Despite losing almost every task, last year Lord Sugar chose Tom Pellereau to be The Apprentice. So how have they got on?
Tom Pellereau was the worst-performing candidate in the last season of The Apprentice.
He was on the losing team for eight of the 12 weekly tasks, was pulled up by Lord Sugar for excessive nodding and was mocked for believing that Christopher Columbus was British.
But his amicable demeanour and inventory of inventions earned him Lord Sugar’s coveted £250,000 investment.
And what did he do with it?
He set up a company called Aventom, in partnership with Lord Sugar, and re-launched the curved nail file, a product that he invented before he went onto to show and which had already proved a success.
Now known as the Stylfile collection, the files are ‘S’ shaped and come in three variations; normal, a small emergency one, and one with a buffer. Pellereau and Lord Sugar cracked a deal with Sainsbury’s to sell it exclusively before it’s rolled out to other stores.
Launched this month, the nail files were out of stock within two days of launch. Katie Price (aka Jordan) has been pouring praises on the product on Twitter, and the Amstrad boss himself has been lending his personal Rolls-Royce to Pellereau to promote the product.
The mad inventor’s geek-turned-celebrity status charm is clearly working.
But will the nail file shape Pellereau’s career as an inventor? I had a quick chat with Pellereau and here’s what he had to say..
So Tom, what did you do right after winning The Apprentice?
“It was quite funny actually because, even before it fully dawned on me that I had won the show, I had already gone straight down to business with Lord Sugar – discussing everything from the name of the company to what the first product was going to be – all over a glass of wine of course!
“I am the kind of person who gets easily distracted till I’m forced to focus and Lord Sugar is the realist of the realists. So I knew I had to come up with a product plan that made him tick. From there, I was working 18-hours a day to get the company off the ground.”
So how did the Stylfile collection come about?
“The original idea of the curved nail file came about when I was visiting my sister Harriet in Bristol and saw her struggling with filing her nails. Her sheer battle to manoeuvre the file to give her nails a shape really intrigued me.
“I had obviously never filed my nails before so to research a bit more I spent about £100 and bought all the nail care products in the market that you’d imagine.
“I bent and twisted them to take the shape of your hand and was quite happy and excited about the prospect of inventing a curved nail file, the first of its kind.”
Wow. But surely an inventor like you is bound to have a lot of product ideas in the notebook, why did you decide to re-launch the curved nail file?
“The nail file was just one of many ideas I took to Lord Sugar as a potential product. Clearly because there was nothing much like it in the UK market, he chose it as the best one to proceed with initially.
“He was very impressed with the idea. But in my case, coming up with the idea was the easy bit. I had to really slog day and night to come up with a manufacturing plan, packaging, the sales pitches and the rest.
“Lord Sugar is an incredible businessmen and he’s really helped me understanding how to make a product sell.
So where is the collection manufactured?
“We had to get the files manufactured in the Far East and bring it to the UK for packaging. I am all for British manufacturing and want to do whatever I can for it but manufacturing it in the Far East makes the product more commercially viable.”
And what has the reaction been so far?
“The reactions to the product have been phenomenal, there was so much buzz about what I was up to and people were waiting for this. The nail files were sold out just two days after they went on to the shelf in Sainsbury’s.
“Since the launch, I’ve been inundated with kind messages and tweets by girls who love the product. I still get really excited when people tweet me pictures of the Stylfile collection. I was of course really pleased when Katie Price tweeted Lord Sugar saying she likes the product.”
So tell me more about the company, what’s its USP?
“The strapline of the company is “Inventing a better tomorrow”. Both Lord Sugar and I are passionate product persons and believe in creating revolutionary yet simple products to use in everyday life.
“We’re based in Debden, Loughton. As of now, I have two employees in the office but we hire 40 of Amstrad’s staff time and again when we need them.”
More on The Apprentice:
Why did you decide to set up a base in London?
“There is no better place I can think of than London to start my company. Just look at London right now, it’s hosting the Olympics, the tech and design scene here is burgeoning and its powerful global appeal adds to its stature.
“Also, the regeneration has been mind-boggling. I live in Stratford which we all know was a no-go area until a few years back, but now it’s one of the most developed and well-connected parts of London.”
How is it working with Lord Sugar?
“I always knew he’s a hard taskmaster, he’s pretty strict. I still get shouted at all the time. But I couldn’t have asked for a better role model come business partner. He’s goes out of his way to help me in business, he replies to emails within milliseconds no matter where he is or what time it is.”
How supportive has Lord Sugar been to further your career as an inventor?
“I was quite evidently not the strongest candidates on the show but he saw my passion for inventing products and chose me to invest his money in. He’s really encouraged me to think out of the box when inventing products but to keep the business sense in place at the same time.”
Does this mean we’ll see more of your inventions in the market?
“Absolutely! From my first invention, which was a Flinstones-like car made of coke cans, to my twitter handle @inventor_tom, my penchant for invention is quite evident. So, yes, I will definitely keep inventing more products.”
Coming back to The Apprentice, did you ever think you’d win the show?
“No, not really, I thought the first couple of weeks were like a lottery, I scraped through without really winning any tasks. I actually use to look around to see who could be a winner because going by my performances, I didn’t think I stood a chance.
“But the latter part of the series, I worked hard, gained confidence, voiced my opinion and the rest, as they say.
Great, so what advice do you have for this year’s contestants?
“Aha! Glad you asked me this because what I’ve seen until now is that there’s just too much of noise in the boardroom. I think the candidates should always remember that this is Lord Sugar they’re dealing with and winning the show can be game-changing for their career.
“I would say that the candidates should keep the following points in mind: First of all, really give the show your best shot, just really be at it and keep going. Secondly, when you are in the boardroom, think before you speak and be concise. Lastly, but most importantly, if he tells you to shut up well then shut up!”
Thanks for your time Tom! Best of luck with your inventions.
The Stylfile collection is available from Sainsbury’s from £4.49. Visit www.stylfile.com