Setting up a business can be expensive — but not if your name’s Cas Paton.
The British entrepreneur used his last £80 to launch OnBuy.com, now valued at £200million and the world’s fastest growing online marketplace.
Cas founded it in 2016 with a mission to provide a fairer marketplace for customers and retailers, and now employs more than 60 full-time members of staff.
What would you spend £80 on these days then?
On a day out with the kids, £80 seems to disappear all too easily now. When I spent that £80 on starting my first company, I had wild dreams.
I knew what I wanted to achieve but had no idea how to do it. I was only 21. My gut feeling told me to go for it.
The first step was generating an income, which felt epic, and from there the rest is history. The £80 investment days are over.
My aspirations have grown a lot over the years and funding the business’s growth is an entirely different ball game now. I’d much rather that cash go on the kids.
When the website became a success, what was the first extravagant item you bought?
I’ve always loved cars, so my dream car was naturally my first extravagant buy. Cars have been my passion since I was a child — I had at least 40 model cars in my bedroom.
I grew up in Urmston in Greater Manchester and we certainly didn’t drive high-end sports cars, but I’d set my heart on getting a Ferrari one day.
I bought my first Ferrari when things really took off. I felt proud that I’d been able to buy my dream car, something I had always wanted.
It did bring a little bit of negative attention that really surprised me, but it had been a life-long ambition for me to own one.
I couldn’t believe I was sitting in my own Ferrari. I felt like I did as a kid at the supercar show all over again.
What did you regret buying?
I’ve not had much luck with property. Everything seems to come with more problems than I ever expected.
I generally expect nothing to go right when I buy property and at least this way I’m always, at a minimum, satisfied. And if things are smooth, it’s great news.
I seem to gravitate towards property that needs work and I instantly regret it. It sounds like a great idea until I actually buy it and realise I’ve no time to sort it out. Years pass and I realise I really need to get my house to a liveable state.
Are you a spender or a saver?
You have to enjoy the perks from your hard work, but it’s important to be measured, too. I think I have a good balance.
I’ve tried to build rules into my spending and saving. It’s important to have a certain percentage of my money in savings and a certain percentage in property — and never spend more than a particular amount of savings on a car.
These boundaries meant I had to invest in property and build up my savings before I could get anything else.
When did you last check a price tag?
I always check the price tag. I’m really proud of my success and know I’ve worked hard for it but it’s not easy to shake old habits and I certainly haven’t forgotten my roots.
Just because you have money to spend, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend it wisely.
I never want to forget the value of money and want to raise my children with an understanding of that, too.
If I ever stop checking the price tag, then I’ll need my other half to have a word and keep me in check.
Private jet or private island?
In the digital world we live in, we can travel around the world in a blink of an eye, so while a private jet sounds fantastic, why clock up endless air miles and extra pollution when you can work and think smarter?
If there was a private island for sale with a racetrack… now that would be a dream come true.
What’s the biggest waste of money?
Wasting time. Time is finite and every decision matters. I really don’t like wasting time, not making smart moves, and consequently wasting money.
You can’t sustain a high-growth business by hesitating. I have high expectations of those around me, too, and always encourage my team to use their time as efficiently as possible.
And I’m sorry, Porsche owners, but I would argue that spending on a Porsche is a bit of a waste of money. Most Porsche models are designed to be used day to day, but where’s the fun in that?
What’s your attitude to risk and money?
I’ve always compartmentalised money. Some is put aside as my ‘war chest money’. This is my expansion fund to fuel business ideas and make sure my family is looked after and provided for.
Some money goes into the business and I’ll always double down on that when my gut feeling is strong.
Some goes into a few high-risk outside investments: pensions set on high-risk or stock market opportunities, for example. I don’t touch crypto — it’s just not my thing.
Many people around me have done well, some have done badly, but it’s just a game to me and I don’t play games with money.
Best piece of money advice you ever heard?
Keep squirrelling money away for the next big idea or a rainy day. I’ve watched millionaires lose their net worth overnight, and it’s easily taken away with business.
So make sure you keep putting enough aside to get things booming if they go wobbly.
What would you buy if money was no object?
That’s a chance to dream big.
I’m not sure there’s a single object you could buy that’s as big as my imagination. It would definitely be an opportunity to indulge all those boyhood fantasies.
Perhaps I’d buy Ferrari, to oversee the design of future generations of supercars. Naturally, I’d have to test drive them all on my private island.
Most amount of money you ever lost — and where?
I’ve been very lucky with money. I don’t gamble and I am selective with my investments.
I’ve watched my net worth bounce around a few times, but I know I’ve been fortunate.
Find out more at onbuy.com
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