Rouzbeh Pirouz

Founder of Spectacle

Rouzbeh Pirouz is a tech entrepreneur and philanthropist. In 1997, he founded Thanks to successful venture capital investment, the fast-growing tech start-up quickly because a leader in the European tech industry. Rouzbeh took on the role of CEO and raised more than $150 million in strategic and venture capital funding.

After selling Mondus, Rouzbeh founded Pelican Partners, a private equity and real estate holding firm. Nearly 20 years later, Rouzbeh remains Senior Partner with Pelican Partners and has completed deals over $50 million.
Based in the UK for the last 20 years, Rouzbeh is an experienced entrepreneur with global experience. Using his experiences of launching, managing and selling tech and finance business, he frequently offers thought-leadership pieces on economics, financial and businesses issues, with each one offering a fascinating, unique viewpoint.

As he lives with a physical disability, Rouzbeh is committed to furthering the causes of disabled people, particularly those in developing countries. And his philanthropic ventures also include the arts in Europe and the Middle East as well as acting as Trustee for several UK charities.

His latest concept – Spectacle – is launching soon and has been created to curate the news and to create connections with like-minded individuals who share the same passion.

Where did the idea for Spectacle come from?

I have always been interested in reading widely and consuming as news as possible. Still, like everyone, there never seems to be enough time to find the things I am interested in.

Spectacle offers a unique approach in juggling the news and delivering interesting and relevant content in a succinct and compelling way. Users decide what they’re interested in and Spectacle curates the news and offers a new way of getting the most exciting and relevant things in front of the right audience.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My typical day is very structured, as I find this helps me get the most out of my time. Every weekday, I wake at 6.45 am, and it takes me a while to get started for the say – my wife jokes that it takes me longer to get ready than her.
I’m at my desk at 8.30 am, and I always dedicate the first hour and a half to writing. I’m writing a new book, and I aim to write 1000 words per day in this fashion.
At 10 am, I start my workday, and I always refer to my to-do list. My list enables me to focus on what is essential, even the simplest things make it on the list, and I make sure it syncs across all my devices.
This list is vital as it lets me prioritise.
Twice a week, in the afternoons, I make sure I get some exercise. Whether this is playing golf or going for walks – it helps me unwind. And doing something physical is especially important in the COVID-age that we’re currently in.

The evening is always for family-time. I have dinner with my family every night and make sure I spend time with my daughter. Then after her bedtime, I unwind, and my wife and I spend time together.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I am a big believer in the bulldozer approach. When you have an idea, you have just to keep going. I read an interesting article that resonated with me – it said that grit and persistence are a significant determining factor of success, rather than intelligence or ability.

You have to be relentless with your idea. And at the end of the day, all good ideas need good teams around them. I learn very early on to identify good people and see where they would fit into a project. I think that is one of my major successes in life: bringing a team together. It means you can be confident that everything will work out because the right people are in the right roles.

What’s one trend that excites you?

It might be a double-edged sword, by I’m interested in living through this digital age. Yes, it can cause problems, but it also can bring everyone together. During the global pandemic, applications like Zoom, social media and the internet, in general, have brought friends and families together when they can’t see each other in person.

Through technology, it means that people can communicate. Teams and projects can be energised and mobilised and work together to make the world a better place.

It’s one of the reasons behind the up and coming launch of Spectacle; I found that I wanted to have a dialogue with people about the things that mattered to me – such as the environment or social justice. But I couldn’t find those communities.

You realise that by developing these platforms, just how many people are out there who care about the same thing you do, you didn’t know about them previously.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

To be productive, I have to be disciplined. Over the years, I’ve learned that time is the most precious commodity we have, and it is something that I can never get back.

As mentioned early, my to-do list is vital to me remaining focused. It gives me the ability to figure out whether I am focusing my time on the right things that will make the most impact, rather than wasting time on the little things.

What advice would you give your younger self?

As I’ve become older, I’ve become far less sensitive and impacted by any setbacks.
I would advise my younger self to “learn to take things in your stride, and don’t let things get to you.”

When I was younger, I would be affected by every little setback, and when I look back now, I realise that it was okay, and it wasn’t the big deal I thought it was at the time.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

This is a tricky question! It is essential to follow your heart and your passion but be realistic about it. It’s good to have passion for a project, but that will only get you so far, so be sensible.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

As an entrepreneur, I always tell people to build positive relationships and believe in people. I think you should want to be friends as this leads to positive energy. I like surrounding myself with good people as it brings good vibes to the team.
These positive thoughts lead to lots of good things, and by investing in people, they have huge potential to succeed.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

The key strategy that has helped me grow the business has always focused on the right people. A successful business is down to the people.

People make a business; businesses don’t make people.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

As an entrepreneur, I have had many ideas that haven’t worked out. It’s just part of life. I’ve invested money in companies that haven’t worked, it has been painful at the time, but you have to go for it and take risks.
I accepted a long time ago that I’m not going to win everything, but I have accepted it. Successful businesses have been down to persistence and endurance. In life, and business, if you get knocked down, you get back up again and keep going.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

My business idea that I am working on right now and is nearly ready for launch is Spectacle. I keep describing it as like a Spotify playlist for the news. You put in what you’re interested in, and it will suggest interesting articles and connect with like-minded individuals.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best $100 I have spent has been donated to a charity. It was to sponsor a child in South Africa and support their education.
It makes me realise the value of money and how something like just $100 can make a significant impact on someone else’s life

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I am obsessed with my task list on Outlook. It syncs across all devices, and I love it. It helps me prioritise and be productive.

With so many channels and ways of communicating, we can spend all our time just reacting to situations. With a task list, I can be proactive instead of reactive to my day.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I would recommend Jordan Peterson’s The 12 Rules for Life. I read it, and it was a game-changer for me and had a massive impact on my life.
I love the perspective on life – that it’s not about happiness or sadness, but about structure and disorder and being disciplined.

What is your favorite quote?

My favourite quote is from Theodore Roosevelt, and it says,

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Key Learnings:

• Be more consciously self-aware and think about how that can be developed further.
• Articulate your perspective on life, and at work