There's definitely something about Daisy. The communications company, which repackages services for the small business market, has enjoyed phenomenal success since its inception in 2001.
Its founder, 34-year-old Matthew Riley, has yet to sacrifice any of his equity in the business, despite completing 16 acquisitions. He’s just made a £2.15m profit on a £33m turnover, he’s looking at revenues of £63m next year, and he’s now being mentored by one of the UK’s most successful businessmen, who is helping Daisy blossom in the £4bn telecoms market.
Riley has been receiving much recognition for his efforts of late. After joining the Growing Business Young Guns ranks in 2007, he was crowned Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young before finally being named as the overall winner of the inaugural Bank of Scotland Entrepreneur Challenge.
Having already won the Challenge’s North England and North Wales regional heat and bagging £5m interest-free funding and free banking for three years, Riley was in the running for the national prize: four days of hands on, priceless mentoring from Sir Philip Green.
Armed with the 20-minute presentation on his growth plans for Daisy that he’d been asked to prepare on the final day, he was surprised when the Arcadia front man stopped him in his tracks. “He just started grilling us on the numbers!” Riley recalls. “He wanted to know that we knew everything back to front, inside out.”
However, Riley rose to the challenge, and left the room feeling elated at having been able to tick all of Green’s boxes. “He understands business; whether things can or can’t be done,” Riley says. “When you’re answering the questions and you’ve got the right answers, you’ve got a good business.”
Riley believes he clinched the prize due to the cultural alignment between Daisy and Arcadia, fending off a number of sterling finalists, including well-known brand Tyrrells Crisps. “Arcadia has got exactly the same mantra, a real can-do attitude within the business,” says Riley. “You’d be surprised – even though its turnover is something like £2.5bn, Sir Philip runs the business with a flat management structure, with people who get things done, rather than sit in ivory towers. I think he saw a lot of his business ethos within us, and I honestly think that’s why we won it.”