My Week: Imran Hakim of iTeddy

The Dragons' Den favourite on 2am finishes, billion-dollar spin-outs and an audience with Gordon Brown...

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Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

6am Monday morning and I hurt all over. The weekend saw my humble attempt to run 10km for Comic Relief in a brown iTeddy costume (with my younger brother dressed in a white one). The 10km was meant to be from the Strand to Notting Hill via Hyde Park, but in our eagerness to beat the rest of the participants we managed to get lost, turning the 10km run into a 15km run. But we still managed to finish just behind the leading pack.

The first meeting of the day is in Preston and as usual I am running late for the train. So I choose to jump in the Ferrari and hit the accelerator hard, just making it on time for my meeting with ‘government officials’ (top secret so I can’t reveal much more!!!) I race back to the office for a Monday morning briefing with my PA. There’s a quick conference call with a production company pitching a new concept for iTeddy, then a weekly update from my FD on the past week’s trading performance of our business portfolio.

Most of our businesses seem to be weathering the downturn, especially our optical retail shops and lens laboratory, but the overseas manufacturing figures paint a bleak picture, prompting some urgent intervention. I try and pass some (as much as possible!) work onto my FD and alert him to some new deals on the horizon that I’m looking to close over the next fortnight. He shakes his head, reminding me that we are meant to be cautious in a recession, which I quickly counter by arguing the case for seeking out opportunities whilst others are fearful. The evening is a reception with Maggie Porteus from John Lewis Group and the TIE entrepreneurs, discussing the economic outlook for retailers and reinventing business models in light of the global crisis. I hit the bed at 2am.

Imran Hakim's top recession-busting tip: 'Companies are over cautious in a recession - this is a good time to seek out investment opportunities'.

Tuesday starts at 5am, with my driver dropping me off at BBC Manchester at 8am. A meeting with Saira Kahn from The Apprentice, who is hosting the TV show, and we start a hectic day of filming. I just get home in time for Liverpool vs Real Madrid and an 11pm conference call with my business partner, who is in the States setting up our US office (while sitting on a sunny beach I suspect). Finish off emails and 2am close again.

Wednesday starts at 6am with a train journey to Deloitte’s trendy offices in Manchester. I sit on the panel with a couple of other industry experts to present and take questions on the Telecoms, Media, Technology market from an audience of regional business leaders.  I have a rare hour spare at 10.30am, so I manage to squeeze in a strategy catch-up with one of the directors of our Entrepreneurs Forum. I end up being an hour late for my next meeting, where I’m wearing my hat as Director of Entrepreneurship at UMIP (University of Manchester Intellectual Property). The investment committee meeting is refreshing, as it reveals a couple of potential billion-dollar businesses that have been thought up by the genius professors. We mull over the decision to invest in these and catch up on the status of our other investments – including the signing of a £45m deal with Novartis for Epistem, our stem cell research spin-out.

My driver is back from holiday so I get picked up from Manchester and go straight home – laptop and mobile shutdown (the only time this ever happens) for the Man United vs Inter Milan Champions League match, followed by a conference call at 11pm with the cast of the new BBC show we are filming. I finish at 2am....again!

Thursday morning starts at 6am, driven to an unknown location to meet the Prime Minister to discuss the ever-mounting problems facing SMEs.  I try to Twitter the roundtable discussion live, and receive a flurry of questions for the PM. Gordon Brown makes some great suggestions – hopefully these will actually materialise rather than turning into distant headlines. I manage to catch up with missed calls and email on the Virgin train down to London for a couple of back-to-back meetings with potential and existing investments, before a speedy change into a tuxedo – I’m meeting up with Theo Paphitis and the Ryman team for the star-studded Comic Relief ball in Covent Garden, filmed by BBC. Back to hotel and another 2am finish after catching up with emails.

Friday will be a 6am train from St Pancras to Nottingham, picked up by BBC to go to Raleigh Headquaters – our filming location for the day.  Back in Manchester at 8.30pm for the weekly 2 hours of five a side football. A relaxing Sheesha session (Arabian waterpipe) followed by email catch up. Another 2am finish, but I’ll be dead to the world until Saturday afternoon and ManU vs Liverpool. The simple pleasures in life!!!


Award-winning entrepreneur Imran Hakim is best known for his appearance on the Dragons' Den, where he won £140,000 of investment for his innovative iTeddy product (which now retails in over 40 countries worldwide). An optometrist by profession, he runs a diverse portfolio of optical and other businesses in and around Manchester.

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