My week: Duane Jackson of Kashflow

The technology entrepreneur on the wintry weather, going to prison and spending quality time with his wife.

by Hannah Prevett
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

It was a good start to the week on Monday morning, when my tailor came round to fit me for two new suits. I got my first bespoke suit two months ago, and I just can't wear anything else now - off-the-peg ones just don't fit properly - so I figured I should get another couple for variety. I can't just wear the same one all the time. Then on Monday afternoon, we had to do some development work on our site, which sells accounting software to SMEs, to deal with the VAT change coming into force in January. It's good to be prepared.

Tuesday night WAS my big night out this week - it was the Trading Places awards at The Savoy, where I was one of the finalists. It was really exciting as it was a star-studded event, with the likes of Caprice, Vanessa Feltz and Theo Paphitis handing out awards. I took my wife with me, It made a nice change for us to have a night out together. She got much drunker, much quicker than I did though.

I don't mind that I didn't win the overall award - there were all these incredibly inspirational people who had faced much more adversity than me. After all, my troubles were mainly my own fault. When I got kicked out of school at 15, the staff at the children's home I was living in at the time had to teach me. They just shut me in a room with a computer and left me to it, which is how I became interested in programming. Then when I was 19, I got in with a dodgy crowd, and I got caught in Atlanta with 6,500 ecstasy pills. After six weeks in a US prison, I was sent back to the UK where I served half of a five year sentence. When I came out, I knew that getting a decent job was going to be almost impossible, with my history, so I went to the Prince's Trust, who helped me set up my own business. And here I am now.

On Wednesday night I had a call with fellow British entrepreneur Ben Way, who is currently in Miami, about a possible venture we are looking at doing together. We go way back - I got involved with Ben's business Viapost as we send lots of customers his way with a button on our site. It means our customers don't have to worry about packaging and buying stamps, as Viapost let's them send physical  mail from their PC. Because of the time difference, this meant I was late leaving the office - I think I got out of there about 8 o'clock, and then set about making the journey home through the snow. I didn't get home until 4.30am, after getting stuck on train, then stuck in a cab for four and a half hours, before eventually walking the last mile or so back to my house in Hove, near Brighton. Total nightmare.

Most of my time at the moment is taken up with interviewing people. There are 20 of us now, and we're growing all the time. I must say the people management side of things isn't really my forte though - I generally leave that to my technical director and sales director. The thing is, I'm a typical geek: I'm not good at dressing things up with fluffy words, and I suppose I can be a bit blunt. I think it boils down to the fact that I'm not very patient. I could go and learn more so-called 'soft skills' - but I'd need the patience to learn them.

Duane Jackson is the founder and CEO of Kashflow, which provides easy-to-use accounting software for SMEs.

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