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Starting his web design business aged just 11, Ben was running a company by the time he was studying for his GCSEs. Before he was 18 he was running a fully fledged online, branding and social media consultancy and was feted as the future of British business. Having exited his first business and started to build his second, he provide insights in to the social media landscape (he’s roughly the same age as Google) and the future of business. He considers what’s new, what’s yesterday's news, and what challenges businesses are going to have to face from disruptive competition to employee wellbeing.
Ben Towers is an entrepreneur who started his own web design company at the age of just 11. He grew and developed his businesses to cover branding and a thriving social media consultancy. That in turn became a part of a full-service advertising and marketing agency where he served as a director before exiting to start a new, digital startup. All before he was 20. Widely acclaimed by the British business community, Ben’s been named NatWest Entrepreneur of the Year and dubbed one of the UK’s most exciting entrepreneurs by Sir Richard Branson
It all started when Ben designed a website (using lessons from YouTube) for a family friend for £50. He learned more and built increasingly more advanced sites. He hired his skills out via peopleperhour.com, and as business grew he took on a freelance designer to take care of developing whilst he looked after the management side, all before he started his GCSEs.
Along the way Ben hit a number of barriers; his bank account was frozen after too many transactions were processed for a children’s account (and he wasn’t allowed a business account). He experienced similar problems with PayPal. Whilst doing his exams he had to fire a member of staff for not responding to clients. Before his 18th birthday he was running a fully fledged SME with a team of 26 designing sites and working on national and international social media campaigns for companies including QuickBooks, Pot Noodle, Champneys and Virgin. Faced with focusing on his business or taking on A Levels, Ben compromised and became an apprentice in his own business, which meant having an employee review his work. By doing this Ben became the first person on record to employ themselves in this way.
Far from being a disadvantage, his youth has been a key strength in his understanding of the social media landscape (he’s roughly the same age as Google). He has an insight into what’s new, what’s fading from popularity, and who’s using what platform. It means he can look at a new generation of businesses, consumers and employees with an insight few have had the opportunity to gain. He applies this insight to look at the next big challenges for businesses of all types, and to consider what the company of the future will look like.
Having sold his original business Ben is now an advisor to pharmaceutical giant GSK, a mentor to new entrepreneurs and an investor in a range of starups. He topped The Times’ global Super Teen Power List, and was an advisor on the CBBC series Pocket Money Pitch (a Dragons’ Den for young entrepreneurs). Alongside his unusual entrepreneurial story, Ben also speaks about the wider world of technology and content from the view of someone who has effectively known little else. He considers disruption from new technologies, new influences, and new ways of doing business. He looks at the expectations of the millennial generation with thoughts on the potential life span of the likes of Facebook and Instagram (young people tend not to sign up once they’ve become mainstream and full of adult users).
Ben's business focus is now on health and wellbeing, including co-founding a workplace mental wellbeing platform which enables employers to build internal communities and support groups.
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