Monday 23 April 2018

I paid dearly for a glass of wine on the Champs Elysees


Dragon Gavin Duffy
Dragon Gavin Duffy Business

Gavin Duffy has been a Dragon on RTE's Dragons' Den since the show first kicked off in 2009. A serial entrepreneur, Duffy founded the local radio station, LMFM, in the late 1980s. That radio station was sold to UTV for €11m in 2005.

Duffy also founded and runs his own media consultancy business, Gavin Duffy & Associates. He lives in Meath with his wife Orlaith Carmody. The couple have four children. Dragons' Den, which is in its eighth series, airs on RTE1 at 9:30pm on Sunday evenings.

What is the most important lesson about money which your years on Dragons' Den have taught you?

I've learned that if something is not working in a business, don't let things get so bad that you end up causing problems for yourself or the person you're investing with. Also, throughout my own business career, I've learned that planning cashflow is very important. It's critical in business to always have enough money for what you need to do to keep the business - and family home - running.

What's the most expensive country you've ever visited?

I remember being shocked years ago when visiting Paris, as I found the city very expensive. In those days, I was not a well-travelled tourist - I went down the Champs Elysees and paid an extravagant price for a glass of wine. After visiting places like Rome and central Europe, I've become aware of how expensive Ireland is. On a recent trip to Berlin, my luggage didn't arrive and I had to buy a whole new set of clothes. I couldn't get over the value to be had in Berlin for men's clothing.

What's your favourite Irish coin?

The old 'thrupenny' bit with the hexagonal edges. It brings up a nice memory for me. At some stage, a little boy or girl takes Lent very seriously. I remember going off sweets for Lent as a young child and putting all of my sweets into a container. After 40 days and 40 nights, all I had in that jar were four Silvermints. On the morning of Easter Sunday, I took the jar down and it was heavier than I expected it to be - my mum had filled the jar with sweets and loads of thrupenny bits.

Are you better off than your parents?

Yes. Both my parents were in business and they both worked very hard. I was conscious that our family never felt that much better off than anyone else - but that we always went on holidays and that we had a holiday home in Enniscrone. I was never in a situation where I was told that I couldn't go on exotic school trips - that was a very privileged childhood to have.

Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

A good horse. It's not a racehorse. I ride it myself, as horse-riding is a hobby of mine.

What was your worst job?

When I was about 16 years of age, I was whingeing about working in the family pub. My father said he knew a 'brickie' who needed an assistant and so I went to work with the brickie on building an extension. All the old guys on the job said 'If you want to be a real man, whatever you do, don't wear gloves'. By the end of that job, my hands were in shreds. It was the hardest job I ever did and I was determined to get my Leaving Cert after that.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

I have loads. People think that because I'm in Dragons' Den, I'm good with business. The only thing I'm successful with is how I've coped with failures. I had a number of businesses that weren't working out.

What was your best financial killing?

The sale of LMFM to UTV in 2005. I was the major shareholder in LMFM so I did a separate deal before it was sold to UTV.

Android or iPhone?

iPhone. Smart phones have transformed our lives for the better. What I'm shocked at though is how dependent we have become on them. I lost my phone at a horse event recently and I think I was more panicked then than I was when I lost the kids when they were young!

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