The Business On: Matthew Riley, CEO, Daisy Communications

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The Independent Online

Do I know him?

If not, you soon will. Forget The Apprentice and the endless drivel its contestants spout about their entrepreneurial skills. Mr Riley is the real deal.

Prove it.

As a boy, he made pocket money shovelling snow for neighbours at 50p a go. He left school at 16 and went on a training scheme that taught him how to fix fax machines. A job at Deutsche Telekom followed and a few years later, in 2001, just after the collapse, Mr Riley decided it was time to go it alone. He launched Daisy, a telecoms business that sells its services primarily to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Goodness. Who knows what he might have done with Lord Sugar's support.

He'll see your millionaire and raise you a billionaire. In 2007, Mr Riley was named Ernst & Young National Young Entrepreneur. Part of the prize was a direct line for advice to the retail mogul Sir Philip Green.

Has he needed to call it?

Mr Riley says Sir Philip has been hugely helpful. Last year, he helped him when Daisy was sold to Freedom4, the vehicle of former Pipex boss Peter Dubyens, who is now a renowned investor in thesector. The deal netted Mr Rileymillions and gave Daisy a stockmarket listing. He still has a big stake, remains chief executive, working alongside Mr Dubyens, who is the chairman these days.

And how is business?

The headline in yesterday's results presentation was a first-half loss of £9.8m, which doesn't look too clever. But most of the losses are related to integration costs stemming from businesses that Daisy has bought since its stock market listing. Messrs Riley and Dubyens have been on something of an acquisition spree as they seek to build a business of much greater scale.

So he's not fired, then?

Nope. Sales have quadrupled thanks to all those takeovers, and Daisy is promising to be profitable within two years. The market believes him.