You can listen to Nick’s story by clicking below
“I’d encourage you to build your networks now. If you are not already, get on LinkedIn … it’s a gold mine and there are loads of people that are itching to give you advice about who you go and talk to…”
Nick Churchill-Evans, cloudThing Ltd
Lonsdale College, BSc Hons Management Science, 1994
Through his software development company cloudThing, Nick works with and invests in entrepreneurs, start-ups and fast growing businesses to develop the technology upon which they deliver their services and upon which their businesses are founded. He has a passion for agile business through beautiful software and infrastructure architecture that can flex to unforeseen market opportunity, scale rapidly, yet stretch capital as far as it can go. The philosophy that Nick and his colleagues work to is that everything we do should ‘build future’ for our clients.
What appealed to you about getting involved in the Start Up Stories event as an Alumni Storyteller?
Pay it forward… I’ve had loads of help from great people during my career and I’m keen to pay it forward whenever I can. I also passionately believe in self-employment as a route to fulfilment and happiness, for a whole bunch of reasons, so I love to spread the word.
So you started a business at University which taught you a lot, and then you had a corporate career first; what made you change direction again?
Whilst we had made a few quid, working for a big company, we had spent it all on children and wives and you know minor things like that, and houses and so we all had big mortgages, big responsibility and school fees and all that kind of stuff…. we all looked at one another and I think I might have been the first person to say ‘There has got to be a better way of making a living than doing this and working for these guys!’ and everyone went …’Oh yeah’. So it was called ‘operation wave’ as in wave goodbye to Capita!
What did you do next?
We needed to bootstrap and bootstrap fast and we didn’t want to get any investment because when you get investment you are working for somebody else, sort of…and we didn’t want to do that… So we took some clients on and built some software for them.
How did you get your first clients?
Let me tell you… it’s quite hard selling… but what I did, or what we did is the ‘entrepreneur’s hustle’. Basically, you pick the phone up, get on the email and LinkedIn and all that sort of good stuff, and you get hold of as many people as you know, and you beg for them to do business with you. Basically that is what we have done… shamelessly!
How has it grown from the entrepreneur’s hustle?
When you have done something with them, or they have said ‘no we can’t’, then we asked ‘Who can you refer me to?’. Honestly, we have built up the best part of 2 million worth of revenue over the last 18 months or so, or a little bit more of 18 months of trading, by doing that.
What would your top tips be for current undergrads and post grads?
If you can get out of university and start your business, or, ideally start it before, and bootstrap it, without getting onto the salary train, I would massively recommend you trying it.
Lean on your professors and your lecturers, get to know them. I mean… Lynda Hendry, who I think is still here, … she was a lowly Doctor back in those days then, not a Professor. Linda helped me and the chap from Lancaster set our first business up.
Just think about who you want to work with; who has skills that compliment your own. You don’t have to go into business with them necessarily, but you might find that you can cooperate and help one another.
So… do it … do it now, you’re interested enough to be here, so you know you have got what it takes in my opinion, so go to it… That’s it!
What would be different if not for Lancaster?
I would not have three beautiful children with my amazing wife who I met at Lancaster; and thanks to an introduction by Professor Linda Hendry, I met Michael Adams, my business partner and best friend.
You can view Nick’s LinkedIn profile here.
For more inspiration and stories of success and failure, return to the Startup Stories gallery.
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