The concept of celebrities entering the business world is nothing new. On 22 June, Taylor Swift launched an attack against Apple Music – the new workplace of former Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe – because the company refused to pay artists for three months.
However, during the 27 June Pitch to Rich contest at shared workplace Second Home in London’s kooky business hub Shoreditch, globally-famous male model David Gandy – a man dating The Saturdays singer Mollie King – was among judges deciding the fates of the nine finalists.
The Pitch to Rich competition launched back in March and more than 2,500 companies entered the race to secure an investment from billionaire Richard Branson and his team.
Categories included Startup, New Things and Grow, which were won by holographic media company Kino-Mo, currency exchange company Fourex and sharing economy-based parking space service JustPark respectively.
The firms secured between £50,000 and £250,000 worth of support from Virgin Media Business each, including free travel on Virgin Trains, a web and mobile package, among other goodies.
But back to Gandy. He’s the classic case of women want to be with him and men want to be him – and perhaps a few investors will feel the same way too, given his interest in supporting emerging companies.
In 2013, the gym-loving gentleman invested in health-centric ice cream brand Wheyhey – just one year after the company hit the market.
“Protein is a highly important part of of your nutritional content whether training or not and it makes the product unique. I met the team who are young and full of energy and ideas, tasted the range and was hooked.”
Now, however, sitting on a judging panel alongside Richard Branson, Virgin Media business MD Peter Kelly, Jo Malone, Shutterstock founder Jon Oringer and Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts, Gandy is seemingly set on making a name for himself in the business world.
Discussing his affinity for enterprise, he opened up on what appeals to him. “It’s got to be the idea first of all. It’s got to have something I can relate to, and instantly see the potential in – something I can help with,” he said.
“You’ve got to buy into the people, the people are very important. They are who run the company and have that drive to keep on going, so you’ve got to believe in them as much as you believe in the product.
“Your heart will tell you or you’ll instantly know if you’re interested. I’ve invested so far in fitness or fashion. It’s really nice to use a platform like Men’s Fashion Week and get to know the younger brands there, finding out first hand how difficult it is to get investment and the expertise. That’s why I wanted to help out and a couple of them have been successful, hence why I’m here.”
With a couple of apps under his belt that support style and fitness, Gandy is also the face of Dolce & Gabanna and Marks & Spencer. He even launched a range with the latter in 2014 and has also created charity foundation Blue Steel Appeal.
And with judging alongside Branson now on his CV, Gandy, worth a reported $16m, is apparently looking to change the face of British investment – in more than one way – over the coming year.