“I left school with only four GCSEs, developed a stutter and was a rather directionless teenager,” Jamie Fraser, CEO and Founder of InterEx tells me. “My turbulent childhood and lack of opportunity at school sucked me into a lot of trouble, nearly landing me in jail.” The 28-year-old business mogul is now living the life he had always dreamt of. But his story begins with a tough upbringing. Jamie grew up in the small town of Loughton in Essex and had a turbulent childhood after his parents split up when he was just 2. Jamie struggled in school, developing a stutter and was written off by his teacher who called him a ‘no hoper’. He left school with only four GCSEs and fell into a crossroads on what direction to take in his life.
“When you get told something for long enough you start to believe it,” Jamie said. “I knew that I wasn’t going to get on very well at school because that just wasn’t something that interested me, and I found it very hard to concentrate as a young teenager. This led to me getting distracted and getting in quite a lot of trouble at school. But I always knew that I wanted to be successful and change my life, I just didn’t know how to.”
Having a few runs-in with the law, Jamie knew he had to change his life for the better or else risk destroying his future. “I was quite an angry teenager, and I just didn’t care about much, I still have this daredevil streak, but I just channel it into a more productive way,” Jamie said. “Don’t get me wrong, there were points when I thought that my life would end up with me even in prison if I continued the road I was going down. Having a few run-ins and getting into trouble was becoming more frequent until one day I got my opportunity and since then I have never looked back.”
Jamie’s first job was working at a market stall selling women’s clothing as well a fish market. He woke up at 3am everyday juggling two jobs to make ends meet. In the meantime, Jamie applied for jobs in recruitment. After multiple tries, Jamie gained an opportunity with a firm that triggered a career path to success. “I sacrificed the usual comforts and convenience a teenager was entitled to for my ambition of becoming a successful entrepreneur,” Jamie said. “I ended up interviewing at about 30 places and was just awful at it. I would get so nervous and stuttered. But then I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity at a recruitment firm which then triggered my career path.”
Jamie was determined to change his life for the better, and with sheer determination and drive, he pushed himself out of his comfort zone. “Someone took a chance on me, and I had finally found something I was good at and passionate about. But more importantly, I was passionate about changing my life. I was determined to do really well and never let him down, so I gave it my all and it instilled a discipline in me, which I still have today, to work hard in order to separate myself from others.”
In 2018, Jamie decided to take his skills and knowledge to start his own company, InterEx at the age of 22. The firm was born out of a tiny office in Loughton, Essex, with just Jamie running the business on his own. “My first office was just me, a telephone and four walls you could touch without moving,” Jamie said. “But I knew the business and I was relentless. I lived five minutes from the office and worked all the hours I could. My mum’s partner lent me the money to get started and I was so focused that I soon repaid that and moved to a bigger office. I was always moving forward, and the business grew and grew. I now have a lovely lifestyle and can afford virtually anything I want.
“My goal is to keep growing the business to the point I can sell it when I’m 32 and not have to worry about anything. That will just show what a kid who was written off at school can achieve. I love being a success and I want others to follow me. I self-funded the growth of the entire business with offices all over the world and even more ambition to scale up.”
InterEx is a staffing agency specialising in tech, cloud, cyber security and project delivery sectors. The company has skyrocketed to success, now worth £75 million, with offices all over the world including London, Miami and the Netherlands. Jamie is now in the process of launching an office in New York. “I overcame these struggles by never giving up,” he explained. “I know that sounds cliché, but it is true. You have to always remember why you are doing all this hard work. And I was doing all this work in order to change my life. Every day I would wake up and remind myself exactly why I wanted and had chosen this path of life and that was enough to keep me motivated. I now want to help young kids, who like me struggled at school, to know that they too can have all of this and be just as successful as me. “
Jamie strongly believes in giving back and empowering youths to pave their way to success. Jamie has ploughed £100,000 ‘into his Entrepreneur Fund’ to give youngsters from deprived communities a chance at creating a successful business. The 28-year-old aims to create platforms and pathways to make it easier for youngsters to forge careers. “I believe strongly that we can instil ambition into schoolkids and inspire them to succeed and, as I am proving, you don’t always need masses of qualifications. You really need someone to believe in you, show you some practical steps and be prepared to work hard.
“Anyone who says the younger generation is lazy is short-sighted. Plenty of them just need a chance. It is my mission to awaken a sleeping giant of talent and success in Britain. I want to help shape the youth of today. There isn’t enough real-world support for them. Someone recognised something in me and took a chance on me. They had faith in me and that was crucial. That is the sort of intervention I want to make in other people’s lives – to show them that they can achieve and give them direction to make it, providing they are prepared to work hard. The problem is that UK schools are doing nothing to help children get into business or become entrepreneurs. There is nothing that connects with them at a young age to show how they can be successful which is so frustrating as it is a waste of the nation’s talent.”
In a few words of advice to other SMEs, Jamie said: “My advice for any young entrepreneurs is to always stay focussed and know what you want. I knew what I wanted and that is how I was able to change my life around. I’ve gone from living in Essex with no money to now being one the youngest most successful entrepreneurs in my industry. Just know that it will get better if you are willing to strive for what you want and stay focused. The right opportunity will come along, and you never know. I have now set up a £100,000 Entrepreneur Fund with Morley College which serves the Grenfell community and will hopefully be this opportunity for a lot of kids struggling today. They will win my mentorship and funds to help launch their dreams.”