Peter Jones was born in 1966 and raised in Berkshire. When he was seven, he often went to his father’s office in Windsor because he loved sitting in his big chair and pretending to be in charge of a big company, even though it was a small office and just him. Peter’s parents wanted the best and sent him for a couple of terms to private school. It was financially crippling for them to send him there – and moreover he didn’t like it, finding it very different from what he was used to. So at the age of eight he left, spending the rest of his school years in state schools. Both his parents worked full-time for over 50 years to provide the family with as much as they could. They never went without, but Peter always yearned for more. He wanted to do the best he could, knowing that one day he was going to be a multi-millionaire.
He remembers sitting for hours in his father’s office leather chair, dreaming of running a multi-million pound business. It was a big dream for a school-boy, but one which came true. He first got a sense of his business acumen and strong head for figures while still at school, aged 16. After completing the Lawn Tennis Association’s coaching exams, Peter set up his own tennis coaching school. This allowed him to combine the two subjects he loved the most: sport and economics.
During his twenties, he ran a thriving computer business which allowed him to own a nice house, a BMW, a Porsche, and plenty of money to spend. However, through a combination of circumstances, personal mistakes and learning the hard way when a few major customers went out of business themselves, he lost the business. Later, he set up a computer support business and then a restaurant, the latter of which ended up being a fun if costly mistake. At 28, he decided to join a large corporate because he was broke and without a car or a house – a tough position to be in. Within 12 months, he ended up running the business in theUK.
He founded Phones International Group in 1998, providing mobile cellular solutions to a broad range of clients. The core of the business was a distribution model he created called Single Brand Distribution. These days, this business operates under the brand name of Data Select. The company is a major factor in growth, accounting for £14 million of sales in the first year of trading and £44 million by the end of the second. Other related companies have also grown within the group, including Generation Telecom, which was sold to one of the world’s largest companies for millions of pounds within two years of starting up.
In recent years, Phones International Group has been recognised as one of the most successfulUKbusinesses. The Times/Ernst & Young recognized him as Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002. The group was identified as the 13th fastest growing business in The Sunday Times/Virgin Atlantic UK Fast Track League Table in 2003.
Today, Phones International Group counts every leading brand in the mobile industry among its business partners, whether as a supplier, customer or collaborator on a number of initiatives and activities geared to driving growth. Group turnover is around the £150 million mark.
Peter’s business interests now span many other areas than just telecommunications, including incentives and gifts, consumer products, entertainment, publishing, property and television. In 2005, he was invited to join the panel of the hit ground-breaking BBC Two show, Dragons’ Den. He has many investments from the programme including Wonderland Magazine, a new luxury lifestyle magazine, The Generating Company, a contemporary circus company, i-Teddy and Reggae Reggae Sauce among others.
In 2006, Peter worked with Simon Cowell to create a new business reality format show forAmerica’s largest network, ABC – The American Inventor. It first went on air in early 2006 and was re-commissioned for a second series which aired in 2007. It has been sold elsewhere in the world and it will soon air on Virgin 1 in theUK. In April 2006, Peter signed a deal with ITV to produce and star in business show Tycoon, which aired in the summer of 2007, This ground-breaking idea saw him and his team searching theUKfor the next big Business Tycoon, mentoring 6 entrepreneurs, helping them to turn their business dreams into reality. For the first time, members of the public were able to own shares in the winning business.
His book Tycoon was published in 2007 by Hodder & Stoughton.
Finally, in January 2009, Peter was delighted and very proud to be made a CBE in the New Year’s Honours list.