British entrepreneurs that have moved forward their industry

Brits are known for their ingenuity and can-do attitude and it should be no surprise that the nation has raised so many successful entrepreneurs who have not only become rich themselves but also helped propel their industry to new and innovative heights.

Here are some of Britain’s best-known self-made businessmen and women, entrepreneurs who have redefined both their own status as well as that of their industries.

James Dyson – vacuum cleaners

Engineer and inventor James Dyson’s super-powered vacuum cleaners changed the lives of millions of housewives and househusbands, revolutionising cleaning and making a simple chore such as cleaning the carpet that much easier. His practical, simple-to-use inventions have become household names and made Dyson the UK’s wealthiest engineer.

Max Mosley – Formula One

Max Mosley began his career as an amateur racing car driver and then engineer and racecar constructor. As founder and co-owner of March Engineering, he was instrumental in the early days of Formula 1 racing and later as president of the FIA; he highlighted car safety and the use of eco-friendly technologies in the motor racing industry, most recently a shift to hybrid technology and the new V6 turbo – an engine that some have criticised as being too noisy. Max Mosley’s take on the noise debate is to focus instead on innovation, saying: “If you don’t change then you just disappear.”

Alan Sugar – computing

Baron Sugar made his fortune on the first home computers to flood the domestic market, the Amstrad (which was an abbreviation of “Alan Michael Sugar Trading”). Sugar later sold Amstrad for approximately US$187 million in July 2007 to the then BSkyB. He continues to own a number of businesses, including an executive aviation company and has been described as a “British Donald Trump.”

Mike Ashley – sporting goods

Self-made billionaire Mike Ashley left school at 16 to coach squash. From his first sports shop in Maidenhead in the 1980s, his Sports Direct stores are now a familiar sight on the UK’s high streets. With physical stores as well as an online business, Ashley’s Sports Direct is Britain’s largest sports retailer. Key to the company’s success is its ability to move its stock around quickly and efficiently, bringing more competitiveness to the sports goods sector and making name brands easily available both online and in the high street.

Denise Coates – online gambling

The daughter of a Midlands-based bookie, Coates certainly learned a thing or two in her dad’s betting shop business, and took over a number of his shops herself. However, it was during the dot-com boom of the late 90s that she really hit the goldmine, tapping into the growing popularity of online gambling ahead of the pack. Despite her idea being dismissed by potential investors, she continued with, buying the domain name in 2000 and launching the website independently the following year. She is now the owner of one of Britain’s most successful online companies.

Britain’s ability to nurture great inventors and entrepreneurs has continued into the digital era. With people who are willing to take the plunge and invest in an idea they really believe in, UK industry can look forward to an innovative and productive future.


Pete White Pete White

Love Shrewsbury editor and chief developer at The Web Orchard, find out more on

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