Simon Carr: The Kitchen Capitalist

Share
Related Topics

The story so far: the author has sold his house to finance a manufacturing project in the hope of making a small fortune to finance his old age...

Last week, I went to see my capitalist friend in his river view apartment on top of the Albert Bridge. He isn't a table-top capitalist, he's a proper one. He's in the Rich List. He's currently in one of the American glossies, driving an amphibious sports car (designed and built by himself) past his 100m boat (two helicopter pads) with two bikini-clad girls on the back. "Get the toys in the water!" is the headline.

It was his fault, this thing I'm doing. He was the one who got me into kitchen capitalism. A couple of years ago, I pitched him a newspaper start-up I'd got under way. We needed £10m. He listened to the exciting concept (he hears dozens of them) and then cut through to the essential question within a minute. Guess what it was? Market size? Market opportunity? Risk-to-reward ratio? No, it was much more brilliant. "Simon," he said. "Would you put 25 per cent of your own net wealth into this?" He watched me hesitate for one-fifth of a second and at the end of the second fifth his interest had died. Gone. It wasn't a proposition. It wasn't serious. It was a nice idea. And (as we all now know) ideas are easy. They're what you kick around the office to pass the time. I came away from that 60-second interview feeling very bruised. To have been rumbled so easily, so quickly!I applied the same test to my collaborators and colleagues and found that they failed far more comprehensively than I had. They didn't hesitate at all with their response (summarised as: "Don't be daft!")

The test grew dangerously, almost tumorously, in my head. If you want others to fund your project, you have to believe fundamentally in what you are pitching. If you don't, why would they invest? But if you do, why wouldn't you fund it yourself? Why wouldn't you want as much of it as you could get?

Yes, a dangerous process, generating convictions. You find you believe something you didn't believe before and the end of that process is very indeterminate (at least I didn't end up invading Iraq).

Anyway, I showed my friend the working production model of my little product. And for a moment we had a gentle sense of - what was it? Not equality, obviously. But community. Given the differences of scale, we'd both been through similar experiences. His recent multimillion-pound project suffered exactly as my kitchen table project had, from recalcitrant suppliers, lapsed attention, design flaws, knowledge gaps, missed deadlines, dead ends, false directions... the general Uncertainty Principle that governs making things for a new market.

And It's also true that we both live in relative waterside luxury. His penthouse overlooks the Albert Bridge and my garden goes down to the Oxford Canal. I can get my electric-powered boat on to the Thames. One up to me - his boat wouldn't fit on the Thames.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Freelance AutoCAD Technician

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Freelance AutoCAD Technician is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Order Processor

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This European market leader for security...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Graphic Designer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The five reasons why I vote

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Daily catch-up: the gap between rich and poor has narrowed (a little) since the banking crisis

John Rentoul
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot