Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikolas Woods.
Nikolas, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur when I was 14 years old. I would read Entrepreneur Magazine every time my mom would bring me to the grocery store. Entrepreneurship to me was freedom. With entrepreneurship, you could be any age, start something amazing, and change the world. So, I just started going after things. My first venture I started when I was 14 years old. It was a 3D world website called CarFuze, where you could customize your own 3D car. I had no idea what I was doing but went and somehow got a business partner who was 4x’s my age and worked at IBM, wrote a 40-page business plan, met with lawyers, emailed major car manufacturers, etc. Ultimately, the project stalled when I met with a local web developer who quoted me $100k for the project. I went on in high school to keep starting new ventures; an online tee-shirt business, an anonymous compliment website, and DJ’ing parties to earn money. Some of these panned out and got traction, some of them didn’t but I never thought of any of these as failures. I learned a lot from each experience so that by the time I was 18/19, I had a few entrepreneurial experiences under my belt and I was hungrier than ever.
Age 19 is when I hit my first real entrepreneurial success, Lightbox Medical. After returning back home after my first year of college, I needed to make money. So, I hopped on Craigslist looking for something I could buy & re-sell. I stumbled upon people selling their unused excess diabetic supplies. I dug further into it and saw the value of these was way more than people were selling on Craigslist. So, I set up my first deal, I remember it very clearly, I bought 5 boxes of product for $350 cash and sold them for $700 in a few hours on eBay. That was enough for me to realize there was something big here, so being the hungry entrepreneur I was, I went after it. I started off super scrappy, running local ads on Craigslist, borrowing my mom’s car to pick up a product, storing the product in my bedroom, and counting it out and recording inventory on my bathroom floor cause I had the most space in there.
Before I knew it, I had several customers calling me monthly, and I was making money. But, I couldn’t leave Sacramento! It was local, and I needed to go national. So, using my past experience I set up a website for Lightbox, similar to Usell or Gazelle.com, where people could go online, get a live quote for their product, and partnered with a local fulfillment center in Sacramento to receive our product. It was a hit! I started getting new customer orders from Florida to Texas to New York and partnered with large medical distributors. At age 20, I relocated to San Diego and in 4 years, grew the business from my room at my mom’s house to buying over $500k in product annually, with no outside investment and just a few people working for me. At the end of 2015, the start of 2016, I sold Lightbox to a few investors out of Florida and started HOHM.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Absolutely not. In entrepreneurship, you are constantly going to face rejection, have “failures”, hit roadblocks, have highs and lows, etc. Ultimately, you just have to want it so bad and have such a clear eye on the big vision, that you keep going. At this point, I have become numb to hurdles/roadblocks, they are just a part of the process, and you have to accept that. I’d consider a good entrepreneur to be a professional problem solver. If a key team member drops out, replace them quickly with a better one, if your product isn’t selling, analyze if you are actually filling a need in the market and/or marketing it right, if your local tech partner is being difficult, outsource the work overseas, if a potential client/investor says no, keep them updated with your progress for the next 6 months until they say yes. These are all things that might make someone quit completely, but as a seasoned entrepreneur, you understand that there is always a solution. It’s your job to find it.
HOHM inc. – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
With my current venture HOHM, we are looking to bring sleep to places never seen before!
Just as an overview, HOHM is a custom engineered, high tech, spacious 45 sq. ft. sleeping pod, designed to provide individuals with comfort, privacy, and a quick escape from the hectic environment. Our goal with HOHM is to ultimately create a network of sleeping units across the US, that is essential, wherever you are, and that are bookable via our mobile app.
Right before Christmas, we closed a big Tempur-Sealy partnership deal & raised a bit of angel investment from entrepreneur Mike Alfred both in the same week. We were also chosen as one of the 20 start-ups (out of 500) to exhibit at SXSW in March! As of April 2018, our product development phase is pretty much complete, and we are working hard to secure our initial placement locations for Summer & Fall ’18 placements. In advancing talks with several major locations, from well-known universities to Fortune 500 corporations, and even music festivals, and should have some big announcements very soon here! 🙂
Our goal is to have a big launch with HOHM in 2018 with our initial placements, push heavy on PR/marketing, and spread to new placements across the US. It should be an exciting year!
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I used to define success very differently until I spoke with a very intelligent young woman at an entrepreneurial retreat who gave me a new perspective that I strongly believe in. She said that success is a relative term and that we should always look at our current state as a success. So, where you are at now, whatever state that may be, you have already obtained success. Whether you just graduated college or just got that new job you really wanted, you are already successful. I will say that I have a very clear path of professional objectives, that I would like to obtain over the next 5-10 years, however, if I were to die today, I would be happy knowing that I’ve already accomplished a lot in my time on this earth, and have already been “successful”, in many ways.
- Website: www.hohm.life
- Email: email@example.com