Nicholas is a commercial and intellectual property solicitor working at Capital Law, Cardiff. During his time as a trainee, he worked with a variety of dynamic start-ups and SMEs, a market he continues to operate in as a qualified solicitor.
He now works with some of the most ambitious and exciting entrepreneurs in Wales and beyond, offering support with a myriad of legal issues including key contracts, relationships and management of intellectual property assets.
Nicholas was recently named as a finalist for the 'Entrepreneurs' Champion' award at the Entrepreneur Wales Awards, sponsored by Business Wales, Welsh Government. I spoke with him to hear how he sheds light on the legal terrain all entrepreneurs must negotiate if they’re to succeed in business.
What do you do to support entrepreneurs?
"I provide legal advice around intellectual property (IP) or initial advice around corporate structures. I advise accordingly, whether the client is a sole trader or a limited company or some other structure.
"I also organise contracts. Someone might be developing an app or website and will need support with terms and conditions, a contract with a supplier or a customer. We also do advice around investments. Clients with an offer on the table will come to us with what they’ve been offered, and will want to know how to go forward with it.
"We do retainers whereby people can spread their costs over the coming months. We’ll help them have maximum visibility over their incoming costs and help them spread those. If they need website terms and conditions and a contract drafted immediately, we can do that and then show them how we allocate the costs over a given time period."
When did you decide to start supporting entrepreneurs?"I began working with startups during my two years as a trainee. My current department is corporate and commercial, but I’d always had IP - copyrights, trademarks, patents - as an interest.
"There was quite a lot of that happening in the startup and entrepreneurial scene, and when I started working in corporate and commercial, I managed to get more entrepreneurial clients and I found it a really interesting area to work in. It’s quite varied - a nice area of law to be in.
"Now qualified, one of my focuses is startups and entrepreneurs - I find it really interesting and it’s a good sector to have connections in. There are lots of interesting events and interesting people, good opportunities to meet people and offer support."
Are there qualities in an entrepreneur that inspire you?
"A few of my clients are the archetypal entrepreneur and it’s great to deal with individuals who we can really help to grow. It’s also really impressive to see young people who can launch their own businesses. We deal with many well-established firms, and when we get someone coming in who has something that can turn into one of those big organisations.
"You can see they have the ambition and the plans in place, and that’s something that I find really impressive - exactly the kind of client I love working with. They have an infectious enthusiasm which brings a really positive dynamic to the working relationship.
As an entrepreneur’s champion, what are your best and worst qualities?
"As for best qualities, I take extra care to be as communicative as possible with my clients who have startups. I like to make sure they know what’s going on. Many business can be very time sensitive, especially startups. They may be relying on investment at a certain point or they have to get everything set before a set launch date. I do my best to keep everyone in the loop and to maintain a really good communicative relationship, which is something that I think my clients appreciate. It’s also nice to be able to connect clients with the right kind of business support; as a business we’ve got many very useful contacts.
In terms of bad qualities, sometimes in the legal world people make requests that simply can’t be done, so it’s not fun saying “I’m sorry it can’t be done, let’s try something else.” It’s maybe not a personal failing, but it still makes me feel really bad! You have to be the ‘no’ man occasionally."
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs in Wales?
"Talk to as many people about your idea as possible, and do your research. Some support you have to pay for, a lot of it you don’t. Even before paying, people can steer you in the best direction so that you can be as well-informed as possible before you have put out any money.
"My main tip is do your market research around your product or your service. Also do your general research into how you set up a new business. This includes company and commercial affairs, IP, domain names and social media. If you want to set up a brand name check if the name has already been registered on Facebook or Instagram."
Why did you enter the Entrepreneur Wales Awards?
"In the 'Entrepreneurs' Champion' category’s entrants there are six or seven avenues that people can use to be their champions, which I think is really important. We often see people who haven’t considered the legal side because they think they don’t need to, or they don’t realise how fundamental it is. Making sure that you’re covered or that you’re in a good position early on is essential."
Why is Wales a great place to do business?
"Wales is a great place to start a business because the infrastructure and support networks are abundant, very active and well connected. As for life in Wales generally, the quality of life in Cardiff is good and the living is relatively cheap. There are many support networks and, with four universities around the city centre, there’s a good deal of creative talent here. There’s a lot of investment coming into the Welsh capital too."
You can find out more about the Entrepreneur Wales Awards here.