Credit: Dave Eastbury

'I went to five schools in two and a half years' - Dan Wagner, Powa Technologies

The internet entrepreneur was expelled from school but always slept like a baby during exam time.

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 18 Aug 2016

Name: Dan Wagner, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Powa Technologies

Age: 52

Which school did you go to? I went to five schools in two and a half years. It started when I was expelled from Merchant Taylors’ School at 13, and ended when I left University College School at 16. I was a joker and a trouble maker, which I put down to my unsettled home life. Had my parents not divorced, I think I probably would have gone down the normal school and university route.

What grades did you get? When it came to O levels, I just didn’t bother at all. I did the usual six or seven – maths, English, history, geography, etc – and ended up with about four, all Cs and Ds. I retook some and eventually got five, but it was painful. I wasn’t engaged and had no fixed plans for the future. Maybe it was arrogance too. By then I already had a B in photography A level, which I’d studied in my own time.

How did you handle pre-exam nerves? I didn’t. I don’t get stressed about anything, even today. I sleep like a baby. I’m very fortunate like that.

What advice would you give your teenage self? You don’t need to do things in such a hurry. Starting work so young cost me a piece of my life. While my friends were on gap years and taking long, lazy summer holidays, I was working two jobs – selling hi-fis by day, flipping burgers at McDonald’s by night. I wouldn’t do anything differently, but I was 50 before I took a proper two-week holiday.

Return to MT's exams special page to find out how the others did.


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