In the latest episode of our True Connections Podcast, Alan Hooks speaks with serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, author and maverick Mike Tobin. Mike is also the Chairman of the winner of the 2020 Spectator Economic Innovator of the Year Award – Ultraleap. In addition to learning about Ultraleap’s innovations and its application in a post-pandemic world, we hear Mike’s fascinating story as an entrepreneur and the advice he has for other entrepreneurs who are at the start of their journey.
Listen to the podcast
Click on the player below to hear Alan and Mike’s conversation:
While the Coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for many, innovation has continued to thrive and, as Mike explains, Ultraleap’s ground-breaking technology is of great relevance, not just for these pandemic times, but for the world around us. Ultraleap’s technology can create touch-free interfaces so users are able to interact with screens, for example, without having to come into contact with them - arguably a perfect solution to help mitigate transmission of a virus that can live on surfaces for days. While Mike is the Chairman of Ultraleap, he is the very quick to admit that it is the whole Ultraleap team, not him personally, that deserves the credit for Ultraleap’s recent success at the Spectator Economic Innovator of the Year Awards and it’s clear that this sense of team is important to Mike.
Mike says that he’s been very lucky in life but his journey towards serial entrepreneurship didn’t have the nicest of starts. Mike grew up in London until the age of 7 when he and his mother left the UK to escape his violent father. However, this move, as Mike describes it, was a leap from the frying pan into the fire, as they ended up in Rhodesia during the Civil War. After a few gunshots and petrol bombings, they decided to move back to the UK to start their life again, which is when Mike’s entrepreneurial journey began. It started with finding pianos in derelict buildings to restore and sell at markets in London, continued through a 14 year journey in the electronics business across Europe, and then inheriting a business in the UK called Redbus. It was this business that seemed to mark the real turning point in Mike’s journey as an entrepreneur and since then, Mike has gone on to invest in, build, and sell a number of extremely successful businesses across the world.
Speaking about the advice he would give to other entrepreneurs who are building businesses and thinking about selling them, Mike’s core point is on raising capital through debt rather than giving away equity. He explains that by diluting your equity stake, you are simply giving away your great idea and the results of all your hard work to other people.
To hear Mike’s story, please listen to the podcast using the player above.
Having a good idea is one thing. Pushing through and implementing it is another. We portray entrepreneurs who share their personal stories and reflect on lessons learnt.