BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA—Nicholls Technologies managing director, Greg Nicholls, has a passion for taking new and innovative products & services to market. His insatiable curiosity and entrepreneurial skills have led him to build multiple start-ups in Australia since emigrating in 1997. These include Australian Graphic Supplies, Xanita, Triga Systems, Virtualize and of late, Lifdek— wood-free, corrugated fiberboard pallets which assemble in 30 seconds. JournoNews chats with Greg.
My secret pleasure is … unplugging and going for a kneeboard surf.
My first job was … Emergency Paramedic.
My most annoying habits are … checking email before breakfast.
A clear childhood memory is … fishing in crystal clear gulleys at Sardinia Bay, Port Elizabeth.
What makes me really nervous is … fear of failure.
The best advice my parents gave me was … The Lord is my Shepherd.
If I wasn’t an entrepreneur, I’d be … sailing around the world.
I’m most thankful for … my beautiful wife and two children.
My favourite meal is … Seafood.
I know it’s good for me, but I hate … Cauliflower!
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA—Stewart Steven epitomises what it means to ‘live life to the full’. While he and his wife, Ali, have a knack for buying, renovating and selling houses, he still finds time to lead Real Life Church in Johannesburg. He chats to JN.
My secret pleasures … Great friends, good coffee and food—may sound cliché, but I do place great value on friends and family. Good food and great coffee enhance this experience. Sometimes the more the wine, the better the friends become. (Think there is some truth in that …)
My first job was … A short stint as Client Liaison for a publishing company before a change took me to Bible School—taught me more of what I don’t want in life (i.e. religion), but did find what I wanted. Faith should be fun …
My most annoying habits are … Won’t put hot and cold food on the same plate. Happy to ask for two or three plates when coming over to your place for dinner. Must be the first to read the newspaper.
A clear childhood memory is … Catching octopus for the braai (BBQ) as kids. Seriously more than a handful. Those who have done this will understand. Two hands versus 8 tentacles—go figure!
What makes me really nervous is … The sovereignty of God is not an excuse to leave things up to God. I believe that most people are consumed with safety at the expense of adventure. I don’t want to miss out on what God has in store for me each day, I never want to be ordinary.
The best advice my parents gave me was …
Live close to school. We do, although we will change next year
Don’t let finances dictate. I don’t—I live to be happy and happy to live. I do live joyfully!
Never get into debt. In 17 years of marriage we have never bought on credit—every appliance, every car, every holiday as been cash. (Oh, except houses—we love them and sometimes have had up to ten.)
Marry up. Well I did, but that was me, not my parents.
If I wasn’t in my current profession, I’d be … I don’t have a current profession—don’t believe in mission statements, etc. as we seldom are honest with regards to them. I generally think ‘outside the box’. My profession is living life to the full and I think I do that well. I lead the best church on earth. If it wasn’t I would move on. This is my calling. Ali, my wife, and I buy and ‘flip’ houses. This allows our creativity to flow and we make money!!! We are busy and often have numerous projects on the go.
I’m most thankful for …
Jesus, Pappa-God and Holy Spirit—They gave me my life and allow me to live it to the extreme
I am happiest when intoxicated in His goodness.
My gorgeous wife and three incredible kids—11, 12 and 13 years old—they have already outshone me!
That I am free from religion.
That I can honour my parents and do so with integrity.
My favourite meal is … Thai duck curry and any curry the morning after.
I know it’s good for me, but I hate … Veggies and exercise.
My ‘happy place’ is … Long lie in with the whole family in the bed together.
My most embarrassing memory is … When leading a new church many years ago we had a new band playing for the first time. It was an opportunity for folk to invite friends and family. The chap leading worship arrived in the morning explaining that he was not well at all. We agreed that they play two songs and stop and that he would then quietly sneak out. Halfway through the first song he promptly turned around and vomited on the floor! Not having a musical note in me, I had no choice but to step over the vomit and assume the role as lead musician and vocal singer. Oh, how I love a gracious and forgiving church.
My hidden skill is … Take me out for coffee and I might reveal.
If I was a dog, I’d … Never have to eat veggies again.
It’s a bit corny but I love … Sitting at a pavement cafe or bistro in a bustling vibrant city, enjoying the buskers, the interaction of folk and the culture of something different.
I’m most at peace when … Having a take away and good DVD with Alison.
Country I’d love to visit … We have had the privilege of travelling extensively, but I still hope to do a glacier boat trip through Alaska.
Favourite quote … Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:4 “… and my message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power”. This allows me to live my life and not worry about proving it or justifying what my small mind can’t.
Mums and Kids Enterprises started in 2005. The idea was to solve a problem I had with sheets, sheet bags and all the bits I had to remember to take to and from Childcare! This was the start of the Kozy Koala™ Sleepmat which is an all-in-one padded mat with attached sheet that folds into a pillow. We now have two brands Kozy Koala™ (www.kozykoala.com.au) and Kiddysac™ (www.kiddysac.com.au). Kozy Koala™ has a range of new bedding solutions for children and the newly purchased Kiddysac™ range which are storage bags for busy little people and their treasures!
What were the pitfalls?
Not having local knowledge of where to find suppliers, manufacturers and retail outlets.
Are you self-motivated? What inspires you?
Yes, I am self motivated! I am up very early in the morning (around 5am) to start my day around 5.05am (that is enough time to put on my dressing gown and the jug for coffee!) I have owned my own businesses for over 12 years in a couple of different industries and love the challenge of getting out and not relying on others to give me work. I have worked in offices throughout the world and although challenged I have never felt in control of my destiny. Owning my own business gives me that control. Without sounding big headed, I get a kick out of customers buying and loving our products that we have designed. We have a lot of repeat customers who bring their friends along to show them our products. Word of mouth is essential in any business!!
Where is your main market?
Our main market for the Kozy Koala™ range, are parents with young children. Our products are focused on children in daycare, as well as sleepovers and camping. The Kiddysac™ range is directed towards preschool and primary school children where we provide them with storage bags for toys, swimming gear, library books etc in bright and fun colours.
What advice would you give to someone who believes they have a great business idea?
Make sure you do your research first! Then go for it—jump off the cliff!! You only have one chance at life and if you really believe in your idea—no matter how crazy—then go for it!
What do you love about what you do? Dislike?
The flexibility of working for myself is great, as it gives me time with my family as well as with the business. I love to create new designs and work through the process. You have to remain focused—not everyone can work from home. You can get distracted easily—like doing the washing, Oprah is on … you get the idea! I try and have every thing done before I sit down to work. I also try to dress like I am off to work and not stay in my PJ’s ‘til noon—it’s a mindset thing! I like my little office— it is a place for me to think! I have no dislikes!