From dolls houses to tech startups: Meet CEO and pub landlord Tom West

Essex pub landlord and CEO has gone from making furniture for dolls houses to running a tech start up 

Essex pub landlord and CEO has gone from making furniture for dolls houses to running a tech start up - Credit: RentMy

A businessman and pub landlord who started out making dolls house furniture has set up a new company that promises to let you "Airbnb" everything you own.

RentMy is a new startup that plans to let you hire out all of your possessions, from kayaks to garden tools that is launching in Suffolk and Essex before a planned nationwide rollout. 

The company CEO, Tom West, grew up in Essex and Suffolk and started in business as a child when his mother ran a shop selling dolls houses in Dedham. 

He would use off-cuts of materials to build tiny accessories to sell ‘on the side’.

“It was the ultimate side hustle for a child,” said the business leader. “I could see what customers wanted to buy, and realised I could create something useful from leftovers that were going to end up in the bin.

“It gave me a taste of what it was like to earn my own money, and a sense of drive that has never really left.”

Rentmy CEO Tom West grew up in North Essex 

Rentmy CEO Tom West grew up in north Essex - Credit: Tom West

A talented basketball player,  he moved to Durham to attend the national academy but became seriously ill after getting glandular fever, losing four stone and spending three weeks in hospital at the age of 20.

Most Read

It spelt the end of his basketball career and he returned to Essex to recover.

However, when his mum and step-dad bought a bar in Ipswich, Tom got involved in the business and discovered he had an instinct for how to make it successful.

“I really enjoyed generating ideas and coming up with a brand that I felt would work,” he said. “Again, it was about knowing what people wanted and then making that happen.

“I’ve been through a lot in life and business, so the fear of failure isn’t my main motivator,” he said.

“I’ve seen the worst happen and fought through it.

"That drive translates to a love for making things successful, I really enjoy the feeling of it all coming together — so then it becomes a challenge to overcome any obstacles and be creative with new ideas.”

After a trip to America, where he took an interest in a friend's parents' reverse logistics business– which moves goods from retailers back to the wholesaler or manufacturer— he set up a convenience store on the ground floor of a local office block.

Then the 2008 credit crunch hit, and he lost a third of his customers but was determined to make it work. 

To make up for this he built an express grocery delivery website years before it became mainstream, which he eventually sold to Booker Cash and Carry. 

Tom was also a lobbyist for the Association of Convenience Stores, working with MPs, independent retailers and big businesses to develop solutions for the independent retail sector.

Since then, he has established the Jolly Good Pubs chain, which operates the Red Lion pub in Manningtree, as well as three other sites on the Essex and Suffolk border. 

As well as his background in business, Tom is hugely passionate about local community issues and championing the sharing economy — empowering people to use existing resources and reduce waste.

All of this led him to start RentMy which is launching in Suffolk and Essex before being rolled out nationally.

He said: “Our aim with RentMy is to play an intrinsic part in the growth of a sharing economy which can contribute to a fair and sustainable global transition, bringing communities together while reducing carbon emissions.

“Sharing is good for people and planet, reducing expenditure, broadening access to resources, and reweaving the social fabric of community.

“In fact, we need sharing more now than ever as climate change, unprecedented wealth inequality and social division shake the foundations of our civilisation."

Its offices based are in Martlesham and Manningtree.

Find out more at rentmy.com.