The Secret of My Success
Sharan Pasricha, Investor and CEO. The 32-year-old founder of investment firm Ennismore Capital and CEO of London's effortlessly cool Hoxton Hotel - soon to go global (no, really) - checks in with GQ to talk tough decisions, ideas sheets and adopting a unique style of recruitment.
Bury your background. Growing up, I didn't have a lot of money and was surrounded by people who had more than me. I didn't like that feeling, so I promised myself that the second I was independent, I would push myself and work to my best ability.
Be brutal. After I sold my first company - a 25-person media start up in Soho, London - I took over my uncle's 30,000 sq ft leather-goods factory in Delhi. Half of the staff had basically retired on the job, so I had to bring in new people. It's hard to lay off people who've been working at a company for 15 years, but I knew we needed new blood.
Dont blink first. Someone smashes up my car after I got rid of 100 staff members. There were burning effigies of me outside the factory walls and I had to go to work under police protection for two weeks. Sitting through negotiations when you've got people shouting outside your door is tough, but I didn't give in to their demands and managed to keep them out of the factory.
Never put all your eggs in one basket. I set up investment firm Ennismore Capital two years ago, and spent eight months trying to buy Soho House. But instead of processing lots of transactions, we foolishly just focused on that one. We ran at that business very hard and it got scooped from under our feet at the last moment by a more credible buyer. When I lost that, I had to start again from nothing.
Resist the "experts". Everyone told me to hire a traditional hotelier when I took over the Hoxton. But given that the Hoxton is anything but a traditional hotel, why would I do that? I hired cool, commercially bright, service-orientated people from fashion, art, PR and music. It's about tapping into people's passions that can add value to your product in ways you can't.
Ignore the crowd. If you follow the herd, you won't be able to stand out. The same goes for businesses: when we were looking at new hotel sites, we avoided bidding wars with 25 people by binning brokers' brochures and looking for untapped areas. The trick is to look at where the arts are moving to - it was Shoreditch in London; it's now King's Cross and Southwark.
Focus on your bugbears. I've stayed in hotels in the South of France and Italy where you spend hundreds of euros for a night's stay in a place with no water, reception or English TV; where room service charges you £3 for a bottle of water, the phone costs £3 a minute, and you pay £10 for a movie. It's ridiculous. So I set up a place that doesn't charge for things it doesn't need to, like phone calls, films and Wi-Fi - and it worked.
Jot it all down. My assistant keeps an ideas document. When I see something cool, I send her an e-mail with "ideas sheet" in the subject box. If I see a nice chandelier or a cool sign in a bar, I'll send her a picture of it. We go through the list once a week.
Keep your eyes and ears peeled. I never leave home without a pile of business cards. When I'm standing at a bus stop, sitting on the tube or eating in a restaurant, i'm looking for talented people who could join the Hoxton. I eavesdrop on conversations to see how people approach life and conduct themselves. Lots of my senior management team were spotted in restaurants or the cinema.
Take every meeting. I spent years cold-calling people, trying to get them to meet me. Now i'm in a position where people want to meet me, I never say no. You never know where your next joint venture, business partner or friend will come from. The guy who looks after our real estate joined the company after writing to me saying he'd like to have coffee.