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UCL Entrepreneurship Guest Lecture 2011/12: Dale Murray, Angel Investor

By news editor, on 12 December 2011

UCL Classics student Carolina Mostert summarises the talk below.

Dale Murray’s story is impressive. It begins with a girl leaving home at the age of 16 and starting on an internship program at Price Waterhouse, a top accountancy firm. “To be an accountant, to have a job, a suit and a briefcase” was what she wanted as a young teenager and each of these she got.

After six years, in her early twenties, and with a professional qualification in her hands, Dale moved into commerce. She joined what was to be New Zealand’s best start-up, Vodafone New Zealand, taking it to full commercial launch in 1993. Dale was part of the start-up management team: it was this experience that taught her how businesses are built.

She came to the UK knowing she “wanted to be an entrepreneur”. She enrolled in an MBA course at London Business School, dreaming about the business she would have launched at the end of her course. Clear in her mind was that there was going to be a business, but “what that business would be, I had no idea”.

The stroke of luck came in the late 1990s, when Dale’s boyfriend – now husband – joined the Orange team. In these very years, there was a real ‘boom’ of pre-paid phones, a market that attracted about 10 million customers. It was then that Dale spotted the problem that led her to success.

Topping-up at the time was a long, complex process; it was generally perceived as time-consuming and boring. This got Dale thinking; along with her boyfriend, “the Orange guy”, and her (now) brother-in-law, “the nerdy, computer-y guy”, she invented the technology that made topping-up phones as easy as it is now. Soon all the major networks, O2, 3, Orange – of course – and Vodafone, were using her technology. “We knew it was super”, Dale summarises, yet T-Mobile thought differently. It took two years of chasing and calling, not giving up and never losing hope for T-Mobile to finally award Dale a licence for her technology.

Dale Murray claims her childhood made her “super resilient”, that as she grew up “she fed on negativity, harnessing the darker moments by turning them into creativity”, and that what she learnt she wants to share. Firstly, you create your own luck: you work to create your opportunities, she says.

Secondly, are you a doer? a problem solver? Entrepreneurship is about working across many disciplines, picking up on what needs a twist and making that change happen.

Lastly, have a vision. Imagine. Fly. Always keep in mind what you’re aiming for and step up, “square your shoulders and go on”, “have a dream, fix it in your mind and succeed”.

Dale is now an angel investor, although – in her own words – she feels an entrepreneur at heart. After proving herself to be extremely successful as an entrepreneur, she has been recently been nominated Angel Investor of the Year. Dale Murray in a sentence? An astonishing mix of charisma and leadership.

The UCL Entrepreneurship Guest Lectures are organised by UCL Advances, which is affiliated to UCL Enterprise.

Carolina Mostert is a Second year student studying Classics.

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