My Week: Ben Way of The Rainmakers

The former Young Entrepreneur of the Year on a busy week for his corporate venturing group...

by Ben Way
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The business that’s taking up lots of my time at the moment is Go Green Plumbing (an environmentally-friendly take on the old trade), which is going great guns – so much so that we’ve had to double our staff in the last two weeks, which has been pretty challenging… I’ve been busy driving around in their electric vans and talking to lots of property companies, trying to convince them to go green. So far, I’ve been really heartened by the response.

In fact, our next step is going to be to launch an electrician service, Go Green Electricians; since our systems are so much better than those out there in the traditional market, we’re finding that our clients are asking us to do more and more stuff. Personally, because I’m so used to doing things in the virtual world, I love the fact that it’s a real physical business. And I’ve certainly learned a lot about plumbing – though I’m finding out far too much about people’s blocked toilets for my liking…

Elsewhere I’ve been doing a bit of media work, including a Channel 4 project that they won’t let me talk about yet, and also working on our strategy for ViaPost (a service that allows people to send letters from their computer). I’ve been also busy with Smarta, which is a new portal for entrepreneurs – I’m the interim CTO, so I’ve been working with the designers getting the site ready for its launch in September. We have this great design company called Splendid – in fact I like them so much that I’m also going to be working with them on a new venture I’m about to launch (a kind of next generation eBay/ Gumtree).

Another Rainmakers business that’s been occupying some of my time is Leaf Log (a company that sells heat logs made out of compressed leaves and wax). The business has just moved to new premises, because we’ve got big plans for it in the coming year – we’re currently selling about 3,000 units a month, and we want to be selling ten times that by next year. And we’ve just sealed a big retail order, which bodes well.

Speaking of new premises, last weekend I went up to Bristol to see a new warehouse we’ve just bought for our green products business Greendora.com. This place is basically an old barn in the middle of nowhere and was in a fairly bad way, so a group of us spent the day clearing it out and painting it. To begin with we weren’t really getting anywhere because the stonework was so bad, but I came up with a great invention: I stuck our sweeping brush into the paint, and started using that to paint the walls. We called it the super-brush – we managed to do the whole place in about an hour and a half…

 

A former Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Ben Way became one of the first dotcom millionaires aged just 16 after launching his search engine business for £25m. He has since appeared in the Sunday Times Rich List and Channel 4's TV show Secret Millionaire, advised both the UK and US governments on technology, and headed up technical and environmental investments for the Rotch Property Group. In 2003 he started The Rainmakers, an innovations and corporate venturing company.

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