The Money Maker is a brand new series for C4 which sees entrepreneur and seasoned investor, Eric Collins, spend time with UK businesses who are struggling and help turn around their fortunes.
American, Eric, who is based in the UK, was a peer of Barack Obama’s at Harvard Law School and has been named by the Financial Times as one of the most powerful black business people in Britain.
The four-part series will see him immerse himself in a different company each week, starting with Manchester company, Prymo, that specialises in repairs and restorations.
Here, in an exclusive interview, Eric who is also CEO of Impact X, which supports underrepresented entrepreneurs across Europe, tells us who impressed him, why things sometimes got emotional and what the biggest mistakes are that new businesses make...
Why did you want to make 'The Money Maker' and what are you hoping that viewers will take away from the series?
Eric Collins says: "I think it’s such a relatable programme and it’s also very timely. There’s never been a moment in history like this. Even previously successful businesses are facing unprecedented challenges so it was important that I provide real advice and real connection to organisations and individuals who have tried and tried. They’ve tried to be creative, they’ve tried to be frugal, they’ve tried to be publicly minded and through no fault of their own, they’re still struggling."
You help four different companies in The Money Maker. A hair-cutting business in London, a Jamaican packaged food company in Birmingham and a bread-making business in Sussex. All are struggling in various ways...
"Yes, making this show was a great opportunity to actually help and also to show people what help can look like. My aim wasn’t just to go in and get these companies to tick along and be a little bit better than they were before, but to actually transform them into real power-houses. Some of the people didn’t just embrace an idea, didn’t just run with it, they absolutely flew with it and that was very impressive."
'The Money Maker' opens with you going to Manchester to help CEO Jasen with his repairs and restoration company, Prymo. What were your first impressions?
"Jason is a bundle of energy and I thought, 'Here’s a guy who has gone from basically losing his home at one point and having to declare bankruptcy in order to keep going, keep the company, support his employees and all that while raising a family. That’s super-hero stuff.
"I’m normally looking for the next Amazon to invest in rather than a construction company but when you have the right entrepreneur and the right team around them, suddenly you see all kinds of potential. I saw that with Jasen."
Do things ever get heated or emotional in the 'The Money Maker', particularly when you suggest big changes and overhauls?
"All these companies are very personal companies. Their net worth and the entrepreneurs’ own self worth is very much intertwined. Yes, it can make things tricky because you’re saying to someone, ‘This is your baby, and you think your baby’s cute, but I don’t think your baby is so cute,’ and that’s a hard message for any parent to hear.
"So yes, there's a lot of emotion at times, there’s a lot of people getting used to the idea of criticism, of not always being in charge and of trying brand new things which might be the opposite of what they've been doing in the past."
What in general terms are the biggest mistakes that start-ups or small businesses make?
"The biggest one I consistently see is people looking at new circumstances and new fact patterns and hoping the place they were comfortable in beforehand will come back. There is a slowness in accepting the reality of the situation.
"For example there could be a slowness in saying, ‘This pandemic is not a two week thing.' By the time you’ve spent a month, two months, six months hoping that things will go back to how they were, your capital is running out and your back is against a wall. What do you do now? By then it’s really late to be answering that question."
The Money Maker starts on C4 on Tuesday May 4
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