Founding a business is an inherently challenging undertaking. From cash flow management to marketing strategies, establishing a company is riddled with obstacles. Success is not guaranteed for any entrepreneur, but this was especially true for Sam Ibgi, founder and CEO of the luxury apartment brand Buckingham & Lloyds. Ibgi defied incredible personal odds to achieve his goals, and I had the pleasure of speaking with him about overcoming adversity and building a thriving brand.
Can you tell me a little about your background?
I grew up in the projects in London. I couldn’t read or write; I am dyslexic and have ADHD, and I never fitted into any system I was placed in. At the age of fourteen, I was left on the street to fend for myself, so I worked three jobs until I could afford to purchase my first apartment.
Construction was what saved me. It was something finally, after being constantly told I couldn’t amount to anything, that I could actually do well and make a difference. By the time I was nineteen years old, I started my own construction company. I was buying houses, renovating them, and flipping them for a profit. From there on, I just moved upwards and onwards.
What inspired you to establish Buckingham & Lloyds?
I got into the hospitality industry out of a fluke. Someone suggested the idea to me and when I got the opportunity to take on a prime building in Central London, I jumped in with both feet! It was a huge shock to the system. Everything I’d done in the past had been for me, and suddenly it was a client-based business.
What’s your philosophy with regard to hospitality at Buckingham & Lloyd’s?
We really show people you don’t need to stay in a five-star hotel to get luxury and you don’t need to pay extortionate prices in order to get everything you want. You can get luxury, you can get customer service, and you can get one of the most beautiful views of London, opposite of Kensington palace with direct views of Hyde Park.
Can you elaborate on the role of social media in building your brand?
About two years ago, I was scrolling through Instagram and a post caught my eye. It was this beautiful video of this amazing resort, and there was a swipe up. I thought, ‘That’s weird, let me swipe up,’ and I loved the result. There was a code for a discount, and suddenly I had booked the resort. I thought, ‘Wait a second, I just booked a ten-day holiday just from this swipe up. If people did that for this post, then they could do that for me.’ From there, I went out myself and personally contacted thirty influencers who I thought could help my brand, and it just spiraled.
It’s a very powerful tool, but it’s got to be used right, Instagram has been a huge help to the business by getting the right people in.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
If you’ve got a dream and an ambition, you have to really understand what your goal is. If that’s truly your goal and truly something you want to do, then be prepared to fail five or six times before anything actually happens.
Know your own strengths. Constantly push yourself to exceed. Get the right team behind you. Understand your weaknesses and utilize other people’s strengths to your advantage. If your weakness is admin, get the best administrator. If your weakness is management, get the best manager. Your team will be the people who make your goal a reality.
Do you have any closing thoughts?
Everyone’s journey is completely different. People always look at stage twenty and never look at stages one through to nineteen. I think it’s very important for people to understand what it’s taken for someone to get to where they are.
If this interview can do one thing, I hope it can encourage one person to actually succeed at what they’ve been trying to achieve. I was discouraged my entire life, and I want at least one person to know that it doesn’t matter what the system is telling you. You just have to get up and do it.