Duncan Watts (R. 1979-84)

Duncan Watts is a serial entrepreneur, operating mainly in the leisure sector. He recently sold his most recent venture, Rocket Restaurants, and is about to embark on a number of new enterprises. He lives in London with his wife Anna, and his daughter Isabella.

  1. When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?
    I was at the school for 10 years including the junior school, from 1974 to 1984.
    Funnily enough the boyhood aspiration of being a pilot stayed with me for quite a while. The careers advice test that we used to sit in those days recommended that I should be a quantity surveyor. I left school intending to be a lawyer.
  2. What are you now you've grown up?
    Now I am mainly a restaurateur, although I spend my time running the business rather than in the kitchen! I have just sold my business, so I am currently spending my time concocting a new idea.
  3. What is your best memory of school?
    I had a fantastic group of friends and we were all very keen on sports, so we spent a lot of time on the sports field. And we certainly had a Geography field trip that involved more laughing than geography. There was also a bit of jumping in a pond on A level results day.
  4. What was the best piece of advice you were given?
    “What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;
    Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
    It’s a butchered Goethe quote.
  5. What does your job involve?
    Mainly common sense and personal relationships. Business is quite simple if you can master those two areas.
  6. What are the most challenging parts of your job?
    Trying not to worry about risking huge amounts of money every time we do something new.
  7. What have you done that you are most proud of?
    Apart from my wonderful daughter of course, it would have to be the atmosphere that we have always had in our businesses. Companies are the villages of today, especially in London, and we have managed to create places where people want to stay, rather than just pass through.
  8. What is the single thing that would most improve the quality of your life?
    At the current moment, not having ripped my calf muscle in half playing tennis, so that I could actually move around again. Otherwise it would probably have to be a better public transport system in London.
  9. What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
    Cheddar Cheese, a piano (so that I could at long last learn to play it properly), and a teach yourself Spanish kit.
  10. How would you like to be remembered?
    Hopefully as a good father, a good friend and a good businessman.

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