Entrepreneurs in the fast lane: Joseph Valente on Apprentice success, money matters and mistakes

Joseph Valente shot to prominence when he won The Apprentice in 2015, securing £250,000 investment from Lord Sugar for his plan to build a nationwide network of gas boiler installers.

Just 25 at the time, he’s grown ImpraGas into a multi-million-pound success, taking it from one location to a rapidly expanding number of counties across the UK.

Such is his desire to scale fast, it seemed entirely apt for Startups to take him out on the track at Silverstone – testing his ability to negotiate a chicane while answering rapid fire questions about his business.

Taking a Business Test Drive

In our Business Test Drive, Joseph track-tested two of FCA’s (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) jewels – the sporty Alfa Romeo Giulia and the ruggedly reliable Jeep Compass, a 4×4 allying comfort and performance in the family SUV segment.

Taking the “stylish Italian” Giulia – which was rated ‘best for The Boss’ here – out for a spin, you’ll see Valente put his foot down as he states his desire to make ImpraGas the UK’s number one boiler installation business. Well on the way already, this would be some achievement for the company he started with a £15,000 personal loan.

He talks about what it’s like to have a billionaire as a business partner at the age of 25 and the numbers he keeps top of mind every day – from cash in the bank and debtors to sales and how the business’ margin is holding up.

Valente also reveals the mistake he feels he made and the fears fledgling entrepreneurs have around tax, registering a company, and invoicing customers.

Then he gets behind the wheel of the Jeep Compass, which we recommended as ‘best for sales people’, to talk about running a fleet of cars and vans and the main considerations for running things cost-effectively.

Looking to the future

And taking some of Silverstone’s famous bends he shares his view on the market ImpraGas operates in, including the challenge of generating more leads when it nears saturation point.

Having previously stated his aim to hit a £10m turnover within three years there’s little doubt Valente expects to put in some quick laps over the next year or so, diversifying the business’ offering through the installation of renewable technologies such as solar panels, biomass and heat pumps, and Smart Home technology in domestic settings.

As he told Startups: “Don’t wait for opportunity, create it. Nothing is ever going to fall in your lap. You have to be out there looking for it or creating it yourself.”

 

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