I grew up so poor I flogged £3 sweets to my school pals for extra cash… now I'm a millionaire with a £22m business | The Sun

A PLUCKY youngster who was plagued by family issues and sold £3 sweets at school for extra cash is now a self-made millionaire.

Luke Massie, 26, founded Vibe Tickets when he was just 20 and has propelled profits to £22million.

The ticket re-sale entrepreneur grew up on a deprived council estate in Preston, Lancashire, with his four siblings and a mother who battled alcoholism, depression and anxiety.

With Luke's father in and out of their lives, he took it upon himself to he look out for his siblings by taking on five paper rounds from local newsagents and selling sweets at school.

The youngster would make money so he could "go swimming with friends at the weekend" and buy his own bike.

But fast forward to the present day and the last valuation for his company was estimated to be worth £22 million, of which he is the major shareholder.

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Speaking on his drive to succeed at such a young age, Luke said that his upbringing – or lack of – was the biggest motivator.

He told the Daily Mail: "My entrepreneurial spirit is definitely environmental.

"Looking after my brothers and sisters, taking on that leadership at a young age and wanting to make a difference comes from that.

"When I was at school, I got an A* in business and at college, I studied Business, Economics and Finance and again got an A* in Business."

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At just 17, Luke set up his first business, a PPI company called Mortgage Claims Direct, and sold it for £94,000 a week before his 18th birthday.

But despite his early success, Luke reflects on some past mistakes.

The entrepreneur said: "It was pretty weird when I sold the business.

"I was going back to the council estate, having just cashed a cheque for £94,000. It was a very strange time.

"I made a few mistakes. I'd turned 18 and I bought a brand new Audi, which is the worst thing I did.

"My mum was suffering, she was on £68-a-week on benefits and I went and bought a new car.

"There were some harsh lessons to learn – I had to get it out of my system."

However, a bad experience with selling four Ed Sheeran tickets would be the instigator for catapulting Luke into the big time.

Feeling ripped off by the prospect of paying a "middle-man" £100 to sell on the tickets, Luke sold them on Twitter to a fan instead.

And using the £50,000 that he'd kept aside for future plans, the Lancashire lad set up Vibe Tickets.

Albeit "on paper", Luke now sits on a £22million company.

But it wasn't always plain sailing, with the company faltering early on when relations soured between Luke and his main investor. 

After being forced into a corner by the investor who was keen to buy him out, Luke wound down the business himself before buying it back with full control and saving the original staff's jobs.

Months later, after being asked to take part in a competition by Virgin to find new start-ups, the then 21-year-old pitched to Richard Branson.

He impressed him so much that Vibe Tickets made the finals.

At a meeting at Branson's house the following day, the entrepreneur told him: "You're in the business of connecting people, you just happen to be selling tickets."

Using the positive promotion the competition gave him, Luke crowdfunded £617,000 in 48 hours and the rest is history.

Despite his success, he lives in a modest £250,000 house in a village in Lancashire with his girlfriend of seven years.

But Luke conceded that there is rarely a chance to take a step back from working.

He said: "I get to work after the gym at 8:30am, I leave the office at 7pm, go home, have some tea and then I'm back on the laptop."

There is also the responsibility of looking after his mother, who still struggles with mental health issues.

Luke often spends three or four nights a week living out of hotels in London but refuses to move there because he needs to be near her.

"My mum struggles, she needs help a lot of the time," he said.

"My mum's one of my number one priorities to look after. I spend three or four days a week in London, living out of hotels.

"I should move there but I need to be close to my mum."

Luke's latest venture is Vibe Pay, which is a payments business that re-thinks marketplaces – in the way that Vibe Tickets did with re-sales.

He's now ready to take on PayPal.

And its Luke's personal life which continues to drive his business life.

"I'd love to sort out the payday loans industry," he contemplates.

"I can't tell you the amount of times my mum has had Wonga sending her letters. These companies prey on the weak.

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"Vibe could help by cutting out the middleman and do it in a transparent and fair way and it'd drive the price down.

"These are the challenges that I want to solve."

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