20 Questions: Ross Marshall, Your Golf Travel

Ross Marshall co-founded Your Golf Travel when he was 24. Today it's the biggest seller of golf holidays in Europe. He talks Tinder, tech and trimming fat.

by Kate Bassett
Last Updated: 02 May 2014

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

At university I played rugby for the Harlequins but was never quite good enough to become a full-time professional, and I didn't enjoy my next career as an investment banker due to all of the internal bureaucracy. I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur as it's in the family blood but, in another life, I would love to have been a doctor. The work they do is truly amazing.

2. WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU NAME YOUR BUSINESS?

Actually, Your Golf Travel was first called Ace Golf Travel but we decided that it sounded confusingly American (an ace is a hole-in-one in the US).

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

New York. My father lived there for many years and the city has a great energy, and is filled with dedicated people who always want to achieve more and change the world. The social scene isn't too bad either...

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

Personal savings, as well as £30,000 we borrowed on credit cards. It was interest free and the only way we could raise the capital we needed. Not so easy to do now.

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

Deciding to go into business and work with my co-founder Andrew Harding, who I met at Durham University. Andrew's drive and commercial input has been invaluable to the business.

6. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST MISTAKE?

In the early stages we didn't negotiate hard enough, which then lead to unexpected costs. An example: we were over-paying on bank charges and international transactions. We learned, through experience, to trim any fat in our business through negotiation.

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

I thought about the Hailo app years before it was launched, as I always struggled for taxis at certain times in London. If only I'd gotten round to actually building it...

8. HOW DO YOU HANDLE STRESS?

Staying active. Playing sports. Staying positive regardless of my situation. Oh, and drinking a nice bottle of Italian Barolo with my school friend Alfie!

9. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?

My very first job was as the local paper boy in Surrey. I was seven years old. We all have to start making pocket money somewhere. After university, my first 'real' working position was on the sales floor at a local sports shop called Matchpoint. I learned some great lessons there about customer service, logistics and stock.

10. WHAT WAS YOUR WORST JOB?

Banking at ING Barings, although I did learn from my line manager how not to manage other employees.

11.WHAT WAS YOUR BEST JOB?

Doing it now.

12.  IF YOU WERE ON THE APPRENTICE, WHAT WOULD YOUR TEAM NAME BE?

I wouldn't go on The Apprentice. I don't think it's a credible business show. Real entrepreneurs just get on with it and start their own businesses.

13.  WHICH COMPANY WOULD YOU INVEST IN RIGHT NOW?

Friends of ours have started companies such as Secret Escapes (travel deal membership website) and Atterley Road (clothing and accessories website) which I feel are going to continue to grow and would be good investments. My business partner and I recently invested in a startup gay and lesbian-friendly travel service, operating worldwide in conjunction with British Airways. I think it will fly (excuse the pun).

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

A racehorse for our racing syndicate.

15.  SUITS OR JEANS?

Both, sometimes on the same day. I do like the cut of a nice suit but it all depends on the circumstances; where you are going and who with.

16.  FLEXIBLE WORKING OR OFFICE HOURS?

There has to be flexibility. As an entrepreneur, there's no such thing as standard office hours.

17. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOUR OFFICE?

Our staff bar and the golf simulator.

18. WHAT APP CAN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT?

Tinder. My girlfriend wouldn't like me for saying that though, so I'll go with Top Table. I do like a last-minute, late-night feast after a long day at the office.

19. WHO IS YOUR BUSINESS IDOL?

My dad and Richard Branson. Both have had great vision, enthusiasm and passion in creating businesses. I have had a laugh and a drink with them both (admittedly, on more occassions with my dad!).

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

I had the pleasure of meeting David Cameron in 2012 and I told him that instead of giving loans and grants to students to do moderate courses at poor universities, they should give young people the money to start apprenticeships or build a tech business, creating more jobs for UK plc.

I also told him that Help for Heroes and The Soldiers' Charity shouldn't need to exist; the government should be looking after our injured war veterans. We manage the website www.golf4heroes.com, which helps injured servicemen and women with their rehabilitation programme by offering free golf throughout the UK at participating golf clubs. It has proved a great success, and something we are proud to be involved in.

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