Tell us about yourself?
I was born in SE London and to an American father and an English mother. My great grandfather was the pioneer American grocer Abner A Wolf (Inc) who changed the health of the nation by distributing fresh fruit and vegetables to every small town store across America. He was a big influence in my childhood and an inspirational figure. I met and stayed with him several times before his death and those are cherished memories.
In my youth, I embarked on a tennis career which ended up at a tennis academy in Florida called Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. At the academy, I trained with many future great tennis players like Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, etc. An experience I will always remember.
My first venture into business began in 1991 with a small bookshop in Whitstable, Kent. That business developed to eventually having 5 shops before going exclusively online in 1999. The online business eventually specialized in creating antiquarian leather books libraries. The largest library was well over 10,000 books and many of our libraries are still on public display to this day.
In 2012 the business closed for personal reasons and in 2015 I started developing various business ideas in the USA. THX News was created in 2020 when I saw an opportunity for a news & travel information website that had the potential to disrupt. Initially, it took several months of testing before the idea matured into the current startup that can be seen on the THX News website.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
I think people see the glamour and forget that behind every startup is a person or people with an initial vision. Turning that vision into a reality takes dedication and hard work. Many people really do not understand the determination required to keep moving forward even when things go wrong and everyone is critical.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
That’s a really tough question as it would be great to avoid each mistake or setback. The one tip would have to be to ignore what others say and keep a clear focus.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
My determination and Londoner drive are very strong characteristics but the key really for me is seeing opportunities then committing 100% to make it happen. I am always willing to listen and feel that there is always more to learn. I feel the greatest satisfaction when taking a weakness and turning that around so that it has the potential to be a strength.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
Listening to motivational music has been a help with motivation and concentration. I work in the early hours of the morning to get an uninterrupted workflow and then switching off at 5 pm each day really keeps my focus high for the next day.
Juggling family life with business life has been the biggest challenge in the last few years. I have a young child who is very active and often requires lots of attention. Finding time to fully commit to work without getting too tired is still very challenging.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
The influence behind THX News is really in my genes. My Great Grandfather, Abner A. Wolf, was one of the pioneer US grocers who started from a market stall in the Great Recession. He ended up building one of the largest wholesale empires in the US. In the process, he provided fresh fruit and vegetables to every corner store across North America as quickly as the main supermarkets. That in turn helped improve the overall nutrition of Americans post World War 2.
The ideas behind THX News are really very similar to my original business model. The idea is to give access to literature and knowledge globally.
Where do you see your business in five years?
THX News will be a fully global news and information service with a loyal and rapidly growing following. We will oversea satellite offices on each continent but give them full autonomy to make local decisions based on changing public opinion and perception. I see THX News being an advocate for small businesses while offering multiple service levels to encourage success.
I also see THX News as having an increasing commitment to communities globally in the shape of small business loans, community grants, and local charity support. We will be actively working directly with community-based and government projects. An example is providing access to our information services for Tourist Information offices worldwide.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
There will be many challenges ahead and the biggest ones will be connected to growth. The companies infrastructure will need to change and adapt as the level and difficulty of each challenge present themselves.
We will be working with local businesses, governments, and communities which means there will be a big learning curve as we adapt to each country’s ever-changing requirements. Setting up agreements and connecting with influential contacts will be a major part of the solution.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
In 1991 I decided to start selling books on a market stall in Greenwich, London, England. From those humble beginnings, the Golden Books Group emerged. The company developed over 21 years into an international specialist antiquarian leather book/library building service.
The Golden Books Group generated profits in excess of £180,000 ($240,000) p.a. and had 6 employees. We created bespoke libraries for private individuals, companies, institutions & governments. Many of our libraries are on public display in England, Scotland, Dubai, France, Greece & the USA.
Eventually, the Golden Books Group moved into fine art and exhibited at major shows in London, Florida, Atlanta & New York. Sadly I had to close the business in 2012 due to bad health following an accident at work.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
I think most clients find me friendly, very honest, and passionate about my business. I am not a very good salesperson, in my opinion, but others might beg to differ. In my career, we have employed many salespeople and I could only stand back and admire their courage, commitment, and determination.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
There is no one tip that will make a difference. The success or failure of a startup is a combination of factors and many are out of our control. In my opinion, the biggest one is timing. If you find/create a solution and bring it to a hungry audience then failure is not an option. If on the other hand if you try to create a fresh market without connecting with your potential audience then you are doomed.
I am a businessman and find it easy to talk to fellow business owners. If you can find a solution to a problem they perceive then the selling is easy and natural. In fact through word of mouth you grow rapidly.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
I already have all the things I could ever need. A lovely wife, 6 great kids, a loving family, and a network of friends. I do though have a strong desire to emulate my great grandfather’s achievements and leave this world in a better place.
Business-wise my lifelong dream has been to help people. Starting life as a tennis player taught me many life lessons and this has since inspired me to think outside the box. Less selfish and more giving.