News from Cass Business School

Dinesh Dhamija inspires the next generation of entrepreneurs

The ebookers founder spoke at the latest event in the Dean’s Lecture Series at Cass

The ebookers founder Dinesh Dhamija told his story this week and delighted an audience of Cass students and alumni, and current and future entrepreneurs, as he discussed the challenges of operating in the high-octane world of internet entrepreneurialism in the latest event in the Dean’s Lecture Series at Cass Business School.

One of Europe’s internet godfathers, Dinesh founded and grew ebookers into Europe’s leading online travel company, before selling it to Cendant in 2004 for $471m. From origins in a tiny kiosk in Earls Court station, Dinesh built the company through considerable economic uncertainty, including the ‘dotcom bust’ of 2001, September 11, SARS and the first Iraq war. It is an impressive tale of a company which in five years went from two employees in one country, to 2000 employees in 11 countries.

Drawing practical lessons from his experience, Dinesh encouraged would-be entrepreneurs to seek ideas anywhere in the world. Other lessons included the advantages of being the first mover in an industry and that when it comes to markets - perception is reality. He counselled owners not to delay selling a company for sentimental reasons: “You have to get out at the right time ... you only make money when the cash hits your bank account”.

Nick Badman, Chair of the Peter Cullum Centre for Entrepreneurship at Cass, which co-hosted the event, chaired a question and answer session after the lecture. Asked about his recipe for success Dinesh spoke of the need for family support: “My wife always worked with me ... you are going to make mistakes – the team around you is very important”

He admitted the success of ebookers was, in part, down to luck but quoted legendary golfer Gary Player saying: “The more I practice, the luckier I get.”

Peter Cullum Centre for Entrepreneurship

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