The Entrepreneur: Guy Nixon, Go Native

The Go Native founder on improving business travel, why Stamp Duty needs urgent change, and why he wants to spend time with other entrepreneurs...

Founder: Guy Nixon
Company: Go Native
Website: www.gonative.com
Description in one line: A serviced apartment provider operating buildings in 24 locations across London from Mayfair to Shoreditch.
Previous companies: None
Turnover: £14m
12 month target: £17.5m

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:

  • We offer serviced apartments – apartments you can book and check into as easily as you could a hotel.
  • Our market is extended stay travellers (three nights plus) – people who want a home from home.
  • Like hoteliers, we take leases and management agreements – our largest site has 296 apartments and our smallest 11.

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

Each rung of the ladder feels like a huge achievement at the time. I guess starting the business was the biggest achievement.

What numbers do you look at every day in your business?

REVPAR – the product of room rate and occupancy in each of our buildings.

To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?

Right now, we’re focused on London – a huge and very under supplied market. When the time feels right, we’re keen to roll our brand out across Europe.

Describe your growth funding path:

I began with savings and got support from friends and family as the business grew. We’re exploring future funding now.

What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

Yielding apartments profitably is no less complex than yielding a passenger jet or hotel. We have a transformational system that enables us to track revenue and pricing today and each day in the future that is key to our success. The value of a decent accounting system should never be underestimated.

Where would you like your business to be in three years?

We’re focused on delivering £3m EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation).

Growth challenges

What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?

As a business grows, it needs different skills. That’s meant letting go of some people to make way for others. I’ve found that very hard.

What was your biggest business mistake?

Not trusting my instincts.

Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:

Taxation – Stamp Duty Land Tax and the Valuation Office Agency need urgent change to encourage, rather than hamper, growth.

What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?

Not letting go.

How will your market look in three years?

It will be very different. Serviced apartments will be a widely recognised asset class with a growing footprint across the UK and with a strong consumer following outside of the corporate market place.

What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?

For a high volume, low value transactional business, good systems will make or break your business.

Personal growth

Biggest luxury:

My four boys.

Executive education or learn it on the job?

There’s no substitute for experience but education can provide great conceptual understanding.

What would make you a better leader?

Time with other entrepreneurs – we’re all on a similarly lonely journey.

Business book:

The Servant: A Simple story About the True Essence of Leadership by James C Hunter.

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