Steven Bartlett: Uni dropout to Dragons’ Den star shares his journey to success

Steven Bartlett opens up on his success and Dragon’s Den

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The university dropout and entrepreneur extraordinaire now has a finger in many pies, with his Dragons’ Den debut featuring alongside his multimillion pound podcast Diary of a CEO which is due to make its first live appearance at the London Palladium early next year. Mr Bartlett appeared on ITV’s This Morning program with Holly and Phil, sharing his rise to success from having no money to celebrate Christmas to a net worth of over £50million.

Mr Bartlett commented: “We had no money so Christmasses and birthdays we didn’t have money to celebrate them.”

He explained that being socially and economically different from his peers at school was a big motivator for him as he constantly tried to fit in. 

“Insecurity is one of the greatest motivators for a lot of people,” he added. 

At the age of 10, Mr Bartlett’s parents were both working incredibly hard, and he explained: “My dad was working in London five days a week, four hours away. My mum couldn’t read or write so she was literally at one point sleeping in her shop.”

Yet still there was not much spare change at the end of the month to pay for the new shoes or haircut that his peers had.

He explained: “So, I would wake up and my lunch money would come from something I would sell. By the age of 14 I started running the school trips. I did a deal with a vending machine company to put vending machines in the school.”

This unique move into business acumen at such a young age actually caused more problems than it solved for the young Mr Bartlett as he got in trouble at school for missing classes.

He said: “I got to a point where I was so preoccupied with that and not attending my classes. Half the school was trying to expel me, the other half wanted to keep me because I was generating a lot of revenue.”

It was at this time he decided that school was not going to be for him, saying that society glamourises starting far more than it does quitting despite the fact that one has to be a good quitter in order to be a good starter. 

He said: “I quit school, quit university after one lecture, started a company and did it for three years then quit out of the blue. Quit my last company which is generating £600million in revenue. Because I knew within me that I had overstayed my welcome.”

Mr Bartlett dropped out of university at the age of 21 to pursue his first ever business venture Social Chain, alongside co-founder Dominic McGregor.

While scavenging for funds in the first few months of business, Mr Bartlett made another discovery, saying: “It’s crazy because when you have no money you get really innovative, you’re forced to.”

Six years later, with Social Chain valued at £16million, both founders left for better offerings as Mr Bartlett got wind that he would be featured on the show he loved watching as a child. 

“I’ve watched it since I was 12-years-old and it just feels like a tremendous honour,” he commented. 

In one of his more controversial moves, Mr Bartlett has let it be publicly known that he does not intend to go with the Dragons’ Den dress code. 

Saying: “No suits. In fact I had a much more extreme outfit but it kind of strobed under the lights so I had to go to outfit number two.”

Mr Bartlett added that he believes he is representing the new generation of business people and investors whilst sitting alongside industry giants like Peter Jones and Deborah Meadan. 

He concluded: “I just want to represent the young people, people like me and let them know there’s no stage too big to aspire to, I guess.”

His podcast, Diary of a CEO, has been ranked the number one business podcast in Europe and is bringing in an outstandign £900million. 

Tickets for the live show set to premiere in February 2022 go on sale this Friday and is said to combine Mr Bartlett’s love for theatre, music and choir. 

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