The London 100 Secret Power Brokers: ENTREPRENEURSHIP & TECH


Who are the less familiar faces quietly shaking things up?

Andrey Andreev, founder, Badoo

You may not have heard of him but this serial entrepreneur is giving Mark Zuckerberg a serious run for his money. In fact, with more than 120m members who have been seduced by Badoo’s offerings of “chat, flirt, socialise and have fun” since its 2005 launch, the mysterious Russian claims it is more of a social network than Facebook. The website is relatively unknown in the UK, despite being based in Soho, but this has not stopped venture-capital firms (who are valuing it in the billions) hounding Andreev on a daily basis.

Paul Birch, co-founder, BirthdayAlarm.com and Bebo

Three is normally a crowd but not when the Birch brothers are involved. Paul, the lesser known of the entrepreneurial pair, founded BirthdayAlarm.com with his brother Michael and Michael’s wife Xochi, in 2001. Four years later the trio launched Bebo. He plans to invest much of his share from the multi-million pound sale of the social networking site to AOL in digital enterprises, which will no doubt net him a further fortune in the future.

Mike Butcher, editor, TechCrunch Europe

The London mayor’s digital adviser believes that the European start-up scene is taking off through a new generation of entrepreneurs, and he will certainly be one of the first on the scene. As well as editing TechCrunch Europe (arguably the most influential tech blog in the UK, acquired by AOL last year), Butcher runs TechHub, a project that he co-founded to bring European technology entrepreneurs and investors together in a club environment in London. It helps nurture start-up tech companies, and is often a hang-out for well-known entrepreneurial faces looking to start something special on the quiet.

Errol Damelin, co-founder and chief executive, Wonga.com

Damelin is one of the few entrepreneurs to have launched successful business in very different markets, most recently with online lender Wonga.com. Its critics have labeled it a “legal loan shark” and the firm is under pressure for its high interest rates, but with 1.5 million short-term loans under his belt, the South African Wonga.com founder is far from fazed.

Ben Goldsmith, partner, WHEB Partners

Ben Goldsmith

The society backgammon player and environmentalist has proven he does not need to trade off his family name (his father was the late tycoon Sir James Goldsmith and his brother is Richmond Park MP, Zac). He has grown WHEB, which he co-founded in 2002, in to Europe’s leading specialist green investment business with assets (under management) of £130m.

Nick Jenkins, founder, Moonpig.com 

The personalised greeting card company Moonpig was launched in 2000. The name is derived fromJenkins’ nickname at school. Moonpig rocketed from school ground to household fame after the brand’s iconic cheeky pig in a space helmet, with its high-pitched and slightly annoying jingle, hit TV screens in 2006. Nick Jenkins sold the company this summer, netting him a £100m windfall, just 11 years after its launch.

Dharmash Mistry, Partner, Balderton Capital

Dharmash Mistry is known in the venture capital world for his exceptional track record in the media, retail and consumer sectors, helped by eight years at Emap where he was part of the management team that sold its consumer division to H Bauer for £1.1bn. He also had an early career at Procter & Gamble. His most notable investments with Balderton include: Bebo, Habbo Hotel and LoveFilm. Outside of Balderton, Mistry is a non-executive director of Dixons Retail.

Rob Moss, marketing director, My-wardrobe.com

The former lastminute.com and Honda marketer is part of a new breed of entrepreneurial marketers bringing fledgling British brands to a global scale. Moss, who joined the website in April, has his sights set on building a major global fashion brand and the signs are already good. In May, the business reported like-for-like sales growth of 96 per cent for the previous 12 months, following a relaunch of the site and an injection of $9m (£5.8m) from leading European VC Balderton Capital.

Andrew Owens MBE, co-founder and chief executive, Greenergy

Launched from the bedroom of Owens’ Brussels flat in the depths of the 1992 recession, Britain’s biggest independent oil company now has more than 20 per cent of the road fuels market, with annual sales of 7.9bn litres. Owens, who developed the method of making environmentally friendly diesel himself, is considering floating the £300m company, which he owns 33 per cent of, having sold minority stakes to several investors including Tesco.

Eric Van Der Kleij, chief executive, Tech City Investment Organisation

The “entrepreneur in residence” entrusted with delivering David Cameron’s vision for a thriving London-based technology industry also drew up the master plan for Tech City, east London’s answer to Silicon Valley. Van Der Kleij, who was born South Africa before moving to the UK at 15, has the task of turning Tech City (or Silicon Roundabout as it has been dubbed by locals), into one of the world’s greatest technology centres.