Charlie stripped to his underpants, got in the birthing pool, waved the midwives away and delivered both of his children. “Watching what Annemarie was going through, I felt so useless as a parent at the birth. I wanted to do whatever I could to be a part of it. I wanted to be the first person to hold them.”
On the childrens’ birth certificates, under “Father’s Occupation” it says “Adventurer.”
Aspiring philanthropist and filmmaker, passionate homeschooling parent, seaplane pilot, YouTuber, and serial tech startup entrepreneur. Outspoken non-conformist, bootstrapper, simultaneous dreamer and realist. Enemy of mediocrity.
To begin with…
In 1991 aged 19, after leaving Charterhouse (he hated being bullied), being expelled from Stowe (loved it despite worse bullying, was expelled after going AWOL to see a girl) and finishing his A-levels at a tutorial in Brighton, Charlie got a trainee job at a broking house, GNI, in the financial markets in London, thanks to his step-father’s old boy network. The bullying there was the worst of all.
Transitioning to self-employment (being fired).
“If you listen to the tapes, you’ll hear it was actually you who made the mistake, so who’s the c**t?” Charlie, defending himself from a public accusation from his director, delivered in front of the whole company. It got him fired from his last employed role as a Derivatives Broker in London in 1993. They wrote to Charlie’s parents: “We’re sure Charlie has a lot to offer someone, but it’s not us.” That started him on his almost 30 year journey of self employment.
Early years of self employment. Car washing and gangsters.
For the next 5 years: Mobile car washing from the back of a Land Rover in Sussex, contract valeting for VW dealerships and a hand car wash in Crawley, fending off various gangsters trying to muscle in on his business, meningitis, leading to personal insolvency, and secretarial temping at the Bank of Scotland while he recovered, physically and financially.
Alongside all that, Charlie began buying and selling small flats, starting with a basement flat in Brighton which he bought for £23,500, which was his first experience dealing with estate agents.
The first tech startup.
In 1998 he started Datography with a techie entrepreneur partner, inventing the first one-stop virtual tour, professional photography and floor plan service to estate agents in London, and then Sydney. Foxtons, then privately owned, copied the idea and name. Charlie sued for copyright infringement and won an out of court settlement. Datography grew fast in London and Sydney, gaining investment from 16 investors, with a board of 8 directors and a team of 40 staff.
Charlie got fired. He lost his shares, unpaid salary, and the software product he designed. Investors and partners alike turned on him, then each other. The company eventually imploded.
The second tech startup.
In 2003, Charlie set up a new competitor, BPM, with an old friend and ex-McKinsey’s consultant. They won clients and staff from Datography and grew even faster, reaching 120 staff in 3 countries, growing organically. His former partners first tried to bury him in litigation, and when that failed they asked him to merge his new business with Datography. Not wanting to expose himself to the risk of being fired by incompetent partners again, Charlie refused.
The third tech startup.
The financial crisis of 2008 killed BPM, and out of the ashes grew Charlie’s second software product for estate agents which boomed initially, but then became the target of clients who tried to take it over and eventually a deep misunderstanding and disagreement over finances with his business partner eventually led to Charlie’s personal bankruptcy in December 2015.
For a couple of years Charlie was the drummer for Lloyd Grossman’s ‘punk’ band, The New Forbidden, until he got fired. Most memorable moment, supporting a band called “Scrotum Clamp”, and playing at the Blackpool punk festival, Rebellion.
Divorce and Flying.
After an amicable divorce from singer Liz Cass in 2008, with no children involved, Charlie used his new found spare time to get his Private Pilot’s Licence, which he got in 2010. In 2014 he added a Seaplane rating to that, in Lake Como, Italy.
The fourth tech startup.
In 2016 Charlie started his own software development company in Lisbon, Portugal, where he also has family. It is where BestAgent was and still is being built, developed and maintained.
On 1st December 2017, BestAgent ‘BackOffice’ went fully operational, a simple CRM system, connecting estate agents data to all the major national property websites, and providing agents with a new, GDPR compliant database system, for free.
In May 2018, the then head of property at Google met Charlie at a property tech conference, saying that BestAgent’s tech was 10 years ahead of anything else he’s seen in the sector.
In February 2017, sitting in a cafe on Venice Beach, California, a cameraman said to Charlie: “Anyone who’s not making a film, it’s because they dont want to. Anyone can do it now.” 4 months later, Charlie had written, cast, produced and directed his first film, “Goodbye Ma” a 30 minute short set in Lisbon about a young girl finishing her travels before confronting the horrors of ‘real life’. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10978764/
Being an unfunded bootstrapper with no investors, Charlie was forced to find the most effective way of broadcasting his own, undiluted messaging. As a marketing experiment, he started 3 YouTube channels in March 2021. A personal diary channel for himself to document his family and flying adventures, a property industry channel for estate agents and a consumer facing channel providing impartial advice to home movers. In the first 12 months he’s approaching 2,000 subscribers, mostly on his personal channel.
Helping end Homelessness.
Charlie has a plan to help bring about the end of homelessness, by bringing the property industry’s vast resources into the mix alongside government and charity. Not as a charitable venture, but by treating homelessness as part of the business operations of the home moving sector, in a way that reduces new homelessness, improves industry reputation and staff morale. The first step is a rent guarantee scheme offered to help people out of homelessness, especially temporary accommodation, into the private rented sector. Shortage of available housing is proving the biggest obstacle. Dorset Council has changed their policy as a result of Charlie’s efforts and are now providing rent guarantees to young people coming out of the care system.
David Attenborough, Ronnie Barker, Don Draper, Hank Moody, Queen Elizabeth II.