Features - Entrepreneurial Alumni
Posted 01 May 2017
New York Program
September 2009 Intake
Nick, a born salesman, and a graduate of Oxford Brookes University, has a business NC Real Estate, which focusses on buying and selling land for property developers and traders. His role is to put the right buyers and sellers together and negotiate the best price and position for his client. Nick goes on to explain, “my client could be the buyer or the seller. For example, I recently acquired an office building for a client in Southampton, the building had permission to convert into 67 apartments with a GDV of c.£10M. Earlier this month I brokered a deal for a client in Brixton, selling his building for over £3M. I also do some consultancy work for specific clients who don’t necessarily have the expertise or time to maximise some of their assets. As an example, I am currently putting a 120 unit mixed used scheme through the planning system for an overseas client.
How did you get into this line of business?
I have always been a salesman! So at a young age I took the simple view that if I can sell expensive products, I can make larger commissions, so that made me focus on property. I used the summer periods during my latter school years to work as a high street estate agent in Palmers Green. I then decided to do a degree in property. After graduation I sold record numbers of perfumes for Boots before going to NYC with Mountbatten. After my incredible time in New York with Buchbinder & Warren Realty Group, I landed a role at Paramount Investments in London. Here I bought and sold land for developers whilst simultaneously qualifying as a chartered surveyor. I was then headhunted by Telford Homes, a major London housebuilder. DAMAC Properties followed, before setting up on my own.
How did you go about setting it up and getting established?
Using my network was key. I relied upon the relationships I had built over time to get me off the ground. I must have called and emailed over one thousand contacts in my first three weeks, something I call ‘old school agency’. Some of these conversations turned into meetings, which evolved into deals. I believe the phone is still the most powerful tool. On top of this, my MRICS status meant my company could carry the 'Regulated by RICS' designation. This is the highest industry standard which is trusted, respected and carries kudos, helping me drive business. Setting up a business should not be underestimated, even what appears simple takes time; producing a basic website, opening a business bank account, becoming VAT registered etc. All small issues but all important parts of setting up.
What else is in the pipeline?
I am working on something incredibly exciting. It has been in the pipeline for almost a year. I am building a mobile app that I hope will revolutionise regular estate agency valuations. I have a fully functioning prototype on my phone right now. Trademarks and patents are pending. I don’t want to give too much away, but we are aiming for an app store launch this winter. It has taken a great deal of time and resources to date, but I truly believe in the concept. Again, I will have to lean on my network within the industry to help give it the exposure it will require.
What has been the proudest moment in your working life thus far?
Tough question, so I am going to give you two equally proud moments. The first qualifying as a chartered surveyor, there are only 110,000 in the world. The second, was the second deal I did after setting up NC Real Estate. Both the buyer and seller were new contacts and the deal came about following a marketing email I sent out. I was proud that my company name and image triggered the transaction, not my existing network.
What has been your biggest mistake/learning experience?
No mistakes, only lessons! I ignored my gut feeling once, just once ever, and it didn’t work out how I thought it would. So never ignore your gut.
Any words of advice/wisdom would you impart to others thinking of setting up their own business?
It will never be the right time, just do it. Make sure you do something you love and that gives you a buzz, something you have a passion for. But, stick to what you know. I always knew I could sell, so my core business is selling and selling something I understand completely.
Listen. What does the client actually want, how can you deliver that and more.
Focus on big things, things that will make a big difference. You will spend the same amount of time on something that will make you £10,000, that you will on something that will make you £80,000.
Focus on what you can control. This enhances your position tenfold.
Never ever put your integrity into question. Be professional, be honest, always.
Meet as many people as possible, stand tall, attack every day, each day is a new opportunity to achieve what you want. We have one chance.