HOW TO FAST TRACK YOUR BUSINESS: BEN MELDRUM, FOUNDER & MANAGING DIRECTOR OF PROFESSOR PUZZLE

Professor Puzzle resized-1.jpg

Ben Meldrum, 40, started this puzzle retailer in 1999, aged 23 and with only £250, after learning how to make traditional metal puzzles from a street seller in Calcutta. The company now sells through stockists in the UK, US, Germany and France, and ranked at No 39 in the 2016 Sunday Times Fast Track 100.

What inspired you to start your business?

Seven months in India. A huge proportion of the population is self-employed, many running very simple operations that would be easy to start at home, which was inspiring. I found metal puzzles on the street in Calcutta at the end of my trip.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Creating a market that didn’t exist. No stores were buying or had ever seen metal and wooden brainteasers before we started selling them 15 years ago, and now every major store stocks puzzles as part of their Christmas offering.

What has been your best business decision?

To start at an early age when I had nothing to lose. Starting a business when you are young and free of responsibilities means you can take your time and build organically.

What has been your worst business decision?

Not to move production to the Far East earlier. Manufacturing in the UK was great fun, but it didn’t make any money. Our focus could shift from making the product to selling it.

Which business leader would you most like to share a meal with, and why?

Walt Disney, if he were still alive. He once said ‘Why would I want to be president? I’m the king of Disneyland.’ Donald Trump obviously doesn’t feel as passionately about his business empire!

What company do you most admire, and why?

Disney - what other business can claim to have played such a nostalgic role in the early years of generation after generation.

SIGN UP FOR FUTURE BGF INVESTMENT NEWS