Piers Linney

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Piers Linney is an entrepreneur and the co-CEO of Cloud-based IT business Outsourcery, which he predicts will have an annual turnover of £100 million in 2015. His public image has been boosted through his appearances as an investor in BBC 2’s Dragons’ Den and as a Secret Millionaire in the Channel 4 series.

Piers was born in 1971, of Barbadian and English heritage, and grew up in Lancashire. He had aspirations of being his own boss even as a schoolboy, even though he had failed his 11+. As a 13-year-old he packed up his daily newspaper round and got Sunday newspapers director from the wholesaler to set up his own weekly round.

He had two stabs at his A-levels and eventually went to night school before going on to study Accounting and Law, a four-year course, at the University of Manchester. Piers won a prize for the highest mark in the final examination for Law and economics and although he was offered a training contract in Manchester, he was determined to qualify as a City lawyer after attending the Law School in London. He qualified as a solicitor in 1997 and – after 68 failed applications - his tenacity paid off when he landed a training contract with London-based international law firm King & Wood Malleson (then known as SJ Berwin).

Piers specialised in venture capital and corporate finance and he went on to become an investment banker working at Barclays de Zoete Wedd (now the investment arm of Barclays) and then Credit Suisse.

He acknowledges that the skills he gained as a corporate finance lawyer and investment banker gave him a solid grounding to run his own business in over a decade, including investment and involvement in a range of sectors and businesses that includes corporate finance and alternative finance advisory business, property and technology. Piers was a founding member of the governance board of the UK’s Cloud Industry Forum.

In 2011 he was one of Channel 4's Secret Millionaires,who venture incognito into impoverished communities. One of the young men Piers spent time with during his 10-day stay at Wolverhampton’s Brinsford Young Offenders’ Institution was eventually employed by Outsourcery and two years later became a Cloud consultant.

In 2013, Piers joined the prime-time BBC2 programme Dragons’ Den, where budding entrepreneurs get three minutes to pitch their business ideas to five multi-millionaires in the hope of financial investment in return for a stake of their company. However, in January 2015, Piers announced that he would leave the show at the end of the current series.

Piers was named in the Powerlist 2014 as one of the top 100 most influential black Britons and is a trustee of The Powerlist Foundation.

Piers was selected as the first Entrepreneur Leader of the Year at the Black British Business Awards in 2014 and was also an EY Entrepreneur of the Year Regional Finalist in 2012 and 2014.

He is a trustee of NESTA, the leading innovation charity, and Plotr, the government-backed careers inspiration platform. He is involved with Virgin Unite as a member of its 24902 Community and a number of other charities as their Patron.