NOMAD: Ansel Liu
Having worked and launched businesses all over the world, this entrepreneur talks about his online booking platform for workspaces
Company name: NOMAD
Date launched: 03/06/16
No. of employees: 15
Tell us what your business does:
NOMAD is a new booking platform that matches entrepreneurs and start-ups with over 100 progressive workspaces in some of London’s best locations, from The Oval Office and The Net.Works in Hackney to The Pavilion in Kensington and The Hampstead Design Studio.
The direct-booking platform also enables office providers to drive revenue from their unused spaces without the traditional headache of negotiating contracts.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I’ve launched multiple new ventures in different cities and from my own experience, I found it difficult to find workspaces that suited my needs. I needed a place which was flexible and could be booked easily, and so NOMAD was born.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Working styles and technology continue to evolve with the rapid rise of the London start-up scene. The existing office space industry is growing irrelevant to today’s Londoners. They are independent, young and increasingly remote and want something different.
I recognised from personal experience that there was a gap in the market for entrepreneurs and business people wanting to book workspaces on their terms and without the commitment of a contract.
What were you doing before starting up?
Before setting up NOMAD, I worked at Rocket Internet SE, and as an ‘entrepreneur in residence’ with Foodora, RideLink and SpaceWays, overseeing the rollout of all business functions, building CRM tools, leading recruitment, and preparing and implementing international expansion.
I’ve worked all over the world (US, Canada, Hong Kong, Paris, London) and have done a lot of volunteering in my time, including roles as an international volunteer in Rio de Janeiro and a mathematics and English teacher in a South African township primary school.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Absolutely! I’ve grown up in an entrepreneurial family. My parents are business owners so I’ve seen first-hand how companies are built. Launching my own venture has always been a goal.
How did you raise the money?
We are unable to share this information at the moment.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
NOMAD is completely free for users. We generate revenue through a commission we charge to the work spaces.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Recruiting the right people has been one of our biggest challenges. You can’t build a business alone and you need to find people with the right skills to help.
It’s critical to manage every different function, from PR to finance, and the team needs to be able to deliver what is needed. In the end, it about trusting that everyone will deliver and execute and having a clear line of communication between everyone involved.
What was your first big breakthrough?
It has to be our soft launch. We met with lots of entrepreneurs at Interchange Camden’s launch in May and it was great to hear so much positive feedback on NOMAD. Interchange is one of the places listed on the platform, which made it that bit more special!
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
There’s no mountain too high to climb. Dedicate all your effort to it and make it your own. To succeed you really need to take ownership and pour everything into it.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
As a start-up we don’t think in terms of five years. Within the next year, we’re hoping to expand into several markets and cater for multiple cities in Europe and Asia.