Rising Star Matt Riley – Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Matt Riley was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the North Region in this year's Ernst & Young awards.

He has started four companies, most recently B2B telecoms provider Daisy Communications.

How did you get the idea for Daisy?
I saw a niche market within the enterprise zone for a fixed-line provider. There were only two companies in that space: BT and what was then Telewest, and nobody was giving small businesses an alternative.

How did you fund the company?
It is totally self-funded. I’m still a 100 per cent shareholder. I went without a wage for three years to ensure all profits were ploughed back into the company. I knew I had a finite time to grow the business before other people jumped on the bandwagon.

What’s been your biggest hurdle?
Trying to get a bank to back us for our direct debit mandate. When we started out in 2001, the banks didn’t want to know about telecoms companies. Now the going’s good, they’re all coming to us offering overdrafts and loans.

What’s the key to your success?
I’ve always had an eye for a deal and for making money. I was the kid selling sweets, doing paper rounds, milk rounds – you name it. And a lot of hard work. That’s the part most people don’t see.

Describe your management style.
It’s open and relaxed – but I like to raise people’s aspirations. One employee joined five years ago inputting contracts. I pushed her to develop her skills and go to college, and last Christmas she was promoted to operations director. I try to bring out the entrepreneur in people.

Related: Lancashire lad wins enterprise award

Marc Barber

Marc Barber

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

Related Topics

Telecoms sector