Businessman who wanted to retire at 35 thanks wife for $10m Bloom coaching app

Alistair Crane, wife Lizzy and their three children (Bloom)
Alistair Crane, wife Lizzy and their three children (Bloom)

A London tech entrepreneur who semi-retired at 35 returned to work and created a coaching app that has just raised $10million (£8million) in seed funding.

Alistair Crane - who left school at 16 - said within two months of being at home his wife told him to go back out and find a new passion in life.

Bloom, launched with co-founder Jamie True, has already received backing from institutional investors including Octopus Ventures and MMC Ventures.

The mobile app uses AI, psychometrics and behavioural science to offer motivation, guidance and inspiration “for everybody”.

AirBnB, The New York Times, Masterclass, Unilever and Microsoft have already signed up on both sides of the Atlantic.

Father-of-three Mr Crane considered giving up work after another tech firm he built during the Covid pandemic - surviving with just “four hours sleep a night” - was bought for $200m (£161m).

But his wife Lizzy, 38, who he met at secondary school, had other ideas after he botched building a driveway at their Surrey home and got under her feet.

Mr Crane told the Standard: “When we sold the last business, I said to my wife I’ll take a few years out.

“It took two months before she said I was moping around doing nothing. She said: ‘I think you should go and find something’.”

Bloom expects to have 100,000 users across the UK and United States in 2024.

Although he didn’t have an Oxbridge or Harvard background, Mr Crane still feels it’s “unfair” so many others can’t access business networks to grow their firms.

He said: “You’ll be able to tell after two minutes of speaking to me that I am highly unemployable.

“I would love to have had a glittering professional career in one of the big corporates.

Alistair Crane and co-founder Jamie True (Bloom)
Alistair Crane and co-founder Jamie True (Bloom)

“But I left school at 16 and automatically found my way into tech. It had a low bar of entry.

“You needed creative thinking and be able to take risks, but you didn’t need to be qualified like a doctor, lawyer or accountant.

“I benefitted a lot from opportunities that good leaders and managers made available to me. All of the best learning came from people who are kind to you and share their story.

“I started Bloom thinking it’s unfair because many don’t have access to a network like that.”

Mr Crane claims to have sold around $500m (£402m) of technology businesses in the past 15 years. But remains a family man at heart.

“I’m not a money motivated person,” he says. “I am motivated by winning not by how many zeroes are associated with that.

“I unashamedly use my children for my emotional wellbeing.

“After 12 hours of Zoom calls, I open the office door and play with them in the living room. I go back to work half an hour later and everything it right again.

“I love being a dad. It’s why you go to work – for a better life. You don’t work to live.”