City of London an equal share of
5% 33 International Chambers of Commerce an equal share of
5% Guild of Entrepreneurs
5% International Community Projects
5% International Charities
ge allotted to the heading and to be divided equally
A journey of AAddversity from Carpenter to Entrepreneur