He borrowed £94m when he was just 23 and bet it all on a holiday development – now he’s helping shape a whole country.
Not to mention the fact he teamed up with partners of Donald Trump to redevelop Toronto’s downtown.
It’s fair to say Rob Jarrett isn’t one to rest on his laurels. At the tender age of 12 he already had set up two companies – with 26 of his school friends helping him wash cars and dig gardens.
Even back then he worked seven days a week from 7am in the morning until 11 at night.
Fast forward nearly 30 years and that part of Rob’s life hasn’t changed – although pretty much everything else has.
Back then, when Rob ’s family pulled up in their battered Ford Cortina alongside a Porsche at the traffic lights in his home town he wanted to know how the man could afford the fancy car.
Now he knows.
Son of a sign writer from a council estate in Leeds, the founder and principal shareholder of the Resort Group PLC reveals the lessons he’s learned making his fortune – and passes on some tips to help you do the same…
Hard work is the key to everything
Rob says: “We were poor growing up, but my father was extremely hard working. I took that on board.
“Even when I was a teenager I work seven days a week from seven in the morning until 11 at night. Some of that was school work – because I knew I needed to pass exams.
“I was always quizzical as a kid. If we pulled up at the traffic lights in an old Cortina, I’d want to know why the guy next to us was driving a Porsche.
“I didn’t know what the difference was between them and us – but if it was down to hard work and business acumen, I’d better get my game face on.
“When I was 12 I set up two companies. One was washing cars, the other was digging gardens. In the end I had 26 of my pals from school working for me and we split the revenue generated.
“Now it’s a little different but the principle is the same.
“I can spend anything from 12-15 hours a day on the phone. We have different things in different places and you have to be across them all.
“But I see every part of everything that happens. It’s hands on like you wouldn’t believe. From 50 stories in downtown Toronto to a beach bar in Cape Verde.
“Everything you see at Bikini Beach in Cape Verde (one of his recent projects) – down to the resin on the table – has been looked over and selected by me.
“I have a huge team of very capable people helping me with things, but I insist on controlling every aspect.”
See a gap in the market
[…] “I retired at 29. I was a little jaded because of the work I’d done and I liked the idea of giving it all up before 30.
“However after six months I decided I’d made the wrong decision. I love hard work, I always had.
“So I started to look around the world for something new – and I found Cape Verde.
“I’d call it the ‘European Caribbean’ – but building regulations down here are completely different. We can’t build to any sort of height down here.
“It’s a very different type of product. It’s accessible, but it’s luxury to 21 feeder markets.
“We own a lot of companies down here. Everything from eggs to transport and we’re even looking at utilities so we’re in a good position to really push on.
“This is not for much monetary benefit, but we’re on an island so we have to make sure we have everything we need. That supply chain is the reason we’ve branched out into all this.
“We employ an awful of people down here. We want to make sure that they stay in a job.
And make friends with the locals…
“We didn’t look at a developing country just to bring people from other places to take the key jobs. I’d say 98% of people who work here are from the islands.
“Initially it’s not as easy as you might think working with an African country.
“Some people come here and say they want to spend big, but never have the means or the structure in place to actually do that.
“They break promises, so I can understand the sceptism. But now I’m the biggest investor in the country and represent 10% of their GDP.
“I’ve bought more land on Boavista (another island in Cape Verde) to do something even bigger than what we’ve done in Sal. And we’ve also got a project for the tallest building in the country – as well as building a new university.
“I’ve got my eyes on different ideas from a global perspective – but I’m not that interested in the UK at the moment.
“There are better opportunities in emerging markets where you have less competition. It’s all about making sure you have a real foresight into the end game. That’s important.
And the three tips to make you millions
- Understand what you’re doing. Know your market, how you’re going to sell it plus what your demographic is. And have a solid understand of how your going to deliver the product
- Have your finance in order. Make sure it’s all ready to go and know how you are going to deliver it. That allows you to supply everything – if you don’t do that, you fail. Cash-flow, or lack of it, kills. If you don’t have it coming in you’re not going to deliver the product and your business is dead
- You’ve got to work hard. The concept of having a great idea that’s simply going to fly is nonsense if you don’t work at it. All day, every day. Without that you’re not going to get things right