The Founders Brew: Rob Hamilton

3 mins
November 29, 2023
Better Growth

Rob Hamilton is the founder of Ride25 Ltd, a non-profit organisation that raises funds through cycling challenges around the globe. Alongside his philanthropic efforts, Rob has invested and founded various businesses during his career such as The Instant Group that delivers agile real estate solutions. He is also actively involved in educating young entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.

In this edition of The Founder’s Brew, we caught up with Rob to learn more about his journey as an entrepreneur, his concept of success and more.

As a man who has navigated and invested in many different businesses, we asked Rob what piece of advice would he give to an aspirational founder. For Rob, the key is to start early, stating that whatever age you are, you've got to start now.

You don't have to come up with the next Microsoft now or even have a plan for that but you just need to do something to start learning skills to run a business.

For Rob, he picked up skills by renting out nightclubs, selling tickets, printing t-shirts and running lots of little micro-businesses. He knew that these jobs were never going to become a career, but each one taught him something about the failures and the successes of running a business. He concludes that his first piece of advice is that it’s really important to just get going.

Rob explains that his second big takeaway is that it’s okay to not have a plan at the beginning. He explains that businesses evolve over time with the potential to be massive in 10 or 20 years, which is exactly what happened to him. Back in 1999, when Rob founded The Instant Group as a marketplace for serviced coworking spaces, it was such a niche idea that most people thought was impossible. However, he was able to scale the business naturally as his expertise and cash flow grew with the business.

If you're generating cash, you can try new things. So get going with something and it will turn into something much better.

When asked to sum up his career as a founder with one object, Rob presents a photograph of an annual ski trip with his team who are all dressed in obligatory fancy dress. He explains that the reason he brought the photo is because he believed in fostering an environment that was fun, sociable and rewarding and where being part of the business didn’t just mean hard work but also making great memories as a team. 

The last thing you want to do is be in suits every day and end up in this horrible corporate office and be in a basement with no windows. I wanted an environment which people enjoyed being in.

We then asked Rob what is success to him. For Rob, success means being able to spend time and money with his family and the ability to go on adventures together. Alongside family, Rob greatly values community and giving back, which is why he founded Ride25, a cycling management company that brings together cycling holidays and philanthropy to raise funds for all sorts of charitable organisations.

To me, the sign of whether you're having a successful life is if you leave something better than when you started.

So far, Ride25 has raised about one and a half million pounds. Thanks to this initiative, many disadvantaged children in Uganda can now have an education. 3 of the members have even grown to be part of the Ugandan cycling team, which competed in the Commonwealth Games with good prospects to go to the Olympics next year. 

To round up the interview, we asked Rob if his children are interested in business and we can definitely say that the apples haven’t fallen far from the tree. His three children have already expressed an interest in business with Rob sharing that they often spend nights watching entrepreneurial programmes like Dragon's Den and The Apprentice. As they delve more into this world, his children have raised questions about business jargon and other concepts that have inspired Rob to write a book that answers those questions and encourages young people, particularly teenagers and 20 year olds, to start their own business.

Gain more insights from Helm's popular Founders' Brew series, with interviews with entrepreneurs such as Lauren Kelly and Clare Harris.

Andreas Adamides


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