In 2005 Sir Ronald Cohen left Apax Partners, the private equity firm he had founded and led for 30 years. Now running Bridges Ventures, a social investment firm, and the Portland Trust, a charity that promotes peace in the Middle East, he's also found time to write a new book called 'The Second Bounce of the Ball' (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 304pp, £20), which aims to show entrepreneurs how to succeed.
MT: Sir Ronald, you spent 30 years at Apax – do you miss it?
I must say, I’ve not missed it at all. Partly because I focused on the succession as being a real challenge to pull off, so I left with a sense that I’d achieved that as well as building a business. But there were other things I wanted to do: to develop Bridges into a major organisation and push the concept of social investment as a new asset class; to get more involved in the management of my own assets; to develop the Portland Trust, and to write a book. So in some ways, I left for even bigger challenges.
MT: What was the thinking behind this book?
I wanted to show that being an entrepreneur is not about opportunism: there are rules to being successful, and these rules can be learnt. However, they’ve not been analysed in any of the books I’ve seen. So I wanted to show the road to be travelled; to set out the fundamentals of entrepreneurial strategy as it applies to the choice of opportunity, the building up of a management team, raising finance and creating opportunities through networking.