Nick Ward

Scaling next-generation consumer start-ups
Co-founder and Contractor
@
Moodi, Wave Seven, Independent

How did you get here?

I was a generalist consultant at McKinsey & Company in the Melbourne and Auckland offices for two years, working on engagements across consumer, logistics, waste management, airline, banking, and insurance industries.

My experience was far from the typical jet-setting life, given the world effectively locked down after I’d spent just one week on the job. From then on, 90% of my time was remote. Without ‘fun’ distractions like team dinners, team rooms and company events, and instead working on Zoom from a cupboard under the stairs, I never found the spark to become a career consultant.

What options were you considering?

Long-term, I always aspired to be an entrepreneur, but didn’t know the best path to get there. One year into my role at McKinsey, I got itchy feet and started working on my first business to fast-track this ambition. After 18 months, I wanted to make this business my priority. However, I was torn between becoming a full-time founder or learning more practical skills before making the leap. This led me to start exploring the start-up space for something more tangible than consulting.

I met with dozens of awesome start-ups, trying to answer one question - could I commit to this business more than my own? Even with near-perfect offers on the table, the answer was a resounding “no”. The next question to figure out was, how do I provide myself with enough financial freedom and time to pursue entrepreneurship? This is how contract consulting came into the picture, and I ended up where I am now.

How did you make the decision to take your current role?

There were two problems I was trying to solve that ultimately led me to my current roles:

  1. Where do I want to be in the long term?
  2. Why can’t I get there now?

The first was obvious for me - an entrepreneur, and ideally in the consumer space (I’ll give consulting credit in helping me find this industry passion, and also what I didn’t like!).

The second was more complex, and came down to (a) what skills did I need to unlock this, (b) what is the fastest way to learn these skills (i.e., within a start-up or on my own), and (c) how can I reduce the risks of fast-tracking this process (particularly financial risk).

Answering these questions ultimately led me to jump straight into entrepreneurland with a side of freelance consulting.

What are you doing now?

Currently, I am the Co-Founder of Moodi (an e-commerce mental wellness supplement brand solving problems around stress, sleep, focus, energy and more) and Wave Seven (ANZ's first TikTok marketing agency helping progressive brands catch the TikTok wave). I'm also freelance consulting as an Engagement Manager for Medsector Advisors.

You can check out the first two here:

Moodi

Wave Seven

What does your day to day look like?

Co-Founder, Moodi: As a Co-Founder of an early-stage start-up you pretty much do everything. Right now, my top priorities are running paid media, managing supply chain, and developing new products.

Wave Seven, Director: I lead our three TikTok service offerings for clients - organic, paid, and influencer marketing. Interestingly, there are similarities to consulting with the type of client coaching required, but there is far more scope for creativity which I really enjoy.

Engagement Manager, Medsector Advisors: I work with a small team of healthcare experts to deliver (genuinely) impactful work in the healthcare industry that (genuinely) creates tangible outcomes for awesome clients, the large majority of which are charities. It is a refreshing change from consulting big corporations.

What do you love about your job?

Moodi: I love working with a blank canvas. It means we have full scope to set the direction of the business to meaningfully impact customers' lives. I also love the tangibility of every decision. For example, changing the colour of an ‘add to cart’ button can shift top-line business performance by over a % - it’s wild!

Wave Seven: Working in the TikTok space has to be a dream job - it’s very fun and constantly evolving. It’s also super cool to bounce creative ideas with clients to create innovative strategies, and then overlay structure and logic learnt as a consultant.

Medsector: Working with smaller ‘feel-good’ clients on meaningful projects with incredible impact is highly rewarding. I feel more empowered to actually make a difference.

What do you not love about your job?

Moodi: As a Co-Founder, having to do almost everything is a blessing and a curse - especially when it comes to supply chain issues, ugh. Also, it can be tough to continually deliver on customer expectations when challenges arise that are out of your control.

Wave Seven: Not having enough time to further grow the business! The TikTok space is a huge opportunity. However, most of my focus is on growing Moodi right now. Fortunately, Wave Seven grows organically through referrals from existing clients, but I wish there were more hours in the day to spend time generating free value, prospecting, building relationships and winning work.

Medsector: The inherent conflict between working for someone else for short-term sustainability vs allocating that time to work on your businesses for long-term sustainability will always be a struggle.

What advice would you give someone deciding what they should do?

I would ask the same questions I asked myself. Where do you want to be long-term? Why can’t you get there now?

Talk to lots of people who’ve been there (ideally outside of your inner circle), until you can make your own informed decisions. It then comes down to having enough confidence to take risks, back your ability, and mitigate downsides where possible. Develop a win or learn mindset, work hard and a little luck will take care of the rest.

If you would like to would like to check out what I’m up to:

Follow my journey at @nicks_notepad on TikTok

Connect with Nick Ward on LinkedIn

Check out Moodi at / @moodiblends

Check out Wave Seven

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