Made in Chelsea's Richard Dinan: The Phantom Card, Senturion & Ion Core

The Made in Chelsea star, serial entrepreneur and inventor talks super yachts, nuclear fusion and being a terrible model.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 23 May 2016

1. IF YOU HAD DONE SOMETHING ELSE WHAT WOULD IT HAVE BEEN?

A lot of people thought Made In Chelsea would be a huge career opportunity, but I haven’t really put a lot of effort into it. They’re not particularly looking for someone who wants to talk about their inventions and build things - they much prefer someone who wants to go on a date with Binky. That is a career path that, if all my businesses went very wrong, one day I might look back and think, ‘I should’ve put more work into that.’ But it is a career for some of them, and one that doesn’t come to everybody.

2. WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU NAME YOUR BUSINESS?

We have this machine we called Zinter. It’s a printer, but obviously it’s a 3D printer. And someone came up with the name, and I hated it – it sounds like someone just changed a letter, completely unimaginative. But then someone came up with the idea of saying it’s a printer with a z-axis. So it’s probably the most aptly-named thing that was ever named. But before that we wanted to call it something like the Acubot or the Dream Drone. Luckily we came up with Zinter.

3. IF YOU COULD BE BASED IN ANOTHER CITY WHERE WOULD IT BE?

LA would be quite a useful place to be doing what I’m doing, and I would be very interested in expanding our companies into America. I do plan on going to LA to try and push our businesses out there.

4. WHEN YOU STARTED, HOW DID YOU RAISE MONEY?

The first time we did it, we raised smaller sums of about £50,000. And that was really through talking to everyone. You never know who knows someone who knows someone. Our first investment came from a friend’s older sister’s new husband - I just went to his door, knocked on his door, and said, ‘Can I pitch you about my business?’ That led to being able to raise larger capital from a Swiss private fund, we raised significantly more money after that. But you need the small money to get the big money. Unless you spend £50,000 on the business people aren’t going to take you very seriously.

5. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST IMPORTANT DECISION SO FAR?

My most important decision is definitely not to take on all the ideas. I always get ideas, constantly. You’ve got to focus on what you’re doing. The way to do that is to make sure that what you are doing you love. Someone said to me it’s like going out to a nightclub: you kiss one girl, you see another girl - you kiss her, you see another girl - you kiss her, you’d end up going home alone.

6. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST MISTAKE?

I’ve learnt that it’s much better to create the stock that people buy than to trade the stock of others. I got quite lucky in 2007-8, buying up totally crashed out penny stocks and making quite a lot of money, when someone came along and told me, ‘Stop messing around with small shares. Why don’t you get behind Citigroup, because that’s definitely going to go soaring up in value.’ And I put all my eggs in one basket listening to him, with his expensive watch, well-mannered speaking, his affluent City suit, thinking this guy knows what he’s talking about. And emotionally I had no control - it’s not my company - and I got very badly burnt. I think you’ve got to focus on your company, instead of other people’s companies, because you’re blind.

7. WHAT IDEA DO YOU WISH YOU HAD COME UP WITH?

I’m always jealous of the leading scientists, who get to be at the forefront of discoveries, how exciting it must be. I’m a huge admirer of James Clerk Maxwell, the physicist who contributed to the discovery of curved space time. The feeling he must have felt when he discovered those things – I love those scientific breakthroughs.

8. HOW DO YOU HANDLE STRESS?

I find it very bad. I wake up and I’m thinking, I’m turning ideas around, and I don’t stop until bed. One of the ways to stop doing that is practical, if you’re working on a machine or you’re building something or you’re working with tools. I find that is a great way to slow your mind down. It’s very important to listen to people, especially your friends. Often your friends will be the people who tell you when you’re doing something weird.

9. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?

It was working at Holland and Holland guns, in their gun room in London and their factory and shooting ground as assistant to a gunsmith. I was only 16, but involved in fixing guns that had exploded and gone wrong, which was very interesting.

10. WHAT WAS YOUR WORST JOB?

I was a model, a terrible one. I was at Storm when I left school, trying to make some extra cash. I went to Milan, and I hated it. I found the catwalk to be the most humiliating experience I’ve ever been through. More annoyingly, you had pictures of yourself and you’d go in to get a big job and they chose you based on your photographs. You couldn’t use your IQ to win a job, you couldn’t say, ‘Listen to me.’

11. WHAT WAS YOUR BEST JOB?

I’m very practical - I love researching, I love building. I’m happy when I’m doing that and I guess that’s what I’m doing now. The other jobs were the only other ones I’ve ever had.

12. IF YOU WERE ON THE APPRENTICE WOULD YOUR TEAM BE NAMED?

I’ve never really watched The Apprentice. I would not be on The Apprentice, as a general principle. Team Richard? No idea!

13. WHAT COMPANY WOULD YOU INVEST IN RIGHT NOW?

The answer has got to be, without any beliefs involved in this, clean energy. It’s either got to be solar or nuclear fusion. We’re always copying what nature does – trees, plants, leaves are effectively solar – but I don’t think that’s what the universe is telling us. If you look at stars, stars are nuclear reactors effectively, and inside nuclear fusion is taking place all the time. I would invest in nuclear fusion.

14. APART FROM PROPERTY, WHAT IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE THING YOU’VE BOUGHT?

Last summer I chartered an offshore super yacht, a very powerful boat. We took on three tonnes of fuel for one day, in the south of France. Realistically I’m not buying super yachts, but I am renting some pretty fun toys.

15. SUIT OR JEANS?

I’m starting to become more of a suit person. When I started, I very much didn’t like suits, but now because I’m young I think it shows respect so I’m becoming more of a suit man.

16. FLEXIBLE WORKING OR OFFICE HOURS?

I’m always on. I know my employees try very hard to keep office hours, and I try very hard not to call them out of those hours. But if I need, I break the rules, because I think they’re interested in the project. It’s very rewarding when you know people are interested.

17. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THE OFFICE?

I love space. We’ve got a very large warehouse now, a big industrial space. Huge ceilings, it’s full of machines and toys and tools. For someone who’s practically minded, it’s like a big boy’s toy garage.

18. WHAT APP CAN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT?

I’ve annoyingly spent too much time on Tinder. Hailo is quite good. I love Uber.

19. WHO IS YOUR BUSINESS IDOL?

Napolean Hill, because he was a man that lived his life and nailed his point. He dedicated 25 years of his life to the study of the acquisition of wealth and made an awful lot of money doing it. He was a man that found was he was looking for, and I think that’s brilliant.

20. IF YOU WERE PRIME MINSTER FOR THE DAY, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?

Easy! My first priority would be separating cars from cyclists. They do not belong together. It’s just not right. It drives both people mad, and a lot of people are seriously hurt on bicycles.

Richard Dinan and his business partners have just launched the Zinter 3D printer.

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