PIERS Linney is the multi-millionaire CEO of a world-leading cloud technology firm, but his heart still lies in the moors of Rossendale.
The newest investor to be making and breaking people's business dreams in the BBC reality TV series Dragons’ Den, Piers, 43, started out on the path to his entrepreneurial empire on the streets of Bacup.
The dad-of-two, who has been voted one of the 100 most influential black Britons, focused on being successful from an early age.
His first job was as paper boy at the tender age of 13 when he would peddle on his bike up and down the streets of Bacup.
But before long, he had cut out the newsagent and was buying newspapers direct from the supplier.
Piers, who moved to Bacup from his mother’s homeland, Barbados, at the age of nine, said: “I used to ride my bike all the way from Todmorden Road, where I used to live, up to the border of West Yorkshire, through Weir, then down to where the swimming baths used to be and to Britannia.
“It was quite a long way, and the weather wasn’t always the best, as you can imagine.
“But I made about three times as much as I did at the newsagent's, which meant I had more pocket money.”
Piers went to Sharneyford Primary School, failed his 11-plus exam, and went to Fearns High School before doing ‘quite well’ in his O-levels and heading to Burnley College while studying Law at night school and earning a place at Manchester University to do Law and Accounting.
He said: “I owe a lot to Fearns and Burnley College and I enjoyed my time there.
“I kind of expected to go to university, because my parents did, but I realised I was going to have to work very hard.
“A lot of people who get into investment banking did lots of extra-curricular stuff at school and went to Oxbridge. I didn’t have that.
“Education’s very important, and I’d go back and do it again if I could.”
Now, the co-CEO of Manchester-based Outsourcery, that caters for businesses of all sizes breaking into cloud technology and is worth a minimum of £35million, comes back to the Valley every fortnight to visit his parents.
Piers, a keen mountain biker, said: “My parents still live in Bacup, so when I go to my office in Manchester I come to see them.
“I love the moors, and when I’m in London, I miss seeing the horizon, so I like coming back for that, such beautiful scenery.
“I can’t believe that now I’ve moved to London, there’s a flipping mountain bike trail in Bacup.
“When Lee Quarry was set up, I came by myself to have a ride. It’s fantastic. I wish it was here 20 years ago, when I was a kid.”
Piers said while growing up in Bacup, he was part of one of only two West Indian families he ever met.
He said: “There is that word that dark-skinned people get called, the one you don’t want to hear, and it did happen, but it would happen anywhere, and it never really bothered me.”
For people looking to start out a business, the entrepreneur said nowadays, as long as you’ve got a good idea, it’s easy to set up a firm.
He said: “It doesn’t matter where you are, you can run a business from your computer, or even you phone, now. Everything is virtual.
“Most people who start a business have a track record of skill, which you can get through training or an apprenticeship.
“Then you just need start up money and determination.”
Since he joined Dragons' Den last year, Piers has invested £30,000 in a tanning lotion brand and £100,000 in a holiday website for 18 to 24 year olds.