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James Nightingall (Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship 2013), Founder & Director of James & James

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With a Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship from Cambridge Judge Business School under his belt, James Nightingall wants to be a serial property entrepreneur. And just seven successful months into his first venture, you’d put your house on him making it.

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James Nightingall

In a sellers’ market – such as prime location housing in the UK – buyers are always looking for something that gives them the edge. Enter James Nightingall and his company, James & James. It’s an invitation-only network of property buying agents, originally conceived during Nightingall’s year studying for Cambridge Judge Business School’s Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship.

“We help our clients find and select the right buying agent for their property search,” he explains. “An estate agent acts for the seller to achieve the highest selling price. But buying agents act on behalf of the buyer. They find the right properties, carry out due diligence and negotiate the lowest possible price. Each buying agent specialises in certain kinds of property, such as equestrian or listed buildings. Think Phil Spencer from Location, Location, Location – he’s probably the best-known property search agent.”

Certain buying agents also have access to a lot of property that never sees an estate agent’s window. “Our buying agents bought 55 per cent of properties over £1m off-market last year,” Nightingall points out. “They are sold privately – mainly for privacy – and the only people who get access to them are those who employ a buying agent.”

Nightingall completed his Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship in September 2013, and his company has been up and running for just seven months. It’s been a huge learning curve, the 24-year-old admits. “When I launched I didn’t know exactly who my customers were going to be. I’ve found that a lot of people who approach me are international buyers. If you want to invest in UK property and you live abroad, it’s very hard to know the right person to talk to.”

Being flexible with his business model, he says, has been crucial. “There’s a huge difference between an entrepreneur who’s going into an existing marketplace, where there’s competition, and someone entering an unknown market. I need to be able to test my model and keep tweaking it until I find what works. When I began, my model was far more a Moneysupermarket.com for buying agents. And that wasn’t working, so I adapted it.”

And it’s working now. The company has so far helped clients from all over the world with a combined budget of about £22.5m; individual budgets range from £400,000 up to £5m. James & James now has 45 agents across the UK as network members, all paying membership fees. However, Nightingall is already thinking about his next move.

“I want to be a serial entrepreneur,” he says. “This company is my starting point. I’ve been offered jobs and it’s tempting – but I want to do this. I want it to take off. It’s very difficult to not get distracted by other opportunities, but I’ve been listening to my customers and they’ve given me ideas for what I need to do next. I want to start more relocation-based companies and then perhaps move into the travel industry. I love new ideas. Opportunities come out of just doing it and seeing what happens.”

James is interested in hearing from…

… people who want to be involved in start-ups in the relocation industry. I’d love to hear from anyone who wants to join me or perhaps invest. I am on a mission to make relocation stress-free!