Name: Erik Fairbairn
Company: Electric-vehicle charging firm POD Point
Car: Don’t have one. I go everywhere by train. Trains are my second office (I’m writing this on a train). It’s fairly clear that the top echelons of the mobile-phone companies don’t use trains as much as me. If they did, I’m sure the 3G signal would be better!
Economy, business or first class: Economy. Keep your overheads down and save the difference for something which has a return. Plus I lead by example.
Most extravagant purchase: Gadgets. I have the latest computers, the latest hi-fi, the latest phone. I’m a sucker for a good bit of technology!
Most played song on iPod: Sasha and Digweed’s “Northern Exposure”.
Best business book: James Caan’s biography. A polite, humble entrepreneur’s guide to ruling business. It proves you don’t have to win at the expense of everyone else around you. I hated Alan Sugar’s book. What’s the point of reading a book in which the author just explains that it was all him, and no-one else could have done it? That isn’t inspiring.
Worst business moment: Having to sell my previous company to a competitor after Lehman Brothers collapsed. I loved that business – but it was a case of sell or watch it go under. That business now rules its sector. Still, at least it taught me not to get too attached to businesses.
Proudest business moment: Setting out a vision to my staff, and watching as they get on board with the idea, get excited about it, and start to execute on that idea.
Business mentor: Peter Hiscocks. He originally taught me on the Cambridge Entrepreneurship School – he’s now chairman of POD Point – always has some useful thoughts on what to do next.
Next big thing: Electric vehicles, of course. Beyond that, smart grids. The western world has a power problem looming: we’re not building new power stations; demand is increasing; we’re planning on relying more on wind generation, which is variable. All this leads to a problem – and where there is a problem there is an entrepreneurial opportunity. We’ll use clever control systems to maximise what we can achieve with the grid.
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