The entrepreneurial spark: Raj Patel CA
Raj Patel CA, Entrepreneurship category winner of the ICAS 35 CAs under 35 competition, held in association with Investec Click & Invest, talks to Eleanor O'Neill about pursuing his aspirations.
The Entrepreneurship category sought out the young CAs who show initiative and have turned original ideas into successful enterprises. The confidence and drive to overcome obstacles were essential.
Raj impressed the judges with his dedication to the SME sector and his ability to spot an opportunity. He has proven business acumen as well as the keen determination to achieve his goals.
He set up his first business, A.R.P. Capital Partners, with a former Cambridge colleague in 2012 and led their acquisition of Glevum Heating, where he now operates as Co-CEO, in addition to his continuing Managing Director role.
- Qualified as a CA with EY.
- 2005: Mergers & Acquisitions Executive at EY.
- 2009: Equity Analyst (Aerospace & Defence) at Goldman Sachs.
- 2012: Co-Founder of Tailster.
- 2013: Co-Founder and Managing Director at A.R.P. Capital Partners.
- 2015: Co-CEO at Glevum Heating.
How did you enjoy the 35 CAs under 35 competition?
It was a great experience from start to finish and was conducted with rigour and professionalism. I qualified many years ago, and the competition provided a good opportunity to re-engage with ICAS.
The process has opened my eyes to the depth and breadth of the opportunities ICAS offers beyond the qualification itself, ranging from development courses, interactive and informative events, to networking opportunities. It was great to interact with so many CAs from varied professional backgrounds throughout the process.
What drove you to start your first business?
After many years contemplating an entrepreneurial move, I concluded my late 20s was an optimal time to 'take the risk'. I had gained significant experience and credibility from my time in the corporate world, yet was still at a point in my life where I could afford to take a calculated gamble and re-build if things didn't work out. The overarching driving factors, for me, were a desire to gain greater autonomy over my time, and having the opportunity to spend my prime career years on pursuits which I found interesting, fun and personally rewarding.
I had gained significant experience and credibility from my time in the corporate world, yet was still at a point in my life where I could afford to take a calculated gamble.
The precise timing of my first significant venture was a confluence of a number of factors: having a clear vision and execution plan soft-tested with a number of investors, finding a business partner who I trusted and respected to share the journey with, and feeling comfortable with the risks and trade-offs I would be making.
What inspires you?
I'm increasingly inspired and motivated by risk, by stepping into the unknown and starting something I don't necessarily know how to finish, but 'backing myself' to figure out a way to do so. Over the years, the experiences I've gained have developed my confidence in taking calculated risks, and to operate in environments with less structure and support than you would find in a corporate environment.
I feel blessed to now be in a position where I can earn a living and build personal wealth while also using my time, skills and experience to help build something tangible, create jobs, and positively influence other people.
What is your advice to entrepreneurs just starting out?
You've probably heard it before but ideas are relatively easy. Execution is much harder and primarily what effects the end outcome. Being successful is more about perseverance than luck. The reality of operating and/or building a business is very different from common perceptions - most aspiring entrepreneurs are inherently optimistic in nature, so it's normal to spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about the upside and all the positives.
Execution is much harder and primarily what effects the end outcome. Being successful is more about perseverance than luck.
Speak to others and learn from their experiences, and spend time thinking about the realities, including potential pitfalls. If possible, get some relevant work experience to help you really get an understanding of what the venture might involve. If after doing this, you still feel excited, then you can move forward with greater confidence and a higher chance of success.
How has the CA qualification helped you in your career?
The entrepreneurial path I have taken is by definition highly volatile, unpredictable and risky. Having the CA has provided me with a sense of stability and continuity throughout. It is hard to overstate the value of having the security of a stable foundation in an otherwise unpredictable career path. Pursuing the CA has proven to be one of the best career decisions I have ever made.
Raj will be speaking alongside 2017 One Young CA Jonny Jacobs and fellow entrepreneur Yusuf Ahmet CA at the ICAS Success and the City event on 16 November 2017.
Investec Click & Invest, headline sponsor of the ICAS Young Leaders’ Summit and One Young CA Awards 2017, is a new online actively managed investment management service for UK residents with £10,000 or more to invest.