Everyone loves a rags-to-riches tale, a fable of a brave young pioneer busting through life’s disadvantages to make their fortune. But, when it’s a story of the wealthy and privileged doing well for themselves, of riches to even more riches, affection and adulation can be hard to come by.
Ed Saatchi, currently experiencing success with his groundbreaking social networking tool for business, NationalField, will probably be damned with faint praise his entire business life. As the son of Maurice Saatchi, one half of the legendary advertising duo, his success appears to have been pre-ordained. From Oxford University to an elite postgraduate course in the Sorbonne, on to an internship with President Barack Obama, and then to entrepreneurial success. Always going to happen, right?
Wrong. Ed Saatchi has had to battle and scrap to get where he is. He had to overcome all sorts of prejudice and preconception to get an unpaid role on the Obama campaign, regularly pulling all-nighters during the election push. Since leaving the Obama campaign he has, if anything, worked even harder to build NationalField, a solution designed to replace existing company intranets and give each staff member the fast, relevant information they need.
Even today Saatchi is still working 18-hour days in pursuit of his dream. But now the success is starting to flow; NationalField achieves the rare feat of turning a profit in its first year, with turnover of £640,000. Industry experts are calling Saatchi ‘the British Mark Zuckerberg’ – not bad for someone whose entrepreneurial career came about by accident.
Saatchi’s vision for NationalField was borne during his stint on the Obama campaign – which, again, had little planning behind it. “I wasn’t particularly interested in politics, it was about a will to help this person, because I thought he could change everything.”
Saatchi’s Britishness was a hindrance at first. ”I rang the campaign organisers up in Chicago and say “I’d love to help” but they’d say legally I couldn’t work there, which was not encouraging. Eventually I managed to get a place in Iowa and started volunteering there.”