I was embarrassed to tell friends about my business

“I’ve always been fascinated by the internet for as long as I can remember.

“I spent my teens online, building communities and businesses, growing up in suburban Surrey.”

At 30, Adnan Ebrahim is now a seasoned tech entrepreneur.

He founded the website Car Throttle, an online community for car enthusiasts, from his bedroom as a student having demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit from a young age.

Speaking on A Million by 30 with Sean Farrington on BBC Radio 5 Live, he says the first time he saw the financial potential of the internet “was after I started flogging these popular wristbands back in 2005-6 to my mates at school”.

Adnan explains that “on eBay, they were going for ten times as much as in real life. I created my first auctions and started shipping these wristbands out of my house.

“I would get my mum to run down to the shops and buy as many as she could.”

He says he made “pretty good money for a school kid”.

At 16, Adnan got into blogging after an unsuccessful venture selling iPods.

“I got stung quite badly. I lost a couple of thousand pounds… it turned out to be a fake seller.”

Blogging would turn out to be far more lucrative. He loved cars, so he started writing about them. But to begin with, he kept it a secret.

“I’d come back home from school every day, write some articles, publish. The next day, see how it did, check the traffic… see how many pennies I’d make from the AdSense clicks.”

Adnan could see he had the makings of a successful online business idea when the pennies became “ten, twenty, fifty, a hundred… to a couple of thousand dollars a month”.

He sold the business at 18 having kept it under wraps from his parents until he needed the requisite legal papers signing.

“It was strange, but I liked the fact that no one else knew what I was doing. It was like a second life that I had online.”

He also delayed telling his friends about his success.

“No one knew. Aside from my family, I hadn’t told any of my friends. I had kept it fairly under wraps.

“I was a bit embarrassed that I had created this second life that no one else knew about. I had been writing and blogging – I was a bit afraid about what people would think about it.”

Even once he’d left school and gone to university, where he launched Car Throttle, he chose not to share this part of his life with his friends.

“I didn’t tell my flatmates until the second year of living with them… they had no clue I was doing it.”

Journalist and author, Trevor Clawson, has been writing about tech startups and fast-growth companies for more than a decade. He says this degree of secrecy isn’t uncommon among budding entrepreneurs.

“There are a number of reasons why they might choose to keep a low profile – at least in the early days,” he says.

“Fear of criticism can be a factor. When you’re developing an idea, it’s not necessarily helpful to have it critiqued by friends or associates who may not really understand the concept – especially before it has been fully developed.”

Adnan says it took “quite a while” before he realised his business was interesting enough to share with his friends:

“I just thought it was a bit geeky and people wouldn’t really connect with it.” He says attitudes toward tech ventures were different then to what they are now: “I think digital lives were seen as a little bit murky.

“A secret part of my personality existed online and that wasn’t something that I was willing to share with the rest of the world back then.”

He says he remembers clearly the moment he opened up to his flatmate about Car Throttle, but it wasn’t the “unveiling the Batman” moment he was expecting.

“I said, I’ve got something really big to tell you. I’ve got this website. And I remember him going ‘so what?’ it just wasn’t a big deal to him.”

Adnan remembers when the word “million” started to emerged on his spreadsheet.

“The million number started to come quite quickly, in 2013, 2014, both in terms of the valuation of our business, in terms of hitting our first million pounds in revenue, hitting our first million subscribers on YouTube, having our first million fans on Facebook… we were really gathering pace.”

He sold Car Throttle in 2019 to Dennis Publishing, having built an audience of more than 15 million followers and 2.5 billion video views.

Douglas McCabe, an expert in tech and publishing media, and the chief executive of Enders Analysis, says that while the business isn’t the most valuable car news title in terms of revenue, its reach and audience has big appeal.

“It offers a new audience, with 60% of customers aged under 35. Its social reach is particularly valuable, being roughly 14 times and 17 times greater than Auto Express and Car Buyer – two of Dennis’ car titles.”

Adnan was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in 2020.

He says that while he doesn’t regret the decisions he made earlier in life – even the mistakes – he wishes he’d been “more aggressive about opportunities”.

“I think when you’re that young, you have a lot of inferiority complexes,” he adds.

Ben Laker, leadership professor at Henley Business School, says young business leaders are often afraid to own their success: “Entrepreneurs don’t recognise the person being talked about as successful, as themselves.”

Adnan is now chief executive of a mental health startup MindLabs, co-founded with business partner Gabor Szedlak, to “make the world a happier place”. And he has some advice for budding tech entrepreneurs.

“It’s not an easy route to success, there are a lot of hurdles along the way. You have to realise that you’re going to make mistakes and that’s completely normal.

“Persistence is one of the main things that you need. A lot of the time it’s hard – there’s just no other word to describe it.”

I was a stage manager and now Im a bike mechanic

My Money is a series looking at how people spend their money – and the sometimes tough decisions they have to make. Here, Laura Wilson, 33, from west London takes us through her week’s spending.

Laura has been a theatre stage manager for 15 years in London and on tour. During lockdown she has been slowly retraining to be a bicycle mechanic and loves it. She also loves cycling, yoga and reading and is normally found curled up in an armchair reading a book.

She also says she is a dreadful baker but persists, despite most things being rendered inedible.

The theatre Laura works at was closed during lockdown but opened in August until the second lockdown. It was running small shows whilst it was open to socially-distanced audiences.

Laura started her blog on Monday 2 November 2020.

Over to Laura…

It’s my first day off in 10 weeks and somehow I sleep until 11:30.

As a freelancer in theatre I often have gaps between work, this being the first since July. Two days ago, second lockdown was announced and the work I was due to do in Sheffield and Leeds at the end of this week was cancelled. Instead I will now be at home all week and only working my second job cleaning bikes on Sunday.

Today I decide to do a shop for things to take me through this next month to prep for decorating my flat and generally stock up.

It started with a trip to TK Maxx. I was aiming to buy side tables but instead came away with £21.96 spent on bits and pieces including some photo frames to give as Christmas presents. I then went to Boots for some mascara and bath goodies, £35.44 in all. Next was B&Q for painting equipment and plants. Unfortunately it was busy and the painting aisle was quite stressful so I bought two new large plants for my flat, a ladder and some paint rollers instead. Using a voucher I was given when leaving a job earlier in the year I got lots of money off and spent £63.05. An expensive day but I went out with the intention of having a mini splurge pre second lockdown.

Total spend: £120.45

More blogs from the BBC’s My Money Series:

Continuing my mini splurge I went on a drive to the shops for more bits and pieces for lockdown. The drying rack I bought for the kitchen yesterday from TK Maxx turned out to be too big (my sixth one I’ve bought in the last two years – you would have thought I would have learnt and taken some measurements!) so I swapped that for a tiny one and bought a few new kitchen plates and spent £22.96. I popped into M&S for some food to make some ramen. Whilst there I bought my mandatory winter jumper. £70.50 in total. Tuesdays are the day I get my fruit and veg box delivered to my flat, £25.40, I’m a big fan of buying British seasonal produce. I had to drop something in at the post office on the way home and ended up going to the expensive natural food shop and bought lots of organic goodies – including some peppermint creams for my grandparents as they love them, £42.47.

Total spend: £161.33

I drove to Wiltshire to see my grandparents before Lockdown 2 in their garden – I only spent money on petrol to get home, £30.17.

I have only seen my grandparents once this year when my sister got married in August, which I have found really hard, as have they. I can’t wait to give them a big hug soon!

Total spend: £30.17

A quiet day in today with an online yoga class with my long time teacher, £5. My monthly phone bill went out today, £62. It’s an expensive contract because I moved onto a boat during lockdown with the aim of being on there for a few years so got an unlimited data contract. It didn’t work out and I’m back on land, but stuck with this contract for a while – oh well! I signed up for a 14-day trial of the workout app Fiit two weeks ago. I forgot to cancel it and £120 went out of my account. Very annoyed at myself but maybe it will get me exercising now!

Total spend: £187

Went for a socially-distanced walk with my friend who lives across the road, we went and bought pain au chocolat and cinnamon buns for the road, £11.10. I also bought some degreaser to clean my bike and a new bike light from Halfords on the walk, £33.99, andI ended up selling a basket to a neighbour so made £30, thrilled!

Total spend: £45.09

Home day – however, I end up buying a turbo trainer for my bike that I have been desperate to buy for a few years. I’ve finally bitten the bullet and bought a Wahoo Core to train at home over the winter – a cool £430. I’m really into cycling, as are my brother and sister. My brother rides for a team and I have a secret dream to get really good so I can one day keep up with him!

I finally made ramen today!

Total spend: £430

Was at work today cleaning bikes in an outdoor market. It was ridiculously busy considering the times but it meant we were fully booked. I didn’t spend anything today.

Total spend: £0

Total spent this week: £974.04

A very expensive week for me but I wanted to treat myself after a very busy few months of hard work. This weekly spend is more than I normally earn in a week but sometimes you have to let loose. I’m very careful with money and save every week. As a freelancer my weekly wage varies. I have an account I put £20 into every week which I normally use for my annual holiday. It might have to be another bike this year instead!

Chris Smith funeral: Runners join Team GB athletes procession

Athletes in club kit joined the funeral procession of a Team GB runner who died after going missing in Scotland.

Chris Smith’s body was discovered on 29 October, two days after the 43-year-old set off for a run in Perthshire.

Runners from three clubs escorted the cortege to the funeral in Cuckfield, West Sussex.

Mr Smith’s wife Lindsay said she had been “touched” by the number of runners who talked about how he gave them tips and helped them.

A memorial fund has been established to provide a “lasting legacy” and to allow his children to “continue to know how awesome he was and will continue to be”, she said.

“While I would do anything to bring him back, I’m trying to think about what he would have done in this situation and how he would made a positive from it as much as he could,” she added.

The funeral procession was followed by runners from Haywards Heath Harriers, Thames Valley Harriers and the Cottage training group.

Mr Smith, who was originally from Aberdeenshire, lived in Haywards Heath in West Sussex.

He was on holiday with his wife and sons when he went missing.

Mr Smith represented Great Britain in international mountain running competitions and in 2016 helped Team GB win bronze in the European Mountain Running Championships in Italy.

The World Mountain Running Association previously said it was “incredibly saddened” at the news of Mr Smith’s death.

Anglesey murder: Three arrested after attacked man dies

Three people have been arrested in connection with the murder of a 58-year-old man.

A 38-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman were arrested on Friday morning, and a 47-year-old man on Tuesday night.

The victim died in hospital after being “badly assaulted”. Police said he managed to walk to his partner’s address after he was attacked in Holyhead, Anglesey, on Tuesday.

He was taken by ambulance to Ysbyty Gwynedd.

He was then transferred to the Royal Stoke University Hospital, where he died on Thursday.

Officers said the man and woman arrested on Friday were held in the Holyhead area.

Det Ch Insp Brian Kearney, of North Wales Police, said: “Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of the victim and we continue to request that their privacy is respected at this very tragic time.

“We fully appreciate the shock this has caused with our community and we are continuing to appeal to anyone who has any information to come forward.”

Det Ch Insp Kearney said the man was attacked between 10:00 and 11:00 GMT on Tuesday in the Thomas Street and Mount Pleasant area of Holyhead.

“We have established that the victim managed to walk the short distance down Thomas Street past the Cenotaph to his partner’s address near Holborn Road,” he said.

The force appealed for anyone who witnessed an assault or saw a man “unsteady on his feet” between Holborn Road, Victoria Road and Thomas Street, to come forward.

Catterick man jailed for ambush murder of ex-girlfriend

A man who kidnapped and murdered his ex-girlfriend in a woodland hideout has been jailed for at least 25 years.

Andrew Pearson, 45, ambushed Natalie Harker as she cycled to work in Catterick, North Yorkshire on 9 October 2019.

Teesside Crown Court heard Ms Harker, 30, was drowned before her body was hidden in Pearson’s tent.

Police were called by Pearson’s mother after her son had phoned her claiming she had died in an accident.

Pearson told his mother the pair had been walking together when Ms Harker had accidently slipped and fallen into a river, North Yorkshire Police said.

The couple had split up weeks before and Ms Harker, who worked as a cleaner, had told family and friends she was scared of her ex-partner who had been pestering her by text.

Two days before she was killed she told people at her church she was worried she was being followed.

Detectives discovered Pearson had conducted a dry run and took photos of the various scenes days before he ambushed Ms Harker at about 04:30 BST on a secluded path near Colburn.

Passing sentence Judge Stephen Ashurst said only Pearson would know precisely what happened when he killed her by holding her underwater while compressing her neck.

“What happened thereafter was extraordinary,” he said.

“You took her lifeless body into the tent, stripped her of her clothes which you then folded and took into another part of the tent.

“Whether she was still breathing or not, you thought only of yourself, not just in the shock of the moment, but for hour after hour.”

The court heard Pearson did not summon help, but messaged a friend in the US, saying: “Goodbye, I have killed Natalie, I’m going to hand myself in.”

He then spent 42 minutes on a FaceTime call with that friend while in the tent with her body before calling his mother.

Pearson, of Chestnut Court, Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, was given a minimum jail term of 25 years.

Woman guilty of fake cancer GoFundMe fundraising fraud

A woman who faked a cancer diagnosis to claim more than £45,000 in donations has been convicted of fraud.

Nicole Elkabbas, 42, set up an online fundraising campaign, claiming she needed money to pay for private treatment for ovarian cancer.

But police began an investigation after a doctor, who had recently given her the all-clear, raised suspicions.

Elkabbas, of Broadstairs, Kent, pleaded not guilty and told Canterbury Crown Court she had believed she had cancer.

Judge Mark Weekes said Elkabbas had been convicted on “clear and compelling evidence” and should expect a custodial sentence.

Ben Irwin, prosecuting, earlier told the court Elkabbas’s actions had been “utterly dishonest”.

In February 2017, she set up a GoFundMe campaign, which said she had just weeks to raise money for a major surgery in Spain.

She claimed a costly “breakthrough drug” could improve her chances, and included an image of her lying in a hospital bed.

However, the court heard the image had actually been taken during routine gallbladder treatment several months earlier.

Mr Irwin said the “obvious lie” was built around the photo, which had been “staged to convince people that she was seriously unwell”.

After she “tricked” people into donating, she “frittered” the money on foreign travel, football tickets and online gambling, Mr Irwin said.

She will be sentenced on 5 February for one count of fraud by false representation and another of possessing criminal property.

GoFundMe said all donations made to Elkabbas through the site were refunded last year after misuse allegations were raised.

Nick Ramsay: Deselection row Tory withdraws legal challenge

A Conservative Senedd member who took his local party to court over an attempt to deselect him has withdrawn his legal challenge.

Nick Ramsay wanted to stop a meeting of the Monmouth Conservative Association (MCA) from going ahead next week.

But his application for an injunction has been withdrawn and a judge ordered Mr Ramsay to pay £25,000 in costs.

An MCA spokesman said they were “absolutely delighted with the ruling”. Mr Ramsay has been asked to comment.

At the virtual hearing at Bristol Civil Justice Centre, Mr Ramsay’s injunction application was withdrawn, and a judge said if the application to injuct had been made it would have failed.

Judge Paul Matthews said Mr Ramsay has 28 days to make the costs payment to the successful party – MCA chair Nick Hackett-Pain, on behalf of its members – and no permission was granted for appeal.

The MCA spokesman said they “hope that Mr Ramsay recognises the right of this association to conduct itself in a democratic fashion”.

Mr Ramsay’s future in the Senedd will be considered on Monday, where members will discuss a petition to deselect him.

If the petition is approved, another meeting would be required to formally deselect him and he would then be allowed to take part in the final reselection process.

But Mr Hackett-Pain said he believed “very few” members would be willing to campaign for Mr Ramsay after he had attempted and failed to injunct the association.

He told BBC Wales that “members of the association are not going to be impressed when their own candidate sues their own association”.

One source told BBC Wales more than 50 members had signed a petition against Mr Ramsay, which amounts to more than a tenth of the association’s 500 members.

It is the second legal action Mr Ramsay has staged this year, after the politician took the Welsh Parliament’s Conservative leader Paul Davies to court over his suspension from the Senedd Tory group.

It is understood that central Conservative Party officials will be involved in running the meeting on Monday and taking votes.

However, it would not trigger deselection alone, and if members agree with the petition’s premise further discussions would be needed for deselection to happen.

Households face £21 rise in energy bills in 2021

UK households may have to pay more for gas and electricity bills from April, energy regulator Ofgem says.

It is considering raising the price cap on household bills by £21 per year to help energy companies which have been hit by a rise in unpaid bills.

The current price cap is set at £1,042 per household for both gas and electricity. It runs to the end of March.

Consumers will learn in February what it plans to do.

The price cap was introduced in January 2019 and limits energy unit prices for about 11 million customers on more expensive variable tariffs.

These are often default tariffs that customers are moved to after a period on a lower fixed rate.

“Just like every other business, there have been challenges from the pandemic,” Emma Pinchbeck, chief executive of trade body Energy UK, said.

“It is the independent regulator’s job to hear views, look at the evidence, and weigh up how to support energy retailers through their own commercial difficulties in the pandemic, so that they can continue to supply and support all customers.”

The £21 rise to £1,063 is based on a household with typical usage and which pays for both electricity and gas by direct debit.

Price comparison website Uswitch says 12-month deals can be had for as little as £821.40 by comparison.

Cat Hobbs, the director of We Own It, which campaigns to nationalise energy supply, said: “These proposals from Ofgem are absolutely shocking. The idea that at a time when millions of people are struggling to pay their bills, the solution would be to charge people even more is farcical.”

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