Man becomes UK's youngest billionaire after launching £4bn business in lockdown 4 months ago

Man becomes UK's youngest billionaire after launching £4bn business in lockdown

Johnny Boufarhat became the UK's youngest billionaire by launching a video conferencing app to help businesses during lockdown

Plenty of people started on personal projects during lockdown - it was one of the few ways to keep your mind focused and stay motivated for many of us. Nevertheless, most of us didn't end up becoming literal billionaires as a result.

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Johnny Boufarhat, a 26-year-old born in Sydney (now living in Barcelona with his fiancée) had apparently been sitting on an idea since 2018, when he was still studying mechanical engineering at the University of Manchester.

However, he couldn't get the funding back then and it was only later when he found himself bed-ridden in his girlfriend's King's Cross flat in London that the plans for his company, Hopin, truly started to come together.

Hopin is an online events and video-conferencing app - much like Zoom and Microsoft Teams that we've all become familiar with over the past year - the coding for which he started while struggling from a then undiagnosed auto-immune disease. Most of us just want to sleep and takeaway when we're sick, let alone struggling from a genuine condition. Fair play, Johnny.

By the time Covid hit, not only had Boufarhat finally cracked the idea but the demand for such services was much higher and after finally securing the funds, it launched fully last March and since launching last year, its user-base has rocketed to over five million already and only looks to continue growing.

With giants like American Express and Hewlett-Packard among its client list, it is now valued at £4.1billion and Boufarhat himself has a net worth of £1.5 billion: 113th place in the Sunday Times Rich List and third in the list of the UK’s wealthiest young people - not to mention self-made. Blimey.

Just as impressively, this wasn't even his first business idea. During his studies, he event went on to develop his own app that helped students find discounts at restaurants, all when he was just 21. Again, not a new idea by any means but carving out any space in markets as popular as these, and at such a young age, is an achievement in itself.

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Boufarhat also had confidence in his talents and truly believed "it would be the fastest-growing company in the world" - he wasn't far wrong. With over 80,000 organisations now using the software, its sales went from £54 million by January 2021 to a projected £130m by the end of this year.

While the company did start in a small office in Shoreditch, Hopin is not fully remote (in line with the business model he is promoting) and has over 500 staff primarily in the US and UK. Speaking to the Sunday Times, he said, “I'm very, very work-focused". Yeah, no sh*t lad!

He said that while he used to work seven days a week, he now takes a half-day off on Saturdays - still, hardly a break, is it? Explaining his habits, he stated: "I just want to be as impactful as I can, in a positive way for the world".

If this is what he's managed at just 26, who knows what he'll go on to achieve? 30 Under 30 is just around the corner.