Serial entrepreneur Martin Port says he’s been given a ‘second chance of life’ after collapsing with a heart attack.

The founder and current chairman of Leeds-based job management software provider, BigChange, said he got his priorities wrong when he suffered a heart attack on December 4th, 2023.

5ft 7in tall Port said his weight had ballooned to 20 stone as he was preparing to launch his new business Build Concierge – a 24/7 ‘Uber-like’ service for all home-related needs – when he was woken up with severe chest pains.

Paramedics immediately diagnosed he was suffering a heart attack and within an hour of being taken to Leeds General Infirmary he’d had a stent inserted in a blocked artery.

Since then Port has lost four-and-a-half stone in weight and given up fatty foods and now he wants other entrepreneurs to read his story.

“I feel like I’ve been given a second chance at life and I’m not going to screw it up,” he said.

“When you’re an entrepreneur you’re at it all the time. My priorities were wrong. I was getting up at 6am and doing my emails in bed last thing at night.”

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Recalling his own brush with death, the 61-year-old admitted he stopped looking after himself in the months leading up to becoming ill.

Port founded BigChange in 2013 and in 2021 received an £75m investment from US private equity firm Great Hill Partners, in a deal that valued the business at £100m.

A few months later the then CEO did a job swap with the chairman Richard Warley but by December 2023 he was getting ready to launch his business – Build Concierge – as well as talking on some voluntary roles in the Jewish community.

“I got involved in the Street Lane Bakery in Leeds and I ended up eating most of the produce,” he said. “I was a foodaholic.

“I was putting weight on and I wasn’t exercising. I was overweight.  I’m 5ft 7in tall and I weighed 20 stone.

“I was working long days. I had the wrong priorities in my head. I was thinking about the bakery and business rather than my family.

“Money was never in my mind. I’m lucky in that I didn’t have any money worries.”

He said the first sign that anything was wrong came on Friday December 1st, 2023.

“I was getting severe pains in my chest walking up hills,” he recalled. “I went to see a doctor and after doing an ECG to check my heart was told I had angina and that I needed to see a consultant.

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“On Monday December 4th I woke up at 5.30am all hot and sweaty with a massive pain across my chest.

“The previous night I’d eaten three smoked salmon and cheese sandwiches before bed so I thought it was indigestion.

“My wife called an ambulance and they arrived 90 minutes later and they were amazing. Within an hour of being taken to Leeds General Infirmary I’d had a stent inserted in one of my arteries.

“One of the funny things was one of the paramedics had previously worked at the Street Lane Bakery!”

Port spent the next three months recovering and immediately cut all bread, red meat and hard cheese out of his diet. He also started swimming and fast walking for an hour every day.

“I’ve lost four-and-a-half stone and I’ve got another three to go as I want to get down to 12,” he said. “I feel 10 years younger.

“It’s so important to devote an hour at the start of every day to yourself. The experience was a wake-up call, pushing me to prioritise my health and well-being.”

Port admitted he had no plans to retire but would continue to put his health first.

“You have to have a purpose when you get up in the morning,” he said. “I need a purpose. I’m an all or nothing person so retirement was never an option.”

Since 2021, BigChange’s ARR has soared from £12.5m to £35m and Port has credited CEO Richard Warley with a lot of the success.

However there has been one downside of his dramatic weight loss.

“I’ve gone from a 44 inch waist to a 36 inch waist so my clothes no longer fit,” he joked. “I’ll be giving them to a charity shop.”