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.”

Carnival Cruise boss banks on safety measures

The boss of the world’s biggest cruise company has told the BBC new safety measures can help the $150bn (£113bn) a year industry to get going again.

The hugely profitable business has been brought to its knees by coronavirus after regulators around the world stopped ships from sailing to try and limit outbreaks.

Arnold Donald, the chief executive of Carnival Corporation, said “universal testing, which doesn’t exist in any other industry of scale” will help mitigate the risk of an outbreak.

He added that “additional medical screenings, physical distancing, mask wearing” could be among further measures.

However, there have been outbreaks of coronavirus on some of the few cruises that have set sail recently, including the Carnival-owned Costa Diadema which has been sailing in the Mediterranean Sea.

Mr Donald concedes that “you cannot guarantee that you’re going to be Covid-free no matter what regimen you put in place”.

Although, he insists, “it can be managed and managed effectively” and that collaborating with authorities around the world means that has been done “reasonably effectively” so far.

The company has drafted in a raft of health and scientific advisers to draw up its protocols.

Mr Donald says “our priority, of course, is to make cruising work in a way where we have every confidence there’s no greater risk than if you were engaging in similar activity shore-side”.

The difficulties of achieving that were laid out by the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC), which in lifting its ban on cruise ships, said that without mitigations “cruise ships would continue to pose a greater risk of Covid-19 transmission than other settings”.

Two outbreaks on cruise ships early in the pandemic have been detrimental to the cruise industry, with passengers dying after outbreaks on both the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined by Japan, and the Grand Princess, which eventually docked in California.

Traditionally, cruising has a loyal customer base and that has given Mr Arnold grounds for optimism.

He says for the second half of next year “bookings have been robust. People really want to cruise when it’s safe to do so”. He adds “we’re cautiously optimistic we’ll be sailing in early 2021”, albeit a few ships at a time.

The financial imperative to get going again is clear.

Despite scrapping 18 of its 105 ships, Carnival is losing about $650m a month. After raising more than $12bn from investors, Mr Arnold says, “even if we had zero revenue, we could go through in to the summer of next year”.

Other than that the money has pretty much stopped coming in.

The summer is normally the busiest time of the year but from July to August Carnival brought in just $31m. None of that was from ticket sales, and it compares to $6.5bn in the same time last year, 68% of which was from tickets.

The lack of paying passengers reflects the huge uncertainty hanging over an industry that thrives on thousands of passengers at a time, travelling in relatively close confines, two things that have been severely restricted to try and control coronavirus.

According to Monique Giese, who tracks the shipping industry for the consultancy KPMG, the cruise industry is very much at the mercy of the virus.

She says “it is very difficult to give any forecast for the next year. The cruise industry is going to lose the very profitable winter season specifically in the Caribbean area.”

Test runs are amongst the strict conditions that have been laid out by the CDC before cruises can resume in the US.

It’s the most important market for the industry, accounting for nearly 50% of the 30m passengers who take a cruise each year.

The industry has voluntarily stopped sailings in the US until the end of year. However Congress is investigating whether or not the Trump White House interfered to stop the CDC extending the mandatory ban into next year.

President-elect Joe Biden has taken a markedly different approach to tackling coronavirus but Mr Donald says “we don’t have any concerns” that a new administration will lead to a new no-sail order and more financial problems.

Before the pandemic, the Cruise Line Industry Association calculated that its members supported 1.2m jobs worldwide, and when the US no-sail order was lifted its President Kelly Craighead said she was “confident that a resumption of cruising in the US is possible to support the economic recovery” whilst protecting public health.

However, ships are being scrapped by several lines, meaning that jobs will be lost. For those that remain, Mr Arnold says “it’s important to get people back to work”.

You can watch Arnold Donald’s full interview on Talking Business with Aaron Heslehurst this weekend on BBC World News at Saturday 2330 GMT, Sunday 1630 GMT, Monday 0730 GMT and 1130 GMT and Tuesday at 1330 GMT.

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!

Coronavirus: Edwin Poots opposes Covid-19 restrictions in email sent to MLAs

DUP Minister Edwin Poots has said he is opposed to new Covid-19 restrictions agreed by the executive, in an email sent to more than 80 people.

He answered a member of the public who emailed MLAs about the restrictions.

The original email criticised the government for the “devastating effect” the tougher restrictions will have.

In a reply to all, Mr Poots said: “I entirely agree, unfortunately the majority of the Executive see things differently.”

“The failure of the health department will inevitably lead to the failure of the economy.”

Two weeks of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions will take force across NI from next Friday.

Mr Poots, who is a former Stormont health minister, declined a request to comment further on the contents of his email, which he said was “self explanatory.”

When asked asked by BBC News NI if he had intended to “include all” of the Stormont MLAs in his reply, he declined to comment.

The email from the member of the public had also stated that current pressure on the NHS was “nothing new” and that the NHS was “overwhelmed every year at this time.”

It continued: “This shows the utter incompetence of NHS and health department planning expecting the rest of the country to pay for their failings.”

Ulster Unionist health spokesman, Alan Chambers MLA, said Mr Poots’s comments showed “how detached from reality he is.”

“A few days ago he was pointing the finger of blame at the nationalist community for Covid-19,” he said.

“Now he’s blaming the health service, and in the process, insulting everyone within it who is working so hard at this particular time to save lives.”

“Edwin Poots needs to get real and stop playing pathetic political games in the middle of a global health pandemic, which has already delayed crucial life-saving decisions.

“His words and actions are grossly irresponsible.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie also responded saying: “His reply went into my spam folder.”

“Spam’ – irrelevant or unsolicited messages sent over the internet, typically to a large number of users,” he said.

It is understood Mr Poots voiced opposition to the restrictions during Thursday’s executive meeting.

Stormont sources said the minister, who has previously spoken out against imposing tighter lockdown measures, said it was illogical to close non-essential retail as it could severely damage the high street.

It is believed Mr Poots did not ask for the measures to be put to a vote by the executive and said he would accept whatever measures were agreed by the executive.

Peter Sutcliffe: Inquest opens into death of serial killer

Serial killer Peter Sutcliffe died from a combination of Covid-19, diabetes and heart disease, an inquest has heard.

The coroner began the hearing by remembering all the women known to have been attacked by Sutcliffe, who died on 13 November.

Crook Civic Centre heard Sutcliffe had a number of underlying health conditions which left him almost blind and needing to use a wheelchair.

He was serving a whole life term for the murders of 13 women.

Sutcliffe, who was 74, was an inmate of the maximum security Frankland jail and died at the University Hospital of North Durham.

Crispin Oliver, assistant coroner for County Durham and Darlington, read out the names of all the women he was convicted of murdering and others he is known to have attacked.

His murders across Yorkshire and Manchester from 1975 to 1980 terrified northern England and led to a huge manhunt and a botched police inquiry.

Det Insp Claire Lambert, of Durham Constabulary, told the hearing that police were told of Sutcliffe’s admission to hospital on 10 November.

She said he had been ill for weeks before being transferred to hospital and confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

The inquest was adjourned until 1 February for a mention hearing.

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.

Covid: Hull meeting held to discuss military support

A meeting to discuss military support for Hull has been held over what is being called the city’s “Covid-19 emergency”.

Hull continues to have the worst infection rates in England, with 748 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to 15 November.

The gathering, between council leaders, MPs and the government’s Covid-19 taskforce, was described as “positive”.

Leaders say it is likely Hull will be in tier three or higher after lockdown.

The city’s Labour MPs wrote to the government asking for the military’s help to carry out mass testing in Hull to try and help halt the rise in cases.

In a joint statement, Hull City Council leader Stephen Brady and MPs Dame Diana Johnson, Karl Turner and Emma Hardy said: “We’ve had a positive meeting with the government and discussions for military support are under way.

“We also made the point that we would be keen to be part of any pilot on mass vaccination with additional logistical support.”

The leaders said they also discussed with the taskforce a request to allow more flexible local decision making on school closures “if absolutely required”.

On Tuesday, Hull’s director of public health Julia Weldon revealed that 57 of the city’s 97 schools have seen closures in some year groups.

At the meeting, a case was made for extra discretionary financial support for businesses, as well as for the city council itself, the leaders added.

Earlier, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust announced 305 people had died from Covid-19 in the city’s hospital since 19 March.

The Department of Health and Social Care previously said it was providing Hull with some of the 600,000 lateral flow tests as part of a national expansion in testing.

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.

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