Ania Kubow is a small business founder, now part of the founding team at insurtech app Nimbla. Dedicated to helping small business thrive, Nimbla offers single invoice cover instantly.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
I was born and raised in Dubai, moving over to the UK at the age of 18 to start university. The rate at which the city grew was mind-blowing to see. When I was a child, it was mainly desert and hardly anyone I met outside of the UAE knew it existed. I was lucky enough with my 7 years working as a broker in the oil derivatives markets in London, to carry on visiting the city as it grew, but I’m still taken a back each year to see the developments.
What inspired you to start your business?
Growing up in a city where I saw so much being built out of seemingly nothing as a child definitely contributed to my state of mind. Whilst I loved working as a broker in London, I knew I wanted to ‘build’ something myself. Something that had a positive social impact or helped solve a problem.
Where is your business based?
Nimbla is a team of 5 now, based in the City Of London.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
I started my jewelry brand as a project to help the charity, the Single Homeless People of London. The idea was that when you bought a specific luxury piece, dedicated to certain boroughs of London, a percentage would go to help the community of that borough. The company grew very organically into quite a following. Starting this company made me very aware of how difficult it is for start-ups to succeed sometimes.
Small business is very much underserved in protection against bad debt. Many of my fellow entrepreneurs, especially in wholesale or creative agencies, have experienced having to write off invoices, as they have had no leverage. This is exactly why I am now proud to be part of the founding team at Nimbla, dedicated to giving small business a voice, and making coverage affordable for them, via a pay-as-you-go cover model.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business? How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
What we are doing at Nimbla has never been done in the world of invoice cover. By reshaping the industry, and making sure that all business has access to protection, whether it’s a sole painter or a Law firm, the product has been speaking for itself. I think marketing can only get you so far when your product isn’t solving a problem worth solving or helping make the world a fairer place you know?
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenges from running a retail company was getting pushed around by larger stockists, who overlooked me in terms of payment, to keep their more recognizable brands happy. One year, we lost a sizable chunk of our turnover due to this, resulting in a significant dent in our growth and copious amounts of stress! I am fighting against this so it doesn’t happen to other young start-ups by working on Nimbla.
How do you stay focused?
For sanity’s sake, I would recommend working in co-working spaces. Drive is infectious!
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
It’s different for each business. With retail, I would stress the importance of creating a community of loyal customers. I would also avoid paying for influencers to wear your pieces. I am proud to say that I never had to resort to paying someone to wear a piece of our jewelry. If the right influencer likes it, they will wear it genuinely, and not take it off straight after the Instagram/social media post.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
Attend as many networking events as possible and do not be afraid to ask questions. I ask about 20 questions a day, no joke. You never know who you might bump into and what advice they will share with you from their own mistakes. (Case and point learn from mine above!) It might even save you from making those mistakes, and being grateful to the stranger you met that is now a friend. Wisdom and curiosity are key.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
https://thehustle.co/ is great as they email me a summary of all the tech and business news I need to start my day. Google Drive is also a must for any young start-up, especially when the team is all working remotely.
Who is your business role model? Why?
It would have to be Grace Dent. She is a writer and a food critic for the Evening Standard Magazine, as well as many other things. Her personality comes across so strongly through her work.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
Helping small business in the UK grow will be my number one goal.
How can our readers connect with you?