Young Entrepreneurs - Dominic McVey
The Grand Idea
When someone's telling you that you are doing wrong, turn that into positive energy and prove them wrong. Have enough drive in you that you do not see those brick walls and no-one stops you, whatever happens you have got to get there.
You've just got to get on with it, you've got to focus on one thing and go for it. Stop talking about it, don't talk about it with your family and friends, get on with it. Because if you don't, in a year's time you will see someone else doing it.
Their comment was that they did not believe that anyone under the age of 21 is capable of running their own business, although they will provide knives if you want to be a chef or decks if you want to be a DJ.
Dominic McVey's big break in business came when he was just 13 - and it came because he had the chutzpah to write to an American company and ask them to give him a motorised scooter.
I had been looking round the internet and was looking for the credit card website Visa, but I spelt it wrong - Viza, and I came across this website which was manufacturing scooters and I really wanted one. But I couldn't afford one, and neither could my parents, so I emailed them and said "I think you should send me a scooter, I would sell loads over here."
Needless to say, the company wasn't thrilled by the proposal, but they did come back with a counter-offer. Buy five, they said, and you can have a sixth for free.
This is the point at which most kids would have shrugged and walked away. But not Dominic. He already had an entrepreneurial streak, and he really wanted that scooter.
My interest in business started on my first trip to Japan when I was eight. I was flying on my own to visit my dad, and noticed that the men in business suits had better seats than me. I wanted to know what was so special about them. My dad told me they ran businesses or bought and sold shares.
When I got back my dad bought me a copy of the Financial Times. When I was nine or 10 I started buying stocks and shares using his credit card. It was only small amounts. He didn't tell me off. I made a profit, about 150 pounds.
Dominic took the start-up capital from his early ventures in share trading, and set to work raising the money to buy five motorised scooters.
He bought some "gadgets" from Japan, and sold them at a profit, and he ran an under-18s dance party.
Befor long, he has accumulated the five thousand pounds he needed to order his five scooters - and get one free.
Within days of receiving his first shipment of scooters, Dominic had sold the five he didn't want for a tidy profit. He immediately ordered 10 more.
Within a few months, he was selling hundreds, even thousands of scooters a week. Importing scooters made Dominic a reported 15 million pounds by the time he was fifteen.
Dominic has always had a rebellious streak, and as a successful entrepreneur, he is as outspoken as ever.
I didn't set up in business for the money, I did it to prove that teenagers can achieve success. Kids are always being told, "You can't do this, you can't do that."
Dominic's parents controlled his fortune while he was under age, giving him 35 pounds a week in pocket money.
Although a millionaire on paper, Dominic found himself in the position of most teens - with lifestyle ambitions in excess of his means!
"My parents tied up my fortune in trusts so I had to go out and start working," Dominic explains. "I had lots of ideas, but becoming a millionaire attracts people who gather round like flies, keen to spend your money."
It wasn't an easy road for Dominic, following up on his early success.
"The danger of making a lot of money quickly is that you become too confident. I organised an event which bombed, and lost a lot of money which was scary, coming from a family where we worked for every penny we earned."
Before he was eighteen, Dominic found a trustworth business partner in Simon Tate. Also a young entrepreneur, just a few years older than Dominic, Simon had the advantage of coming from a family with a business background.
The two used the offices and infrastructure of Tate's family business to help start their new ventures on a shoestring.
Simon and Dominic launched a range of breath fresheners, then in 2004 they started a company called Kew Health and Beauty.
"We benefited from its infrastructure and drew on the back office functions," says Simon, "but I would have started Kew even without that support - and the company is now freestanding financially."
Dominic was appointed a Pioneer for Entrepreneurism by the Queen in 2004, a boost to his Mum's pride, and some compensation for the fact that he never quite managed to finish school.
"I got expelled from school because I was too busy running the business to go to classes," he grins.
Like all young entrepreneurs, Dominic experienced age discrimination. Even organisations supposedly tasked with helping young entrepreneurs let him down. Dominic is typically outspoken about his experiences.
"Prince's Trust, I have no respect for, none whatsoever," he says. "I tried to get a grant from them and because of my circumstances I got put through to someone quite senior. Their comment was that they did not believe that anyone under the age of 21 is capable of running their own business, although they will provide knives if you want to be a chef or decks if you want to be a DJ."
Dominic is philosophical about his roller-coaster ride in business.
You really need to consolidate your interests, I guess take time out to work out where you're going next. I didn't do that, I rushed in to everything, I wanted this and that and wanted to do it all and ended up losing a lot of money.
It was depressing because I didn't expect it, but I will say that I've taken a route in life in which I will experience serious highs, but I will also experience serious lows. But if I wanted to be a teacher, I would still experience those lows, but I wouldn't experience those highs.
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