“Tax is such a shame”, Francis Boulle comments mournfully. “It’s a damn shame that it exists”. Tax probably does get in the way a fair old bit if you’re a 23 year-old diamond heir. Boulle – who will be familiar to many as a ‘star’ of the TV phenomenon ‘Made in Chelsea’ – describes himself as a ‘Venture Capitalist’ on his Twitter account and has come to the Oxford Union to share some of his business secrets. Before the talk itself, he has a quick chat to OxStu about entrepreneurship and reality TV.
“I knew what I was getting myself into”, Boulle says confidently of ‘Made in Chelsea’: “it’s a means for promoting other things”. Doesn’t he ever worry that his TV presence – which to date has mainly consisted of falling off his skateboard and unsuccessfully wooing women – might undermine his business credentials? “Some people are skeptical that there’s substance beneath the surface”, he admits, “but when I speak to people it’s pretty obvious I know what I’m talking about”. Well, there’s nothing like self-confidence to help you get ahead. “It’s irrelevant, the people who don’t know me”, he adds. Boulle counts Richard Branson, J.D. Rockefeller among his idols – as well as Francisco d’Anconia, one of the characters in Ayn Rand’s scary individualist tract Atlas Shrugged.
Boulle’s business advice seems to be based mainly on two rules: “be passionate”, and get yourself a “good business partner”. Simple. Presumably having a passionate affair with an equally passionate business partner would kill two birds with one stone. His ascent to dazzling success hasn’t always been easy, he explains in his talk: “I isolated myself from a lot of my friends who just wanted to get fucked up on meow meow”. Apparently “it’s harder to raise finance than it is to get struck by lightning” – a rather baffling comparison. “I’ve always found it very important to surround yourself with other people who want to achieve success”, Boulle insists – which begs the question why he spends quite so much time with the utterly bizarre being that is Mark Francis.
Sadly, Boulle’s talk didn’t leave me much clearer about how to amass a huge fortune in diamonds, or indeed how to launch a website like www.sexymp.co.uk (for the record – his favourite is Louise Mensch : “she’s pretty cheeky”, apparently), but perhaps that was the point and he’s concealing his real genius for those he can trust. His new venture is ‘fundmine’, an ‘Intelligent Angel Investment Platform’: a sort of glamorized Dragon’s Den. I am fairly concerned that Boulle might, in an insidiously suave and laidback way, gradually take over the world and instill the rest of the ‘Made in Chelsea’ posse as his evil henchmen. Watch this space.