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The Year That Made Me #4: Nick House

Entertainment big-timer and night club entrepreneur Nick House, talks to the The Gateway's David Langer
Commercial awareness
Entrepreneurship

After organising parties and events while studying at Leeds University, Nick House started working at Citibank upon graduation. However, this new life was neither as much fun nor as satisfying as the old, and in 1999, shortly after starting at Citibank, he left to establish Nick House Entertainment (NHE group), which would offer consultancy on all areas within the bar, restaurant and nightclub industry.

Since then, the company has expanded from consulting and promotions to also owning and operating some of the top venues in London, such as Mahiki, Whisky Mist, Tini and The Punch Bowl.

Mahiki, arguably the most well-known of these is now frequented by celebrity clientele such as Paris Hilton, Girls Aloud and Princes William and Harry.

Which was the year that made you?

No year has actually made me but in terms of stepping stones 2001 was when I made my commitment to working in the bar and club business and that commitment meant a night and day, 7 days a week focus.

What were the main challenges you were facing at this time?

Opening two new premium venues in the darkest depths of the recession, raising finance from financial institutions during a credit freeze and attempting to maintain growth on our existing bars and clubs during turbulent trading times.

You ran events and parties while you were studying at Leeds. What did you learn that helped you when you started NHE?

I learnt that it was an incredibly fun way to make money and meet exciting people. I also learnt there was a direct correlation between what you got out and what you put in.

After graduating from Leeds University you moved to London to start working at Citibank. How did you find it and why did you decide to leave it behind soon after starting?

I joined Citibank because I suffered a momentary lapse of focus and followed rest of the pack into the City. Looking at my watch all day helped me make the decision to leave soon after starting.

What advice would you give to current students thinking about starting their own business after graduating?

The fortune always favours the bold and there is no such thing as a wrong decision simply a right decision next time. Never be afraid to make mistakes as they are far cheaper at an early age.

Which people inspired you early on in your career?

I learnt from many entrepreneurs, in particular from Piers Adam and Eric Yu. They taught me a lot about the social dynamics of people and what communities gel with other communities. Understanding how people work is the first step in driving them into a party.

More recently you moved from club promotion to club ownership with Mahiki and Whisky Mist. What new challenges came with this move?

New challenges included the operations side of the business, cost control, gross profit margin, licensing and ultimately the game of politics with local MPs and the police force - regrettably! Other than that, running clubs is no different to running parties, except that the stakes are a little higher.

Last question, what's next?

A few more clubs are opening this year but I have got my sights set on opening a 3000 plus capacity club in the heart of London.


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