KB Events: Purplebricks
Entrepreneurs’ Dinner with Michael Bruce – Founder & CEO of Purplebricks on Tue 15 November 2016
By the time he was five, Michael Bruce knew that he wanted to run his own business and had a picture in his mind of the sort of people with whom he wanted to work. As he walked the six mile round trip to school, he dreamed of a future where he made the decisions and set the agenda.
Michael did not waste any time. Even at school he was building up his financial resources by various entrepreneurial means. It was also at this time that he made his first mistakes as a result of nearly overreaching himself. However, fortune was on his side and an order of 30,000 umbrellas emblazoned with the words “England Rugby World Cup Winners” from China, rapidly sold as a result of England’s victory from the last kick of the game in 2003. This was a consignment that Michael had unloaded from a container by hand as he had not thought to arrange for a fork-lift.
Whilst being consumed by entrepreneurial flair and drive, Michael was sufficiently self-aware to realise that he also needed to acquire certain technical skills and knowledge in order to maximise his potential and credibility. Consequently, he qualified as a solicitor, concentrating on the key commercial aspects of the law. On qualification, surprisingly, he then decided to practice as a criminal lawyer so as to gain experience of persuasive public speaking as he presented cases in court.
Finally, as a result of the experience of being on the board of a firm of estate agents which he had bought and subsequently sold, Michael identified a fragmented market that was held in low esteem and was ripe for reform.
Michael spoke at a dinner hosted by Kleinwort Benson and shared his story with us and our guests. Throughout his talk, it was clear that his key motivation was to provide a service that benefitted customers and put their needs and interests first and foremost. Michael’s success lies in finding great employees who have a passion for their work. He has created a vibrant online presence which enables his team to do what they enjoy doing to the best of their ability – helping people to sell their houses with the minimum of hassle, achieving the right price and keeping costs to a minimum.
A measure of Michael’s success is the high degree of brand awareness of Purplebricks amongst the general public. Moreover, the company receives excellent reviews from its customers.
The meteoric success of the company resulted in its flotation towards the end of 2015 after just over a year of trading. It was funded during its early stages by Neil Woodford and Paul Pindar of Capita. 2016 has seen the company’s expansion into Australia, another area crying out for reform with its fragmented marketplace and high fees.
We were delighted to welcome an impressive group of entrepreneurs to the event, from a wide variety of industry sectors, most of whom had been invited by our Entrepreneurs team - me, Paul Bentley and Dan Cordery.
Following Michael’s talk, he responded with candour and enthusiasm to questions from guests and a lively discussion ensued. The whole evening once again proved the value of sharing each other’s stories of entrepreneurship and networking with peers across different sectors.
Since arriving at Kleinwort Benson in 1994, Ben has advised private clients, trusts and charities with a wide variety of requirements on all aspects of their investment management and wealth management needs.
Ben has over 10 years’ experience of managing investment portfolios and in prior years has provided significant input into Kleinwort Benson’s investment process with responsibility for analysing medium sized companies across all industry sectors.
Ben leads a team of private bankers who are responsible for providing the full range of Kleinwort Benson’s services to their clients.
Ben is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment and has served on this institution’s examination committee.
Prior to joining Kleinwort Benson, Ben served a Commissioned Officer in the British Army with the Corps of Royal Engineers after which he qualified as Solicitor with Barlow Lyde & Gilbert in the City.