Powerboat promotion

May 08 issue

Adventurous Devon-based entrepreneur Richard George is as passionate about powerboating as he is about helping other entrepreneurs launch businesses online. By racing a boat promoting his very own Scream-it.com venture, he is able to combine the two, writes James Crux

Best known for founding web content management company GOSS Interactive with inspirational round-the-world yachtsman Pete Goss, successful businessman Richard George set up another venture, Scream Technologies, about two years ago.

George, who describes himself as a ‘crazy, up-and-coming entrepreneur’, recalls: ‘As Scream began to develop, I had something of a mid-life crisis. I was 43 or 44 at the time and I went off to buy a boat, which was a 28-foot monster.’

George spent ten years in sales for a subsidiary of Shell before becoming part of GOSS – a content management company with clients including GMTV and Brittany Ferries. Soon after setting up his new venture, he invested his own hard-earned cash in a powerboat which doubles as a marketing campaign. It provides the perfect vehicle to promote his company, which helps start-up businesses develop their websites.

Offshore championships

George recently entered the Honda Formula 4-Stroke offshore powerboat championship, which made its debut in Torquay in May 1999. The competition returns ‘to the heart of the English Riviera’ for its 2008 opening rounds and its Grand Prix will be held in such locations as Plymouth, Lowestoft, Liverpool and the Isle of Man. As part of the UK’s number one offshore powerboat championship, promotion aplenty is assured for Scream-it.com, whose logo adorns George’s boat.

At 45, he can’t quite believe he’s putting himself through another championship. ‘If someone had told me 12 months ago that I would be sitting in my office today sending an email thanking everyone who had helped me over the past year with my offshore powerboat racing team before I enter another season I would have laughed in their face. But here I am doing exactly that,’ he says.

Living dangerously

Gamely, George, whose motto is to ‘work hard and live dangerously’, drives the boat himself, while PR and marketing director Nikki Sanders acts as navigator. The racing efforts of the entrepreneurial duo can even be viewed on YouTube. Powerboat speeds during a race can reach more than 70 miles per hour in choppy seas and, according to George, it ‘physically hurts when you hit a wave’.

He says: ‘We did it in order to promote our business, network, win new clients and support a charity called DebRA among others.’ George’s three-year old daughter suffers from the rare and painful genetic skin blistering disorder Epidermolysis Bullosa, around which the charity’s efforts are focused.

As for the company, BT Business recently revealed that 50 per cent of one-to-ten employee businesses have no web presence at all, while 72 per cent of one-man bands have zero web presence. ‘We set the business up to help one-man bands and “one-to-fours”, to very quickly set them up online, and our ethos is about support,’ enthuses George, who likens the service to a ‘crusade’.

George concedes this is a numbers game and it is early days for his company. ‘We want 800 clients online by the end of January 2009 and by the end of 2010 we plan to have 8,700 customers,’ he says.

Vital statistics

Age: 45

Nearly married

Business mantra:
The difference between doing and not doing is doing

Apart from racing powerboats, include skiing, cooking and eating out