Tom Pellereau: The man behind the nail file

The ups and downs of The Apprentice winner’s business career


On Sunday, Tom Pellereau overcame hot favourite Helen Milligan to win this year’s series of The Apprentice, and secure a £250,000 business investment from Lord Sugar. Having established himself as one of Britain’s most prolific young inventors, ‘Apprentice Tom’, as he is now known to millions of fans, is set to become one of the country’s most recognisable entrepreneurs thanks to his link-up with Sugar. Here we take a look back at his life and career to date…
Academic star

For Tom, the Apprentice and Lord Sugar’s investment is just the latest chapter in a long and varied career, which began with academic success. Before venturing into the business world, Tom shone in academia, gaining a first class degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Bath.

Early career

After leaving university, Pellereau joined the Ministry of Defence before moving to a boutique innovation firm as a consultant. In this role, he worked with global blue-chips such as BMW, Kraft and Levi’s.

First ‘eureka moment’

In 2005 Pellereau had his first ‘eureka moment’, creating and launching a curved nail file. He quit his job as an innovation consultant to focus on his invention, and was rewarded with contracts from international leaders such as Boots, Walmart, Tesco and Superdrug.

Start-up success

Over the past six years, Pellereau’s nail file has attracted plenty of attention in the beauty market. Indeed the product has featured in national glossies such as Cosmopolitan, More and Closer, reached more than 1,000 UK pharmacies and also been stocked in South Africa and France.

Failing to nail it

However, the widespread publicity attracted by Stylfile has failed to deliver commercial success. Records show that in April 2010, Foxifile, the company set up to market and deliver Stylfile, had a net worth of -£10,833.

Other start-up ventures

Foxifile is not the only company Pellereau has founded. He has also set up a small limited enterprise called M&P Consulting; however, according to records, the company turned over just £500 in 2010.

Salaried work

In addition to setting up his own businesses, Pellereau has taken salaried roles in established companies. Until last year, he was working as an investment advisor for Kratos, a fund specialising in companies with unique or outstanding intellectual property.

Controversy

In a Daily Mail article, a source for the newspaper alleged that Pellereau was fired by Kratos. However, another person speaking to the Mail, suggested Pellereau decided to leave and was owed £33,000 of unpaid cash to his company for fees and expenses at the time. However a spokesperson for Kratos told Startups that “there was nothing sinister in it [Pellereau’s departure]. We are all very proud of him.”

Portfolio

As an inventor and consultant, Pellereau has worked with a range of firms over recent months. Companies he has partnered with include Babisil, manufacturer of a silicone-based baby feeding bottle, and Mode Diagnostics, which produces digital screening devices for common health problems.

Inspiration

Pellereau cites Thomas Edison, arguably the world’s most famous entrepreneur, as his inspiration.

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