Published: 09:00, 01 February 2016 |
Updated: 13:04, 01 February 2016
A young entrepreneur tipped for the top by Sir Richard Branson is getting his big break on a new children’s TV show featuring Myleene Klass and BBC presenter Steph McGovern.
Ben Towers is one of six mentors appearing on Pocket Money Pitch, a Dragons’ Den-style programme launching this month, where children show off their business ideas.
The 17-year-old was contacted by CBBC producers last summer after they were impressed with his credentials, running three firms and employing more than 15 people after setting up his first company aged 11.
Mr Towers, from Gillingham, was named top of The Times Superteen Power List and was hailed as one of the UK’s most exciting entrepreneurs in an article by Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson.
In Pocket Money Pitch, children aged eight to 14 pitch their business idea against each other in front of business buddies including Mr Towers.
The best are then chosen to be mentored by the buddies, who also include ex-Apprentice finalist Bianca Miller and Made In Chelsea star Amber Atherton.
“It makes me want to achieve more because the kids are even younger than when I started and they have huge aspirations...” - Entrepreneur Ben Towers
The children then appear in a final judging round with a different business guru in each show, including Klass, Dragons’ Den winner Levi Roots and Moshi Monsters founder Michael Acton Smith.
Mr Towers said: “It’s amazing to see the ideas coming from eight year olds.
“Because they are so young they have never had any problems in life, so it means all their business ideas are really positive. They create things you would never think of. They don’t have any negativity in them.”
Mr Towers, who runs his design agency from the Business Terrace in Maidstone, knows only too well the hurdles young people have to jump to be successful.
When he left school last year he had to employ himself as an apprentice in his own business to meet Government rules about young people staying on in further education.
He said: “We couldn’t say to the contestants ‘your idea is rubbish, clear off!’ If I didn’t like something in their business I had to ask questions.
“We could only say ‘I don’t like that part of your business’ rather than the whole thing. That’s the limit of our negativity.
“But with a couple of them I could see they will go far in business. They had put a lot of effort in and contacted national bodies. There was some real potential.”
After filming the series in November, Mr Towers has kept in contact with his fellow business buddies on the show via a Whatsapp group and is already taking advantage of his new contacts.
He picked up some new introductions in the catering industry thanks to Luke Thomas, the head chef at Luke’s Dining Room in Berkshire.
He also got some exposure earlier this year as the show’s host Steph McGovern did a feature on him for BBC Breakfast.
“Steph is really nice,” said Mr Towers. “She’s very knowledgable about business and has become a big supporter of mine after doing a piece on me for BBC Breakfast.
“She is someone you can get on with very easily.
“I would definitely do the show again. Being able to help eight-year-olds with their business ideas was really eye-opening.
“It makes me want to achieve more because the kids are even younger than when I started and they have huge aspirations.”
Pocket Money Pitch starts on the CBBC channel on Monday, February 8 at 5.30pm.
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