Secret Leaders features interviews with key figures from the UK tech and creative ecosystem. From entrepreneurs (both early and latter stage), to journalists, VCs - and even royalty - the series profiles those who have helped shape the nation's culture of innovation and growth.
Today’s Secret Leader is Jo Malone CBE, founder of her namesake and more recently Jo Loves. Of all the guests we’ve had the wonderful fortune of interviewing, Jo has one of the biggest reputations preceding her, but worry not, it’s an entirely positive one.
From battles with dyslexia to cancer Jo is well known for being authentic, inspiring, and a true hero to young entrepreneurs everywhere.
We chat about:
Growing up in a council house, looking after her mother, and putting her sister through school
Leaving school at 14 and going over to London to sell face creams in order to pay the family bills
Moving to London and doing all sorts of odd jobs
Putting her astounding sense of smell into an actual business
Opening the first Jo Malone shop in 1994 with her husband
Receiving an offer to sell to Estée Lauder after three years
Facing the greatest challenge of her life and starting a new business after five years
Our guest has a truly remarkable list of accomplishments that would have turned many of us into vain, condescending creatures. Meet Vijay Eswaran, the founder of the QI Group, a deeply compassionate and thoughtful entrepreneur who steered clear of all that.
Losing his scholarship and being sent to the UK
Taking a year off in order to hitchhike around Europe
Going through 33 days of silence in an Italian monastery
Building the QI Group
Giving back and living in the now
Our guest today knows all about having the deep sense of satisfaction you get when you do really meaningful work. We had the pleasure of interviewing Anne-Marie Huby, the co-founder of JustGiving.
Meeting Zarine Kharas and creating a sustainable business model
For-profit vs not-for-profit charities
Their unusual first pitch and fundraising story
Taking a break, reconnecting with what’s important for her, and reading voraciously
Corporate responsibility in modern times
Today’s guest is celebrity photographer Rankin, here to share his innermost thoughts on photography and life itself.
From Glasgow to Yorkshire to St Albans: his childhood and finding his way
Meeting Jefferson Hack and creating Dazed & Confused
Always wanting to give something back
What he thinks about the MeToo movement
Who he would like to photograph next
His attraction to serendipity
His fascination with Trump and his love of photographing baddies
Our guest this week takes life and food seriously. Meet Renée Elliott, the founder of Planet Organic, a principled, thoughtful, and always kind entrepreneur, here to offer some valuable life lessons and sound business advice.
The journey of Planet Organic
The investor nightmare
Co-founder trouble and starting to work with her husband
Living the life in Tuscany for three years
Co-creating a business and life-skills academy for women
Our guest this week is Dhiraj Mukerjee, one of the co-founders of Shazam, the terrifyingly popular app that has been downloaded over one billion times. Join us to hear the story of how Dhiraj and his three colleagues grew Shazam from just the idea to its dazzling magnitude today.
Building Shazam and getting people to use it
Getting a lot of nos from investors
Disguising the product so that someone else didn’t steal their idea
What the future looks like, if you ask Dhiraj
Our guest this week is the founder of Babylon Health: Ali Parsa. What Ali chose to do is nothing short of noble: trying to make healthcare affordable and accessible to everyone. Tune in to hear the lessons and advice of a very ambitious and opinionated human being.
Coming to the UK as a refugee and steering clear of negativity
Building Circle and, later on, Babylon
Thinking big, acting big, staying human
Our guest this week is a feisty, joyous force of nature. Alex Depledge shares some serious wisdom on how, together with her co-founders, she ambitiously built and grew hassle.com (+ we cover many more topics). Join us for a refreshing, feminist episode.
Her journey from I-don’t-know-anything-about-startup-entrepreneurship to building the right product at the right time
What was raising money like in a period when there wasn’t a startup ecosystem
Finding an executive coach and surviving Brexit
Our guest this week is a man who enjoys taking high-achieving to new levels every morning while eating breakfast. Meet Nick Wheeler, the founder of Charles Tyrwhitt, the shirt company on a mission to make it easy for men to dress well.
Nick’s previous ventures and how he started and grew Charles Tyrwhitt
Nick’s infatuation for learning from mistakes, over and over and over again
The do’s and don’ts of hiring when you’re a small company
His advice to entrepreneurs worldwide
Our guest this week is the lovely co-founder of notonthehighstreet.com, Holly Tucker (previously known as “Hurricane Holly”). Join us for an hour of inspiration, as Holly shares her secrets for balancing family, happiness, and business, as well as her journey towards finding her ikigai.
Creating notonthehighstreet.com together with Sophie Cornish at their respective kitchen tables
Why Holly advises entrepreneurs to trust their internal compasses
Our leader du jour is Mills, aka Matt Miller, co-founder of ustwo, an international digital product and service studio. Mills tells us all about how they created ustwo and developed an App Store App of the Year, and why they will never ever sell their fampany (for those of you late to the table, that’s a family company).
The story of how ustwo was formed
How they created a global smash hit mobile game
What’s next for ustwo and for Mills