“The first thing he said to me was ‘how’s business’,” Paphitis recalls, adding that he responded with the comment that it was “challenging”. Paphitis continues: “He said ‘I can’t wait to get better. It’s so exciting, the opportunities out there’. I couldn’t believe I was hearing that from a dying man.” The man passed away two days later. Paphitis urges the young entrepreneurs in the room: “This is probably the most exciting time ever so don’t miss out on it and enjoy it because it won’t come around too much in a hurry.” Hear, hear, Theo. Ladies and gentleman, the winner of this year’s award is… NEIL HUTCHINSON!!!! Here’s a classic “start-up in the bedroom” story. In four years, Neil Hutchinson has built a business from scratch into one of the UK’s largest affiliate marketing firms. In 2004, he raised £125,000 from his previous employer for 50 per cent of the profits – until he could pay back the loan. Within nine months, he had repaid everything. His company, TrafficBroker, helps clients, which include eBay, O2 and Amazon, to bid for better positions on search engines, with TrafficBroker receiving a fee for each resulting sale. Turnover has grown from £2.2m in 2005 to a projected £25m in 2008. Quietly spoken, Hutchinson says that one of his most important decisions was to recruit “three wise men” including non-executive chairman Frank Herman (a former managing director for Sega Europe and a guru in the computer games industry). This year, Hutchinson has set up a holding company to help focus on the three key areas of search, publishing and technology. He is a true rising star in the technology and marketing firmament. Hutchinson isn’t able to be here because of medical reasons. His colleague, Fred George, is accepting the award for him. “I’m American! I’m sorry!” he jokes.
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