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Monday, October 24, 2011

Dinner with the real founder of Justgiving



Bela Hatvany was in town, He comes to Boston a lot since He has family and Business interests here as well as some history (although He now lives in the South of France). So we grabbed some Tappas at Tappeo on Newbury Street, where I used to live when I was taking my MBA. He's a fascinating guy. His dad lost his fortune in Hungary during the war. So He came to England & made another fortune as a bridge player, Buyer of art & backer of race horses.

Anyhow Bela said that He was treating me since my dad bought him & his wife dinner at the Belvedere restaurant in Holland Park, London, last week. Bela told me a great story about when He was at Harvard Business School. He was asked by IBM to complete a data/software project at the end of the first year of his MBA.

IBM told him it would take 14 software programmers a year to complete. Bela explained that He figured out a way to do it much quicker - He actually completed the project alone, & in only 12 weeks. After that he was in quite a lot of demand.
 Here's one of his other companies, Silverplatter, which He sold to Wolters Kluwer for $113 Million in 2000. These days He invests in a whole host of new companies, such as Justgiving, which has grown immensely as a business.
I remember clearly Bela telling me about his idea to set up this online giving site back in 2000. I must admit I was a bit skeptical at the time since the internet was still at quite an embryonic stage. However his idea was spot on and they got first mover advantage in the market so everyone knows the Justgiving brand now.

Newbury Street, in Boston's 'Back Bay', where I lived whilst studying for my MBA

















Bela used to live at 21 Kensington Park Gardens, Notting Hill Gate, London, which is a beautiful house and location. I lived there for a while myself in 2004. Bela sold it to a Russian Oligarch. It's worth a disgusting amount of money I'm not even going to mention how much!

He has since moved to Nice in France. I haven't visited him there yet though next time I'm in the South of France I'm sure I will do.

Kensington Park Gardens, Notting Hill Gate, London