MDE 46: From redundancy in the City to silk ties, Patrick Dudley-Williams of Reef Knots

Redundancy from his job of 13 years pushed Patrick Dudley-Williams into executing his idea of starting a business. Seeing a gap in the market for tie that 'said something about what you did outside of work'. Not wanting to sit in a grey box looking at numbers for the rest of his life, Patrick decided it was 'now or never'. He took the plunge 2 years ago with the added pressure that his wife had twins 2 days after he was made redundant! This year the business is on track to turnover £500,000...


MDE 45: Reinventing & turning around a failing business aged 22, Julianne Ponan of Creative Nature

When she bought a failing business selling a bewildering range product lines from candles to Buddah statues, Julianne Ponan set her boundless energy and can-do mindset to turning it around. She used her experience of suffering from allergies to additives to develop the business into selling super foods in the form of supplements and snack bars. Julianne was only 22 but knew she had a purpose to try and help with the obesity problem and cater for the 'free from' market which was talking off....


MDE 44: Bringing prosperity to the bottom of the economic pyramid, Jason Dudek of Mountain Lion Agriculture

Realising that charities were not really addressing the root of poverty led Jason Dudek to co-found Mountain Lion Agriculture with his local business partner based in Sierra Leone. Based on the premise that economic development is the key to increasing prosperity,  Jason set up Mountain Lion to improve food security for small farmers and communities. By focussing on food Jason believes their business is able to benefit more people at the bottom of the pyramid. Now the largest producer in...


MDE 43: Turning adversity into a profitable business, Kate Giles of Crewroom

Getting pneumonia was the end of Kate Giles's professional rowing career. Instead of stopping her in her tracks she turned this set back into an opportunity to found Crewroom and produce technical sports kit which performed much better than the kit she had been wearing when she got cold and wet in a training session resulting in her illness. This is the story of the evolution of a brand and the principles behind it; how she developed from being a distributor of a Californian brand and juice...


MDE 42: Exporting traditional crafts to a worldwide fashion audience, Akosua Afriyie-Kumi of AAKS Handcrafted Raffia Bags

After an early career gaining experience in all aspects of the fashion industry, Akosua Afriyie-Kumi followed her calling to bring the beautiful crafts of her native Ghana to a worldwide audience. The colourful raffia bags produced by her company, AAKS, are now stocked in prestigious stores such as Anthropologie only 8 months after launching. The bags, all designed by Akosua, are made in Ghana using traditional methods with each weaver putting his or her name on the swing tag. The bags create...


MDE 41: Transforming chop stick offcuts to pet products, George Bramble of Beco Pets

When George and his co-founder Toby Massey founded their business the timing wasn't great, it was deep in the recession. So they asked themselves what do people not stop spending money on? The answer they came up with was children and pets, so this was where they decided to focus their business. Initially self-funded, George kept his job at Bacardi to support them while they set the company up. Although profitable from the end of the first year they knew they needed to scale, so they got...


MDE 40: Inspiring children with Jedi mind tricks, Chris Burgess of CBiS Education

How do you capture the imagination of children who are disengaged? Show them how to move a remote control car using their mind, that’s how! A request from a teacher to go and show off some robotics the company had been developing for the military led to a whole new revenue stream and is now the sole focus of their business. What you will learn in this interview:  What Chris has learnt in the ups and downs of business The mistakes he has made What his strategy has been for funding the...


MDE 32: Encouraging the athlete in everyone, Tracy Strandness of Barefoot Athletic

The Barefoot Athletic Company’s mission is to “to support and encourage the everyday athlete through eco-friendly products that motivate and inspire.” But founder Tracy Strandness’s own story is one of the most motivational of them all. I spoke to her on the phone from Washington. From a background in youth work, via marketing and office management, Tracy built the Barefoot Athletic Company from the ashes of domestic abuse. “In a nutshell our world turned upside down,” she says,...


MDE 28: Anthony Day, bringing sustainability to the boardroom

There’s a tendency for some businesses to stick the word sustainable at the front of their mission statement and wander off, content in the knowledge they’ve done their bit. And, similarly, there’s a tendency for those bored of hearing the word to assume it’s all about not using aerosol sprays and therefore has no relevance to their company and how it works. More than just the polar bears But sustainability “is not just polar bear-related things,” laughs Anthony Day, “it’s...


MDE 27: Jane Kenyon, the Inspiration Diva for teenage girls

I’ve known entrepreneur Jane Kenyon for several years, including a spell in a Mastermind group she ran, so I was delighted to learn that she has a new book out. DIVA WISDOM - Find Your Voice, Rock Your World and Pass It On! contains a very personal account of her own entrepreneurial journey, which saw her raised by a millionaire, entrepreneur father, kicked out of the family home at 16, and go from homelessness to a degree, three postgraduate diplomas and an MBA by the age of 28 - all...