Adam Laird

Adam Laird didn't have a good first day on the job. He was a brand new trainee at Boston Consulting, and the instructor was about to start putting the rookies through some Excel spreadsheet training. Things took a turn for the worse when Laird had to ask how to turn his computer on.

The Adam Laird of today is unrecognisable from the technophobic trainee he once was. He's become one of the most savvy businessmen in the UK, building up a publishing empire. As a Mamba, he represents persistence: a refusal to give up, and to never let naysayers bring down a good idea. "Expect to be knocked back, probably many times over," he says. "That absolutely doesn't mean you should give up."

Laird founded his first publishing company, Magicalia, with a friend from his Boston days, and slowly grew the company over seven years before successfully selling it in 2006, although he continued running the business with the new owners. With a dozen titles launched, Magicalia became an increasingly important business, eventually merging with BBC Magazines to create a new company, Immediate Media. And then, in a move that brought him neatly full-circle, Laird started a digital publishing company.

"For so many reasons, the trade links between SA and the UK are strong and getting stronger," he says of his involvement as a Mamba. "The Mamba Mentors is a perfect way for SA entrepreneurs to introduce themselves to the UK market, hear feedback from a slightly different perspective to what they'll hear in SA, and assess whether there's an opportunity for them to expand their business by trading with the UK."

Quick Strikes

  • Born: 17th July 1972
  • Scariest thing he's ever done: Got married and had three children
  • Business achievement he's most proud of: Building a business from scratch, growing it to profitability, selling it, and seeing it continue to thrive in a new life.
  • When he's off the job, what does he enjoy doing: Playing garden cricket with my three boys
  • The most unexpectedly successful business idea he's ever seen: I hate to admit this, but I was sceptical about Facebook. I thought it was a good idea, but really didn't expect it to become the global powerhouse it has.