Anyone who has watched last year’s apprentice will definitely know who Solomon Akhtar is – with his comical nature on the show and charming personality, KES & KEHS were both looking forward to meet the infamous apprentice candidate, who went very far in the competition, managing to reach Sir Alan Sugar’s final five.
On Wednesday 25th March, Solomon stopped over at KEHS & KES to deliver his motivational talks on business and how to create a successful start-up.
Solomon, achieved 4 A*s and the rest A grades at GCSE, then studied Geography at the University of Exeter. His dad is a doctor, whilst his mum is a teacher and with this background he was encouraged to work hard, allowing him to reach the best of his ability, for which he is grateful and believed attributed to his success. From a young age and with a strong passion for business, Solomon set up his first business at secondary school, selling sweets on the bus.
As a young and budding entrepreneur, he decided to run a nightclub at his university, hosting different themed parties. While his nightclub business was successful, his decision to expand to boat parties back fired. Solomon wanted to bring boat parties from Thailand to the River of Exeter with a slight British twist of a pub lunch. Despite this early blow, Solomon was able to persevere and taught us the importance of learning from our failures. Solomon endorsed university as the ideal time to set up businesses. He also believed university taught him how to grow from a shy to confident boy, through grabbing every opportunity on offer, for example he did work experience in the NHS and law firms during the summer and showing his personality.
After university, Solomon went down the technical route and set up InstaBear with a friend. InstaBear is a service that sends prints of social media pictures to customers, and works with well-known companies marketing teams such as Jack Wills. Solomon highlighted how the importance of his InstaBear success was spotting the trends of technology due to easy accessibility with apps and smartphones.
The emphasis of the talk turned to The Apprentice as it couldn’t go undiscussed. Unfortunately, for Solomon, the attention was drawn towards his humiliating interview with Claude, in which he was sent out of the room due to the lack of detail in his business plan. While it provided valuable entertainment, he stressed to us the importance of being resilient and not giving up at the first hurdle but learning from mistakes. On a more positive note, his CV was praised and he informed us that every experience, even it was a failure, should be mentioned, along with the valuable lessons learnt.
As a response to an interesting question, he informed us on nature of the program. Soloman warned us while the tasks were real, they extended over 4 days and the presenters condensed footage into an hour programme, selectively choosing clips to create a storyline. In addition, rather shockingly, we discovered that when the losing team went to the famous café, for their losers’ coffee, they would have to wait ten minutes in absolute silence, before being allowed to communicate. By doing this, the producers aimed to build up the frustration of losing the task, so the candidates could construct their arguments.
Overall, Solomon believes he has benefited from the Apprentice, despite not winning and carrying the risk of putting “his life in the hands of the BBC”. He has learnt that in the business world, in order to be successful you need work together as a team, putting your differences aside. In addition, Solomon believed going on the show has helped his personal relations. Going forward, Solomon hopes to expand InstaBear and reach a wider audience with his lectures to improve personal relations.
A huge thanks goes to Raghav Aggarwal from KES for organising the influential talk.
by Serina Hundle L6th