Richard Upshall

“Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.”

“Experience is what you get when you dont get what you want”

That is the lesson I have learned, and from business to friendship, marriage to investment, the lessons I have learned have been immense and expensive in every interpretation of the word.
 
Starting out, I always wanted to embrace success, money and respect. I guess some of that I achieved, it has and continues to be, a bumpy road….diversification has helped somewhat, especially with recent developments of the oilfield crash and Corona virus pandemic.
 
My life so far has been rich and varied, humble beginnings in Basingstoke, Hampshire with some movement around the UK growing up, saw me go in search of fame and fortune when 20 and ultimately end up calling Dubai home. I arrived in Dubai when it was still a relatively sleepy town in 1991. A massive change through to today of course, but I remain happy having my base there, living at home with my 5 rescue dogs.

In between I have started businesses in so many guises as I look back it all seems so crazy. 

My inspiration for business came from being a child in the South of the UK and simply wanting more…not satisfied with pocket money. I had a hankering for the latest electronics, loved music and TV and so had to find something to do to be in a position to buy the latest VCR (especially as my father bought a BetaMax (sigh, and you would have to around in the 80’s to understand that disaster). As I got a little older I wanted a new car, not a ten year old orange Mk2 Ford Escort and then as I started to travel, even business class wasn’t good enough, it had to be first!
 
After arriving in Dubai, I had a number of jobs, Neolith Water Blasting, Dubai Marine Beach Club and ended up with Budget Rent a Car before foraying in to the Oil and Gas business. Courtesy of an opportunity provided by a certain Seamus Byrne, I started with the newly formed Byrne Equipment Rental in Dubai, an offshoot from his successful water well drilling company, Byrne Drilling. A couple of years of correcting people that the name of the company was indeed Byrne and not Brian (a very naughty boy), and I decided that was enough, saved some pennies and headed off to Australia via Hong Kong, just to see it before it was handed back to the Chinese. Those who know me will chuckle when I affirm, the Byrne logo which is still used today over 25 years later is the very one I designed all the way back in 1992.
 
I backpacked in Australia for some months back in the 90’s. That saw me in the latter 90’s buy sheep farms at the bottom of the then Australia farming recession, get in to food distribution in South Australia, own a beach front cafe named before the famous Neil Perry one (as he found out to his cost when he tried to tell me I was not allowed to own a place called The Rockpool Cafe, and he had to change the name of the famous Sydney eatery) and spend a fair amount of time Down Under in the following decade.

Heading back to Dubai in 1994,

A couple of years with a hydraulic engineering company introduced me to opportunities in the inspection business for offshore drilling rigs and then in 1996 I started Oilfield Engineering Services with the owners of Unique Systems, an opportunity I will be forever grateful for. 1998 saw me break away from the start up partners and forge ahead with a friend and silent partner supported by my local partner Mohammed, who I work with to this day. What an experience that has been, right up to this day where I am now partners, via a platform with the mighty New York based Private Equity firm KKR . From starting as a megalomaniac one man band to a truly global oilfield service company with many many spreadsheets is quite something I can assure you.
 
Along the way, yes well, you have heard about sheep farms and food distribution, I have also gone through online magazines, beauty and cryogenics, steel fabrication preformed buildings, lifestyle and wellness, NLP consultancy, sports apparel, swim school, netball league and coaching, even a Law firm to name some, and currently still have the Software development and Cybersecurity firm Askaris, Sports Physio business, RU Active. So as to spread the risk, I do have some holdings in other start ups that are run by others, using my seed capital. Any of these could be worth millions, or nothing, time will tell, and these are my retirement funds, which frankly need to do something soon as I am 50!

My Businesses

I got married, and divorced somewhere through this, and whilst it had its ups and downs, for sure as Tennyson put it, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”  I have no regrets and can and do love again, its all part of the experience. Subsequent to that experience I definitely grew up, a lot, and have become much calmer in all parts of my life. I am probably less trusting now, or is that more cautious and mature, I don’t really know in fact.
 
I have definitely lost more money than I have made, and can still smile about that, missed opportunities (selling OES in 2013 for a awful lot of money is probably the only thing I really kick myself for, hard and often), and of course embraced opportunities too. Currently in a world heading in to deep recession, post CoronaVirus and Oil price decimation, I hope to retain my shirt, and that may well be it, only time and fortune will tell. Let’s hope fortune favours the bold, as bold is something I certainly am!

My favourite of late, by far, is my music business.

Record label RU Listening, and Artist Management company Creating Monsters have seen me have the opportunity to start from small beginnings and give me the opportunities to work with Ironik and Union J in the UK, Ray J, Snoop, Flo Rida in the USA and to be able to have fun and be a little bit gregarious from time to time…there is a lot more to come, so watch this space as 2020 works out what it’s doing…
To sum up, I may well go out of this world with absolutely nothing except the experience of having had more careers than most households, more experience than many generations and more fun and trauma, occasionally at the same time, than some dynasties…it’s all been so worth it though!

CHARITY

Whilst business is where I have made my money, charity,

good causes and people are where I like to spend it.

Over the last decade, I have given back and this has seen me visit and contribute in many diverse ways. An Orphanage in Thailand needed a clean water supply which I provided. Another orphanage in Sankhu-Sharada, Nepal, just outside Panauti and then schools in Tanzania. Youth projects in my home town of Basingstoke as well as projects in my UK business centre, Stockton on Tees and surrounding area all continue to benefit. etc.

Visiting schools and providing books and laptops, and the kids from English College Dubai painting, repairs and wood work to support the efforts for the schools. Armed guard keeping an eye on things and then the down time trekking to waterfalls and seeing the Ongorogoro crater park.