How Steven Bartlett went from uni dropout to youngest Dragon

This year’s series of Dragon’s Den brought with it a brand new investor.

29-year-old Steven Bartlett is the youngest Dragon to ever join the show, and although he appear to be the vision of success now, things have not always been easy for him.

Ten years ago, Steven applied to be a contestant on the show, but was rejected, The Guardian reports.

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Born in Botswana, Steven moved to Plymouth with his family when he was just two years of old, and it was here that he grew up alongside his three older siblings, struggling financially in ‘a nice, white, middle-class area’.

Although Steven struggled in school, his interests elsewhere suggested that he possessed entrepreneurial spirit, as he organised school trips and brokered deals with vending machine companies, taking cuts.

He admitted to The Guardian that he once stole food from corner shops and had to forage for loose change in order to stave off his hunger.

After one lecture, Steven dropped out of Manchester Metropolitan University, and said he did so after looking around the room, which was full of hungover students as the lecturer handed out felt-tip pens, and realising: “this wasn’t going to take me to where I needed to go”.

At just 18 years old, Steven registered his first business, a marketing business called ‘Social Chain’, which is now valued at $600m.

Steven has expressed the importance of following your internal voice, and knowing your purpose, a mantra held by many contemporary self-help gurus.

He told The Guardian: “I’m really bad at doing things I don’t want to do. If you’re fortunate and take the right steps, that culminates in a life where you’re doing a lot of things you do want to do.”

This may explain why, in 2020, he left the Social Chain to pursue new projects, including Thirdweb, a company which creates blockchain-based applications, and marketing platform FlightStory.

Towards the tail end of 2020, Steven was named in The Powerlist alongside Marcus Rashford and Michaela Coel, at number six.

Not only is Steven now a Dragon, but he hosts his own podcast, ‘The Diary of a CEO’, debates on television, and inspires his Instagram followers with motivational quotes.

He gained much of his business knowledge through interviewing other entrepreneurs and business leaders, and, although he thought they’d all be unique, most of his interviewees ended up being very similar.

Steven said: “They’re all affected by the same anxieties. One thing that happened to them on the playground might steer the course of their life. Sometimes your curses become your blessings and vice versa. Most of the time, having a really s***** childhood is the reason why my guests end up being really remarkable people in their later life.”

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