Britain's Top 100 Entrepreneurs 2008: Premier league

It wasn't a privileged background that kicked things off for most of our elite wealth-creators. It was spotting the killer niche in a well-worked market.

1. PETER CULLUM - TOWERGATE

An insurance-industry veteran of nearly 40 years, Peter Cullum left his job as marketing director of Hiscox to found the Towergate Underwriting Group in 1997 because he thought he had spotted a gap in the market for niche insurance services. He was right - since then, the Maidstone-based group has acquired specialist brokers and underwriters covering everything from holiday homes and military equipment to agriculture, pubs and nightclubs. In 2006, it became the largest privately owned insurance intermediary in Britain.

Income in the first half of 2007 increased by 32% to £161m, while earnings were up 37% to £67m, so it had no trouble raising £276m to acquire Open International software, the credit crunch notwithstanding. No sub-prime loan, this.

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