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Last Updated: Monday, 16 October 2006, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Young Asians playing and working hard
Ravi Gehlot and friends
Ravi Gehlot reckons that making a million pounds is not too difficult
Ravi Gehlot had made his first million pounds by the time he was 18, as a night club promoter at the party resort of Ayia Napa on Cyprus.

For Ravi, business schemes had always held more interest than studying, so he had no qualms about leaving school early.

"It annoyed some teachers, seeing me earning more money than they do in an entire year in one night," said Ravi, who at 23 years of age is one of the UK's youngest self-made millionaires.

"My economics teacher kept chucking me out," he said. "I spent most of my time outside the classroom instead of inside it."

'Credible platform'

Ravi is chief executive of his latest venture called OneOffice, offering internet office services to small- and medium-sized companies.

"The company has been set up to help other entrepreneurs set up their own business," he explained.

Money always means much more to those who don't have it than to those that do
Ravi Gehlot, millionaire

"It also gives those who are employed by other companies an opportunity to start with a credible platform and achieve their aspirations."

Ravi fervently believes that other young people can follow his lead.

"It's not difficult to make a million pounds out of a business," he said. "As long as you're dedicated and persistent, it's very achievable."

Dr Spinder Dhaliwal, lecturer in entrepreneurship at the University of Surrey, has observed how the attitudes of today's young business entrepreneurs differ from the first-generation immigrant businesspeople from South Asia.

Young people are more willing to make contacts outside the community, she explained.

And unlike their parents, they are more likely to trust non-family and friends for advice and financial backing.

Their work ethic is different too.

"Young people want to work smart rather than work hard," says Ms Dhaliwal, who also compiles Eastern Eye's Asian Rich List. "They are fiercely ambitious, but are reluctant to put in the time."

Survival strategy

Natasha is a 26-year-old wannabe millionaire energy trader. While she puts in long hours at the office, she claims she is the exception to the rule.

"I work 15 hours a day," she said. "A lot of my friends wouldn't. It scares them."

Natasha and Ravi acknowledge that long hours and hard work can yield big rewards.

The first generation looked at enterprise as a survival strategy
Spinder Dhaliwal, University of Surrey

And while they save their money and invest in property, they also like to show how well they are doing.

Natasha has a love of designer clothes; Ravi lives in a 500,000 penthouse in London Fields.

This extravagance is at odds with how their parent's generation lived, according to Ms Dhaliwal.

"The first generation looked at enterprise as a survival strategy," she explained. "They were faced with prejudice, so they pooled money from the community to start their businesses.

"They made a lot of sacrifices, but they never spent their money. They would never buy designer clothes or even take a taxi anywhere."

By-product

In Ms Dhaliwal's experience, few millionaires will admit that money motivates them to become successful, even though they love to flaunt their wealth.

"They want the BMW's, they want the Mercedes, they want the gold, the jewellery, the big houses," she said.

"They want other people to see that they are successful. It's the worst facet of our culture, and it negates any success in our community."

Ravi takes a pragmatic view on the value of money.

"It becomes meaningless," he said. "It just becomes a by-product. Money always means much more to those who don't have it than to those that do."

Asian Network Report: Young And Minted was broadcast on the BBC's Asian Network at 1830 BST on Monday, 16 October, 2006.

You can also listen online at the Asian Network website.




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